TL;DR: Immediate changes incoming for the 2018 season, including Vietnam and Southeast Asia being recognised as a separate competitive regions for 2018 International events, Vietnam’s departure from Garena Premier League (GPL) and what this means for regions involved.
Vietnam and Southeast Asia as separate competitive regions for 2018 International Events
It makes our region proud that Vietnam has been promoted to its own independent competitive region, and will have an independent play-in slot at international events. Vietnam's strong performance has been hard to ignore, not just regionally, but also internationally.
Besides being the Champions of the last four splits of the Garena Premier League, their outstanding performance at international events such as 2017's Mid-Season Invitational and Worlds have allowed them to make their mark on the competitive scene. With Vietnam's consistent achievements, their mature competitive ecosystem and their passionate player base, Vietnam now takes on the mantle of competing as an individual region.
Hence, Vietnam and Southeast Asia (consisting of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand) will be separate competitive regions with their own qualification paths to 2018 International Events, including the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), Rift Rivals, and the League of Legends World Championship (Worlds). Moving forward, the Vietnam Championship Series (VCS) will not only determine the best players and team in Vietnam, but also who will represent the country and League at international events. Naturally, this also marks an end to Vietnam’s journey as part of the Southeast Asia region and the GPL. The Philippines (PGS), Malaysia (LCM), Singapore (SLS), Indonesia (LGS), and Thailand (TPL) will continue to compete as the Southeast Asia region on the international stage.
Garena Premier League (GPL) Spring 2018
The GPL will remain as the International event qualifier for Southeast Asia, featuring the domestic champions from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand.
GPL Spring 2018 is going to Bangkok, Thailand from 28 March to 1 April 2018, and will feature a revised tournament format as Vietnam will no longer be represented.
MSI: MSI will be expanded to be a 14-team tournament, with Vietnam having their own slot and the winner of GPL Spring 2018 qualifying as the Southeast Asia seed to the Play-in Stage.
Rift Rivals: Moving forward, Vietnam (VCS) will be grouped with Turkey (TCL) and CIS (LCL) for Rift Rivals, while Southeast Asia (GPL) will remain grouped with Oceania (OPL) and Japan (LJL).
Worlds: Worlds will remain a 24-team tournament. The extra play-in spot that was earned by the highest ranking region of BR, CIS, JPN, LAN, LAS, OCE, SEA, or TUR will now be owned by Vietnam.
Our long term vision is to improve competitiveness of our top-tier players and entertainment for fans. With Vietnam and Southeast Asia separated as competitive regions, we see a great opportunity to explore ways to level up the esports ecosystem.