- The 2019 League of Legends World Championship Group Stage is set. The Pool 3 seeds from the Play-In Stage are now seeded into all four groups.
Worlds 2019 – Group Stage Draw Preview and Predictions
The Play-In Stage is over.
The first phase of the 2019 League of Legends has now been completed. All four Pool 1 seeds in the Play-Ins prevented any upsets and pushed through to the Group Stage. If you’ve only started watching League of Legends, the annual World Championship, or Worlds, is the biggest tournament of the season. It is one of only two tournaments that puts all teams from every region against each other. This tournament is the culmination of every team’s training and hard work for the entire season.
Four groups of four teams each will play in a double round-robin Bo1 within their group. The top two teams from each group will then advance to the Knockout Stage. The fourth member of each group will be drawn from the winners of the Knockout Stage of Play-Ins. With that said, I’ll review each group and give you a glimpse of what might happen to come to the Group Stage.
2019 MSI champion and LEC Spring and Summer Split Champions G2 Esports headline the first group and are one of the favorites to not only qualify for the Knockout Stage but eventually take it all the way to the Summoner’s Cup. Led by franchise cornerstone and 2018 Worlds semi-finalist Luka “Perkz” Perković along with 2019 MSI MVP and 2018 Worlds Runner-up Rasmus “Caps” Winther, this team is scary from top to bottom. Their willingness to play an “organized chaos” wrecks every team’s game plan and force them to play into G2’s hands.
Joining this group is 3-time LCK runners-up Griffin. Griffin qualified for the LCK from the challenger scene and quickly made the rest of the league look silly. Armed with aggression not normally seen in Korean teams, they dominated in the regular season in both splits this year, falling only to SKT in both finals. Griffin’s jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong is a prodigy and his aggression fuels Griffin’s success.
The third member of this group is North America’s Cloud 9. Cloud 9 remains the only team to make it to every World Championship since their inception in 2013 and to date, the best run North America has ever had on the Worlds stage. C9’s roster has changed drastically over the years and only ADC Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi remains from the original lineup that took NA by storm. They will look to lean on his steadiness come next week, with the help of 2019 Summer Split MVP Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen.
Hong Kong Attitude
Rounding out this group is Hong Kong Attitude, fresh from their Play-In Stage victory. The clear underdogs of this group, HKA will have to use the experience and momentum they gained in the Play-Ins to make a statement and prove that LMS is still a strong region sans-Flash Wolves. They will likely depend heavily on jungler Lee “Crash” Dong-woo in order for them to go toe-to-toe with the big boys.
- G2 Esports
- Cloud 9
- Hong Kong Attitude
Yes, I predicted a Korean team to drop out of Groups. Gen.G did drop out last year, courtesy of Cloud 9. Cloud 9 also took down Korean 2nd seed Afreeca Freecs in last year’s Quarterfinals. C9 has always been North America’s best team at Worlds and it would be foolish to bet against them this year. Meanwhile, G2’s run at MSI and their semifinal win against Korea’s all-time greatest team proved that they have what it takes to be a winner.
Fun Plus Phoenix
This might just be the most underrated group of the four. While dubbed the “Group of Life”, teams often bring a bag of tricks to international tournaments. Thus, it would be unfair to count out the other teams from making a splash. Headlining this group is the LPL’s #1 seed Fun Plus Phoenix. Mostly unknown to casual fans, this team dominated both regular-season splits, placing 3rd in Spring and finally winning a chip in the Summer. Led by mid-laner Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, this LPL team is difficult to stop when they’re in form.
The second team in Group B is the LMS #1 seed J Team. After the departure of the Gamania Bears/Flash Wolves core to the LPL, the Taiwanese league was up for grabs. J Team has always been on the heels of fellow LMS teams AHQ and Flash Wolves. This year, they finally managed to get over the hump and qualify for Worlds. Mid laner Chu “FoFo” Chun-Lan will likely use this opportunity to tell the world that the LMS isn’t just about Maple and Westdoor.
Next, we have GAM Esports from the VCS. Formerly the Gigabyte Marines, this team was the crowd darling that ignited the world’s love for the Vietnamese League of Legends. Jungler Phạm “Levi” Minh Lộc returned to the lineup after a brief stint in foreign regions and will reintroduce their brand of League to the world.
