Along with their announcement Thursday that the North American League Championship Series would begin franchising in 2018, Riot also announced the future of the Challenger Series.
With the NA LCS no longer have promotion or relegation, a change to the Challenger Series was necessary, as it would no longer be a place for teams to compete for a spot in the LCS itself. Instead, the Challenger Series will be transformed into an academy league.
The academy league’s focus will be to commit fully to the idea of providing teams a safe developmental league to be used for new players. The league will provide these developing players a low-stakes opportunity to gain experience playing on-stage. Many LCS teams had previously used the Challenger Series as a developmental league — now it’s just official.
This version of the Challenger Series will have more teams and games than the previous one. All 10 LCS teams will have an academy team, with a longer season to ensure actual opportunities for growth.