The Bo3 format is rather straightforward in regards to competitive LoL. Teams play one another for up to three games in a row, with the winning team being the one that secures two victories first. Previously, teams would alternate facing a different team for a one-and-done match. Prior to this Summer Split, I actually liked the idea of a Bo3 format for a lot of reasons. However, after watching some matches in their entirety during this past weekend, I have changed my stance a bit due to particular aspects.
Below are three pros and their three respective cons for this Bo3 format being implemented for the NA LCS:
Pro #1: The Bo3 Format (More Accurately) Reflects the Better Team
When it came to the one-and-done format of yesteryear, I always felt having just one game at a time did not prove much. These single matches boiled down to witnessing a glorified scrim. The fact is, every team has their good and bad days. So let’s assume a strong team happens to have their down days for particular matches, which causes them to lose a few games here and there. And sure, wins and losses will naturally occur, but what about the awkward gaps between rematches for another single match to occur?
However, this is the beauty of the Bo3 format. Having up to three games played offers a better consistency check for both teams involved. You get a real chunk of competition from a spectator standpoint instead of just a small bite of it this way. All in all, when things play out well, it leaves the fans more satisfied with the end result.
Con #1: The Bo3 Matches Take Up More Time
Exhausting. This is the word I would describe most of the Bo3 games I watched in the last weekend. Even if you are a diehard fan for a given team, just watching an entire series from beginning to end can take hours to complete. No matter how dedicated you are, this is a lot of time to invest in watching a sport, let alone when there are multiple matches you would also like to see with this format. I found myself taking breaks in between some matches because I felt more inclined to find a recording later. I did not want to subject myself to a mental marathon of watching really long series back-to-back.
If it is wearisome for the fans watching the games, I can only imagine how taxing it is for the pros actually playing the game for an extended sitting. Yikes! Quite the endurance test…
But hey, at least a clear winner will emerge victorious from a series.
Pro #2: The Bo3 Format Offers Mid-series Adjustments
With any good sport, adjustments will always occur in response to the opposing strategy. The Bo3 format grants the practical means of tweaking the game plan mid-series. This can involve prioritizing different champions to play for the next matches, converting to a completely opposite style of play and so forth. I love the tactical portion of any competitive game, so seeing how a team switches their gears for the following games can be interesting in itself.
Again, the one-and-done format previously did not allow such strategic adjustments. After you finished a game, win or lose, you would not see that same opponent for a long while where you could apply relevant tweaks to your plan of attack. As soon you did meet up with the same opponent down the road, everything would have been reset by then.
Con #2: The Bo3 Format Can Become Repetitive
There is a particular element that catches people off-guard when watching competitive LoL. The best players at the top execute a very meticulous type of game as opposed to the erratic, we-just-want-kills mentality of the regular player base. In other words, competitive LoL can be very repetitive during certain metas, and this previous weekend was no different.
Expect to see the same champions picked again and again. Become accustomed to seeing the same strategies being utilized by multiple teams. Especially if no significant adjustments are made during mid-series, expect a repeat of a prior game’s offerings done all over again… With up to three games in a series, this can get really annoying if not utterly dull fast.
Sure, some noteworthy exceptions occur here and there, but there comes a point where some Bo3 series I watched felt like seeing a replay of a different series I just watched half an hour ago. At the very least, I wish Riot Games would adjust the game’s system to inject more diversity into the picking and banning phase of LoL. Perhaps more champion bans would be a good start.
Pro #3: The Bo3 Format Offers Team Substitutions
What I like about the Bo3 format is how it allows teams to substitute players in between matches for different reasons.
Any good team will maximize whomever they have on the bench, and this is why having depth beyond your starting roster is so prevalent in any sport around the world. Previously, the substitutions in the North American region occurred during the next match. Going back to the consistency check thing in the last point, every team has their good and bad moments. Of course, a team is comprised of individual players of varying potential. It can be difficult to showcase this potential if a sub never gets to play in a real match.
In fact, some of the NA LCS’ most popular players to this day were people who originally started on the bench before getting their time to shine. I have always found it odd how so many pro teams in LoL often have so many substitutes who would never see themselves on that big stage anytime soon. But this Bo3 format looks quite promising to change this aspect for the better.
Con #3: Substitutions May Not Occur Frequently
I like seeing unproven talent claw their way into the starting roster from the bench. You never know how good someone is until they are put in a real in-game situation. However, because they are subs, this does not mean teams actually have to play them. After all, these are your second-and-up stringers. These players are meant to be replacements if the starters cannot play or perform at their best for whatever reason.
I am not implying I want a rule to force mid-series substitutions or anything like that. But because Bo3 series are longer than single matches alone, I hope many pro teams feel encouraged to test the waters with a sub or two here and there to shake up a roster for a few matches. Every player brings something to the table, and it would be a shame to see some subs wasting their skills on the bench for an entire season. I would like to see more teams utilizing their subs to maximum effect.
But regardless of any legitimate pro or con for this Bo3 format, all that matters is the spirit of competition to remain in the forefront. At the end of the day, these Bo3 series are supposed to prove which team is stronger than another team when they play one another. Perhaps the matches can drag on for too long, but this also means for a lot of potentially awesome matches to occur in sequence.
Who does not love a back-and-forth slug-fest between the best of the best?
All League of Legends images belong to Riot Games. All team images and logos belong to their respective organizations. Credit to Leaguepedia for mugshots.