With more than 150 million players worldwide, League of Legends is arguably the most popular game in its genre – the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) – and beyond it.
LoL’s success is seen in the highly competitive eSports scene. Over the past 5-6 years, LoL has even exceeded its main MOBA competitor DotA 2, in terms of the number of competitive players participating in annual tournaments and the number of tournaments.
LoL sets new records season after season and raises the success bar higher than the previous. But what exactly is a season in League of Legends? The rest of this article will provide an exhaustive answer to that question and explain how the LoL ranking system works.
A year in the League of Legends ecosystem is divided into two periods, a preseason and a regular season. The regular season is about 10 months long, and preseason takes up the remaining part of the year.
In its most basic meaning, an LoL season is the specified period throughout the year during which teams compete to win monetary prizes, rewards, and League Points to secure a better rank and placement, and individual players compete for Victorious skins and their rank on the ladder. Additionally, this is the time when there are new developments in the game as well as new champions.
The last 2 seasons were divided into three Splits, and players received rewards after each. At the end of each season, based on the overall performance, players gain special skins, emotes, and icons based on their rank.
From Season 13 onward, seasons will be split into two parts. In the middle of the season, there will be a soft rank reset, after which you will receive a victorious skin. This means all players will be eligible to receive 2 victorious skins each year.
An LoL season is also the time period of official competitive tournaments organized by Riot Games and other eSports organizers. These events are held by professional LoL leagues in different regions, primarily in Asia, North America, Latin America, and Europe. LoL leagues are also hosted in Middle-Eastern countries and North Africa.
Globally, there are twelve Tier 1 leagues, two League cups, and nearly two dozen Tier 2 professional, semi-professional, and amateur leagues. Professional events held in each league are all part of an ongoing League of Legends season. In each league, the best teams advance to the playoffs; consequently, the winners will get a shot at the championship. Afterwards, the best teams from each region are invited to the League of Legends World Championship.
Since the 2010/2011 season, Riot Games and other LoL eSports organizers have hosted 12 competitive LoL seasons. Each season starts and finishes at approximately the same period each year; however, depending on patch updates and related matters and unforeseen factors, there may be slight delays and inconsistencies at the start of each season.
As we noted, teams in different regions compete in professional and semi-professional leagues to improve their position and rank, hoping to qualify for the championship at the season’s end.
This network of multinational professional LoL contests, which include regular season games, playoffs, and the annual championship tournament, is what the average LoL season is composed of. Together, all these events create the LoL eSports ecosystem, where professional teams and players vie for monetary rewards, trophies, and other prizes.
Each LoL season is preceded by a preseason, during which Riot developers make a slew of technical changes and tweaks to various game elements, including the gameplay, maps, runes, items, etc.
Players get to test the new patch during the preseason to get a feel of the changes before they are added permanently to the game at the beginning of the new season.
The preseason period is vital as it helps balance the game, and sometimes the changes get rolled back, the most notable example being the Chemtech drake which was retired for almost a year before returning with a completely new design.
Preseason also gives professional players a 2-month long vacation to unload from all the stress that the competition at the top level entails.
Another reason why the preseason is important is related to what Riot calls the ‘soft reset’ at the beginning of each new season. At the start of the new season, players who played Ranked previously will most likely begin the new season with a rank about 4 divisions below the one they ended with. This is contrary to the popular misconception that preseason does not matter. It does; remember, it’s the rank you have at the end of preseason that matters for your next season's placement games.
Traditionally, League of Legends seasons begin early in the year and finish by the end of the year. So far, most LoL seasons have started around January 15th and wrapped up within the first half of November.
The start can vary from season to season, with seasons 1, 2, 3, and 7 starting mid-July, late November, and early February and December (S3 and S7), respectively.
Season 13 start: officially started on 10th January, with ranked queues enabled on 11th January.
Season 13 end: Is projected to end as all previous seasons did, about 1-2 weeks after Worlds end. This usually comes up around 10th-20th November.
Namely, instead of the standard three splits, Season 13 will have only two; split 1 will start in January and Split 2 will start somewhere in the middle of the year. Aside from these changes, the promotion series will also go through a revamp, with a change in tiers going from Best of 5 to Best of 3.
