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2018 LPL and LCK Spring Season Preview

16 January 2018 09:45

Riot Games shook up the eSports world when it announced it would begin to franchise teams and leagues for the 2018 LOL season, giving teams a guaranteed place in the top divisions as long as they could buy their way in and were deemed to be good enough to play at the standard expected. People had their doubts about whether it would work, questioning whether the action would be as intense without the threat of relegation and the battle for promotion. Well, its time to find out as the LPL and LCK Spring splits kick off on the 15th and 16th January.

LPL Spring Season

After being franchised, the LPL was split into two conferences; the East and the West, rather than the previous Group A and Group B. 14 teams in total were granted entry and will play for ten weeks before the top four in each conference advance to the playoffs. The split in conferences does not mean that some teams won’t play each other, as inter-conference matches will take place in weeks 4-7, with intra-conference play will the weeks before and after.

Teams will play in a Bo3 format, with the winner of the series gaining one point and the loser getting none towards their conference standings. In a case where teams are level on points, split head-to-head and number of map wins will dictate who takes the higher position, and a final Bo3 round after that if there is still a tie.

Last year’s Spring Season was dominated by three teams; Royal Never Give Up, Team WE and EDward Gaming. Team WE topped Group B and eventually went on to take the Spring playoff title as well in 2017, but a disappointing Summer Season sees them come into the new year as a second-tier seed despite finishing the 3rd/4th at the 2017 World Championships. Royal Never Give Up, who shared that 3rd/4th place with Team WE and topped Group A come into the 2018 season as a number one seed after finishing runners up in summer 2017. EDward gaming are the other number one seed after taking the 2017 Summer title, although a disappointing 12/13th at the World Championships does raise some questions about their performance levels.

It’s likely that these same three teams will dominate again, with squads well and truly above everyone else’s in terms of ability. EDward gaming and Team WE are drawn in the same group, so assuming these three teams progress through to the playoffs, Royal Never Give up will have to face one of them before the final.

LCK Spring Season

The LCK, Korea’s top LOL league, is where the big dogs of the League of Legends world reign and test themselves before the World Championships and mid-season brawl. This year, though, you won’t hear the usual big name teams announced, after Samsung Galaxy, winners of the 2017 World Championships, sold their roster and LCK spot to KSV eSports, and Longzhu Gaming, winners of the 2017 Summer season and playoffs, were acquired by Chinese company Kingzone and renamed Kingzone DragonX.

The constant throughout all this is SK Telecom T1, who it is to be assumed will be back with vengeance after their defeat in last year’s World Championships. The team looked physically distraught after being whitewashed 3-0 by then Samsung Galaxy, so whether they can bounce back or not is yet to be seen. When you have Faker in your squad, anything is possible.

A change of team name doesn’t change anything for the team playing LOL, as the objectives haven’t shifted and the aim of the game is still the same, so there is no doubt KSV eSports and Kingzone DragonX will have strong debut seasons. Whether the organisers planned it on purpose or not will never be known, but the season kicks off on the 16th January with these two teams facing each other. In a double round robin format where three teams stand out above the rest, each win is huge and a loss could be costly, especially when the winner of the Spring Season gets an automatic bye into the playoff finals.

The outside team to watch out for are KT Rolster. The team won the KeSPA Cup at the end of 2017, beating out SK Telecom T1, Samsung Galaxy and Longzhu Gaming in a display that was easily their best performance of the year. Having been kicked out of three consecutive LCK playoffs at the hands of SK Telecom T1, is this finally the year they can get their own back?

Betting on the LPL and LCK

After watching the streams of these leagues became a mainstay for fans all across the world in 2017, 2018 sees many bookmakers offering odds on each game during the ten weeks of season play. Punters can bet on Map winners, total kills and which team will draw first blood, often with some of these markets offering handicaps as well as outright odds. The betting opportunities for League of Legends have never been greater, so take a look at our LOL Betting page for more information.

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Updated on: 2018-03-14

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