Just over two months after the conclusion of Worlds 2022, the League of Legends regional seasons are about to start up again and this weekend marks the return of the first major division - China's League of Legends Pro League.
The LPL is home to some of the biggest hitters in the world of Esports from JD Gaming to Royal Never Give Up and the season begins with the LPL Spring Split 2023.
The first split of the LPL season features all 17 teams which featured last year initially playing in a single round-robin league phase with the top 10 set to advance to the LPL Spring playoffs.
The playoffs will be played in two phases - phase one being a king-of-the-hill style bracket and phase two being a double-elimination bracket.
The winners and the runners-up at the LPL Spring 2023 will automatically qualify for the Mid-Season Invitational 2023 - one of the biggest international tournaments in the world of Esports.
Last year's LPL Spring was won by Royal Never Give Up, who also went on to win the Mid-Season Invitational, but it was JD Gaming who won the LPL Summer later in the year and then impressed at Worlds.
|What||LOL - LPL Spring|
|When||Saturday 14th January 2023 - Sunday 26th March 2023|
|How to watch||Twitch|
|Odds (To Win Outright)||JD Gaming 6/4, Top Esports 3/1, Royal Never Give Up 4/1, Edward Gaming , Weibo Gaming 7/1|
JD Gaming failed to make it beyond the fourth round of the playoffs at last year's LPL Spring, losing to Royal Never Give Up and Victory Five (now known as Ninjas In Pyjamas), but the second half of their year went much better.
They finished the regular season of the LPL Summer with 14 wins from 16 matches and they did not hold back in the playoffs, swatting aside LNG in the fourth round 3-0 and then beating Top Esports twice to claim the title.
As a consequence of that, JD Gaming secured a berth at the League of Legends World Championship - the most-coveted competition in the Esport - and topped their group with a 5-1 record before smashing LEC side Rogue Esports in the quarter-finals.
Their journey came to an end in the last four but they were the only team from outside of South Korea's LCK to make the Worlds semi-finals and are the best team in China right now.
They come into the new year with a new-look team, having added three players to their starting roster - mid laners Zhuo "knight" Ding and Lan "lzq" Zi-Qi as well as South Korean bot laner Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk.
Both "knight" and "Ruler" in particular bring valuable experience to the side with "Ruler" having previously won Worlds back in 2017 with Samsung Galaxy and JD look even stronger heading into the new season.
Top Esports and JD Gaming had a heated rivalry early in the LPL season last year but it is fair to say JD Gaming ultimately came out on top.
Top Esports matched JD Gaming with a 14-2 record in the last LPL split - the LPL Summer 2022 - but fell short in the playoffs and then at Worlds 2022. They failed to get out of their group, finishing below European outfit Rogue.
That was disappointing for Top Esports and even with the off-season addition of Song "Rookie" Eui-jin to their ranks, they may be lacking.
Royal Never Give Up are the defending LPL Spring 2023 champions and also showed they could mix it on the biggest stage when they won the Mid-Season Invitational last year.
They also made the quarter-finals of Worlds 2022, losing to LPL rivals JD Gaming, and should not be ruled out.
They lost comfortably to Bilibili Gaming in the recent pre-season event, the Demacia Cup, but still made the semi-finals of that event and it is fair to say it is a tournament the LPL big guns rarely take seriously.
Along with the aforementioned three sides, Edward Gaming were the other LPL team to play at Worlds 2022, squeezing through the group stage and making the tournament's quarter-finals.
At the most recent LPL split - the LPL Summer - though, they suffered five defeats in the regular season and did not cause much of a stir in the playoffs, bowing out in round four.
They look about right at 6/1. Weibo Gaming are 7/1 to go the distance, while Bilibili Gaming, fresh from great performances in pre-season events the Demacia Cup and the Weibo Cup, should be kept an eye on at 10/1.