The Intel Extreme Masters tournaments have occupied a bit of a strange place in the League calendar ever since Riot established professional leagues in regions across the world. It’s the only big League event each year that isn’t sponsored by Riot, but a lack of consistency and representation in teams selected have stopped the event short from becoming quite as big as other events on the calendar.
Each IEM season, teams play in smaller tournaments across the world to qualify for the IEM World Championship, which usually takes place between the Summer and Spring season. There were two major problems, however: 1) the smaller tournaments were widely inconsistent in size, sometimes only having two teams invited and 2) some regions, such as Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau’s LMS, were woefully underrepresented.
Well, with a press release Friday, IEM announced major changes that should dramatically improve the quality of the tournament. The two IEM qualifiers, IEM Oakland (11/19-11/20) and IEM Gyeonggi (12/16-12/18), will have eight teams. Both will include at least one team from North America, Europe, China, South Korea, LMS and the International Wild Card.
Instead of the fan vote that decided some teams’ entry in the past, rosters will now have to qualify for IEM via their performance at Worlds, their domestic league or at the IEM qualifiers. More information on the qualification process is expected to be announced by IEM in the coming weeks.
There’s going to be a new format, too, as shown in the image at the top of this post.
There will be no byes in the League of Legends circuit of IEM Season 11. With eight teams represented at each tournament, Season 11 will showcase a dual group stage to determine the playoff teams. The top two teams of each group will then square off in a single elimination semifinals bracket until only one team is left standing.
This year, at Season 11 of IEM, League will be played alongside Starcraft 2, Hearthstone and Counter Strike: Global Offensive.