Hi everyone, Twohp here. Whether you follow League of Legends or not, there is no denying that the World Championships (starting September 16) are going to draw a lot of attention. What I want to do is give you a bit of an idea about how the Worlds will play out, who will be playing in the matches and how they got there.
14 Teams qualified for the World Championships with four teams earning byes to the quarter finals. The other 10 teams were divided into two groups. Each group will play a round robin, during which each team will play every other team twice. The top two teams from each pool will advance to the quarter finals on September 23. The semi-finals will be on September 27 and the finals on October 4.
It’s a lot of games over a long period of time, but it should be some of the best LoL matches of the year. Let’s take a look at the representatives from each region and what we can expect from them.
Southeast Asian Regionals: If you haven’t heard of the qualifiers from this region you are not alone – many of their opponents hadn’t heard of them either. Team Mineski wasn’t even supposed to be the Philippian’s representative at the regionals, but stepped up as a last minute substitution. They quickly showed that they belonged, beating out both the Saigon Jokers (SEA’s previous World’s team) and the Singapore Sentinels (the favored team entering the tournament).
World’s Prospects: Mineski showed that they do you have a great deal of potential, but the team is still relatively new to the scene and lacks any major international experience. SEA’s representatives did not fair particularly well at last year’s championships, and Mineski will be in tough in a Pool B that consists of teams like Fnatic and Gambit who have a great deal more international experience. Still, this team remains relatively unknown and could use this to their advantage to score some upsets.
International Wildcard Qualifier: This qualifier was a battle of five teams representing regions without official Riot sponsored pro leagues. In some ways it was almost like a mini World’s in that fans were able to watch as teams with very different play styles competed to see who would go to the World Championships. In the end, Gaming Gear.EU emerged as the champions. They were consistent and had clearly overcome their inability to close out games past the 30 minute mark.
World’s Prospects: Gaming Gear.EU has played against some near LCS caliber teams at international events. The Wildcard Qualifiers themselves should have helped to prepare this team for the kind of pressure and diverse competition they will face at World’s. With that said, the skill level of their Wildcard opponents was probably not even close to what they will soon be facing.
Taiwan Regionals: With last year’s champions, the Taipei Assassins, largely splitting up it was apparent that a new team would claim this region’s title. Not many people expected the new champions to be quite as new as the Gamania Bears. The team had only been formed five months ago and had been formed via a player draft. That didn’t stop the team from quickly coming together and defeating the regional favorites, the Taipei Snipers.
World’s Prospects: Gamania earns a bye to the quarter finals thanks to this region’s strong showing in the international All-Star game. As with any new team, one must question whether they can overcome their lack of experience to put up wins against teams that have been together longer and have more international experience. With that said, the competition they faced in Taiwan is respectable (with most teams having faced off against the top Korean squads at one point or another). If this region taught us anything last year it’s that an unknown team can rise to the top if they have the right stuff. If Gamania is able to shrug off the pressure then they certainly have a decent chance.
European Regionals: Europe was unable to secure themselves a bye to the quarterfinals at the All-Star Game, but that did not stop the regionals from having some drama. Gambit Gaming and Evil Geniuses, two teams which made prolific runs at least year’s Worlds, met in the third place match to decide which would be the last team to qualify for Worlds. Gambit won the match and joined Fnatic and Lemondogs as Europe’s representatives.
World’s Prospects: All three of Europe’s teams have had ups and downs throughout the season. When playing well, each team is capable of taking on some of the top competition in the world. Fnatic and Gambit both have extensive international resumes while Lemondogs may have some hard learning to do. One should never count out Gambit at any international competition, and Fnatic will be dangerous if they find their stride. Lemondogs has it slightly easier in Group A and might be able to take advantage of the more even competition there to make it through.
North America Regionals: There was not a great deal of drama at the North American Regionals, unless you were not familiar with watching TSM. TSM came to play, as they seem to do at every major NA tournament, and overcame a low starting seed to end up finishing second. Cloud 9 dominated, finishing first, and Vulcan rounded out the three qualifying teams.
