How Long Does a League of Legends Tournament Last?

Did you know the longest League of Legends match in professional play was between Jin Air versus SKT T1 which lasted 94 minutes and 37 seconds, surprisingly SKT lost (and this was back in 2018). Meanwhile some games conclude right at 15 minutes with a forfeit.

League of Legends games can get extremely long, but that doesn’t mean you can’t determine how long a tournament could be. In fact, most tournaments are setup to conclude at a certain point in time.

Regardless of if you are a tournament participant or tournament organizer, it’s important for you to know what factors play a role so you can determine if you have the ability to attend for a tournament’s entirety.

The average duration of a League of Legends tournament is 8 hours. This is mainly due to the number of games played and played at once in the tournament but is also based on the rank of players, breaks and technical issues.

There is a lot of predictability and control over how long a League of Legends 5v5 tournament would be. Let’s dive right into what those factors are.

What Determines a League of Legends 5v5 Tournament’s Duration?

Game Duration

An obvious determining factor is the duration of each individual game, and this may seem like a very uncontrollable factor, but that is just not true. Tournament organizers are able to setup their tournaments in certain ways to reduce or increase the duration of each game.

Firstly, the rank of the players matter. According to the League of Graphs, games in higher ranks are shorter than in lower ranks. This is because higher elo players have a better understanding of how to leverage an advantage and close games sooner.

These are the match duration numbers taken on April 22th, 2020. As you can see, there is a clear decrease in game duration as you increase in rank. Click here to see the current game durations on leagueofgraphs.com.

Another factor that determines the duration is the rank or skill difference between teams that are playing each other. Typically, a tournament is seeded where the best team vs the worst team, the second-best team vs the second-worst team (on the opposite side of the bracket), and so on. The primary function of this is to allow the best teams (best is subjective to how the tournament organizer seeded the tournament) to face at the end for an enjoyable finals match, but it also creates a major skill difference at the start of tournaments where those games tend to conclude sooner.

If the tournament is composed of competitive premade teams vs casual and randomly created teams have a slightly different duration. Jumping back to the League of Graphs, they show teams in Flex (the rank ladder where teams are premade), games are shorter in lower elos because teams are better coordinated to leverage a lead while it takes longer for higher elos because they are able to holdout better and take fewer risks; When high elo players signup as a solo then they are acting self reliant and plan to carry the team.

Lastly, if forfeiting is allowed in the tournament, that would decrease the time of some games to as little as 15 minutes (as at 15 minutes, forfeiting a match with the consent of your entire team is enabled in the actual game itself). Some tournaments, specifically invitationals, prevent teams from forfeiting or giving up for the sake of the stream and its viewers.

Tournament Bracket and Number of Games

It may seem reasonable to assume that the number of players in a tournament would play a major factor in how long a tournament takes, but that is actually not true. It’s the tournament’s bracket structure that can make a tournament with only a few people extremely long or a major tournament with a lot of people could become decently short (to a point).

For example, running a round-robin tournament for 16 people would result in 120 matches while a single-elimination tournament for 64 people would result in 63 matches. The first tournament has 4 times fewer people but almost double the matches.

Having the combination of tournament blocks, such as a group stage/qualifier into a knockout stage/playoff will typically increase the number of matches instead of running a stand-alone knockout stage. However, this format provides more matches to play per individual player, which is why it is highly favoured.

Above is an example of a knockout stage: Double Elimination. A knockout stage is defined as a stage in a tournament where players get eliminated during the stage if they don’t meet the requirements. In this case, if players lose twice, they get eliminated. A round-robin would not be classified as a knockout stage as no one is eliminated during the stage itself (they do get eliminated after the stage if the round-robin was a qualifier).

The number of matches determines the number of overall games (they aren’t the same). If the tournament is a best of 1, only 1 game will be played per match. If the tournament is best of 3, either 2 or 3 games are played per match. In a best of 5, either 3, 4 or 5 games are played per match. As you can see, the higher best of value there is, the longer and less controllable the duration of the tournament becomes.

Not to mention that a tournament with a bracket running as a best of 3 is at least double, at most triple, the number of games for another tournament with an identical bracket that is running a best of 1.

