As if the 2023 Season Kickoff Events and the MSI 2023 format announcement were not enough yet, Riot Games has served fans with more news to consume. The 2023 League of Legends World Championship will be held in South Korea, five years after the event was last held in the country. Worlds 2023 also shakes up its format, particularly in the early stages of the tournament.

Worlds Qualifying Series & Play-In Stage

Riot has added a new round to Worlds 2023: the Worlds Qualifying series. While 21 teams qualify for Worlds directly from their region, the 22nd team has one extra hurdle to take. The fourth seed of the LCS and LEC battle each other directly in a best-of-five series to determine which of the two grabs the final ticket to the world championship. Although this is the only Worlds Qualifying Series this year, Riot notes that they hope to expand the WQS to include more regions in future years.

Teams are seeded into either the Play-In Stage or the Swiss Stage. At Worlds 2023, the Play-In Stage teams are: two teams from the VCS and PCS each, one team from the LLA, CBLOL, and LJL, and the winner of the WQS.

The eight teams in the Worlds 2023 Play-In Stage are split into two groups of four. These groups use a Double Elimination format to determine which four teams survive the first phase of the Play-In Stage. The winner of each group then plays a best-of-five series against the loser of the other group to determine which two teams advance to the Swiss Stage.

The Worlds 2023 Play-In Stage uses two Double Elimination brackets (left and right). The four most successful teams play in a best-of-five series (top). (Source: Riot Games)

Swiss Stage

The Swiss Stage has replaced the Group Stage at Worlds 2023. The two teams that made it through the Play-In Stage join fourteen teams that directly qualified for the Swiss Stage. These fourteen teams are: four teams from the LPL and LCK each and three teams from the LEC and LCS each.

Initially, all teams are put in one giant group in the Swiss Stage. But that changes quickly. After playing their first best-of-one, the teams move up or down in the bracket, depending on the result they got. In the next round of the Swiss Stage, each team plays another best-of-one.

Teams will always play a team that has the same record as they do. So, for example: if an LEC team wins its first match, it will play its second best-of-one against a team that also won its first match. If the hypothetical LEC team then loses its second match, it will play its third match against a team that also has a 1-1 record.

The Worlds 2023 Swiss Stage visualized. (Source: Riot Games)

A team advances to the Knockout Stage by winning three series. Conversely, if a team loses three series, they are eliminated. Advancement and elimination series are not best-of-ones, though. If a team is 0-2 down, for example, they won’t rely on a best-of-one to stay alive. Instead, they play a best-of-three against a team with the same score to determine their fate.

Knockout Stage

Although Riot has introduced Double Elimination to the Play-In Stage and to MSI 2023, the Worlds 2023 Knockout Stage remains largely the same as in previous years. The eight teams that made it through the Swiss Stage are placed in a Single Elimination bracket where they’ll play best-of-fives to determine the champion.

The biggest difference with previous iterations of the world championship, is that teams are seeded into the Knockout Stage based on their performance in the Swiss Stage. A 3-0 Swiss Stage team will not be placed against another 3-0 team in the quarterfinal, for example.

Riot has not given the dates yet for Worlds 2023, though the tournament usually takes place from the end of September until early November.