European Masters Challenger Tournament Enters its Main Event Stage
It is possible that even some fans of professional League of Legends play have missed the start of the European Masters Tournament. Indeed, it was only advertised on the EU page of lolesports.com and was not covered by Riot Games' traditional channels. However, the tournament is the biggest event of European challenger play for the spring and is the 2018 version of the previous challenger series. Due to the changes in the EU LCS and Challenger series this year, the avenue for challenger teams to make an impact and show their skill has changed.
Previously, the best non-LCS teams in Europe would duke it out in several tournaments, a small group stage and playoffs that took place alongside the EU LCS spring and summer split. After the split was done, the top challenger teams would play the bottom LCS teams in a small promotion tournament and possibly take their spots for the following season. This year, the mid-season promotion was cancelled and Riot Games recently announced that they will move towards franchising for the EU LCS for 2019, so instead, challenger teams will participate in their own tournaments, the first of which takes place this month.
The first round of the tournament took place this week and included teams from the minor regional leagues, teams who made it through the open qualifier tournament and the last seed teams from the bigger national leagues like the German, French, Spanish and UK circuits. The teams played in groups of 3, followed by two rounds of direct elimination until only the best teams made it to the main stage of the tournament. These teams, Spain's Movistar Riders and the Balkan organization KlikTech, will take part in the tournament's second round alongside the higher-seeded teams from the major national leagues and 2017 challenger teams like Ninjas in Pyjamas or the recently rebuilt Origen.
The games from the play-in phase were concluded on the evening of April 12, and the groups for the second round were drawn immediately afterwards:
- Illuminar Gaming
- Ad hoc gaming (the former mysterious monkeys)
- Misfits Academy
- Team Atlantis
- Wind and rain
- exceL Esports
- MAD Lions E.C
- SPG Esports
- Movistar Riders
- Ninjas in Pyjamas
The group stage games will take place from 14 April to 17 April, followed by playoffs from 19 to 22 April, and semifinals and Finals on the 28 and 29 April. The tournament is broadcast live on ESL.LoL's Twitch and Youtube channels.