This will entail a change in the rewards system, so players are looking to get Hextech keys, Chests, and other unlockable tidbits. The process for getting the rewards has been simplified as well; players will get “Split points” for every ranked game they play.
The amount of points needed to unlock Victorious skin depends on the rank you are in. Games below Gold grant require significantly more points than the ones in or above Gold.
The biggest change, and probably the one that many fans will rejoice over, is that ranked skins will now be available to other ranks than Gold or above.
Since Riot launched League of Legends in 2009, there have been 12 consecutive seasons of professional League of Legends eSports competitions. Each season has brought something new to the table, and below we’ll provide a brief recap of each of the 12 LoL seasons so far.
LoL season 12 began on Jan. 7, 2022, and wrapped up on Nov. 14, 2022.
Riot introduced a range of changes and concepts, including the introduction of five new champions and the Challenges system. The LoL Challenges allow players to improve their tier and earn rewards by completing different in-game Challenges.
Five champions were added K’Sante, Zeri, Renata Glasc, NIlah, and Bel’Veth – and 21 patches were introduced. Season 12 saw Royal Never Give Up win their third Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) title, and DRX narrowly beat their South Korean rivals T1 3-2 to become reigning League of Legends world champions.
Season 11 lasted for nearly 10 full months, from Jan. 8 2021, to Nov. 15, 2021.
There were a total of 22 patches released throughout the season, and five new champions, including Vex, Akshan, Gwen, Viego, and Rell. Many other existing champions saw visual and gameplay updates, including Xin Zhao, Dr. Mundo, Viktor.
Eight new items were also released, including Fimbulwinter, Shadowflame, Hullbreaker, Winter's Approach, and Anathema's Chains, among others.
In May 2021, China’s Royal Never Give Up beat 2020 world champions DWG KIA 3-2 to win the Mid-Season Invitational held in Reykjavík, Iceland. Later that year, in October, also in Reykjavik, Edward Gaming defeated DWG KIA 3–2 to claim the world title.
LoL season 10 lasted from Jan. 10, 2020, through Nov. 10 of that year, with a total of 22 patches released throughout.
Riot introduced six new champions: Sett, Yone, Lillia, Samira, Aphelios, and Seraphine. The visual, voice, and lore features were updated for more than 20 champions, including Bard, Leona, Lux, Taric, Nautilus, etc.
The 2020 LoL World Championship was held in China, with DWG KIA (then known as Damwon Gaming) winning 3-1 in the final against China’s Suning. The 2020 MSI was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Season 9 of LoL started on Jan. 23, 2019, and wrapped up on Nov. 19, 2019.
Sylas, Yuumi, Qiyana, Neeko, and Senna were the five new champions introduced by Riot, alongside 4 new items – Youmuu's Wraithblade, Frozen Fist, Luden's Pulse, and Might of the Ruined King. Gragas, Renekton, Kennen, and Olaf were a few of the champions that saw VFX and SFX updates, and over two dozen champions saw updates to their bio and stories.
Vietnam and Taiwan were the 2019 hosts of the MSI from May 1 through 19, with the May 19 final featuring Germany’s G2 Esports against Team Liquid from North America. The German side beat Team Liquid 3-0.
Season 8 lasted from Jan. 16 to Nov. 12, 2018
Introduced fans to 3 new champions - Zoe, Kai'Sa, and Pyke – and around three dozen new items. Riot also removed a few items, including Sightstone, Eye of the Oasis, Tracker’s Knife, and Eye of the Equinox. Riot also introduced several experimental game modes, including Snow Battle ARURF, OVERCHARGE, Odyssey: Extraction, and Nexus Blitz.
Germany and France hosted the 2018 LoL MSI from May 3 through May 20. Royal Never Give Up faced South Korea’s King-Zone DragonX in the final and won 3-1. The 2018 LoL World Championship was seen by a record-breaking 127 million viewers globally.
LoL’s 7th ranked season was held from Dec. 8, 2016, to Nov. 7, 2017.
