The 2019 League of Legends World Championships are well underway, featuring the best players the world has to offer as they fight to hoist the Summoner’s Cup at the end. The biggest difference this year is that the Western teams have come to fight. After years of dominance by the Chinese and Korean teams, Europe and North America seemingly have challengers capable of making deeper runs and potentially winning it all.
The main stage is represented by 16 teams initially, with four teams each in four different groups. After a double round robin, the top two teams from each group enter the knockout round, where the final eight teams compete in a single-elimination bracket to decide the best team at the tournament.
Group A consists of Europe’s G2 Esports, Korea’s GRIFFIN, North America’s Cloud9, and Taiwan’s Hong Kong Attitude. GRIFFIN and G2 are easy favorites and are at the top of the group after the first half of the stage. However, C9 has been the only North American team to consistently make it out of the group stage and are at the World Championships for the sixth year in a row.
In Group B are China’s FunPlus Phoenix, Europe’s Splyce, Taiwan’s CTBC J-Team, and Vietnam’s GAM Esports. The group is practically free for FunPlus, who should expect a resounding victory. The rest is really up for grabs, but it’s likely that Splyce will come out ahead considering they are from a more developed region, as far as professional League of Legends goes.
Group C, coined as “the group of death,” has Korea’s SK Telecom T1, China’s Royal Never Give Up, Europe’s Fnatic, and North America’s Clutch Gaming. The storylines are practically endless here. SKT has won three world championships since their conception and are a top five team at this year’s tournament. RNG is home to Uzi, who is heralded as the best AD Carry in the world. RNG is equally high as a favorite to take home the trophy. Not quite at their level but still very strong in their own right, Fnatic’s mid laner, Caps is in the peak of his career and has a world-class support that deserves to win just as much as the rest. Clutch is in no way a bad team but just doesn’t compare to the rest and will likely fall and stay at the bottom.
Group D almost rivals C in strength, with Korea’s DAMWON Gaming, North America’s Team Liquid, China’s Invictus Gaming, and Taiwan’s AHQ eSports Club. After the first round, there was a three-way tie for first at 2-1, with AHQ lagging behind. Liquid is regarded as NA’s best hope for World’s success. Invictus Gaming are back on the championship stage after being crowned the victors last year. DAMWON, while the weaker team, have Nuclear at AD Carry who has defied any and all expectations about his talent.
Over the years of Chinese and Korean dominance, people have talked endlessly about the closing of the gap between the Eastern and Western regions. This year, they might finally be right. G2 is one of the favorites to win it all, with Splyce and Fnatic having serious chances at making a run. North America isn’t slouching either, with Liquid in prime position to make it out of their group. Storylines have been built up all year to see who can finally come through and deliver on the biggest stage of them all, as the knockout stage is set to begin on Oct. 26.