While this is still technically “preseason” for the League of Legends Championship Series, the North American qualifiers really do feel like the start of the festivities as a mix of pro and ranked “amateur” teams compete for the final slots in the North American division. The broadcast begins at 7 PM GMT / 2 PM Eastern with FeaR v. Meat Playground, and you can watch streams on Riot’s Twitch channel. Full broadcast information is available on Reddit.
Yesterday’s group play eliminated eight hopefuls: Pulse Esports, compLexity Academy, Team TowerDiveTV, Epik Gamer, 1 Trick Ponies, Falafel Gaming, Cloud 9, and The Salad Bar all fell in their groups and fell out of the qualifiers. Today, the eight surviving teams compete in the bracket in a series of best-of-threes, and the top five will make the cut for the Championship Series.
Curse Gaming is a clear favorite to make the cut, since they’ve been competing with the top teams in NA and Europe for some time. If they beat Azure Gaming today at 3 AM / 10 PM Eastern. The last match of the day is Team MRN v. The Brunch Club at 7 AM GMT / 2 AM Eastern. As always, you can follow the brackets via Leaguepedia.
By the end of the day, four teams will have qualified for the Championship Series, while the four losers will compete in a bracket tomorrow to determine which gets the last spot. It’s important to remember how significant this is for some of these teams: LCS teams will take part in the regular season and get a salary from Riot, which means that for several of these teams, the weekend’s brackets will mean the difference between being a paid eSports professional or remaining an amateur.
All is not lost for the losers, of course, because Season 3 does have a promotion and relegation stage. But that’s a hard road into the Championship Series, and for most of these teams their best chance is this weekend.