Riot updated the game with three patches during the preseason and 21 more updates throughout the regular season. Ornn, Rakan, Kayn, Xayah, and Camille were that year’s 5 new champions, while Control Ward, Edge of Night, Abyssal Mask, Bramble Vest, and Gargoyle Stoneplate were 5 of the 10 new items. Nearly 30 other champions saw gameplay updates, including Azir, Amumu, Talon, and Rengar.
The Mid-Season Invitational was held in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil from late April to May 21. South Korea’s defending MSI champions SK Telecom T1, successfully defended the title, beating Germany’s G2 Esports in a 3-1 match-up.
Season 6 was the 6th competitive season in LoL eSports, lasting from Jan. 20 to Nov. 8, 2016.
At least two dozen champions were updated, and 6 new ones were released during the patch cycle. The 6 new champions include Kled, Illaoi, Ivern, Jhin, Aurelion Sol, and Taliyah.
Death’s Dance, Cull, Giant Slayer, Hunter’s Talisman, and Rapid Firecanon are just a few of the nearly 30 items Riot released that year.
Shanghai, China, was the host of the 2016 LoL MSI, where North America’s Counter Logic Gaming lost decisively in a 3-0 game against SK Telecom T1, who took the world title.
During its 5th ranked season from Jan. 21, to Nov.11, 2015
Riot released 21 patches, six new champions, and 25 new items. The 6 new champions include Kalista, Rek’Sai, Kindred, Ekko, Bard, and Tham Kench. This is also the season Riot introduced the Champion Mastery progression system and the One For All, Black Market Brawlers, and Nemesis Draft Game Modes.
Season five was the inaugural year for LoL’s Mid-Season Invitational, held in Florida with five qualifying teams. China’s Edward Gaming won the inaugural MSI 3-2 against South Korean rivals SK Telecom T1.
The 2015 LoL World Championship was held in October in multiple European countries and saw SK Telecom T1 winning their second world title.
The 4th ranked season in League of Legends spanned Jan. 10, through Nov. 11, 2014
During which we saw structural changes to the game. Riot revamped several champions and introduced 4 new ones: Azir, Gnar, Vel’Koz, Yasuo, and Braum.
Eleisa's Miracle, Oracle's Elixir, and Mana Manipulator were removed from the game, and around 20 new items were introduced: Dervish Blade, Ancient Coin, Emblem of Valor, etc.
A total of sixteen teams qualified for the 2014 LoL World Championship series. South Korea’s Samsung Galaxy White beat China’s Star Horn Royal Club in the final before an audience of more than 40,000 spectators at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
League of Legends Season 3 – Feb. 1 – 2013-Nov. 11, 2013 –
It is the season Riot replaced the Elo rating system with its new League system. The season saw a total of 13 updates during the patch cycle, where Riot released a plethora of new Jungle, Support, Attack, Defense, and Charged items, alongside a range of gameplay tweaks and adjustments.
Season 3 concluded with the championship series in Los Angeles, California, culminating in the Oct. 4 final, where SK Telecom T1 won their first world title against Chinese opponents Royal Club.
Season 2 launched on Nov. 22, 2011, with patch V22.214.171.124 being the first of over 20 major updates throughout the ranked season.
Riot released 20 new champions and reworked several of the existing ones, including Ashe, Jax, Shen, and Zyra, among others. Riot also presented players with a few new items, including Locket of the Iron Solari, Athene's Unholy Grail, and Maw of Malmortius.
The season concluded with the World Championship grand final in Los Angeles on Oct. 13, 2012, where Taiwan’s Taipei Assassins beat SK’s Azubu Frost 3-1 to claim the world title and $1 in prize money.
Season 1 marked the beginning of the competitive League of Legends. The season began on July 13, 2010, about a year after LoL was launched, and introduced 29 champions and included 48 major updates.
The inaugural LoL World Championship was hosted by Dreamhack Summer in Sweden and comprised 8 teams vying for the maiden world title and $100,000 in prize money. UK-based team Fanatic defeated French opponents Against All authority 2-1 and was crowned the first LoL world champions.