The new D&D Adventurers League will include three new types of play: Epics, Encounters, and Expeditions.
Following their recent announcement of the new editon's full lineup, Wizards of the Coast has announced the new structure of organized, public play for Dungeons & Dragons to debut at Gen Con late this summer: The D&D Adventurers League. Wizards is building on the shared-world experience they've been touting with their Tyranny of Dragons storyline, saying that this will be its "entire public play taking place in the same ongoing D&D campaign." Billed as a story-first approach to organized play, emphasizing fast and easy recording of character development over time. The main focus of that ease seems to be involving characters with specific factions for bonuses, as detailed at PAX East, and using what will be called "certificates" - physical sheets that say your character has a particular magic item or story-based benefit. These events will take 14-18 weeks of play, and with players building up to higher levels over time, and eventually transition to new stories with new characters. As previously announced, the storylines will take place in the Forgotten Realms setting.
The program will include Epic events at major conventions, weekly Encounters events at stores, and Expeditions play for regional conventions. Alongside this new infrastructure, Wizards has announced that it will add dedicated staff to handle the new play program, an organizer, community manager, and developer-editor for the adventures.
The new jewel of organized play for D&D appears to be Epic events, which will take place to kick off the game's new storylines at major conventions throughout the year. These will be extended-play events with multiple tables of players which will shape the general course of events in an overall Adventurers League storyline. D&D Encounters, the current organized play program, will continue on Wednesdays, but it sounds like the production value of Encounters will go way up. Players will receive folios of special character sheets and swag aligned with their in-game factions, and stores and DMs will receive free chunks of published adventures, along with unrevealed swag associated with the ongoing story. Finally, D&D Expeditions will be ongoing, campaign style play at conventions and stores. While Expeditions details are scarce, it sounds much like the structure of the old Living Forgotten Realms or Living Greyhawk games, in that instead of an episodic approach to adventures it deals with an organized, ongoing storyline.
If you're not familiar with all the new developments in Dungeons & Dragons, then you can read up on all the new product details and release dates here and get some in-depth analysis on whether the new D&D will be a mistake or a masterpiece here.
You can read the full Adventurers League Announcement at Wizards of the Coast.