The start of the first ever NA LCS Academy League is right around the corner and Riot just announced the final details and rules that teams will have to follow.
The first part of Riot’s announcement details the ways that the Academy League is different from the old Challenger Series. Where Challenger Series was mostly about new teams getting promoted into the NA LCS, the Academy League is all about developing new players and up and coming talent. The rest of the rules that the post outlines all stem from this goal of setting up the best environment to help new pros grow.
Perhaps the most important rule that Riot announced is how exactly player swapping will work between the Academy League teams and their LCS counterparts. According to Riot, on Wednesday of each week, at 12:00 p.m. PT, teams will have to lock in their entire active roster, but once locked in, these players are eligible to play for either the Academy team or the LCS team. This should provide teams with a wide array of options when they are faced with choosing rosters, while also allowing players to fill in on the other roster should some one get sick or injured.
There are, however, a few limitations that Riot has put in place for the Academy League rosters as well, that should help keep the playing field level. For one thing, teams can only field up to three veteran players on their Academy League roster.
In Riot’s announcement, they describe the qualifications for veteran player status like this:
A player is classified as a “Veteran Player” if the player has started over 50% of eligible regular seasons over the course of the last two splits of professional, Worlds-eligible League of Legends competition (i.e. NA LCS, EU LCS, etc).
Alongside this veteran player limit is a non-resident player limit of just one per Academy League roster. This rule is, once again, in service of the idea that the Academy League for the NA LCS is about developing local NA talent, while still allowing a place for teams to help their new non-resident players get acclimated to North America.
The final piece of information in Riot’s post revolves around the schedule for these matches and how fans can watch their favorite Academy teams play. Games for the Academy League will be played on Thursday and Friday, but only the Friday games will be broadcast live on LoL Esports, Twitch and Youtube. The Thursday games will be professionally spectated, but will be put up as VODs on LoL Esports shortly after each match concludes. According to Riot this was to ease the broadcast strain that would face a four day production, while allowing Academy teams to play the most games possible.
The Academy League will kick off this Friday, Jan. 19 at 6:00 p.m. EST with a match up between OpTic Gaming Academy and Team Liquid Academy.