Number of Games Running at Once

The other hugely impactful and highly controllable factor is the number of games being played at once. This is based on the number of stations at the gaming location itself. If this tournament is being played online, that number can be assumed to be unlimited.

You may think to determine the duration of games alone you would need to do “number of games” divided by “games played at a time”, but that DOESN’T WORK. You also cannot simply separate it based on rounds, as in most larger cases it will provide you with inaccurate information.

The best way to really determine the duration is by calculating it by hand; A tedious process that can occasionally incorporate human errors as you run through it. Luckily for you, I spent countless hours programming a tool which will calculate the tournament duration for you (COMING SOON – has yet to be implemented into the website, but if you want data just send me an email), you just need to input the information about the tournament and it will provide you with the exact duration based on your constraints.

Technical Issues and Delays

These are the things you want buffer time to cover as a tournament organizer, but as a participant you are held at the mercy of technical issues. These include champion-select dodges, delayed game starts, physical machine issues, peripheral issues, game-restarts, server crashes, game-pauses and delayed prerequisite games.

Fun fact, in the season 2 quarter-finals World Championship game between Counter Logic Gaming and World Elite, the match had technical bugs that caused the best of 3 match to become 8 hours long and inevitably the entire tournament to be delayed by 24 hours due to something as small as the internet connection. If that can happen at the World Championship stage, it can happen at your local tournament as well.

Provided Breaks

Lastly, any provided breaks, such as 10-minute breaks between each game or stand-alone 30 min breaks will all cause the tournament to extend by the corresponding duration of that break. This is probably the most straightforward thing but also a tournament organizer’s biggest trump card when it comes to holding a tournament to a specific timeframe.

A large amount of time known as buffer or break times is allocated to a tournament as a contingency of if something goes wrong. In the case that nothing goes wrong, those break times can be executed as normal or reserved buffer time. If something does go wrong and cause the tournament to be delayed, the amount of time the delay caused the tournament to lose would be compensated from removing time from the buffer periods.

How You Can Determine The Duration of The Tournament You Are Participating in or Hosting?

Participants

As a participant, you want to first determine how many signups the tournament has and if there is a maximum number of signups allowed. Determine what rank of players are signing up, are they lower elo or higher elo? Premade teams or are there a lot of free agents?

Then you compare that to the tournament bracket set in place to get a base idea of how long it may take. If the tournament is online, its safe to assume an unlimited number of games are running at once. Otherwise, you would want to figure out how many games are running at once; You may need to contact the tournament organizer for that information. Once you got those, you can do the math yourself to see how long it may take or fill it into my handy, free, easy-to-use tournament duration calculator (COMING SOON) to do the boring math for you.

You would also benefit from looking at if these tournament organizers are new. Newer organizers result in more mistakes, fewer breaks and more delays (generally speaking).

This wasn’t even my first physical tournaments, but we provided no break time, no buffer time (and we had to pay the cost dearly when we had issues, and we had a lot of issues D: ).

Organizer

As an organizer, you want to have your tournament bracket structure in conjunction with the number of signups you expect to reflect the range of time you would like your tournament to last for. Consider a pessimistic number of signups, a realistic number and an optimistic number/cap.

Take into account any buffer time you will want to incorporate (don’t underestimate it) and think about how many games can be played at once. Once you have that all in place, try out the tournament duration calculator I have in place which will remove any human error in your calculations for the duration of your tournament. If you do it yourself, create a spectrum with a min, an expected and a maximum. You may need to play around with your bracket to make the right fit of time.

Conclusion

Determining the length of your League of Legends tournament may seem overwhelming, but when you take in all the factors into account, you can determine a fairly accurate short range of time which your tournament will take to conclude.

Don’t be afraid to make modifications to your bracket if need be to crown a victor in case of excessive delays, especially if you have your venue for a limited amount of time. With massive unavoidable or unforeseen circumstances, players tend to understand (trust me on that one, I’ve been there). Just make sure that if you don’t face any excessive delays, that your tournament runs accurately to how you projected it.

The tournament duration calculator on my website does an amazing job of helping you make sure you have thought of everything and have no errors in determining the duration of your tournament.

I’d love to know, what time frame you want your tournament (attending or hosting) to take and which bracket it is running?