Earlier in September, a massive announcement surfaced on the official Philippines League of Legends Facebook account, revealing League of Legends Southeast Asia Tour (LST) and League Masters Series (LMS) will merge into Pacific Championship Series (PCS), a new regional league for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia, set to debut on February 8, 2020.
The new league is said to combine the best 10 teams from LMS and LST in attempt to form a new, stronger league, which will feature only top talent from Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Macau. The decision to form the new PCS league came after the evaluation of the professional League of Legends ecosystem across Southeast Asia, which was deemed “not competitive enough” in comparison to neighbouring leagues - LCK, LJL and LPL.
In order to fix the said problem, Riot Games started a process of merging the two leagues into one and handpicking only the best teams who will now compete in a vastly stronger league. The new league is said to not only increase the competitiveness in the region but also help to expand the talent pool and assist with the media and business opportunities for the teams, which should in return help the growth of the region as a whole.
To ensure the sustainability and longevity of PCS, Riot Games went through a months-long vetting process, during which they made careful observations and evaluations of each team with the help of organizations from Southeast Asia and LMS in order to pick 10 of the most suitable teams, based on their overall quality and responsible financial situations among other factors.
While the league was in the works since September, and possibly even before, Riot Games only recently revealed further details about the league, teams, format and the launch date of Pacific Championship Series. Discussing the teams, Riot Games stated that the diverse roster of teams will be spread across multiple cities, which would allow for a cross-regional rivalry to be formed, which should add some flair to the league.
As it stands now, Riot Games revealed a list of nine teams who will appear in the PCS, featuring a blend of some more familiar faces as well as some newcomers, who will make their first steps in the competitive League of Legends scene this February. The lineup of nine revealed teams looks as follows:
ahq eSports Club (Taipei)
Alpha Esports (Taipei)
G-Rex Gaming (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong Attitude (Hong Kong)
J Team (Taipei)
Liyab Esports (Manila)
Nova Esports (Thailand)
Talon (Hong Kong)
At this point, we can speculate that the 10th spot was reserved for the most successful LMS team in the history of the league - Flash Wolves. Unfortunately, the Taiwanese team disbanded on Saturday, December 14, leaving many LMS fans in tears as they waved goodbye to one of the most iconic teams from the region, which helped put LMS on the map with their four appearances at LoL Worlds. With Flash Wolves out of the question, however, Riot Games are now handed with a tough task of finding a suitable replacement, which should be announced in early Januar, if not sooner.
In addition to new teams, new logo and new look, the PCS will also feature a few changes in how the league will be played. As revealed the PCS will see an increase in matches played throughout the season (as compared to previous LST seasons), while those fixtures will no longer be played as best-of-three (Bo3), but instead as Bo1. Adding to that, the playoffs will change into a more acceptable double-elimination format, which is a very welcome change as this format is widely regarded to be superior to a single-elimination bracket.
The Pacific Championship Series (PCS) is set to kick off on February 8, with its initial focus on online tournaments, due to the geographical diversity of the teams. The league will be co-organized by Riot Games and the reigning LoL World Champions - FunPlus Phoenix alongside Garena as the official publisher of League of Legends in the region.