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- The academy league for North American League of Legends will introduce an “emerging region” import slot.
- Teams may host a second non-resident player, but only if they hail from Turkey, Brazil, Latin America, Oceania, or the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
- Import rules for the top North American league, the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), will remain unchanged.
The LCS Academy league has updated its import policy for 2020, allowing teams to host a second non-North American player, but only from what it describes as “emerging regions.” Teams will now be able to sign competitors from Turkey, Brazil, Latin America, Oceania, and the CIS. The import policy for the LCS will remain unchanged.
This change comes ahead of the League of Legends free-agency period, where professional players with expiring contracts will sign on with new teams. It also follows on from this year’s World Championships, where none of the three North American teams progressed from the group stage. The announcement from Riot Games stated that “our hope is that additional competitive opportunities will be a beneficial tool for developing talent across multiple regions.”
The regions which have opted into this new policy are also known as “play-in” regions. They cannot qualify a team directly into the World Championships, and instead must emerge as one of the top four teams of the play-in stage. Several of these regions; Japan, Southeast Asia, and Vietnam, have not opted for this new policy.
During the 2019 play-in stage, Ahilleas Papantos, team director for Oceanic Pro League team MAMMOTH, told The Esports Observer that he was in favor of play-in teams being able to send talent overseas without taking up a sanctioned import slot. “That would give an opportunity for our domestic players to have opportunities on international teams with a lesser risk on the international teams,” he said.
After the LCS introduced its franchise-style system in 2018, it replaced the previous relegation/promotion based Challenger Series with the Academy League. All ten LCS teams can host secondary rosters in the academy, with the aim of developing future talent. In the 2019 season, not all Academy matches were broadcast live, and the finals were held in the LCS studio, rather than as a live arena event.
It should also be noted that imported players can qualify for residency in the LCS based on certain criteria, such as having lived in the North American region for at least two years.
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