Last weekend, the North American Challenger League held the finals for their first season. Over the last eight weeks the NACL matched up the top amateur teams from North America’s League of Legends scene. These teams included a mix of regular well-known amateur teams, such as vVv Gaming and Complexity Gaming, and newer amateur teams such as Determined Gaming, or as they were previously known as, To Be Determined. The season also featured the three LCS teams that were relegated last year, Curse, Coast and Velocity.
At the beginning of the season, these teams were placed into two conferences, named Elder Lizard and Ancient Golem, each with five teams. Each of these teams played the teams in their conference four times, and the cross-conference teams twice, in hopes of finishing in the top three in their conference in order to make the playoffs. At the end of the season, Coast finished with the best record, 24-2, clenching the top spot of the Elder Lizard Conference and a first round by in the playoffs. Curse and vVv Gaming were also able to make it with records of 20-6 and 7-19 respectively. In the Ancient Golem Conference, Complexity took the first seed, with Determined Gaming, 16-9, and Curse Academy, 14-12, also clenching play off spots.
The playoffs played out pretty much as expected, with all of the higher ranked teams winning. This all led to a final match up between Coast and Complexity, which Coast was able to take 3 games to 1.
The first NACL season was a great sign for the North American League of Legends scene. Professional teams, who are good enough to compete in the LCS, have a quality income to live on. However, amateur teams struggle, leading to a lot of teams disbanding shortly after they form. This leads to a stagnation of talent, because the teams that are in the LCS typically do not need to worry about up and coming teams becoming better. This means that LCS teams get lazy, which we have seen in the past with teams like Curse, CLG, and to an extent TSM, who all used to dominate North America. The NACL, however, is giving amateur teams a place where they can preform, and potentially make decent money. Certainly it is not a livable amount, but it is a step in the right direction. Hopefully the NACL will be able to take what they learned in the first season and improve in the future seasons to come.