World’s Prospects: The home crowd will definitely be behind the teams from this region. Cloud 9 will get a bye through to the quarter finals. Many view Cloud 9 as being North America’s best shot at success, due to the fact that their objective focused aggressive play style is the most similar to that being used by most of the best Korean teams. Cloud 9 does have very little in the way of international experience, and it will interesting to see if a bye to the quarter finals actually hurts them by not giving them a chance to get a few games in first. Vulcan, which plays a style similar to C9, will be in tough in Group B, but could be dangerous if they find their stride. TSM…is TSM. They have the most international experience of any NA squad, a history of stepping up in big games, but are also haunted by the fact they have never beat a Korean squad. They will be in tough against SK Telecom, but could take advantage of the fairly even playing field that is Group A.
Chinese Regionals: This regional showdown was a three horse race between OMG, Invictus Gaming and Royal Club. OMG had dominated the league during the regular season, and quickly secured a birth to Worlds – though not the birth they had expected. After defeating Invictus in the loser’s bracket, Royal Club defeated OMG to claim the second birth to Worlds and China’s bye to the quarter finals.
World’s Prospects: Both Chinese teams have faced strong opposition both at home in China and in regional tournaments. OMG has a strong record against top Korean and SEA teams and should be a powerful threat in Group A. Royal Club’s record has been somewhat less impressive, and it will be interesting to see if they can handle whoever they end up facing in the quarter finals. Royal has a reputation of being a very streaky team, and not playing many matches at Worlds could limit their ability to get on a hot streak.
Korean Regionals: The format of this regional showdown is one of my personal favorites. A lot of very talented, and familiar, teams could be found taking part including CJ Entus Frost and CJ Entus Blaze. They wouldn’t last, however, as the KT Rolster Bullets seemed determined to be Korea’s third team at Worlds. Even with all of the momentum gained from their early victories over the CJ teams, Bullets was no match for SK Telecom 1. With the victory, T1 joined NaJin Black Sword and Samsung Galaxy Ozone as Korea’s representatives at the World Championships.
World’s Prospects: It is rather difficult to not view the Korean teams as being among the favorites at the World Championships. Their styles of play, individual skill and the fact that they regularly face other top talent in Korea make these three teams very formidable. With that said, both Ozone and T1 are lacking in international experience. They have beat teams that have beat many of the teams they will be facing, but have never had to battle them directly. Despite having a direct bye to the quarter finals, (earned as a result of winning the Korean winter championship) NaJin Black Sword has not been quite as dominate as they were in the winter. Still, none of these teams should be counted out and they will be tough opponents regardless of who they are fighting.
Twohp’s Picks and Teams: In case any of you were wondering who I like and who I will be cheering for… I like SK Telecom and OMG to come out of Group A. I like MVP Ozone and Gambit to come out of Group B. If T1 plays like they were during the Korean summer championships and regionals I just don’t see anyone in Group A beating them. By all accounts OMG is extremely talented, but I can’t rule out TSM finding a way to get in there.
Ozone is also extremely talented, but could be hurt by their lack of major international experience. Gambit…I just have a gut feeling about. They have so much experience playing at this level and always seem to step up on the big stage. I could also see Fnatic getting hot and taking the second spot in B.
As for who I’ll be rooting for, I really like both SK Telecom and Cloud 9. T1 is just so much fun to watch, and I have been following them throughout the summer. I hope they dominate Worlds just like they’ve been dominating Korea. I really enjoy watching C9 play and I truly believe they give North America something we haven’t had in a long time – a chance to beat a Korean team.
There you have it. Hopefully this should give you a bit of an idea about who the teams competing at the World Championships are and where they are coming from. Don’t forget that Worlds kicks off this Sunday. You can find the full schedule here.
I would love to hear who you guys are cheering for and what your predictions are. Leave a comment below and in a few weeks we can look back and see who was right and if there were any crazy upsets no one saw coming.