Angus Lockhart is a consultant at a market research firm in Toronto, Canada, and holds a Masters of Arts in Political Science. He has been playing League of Legends since season 2.
What is the ideal number of games to play in a season? To many fans and analysts, an ideal season has to be long enough that the best teams reliably come out on top, while the weaker teams fall to the bottom of the standings, but not so long that there is no real room for upsets and unpredictability. Based on that definition, sports analytics provide tools for answering that exact question.
The longer a season, the more likely it is that the best teams float to the top. We’d all agree that a four game season is probably too few, but a hundred game season is probably too many. How do we know what is right?
At 18 games, the LCS and LEC have only two more games than the NFL and significantly fewer games than the NBA (82) the NHL (82) and MLB (150). Is that too fed, or is it appropriate given the nature of League of Legends?
Before seeking an answer, we must acknowledge that when it comes to creating a schedule and a season length, many different factors are important: viewership, burnout, skill expression, and more. The focus of this analysis is “skill expression”, meaning the ability of a team to demonstrate its quality with minimal influence from random or uncontrollable factors. But skill expression is naturally not the only consideration, since teams and Riot have an incentive to maximize profit and to limit playing time to prevent burnout. Statistics, however, can’t say much about these other factors, so a broader discussion of the “best” season length must be left to a different context.
The math behind this analysis comes from Tom Tango’s “True talent replacement level for sports leagues”, via a Neil Paine article on 538. Their previous analysis provides a framework for understanding how much luck contributes to a team’s score after any number of games.
The following analyses use the LCS and LEC records for teams since the beginning of franchising. Continue reading Luck and League: Measuring Ideal Season Length in LoL