Oceania’s path to international League of Legends events will change from 2023, with Riot Games today confirming rumours that the LCO will no longer have a direct qualification spot to Worlds or the Mid-Season Invitational.
While the LCO won’t be going anywhere in a hurry, the top two squads from Oceania’s domestic league will now instead proceed to the Pacific Championship Series (PCS) playoffs.
After re-seeding, our reps will need to battle through the best of the PCS — Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and wider South-East Asia — to represent the region on the major stage.
Riot’s announcement today also came with changes to residency status for Oceanic players. Those currently competing in, or have played in the LCS in North America, will be given a choice to declare themselves for either the PCS or the LCS.
Those impacted will have until the end of the calendar year to make their choice.
Beginning in 2023, Oceanic players will be classed as PCS residents, meaning Aussies and Kiwis will be eligible for selection by PCS rosters.
Any OCE player who selected the LCS as their residency option will be classed as an import to the LCO going forward.
“We believe that participation in the PCS will offer a more competitive landscape for LCO teams, provide richer opportunities for player development, and spark broader interest and fandom in LCO teams and players,” said Riot Games.
“This change preserves the opportunity for the LCO to reach international events with a successful performance in the PCS playoffs, and is a significant step towards building out a more competitive, multi-tiered ecosystem across the world.”
“While no longer directly, we still keep our opportunity to qualify into MSI and Worlds, while giving more OCE teams the opportunity to compete overseas during the year,” said ESL Australia Operations Manager and LCO Senior League Manager Peter Du.
“We’ll continue to work with Riot on building a more integrated ecosystem in APAC to provide as many development opportunities as possible for our local players and teams.”
Since the introduction of the OPL in 2015, an Oceanic squad was guaranteed an international appearance each split.
The Brandon “Swip3rR” Holland-led Chiefs were the first to rep OCE, with the squad finishing 3-3 at the 2015 MSI International Wildcard Invitational.
Even after the OPL shuttered in 2019 — returning as LCO in 2020 — the region maintained a constant presence on the big stage.
But beginning next split, should our LCO reps fall short in the PCS playoffs, it will mark the first time in eight years that an Oceanic squad will not be present at the pinnacle of League competition.
It’s not the only change that Riot have made to international League of Legends pathways, with Turkey, the CIS and the Middle-Eastern & North Africa (MENA) regions merging into EMEA.
Other adjustments include format changes to the LEC and an expanded LCK playoffs stage.
“As we gear up for the next decade of LoL Esports and beyond, we are confident that these changes will ultimately help create a more competitive, compelling global landscape for LoL Esports and fans for years to come,” said Riot Games.
Split 1 of the 2023 LCO is expected to begin in Q1 next year.