Last but not least, we have EU’s 3rd seed Splyce who came in from the Play-In Stage. Fresh from a 5-game series win, expect them to stick to their successful playstyle around ADC Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup.
- Fun Plus Phoenix
- GAM Esports
- J Team
While this is GAM’s best chance to get out of the Group Stage alive, I don’t think they have what it takes to knock out Splyce. Splyce have shown their resilience and trust in their own game, picking tanks despite their inability to do anything in lane. Also, FPX’s jungler Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang will definitely get to prove himself against Splyce’s Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir and the world-famous Levi.
Ah, the Group of Death. This group will be an absolute delight for the whole world. With so many storylines to approach with, I can’t even begin to describe how crazy this group is.
Let’s start with the favorite: SK Telecom (SKT). The winning-est and most storied organization to ever grace the Summoner’s Rift, they come back to Worlds after last year’s absence and 2017’s tragic loss to Samsung Galaxy stronger than ever. With stars in every single position, they are once again the favorites to lift the cup for the 4th time. Not even a single team came close to three. Led by the GOAT, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, this team is the team to beat in this tournament.
G2’s dominance for the better part of this year overshadowed the success of Fnatic. LEC’s #2 seed and Summer Split Runners-up will look to prove EU’s rise as the new League of Legends superpower. Franchise player and 5-time Worlds participant Martin “Rekkles” Larsson will try to lead his team to the cup after Caps’s departure.
Another scary team to watch out this year is LPL’s #2 seed RNG. Led by Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao, this team plays perfectly around him and that allows him to carry against any team. RNG have always been hyped before every international tournament but after winning MSI 2018, they have failed to follow that up. Now free from that burden and pressure, they have to take this tournament one game at a time in order to succeed.
To complete the group, the Play-Ins team drawn in C is Clutch Gaming. Top lane star Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon got his wish: face against his former teams SKT and Fnatic. Huni is the only player to have qualified for Worlds from three different regions and for good reason: he is just damn good at League of Legends.
- SK Telecom
- Clutch Gaming
Hot takes, anyone? I obviously gave the edge to SKT. After MSI, they got even better with Lee “Effort” Sang-ho in the lineup in Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong’s place. They seemed to have meshed a lot better around jungler Kim “Clid” Tae-min’s aggression as well. After that, it’s a toss-up, honestly. I gave Fnatic the second seed because I believe Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen is a steadier jungler than both Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan and Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo. It’s not called the Group of Death for nothing.
This group went from okay to nope pretty fast after Damwon Gaming slotted into the final spot of the group. After making a statement in the Play-Ins, Damwon Gaming look scarier than ever. With star top laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, this team will run headfirst into any team it faces, for better or worse. Take note, Nuguri is top 2 on the EUW solo queue ladder, behind G2 Caps. Take that as you will.
AHQ e-Sports club
Group D’s underdog is AHQ e-Sports club. One of the most prominent LMS teams of all time, AHQ had also been through changes. Westdoor is gone. Only Chen “Ziv” Yi remained from the old lineup and he will be their rock in the top lane to lead them against powerful teams in this group.
The defending champions return not as favorites, but as challengers. Invictus Gaming is one of the most polarizing teams in the history of the game. On good days, they’re one of the most unstoppable teams ever. However, they sometimes have the ability to drop a game or two to bottom-dwellers for some reason. The core of the 2018 World Championship team is still intact, with sub jungler Lu “Leyan” Jue filling in for the coinflip Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning for stability. Even after their disappointing MSI exit and eventual elimination in the LPL Summer Playoffs, IG is still a force to be reckoned with.
Finally, the last team in this year’s Worlds, NA’s #1 seed: Team Liquid. TL is filled with veterans across the board. They have two world champions, two of the winning-est North American players ever and C9’s former mid laner, who’s arguably the best international performer in the region’s history. This is no longer just Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng’s team like his old CLG days or the hyped TSM roster that failed internationally. Team Liquid proved that when they eliminated Invictus Gaming in this year’s MSI.
— lolesports (@lolesports) October 9, 2019
- Damwon Gaming
- Invictus Gaming
- Team Liquid
- AHQ e-Sports Club
If it wasn’t obvious yet, I’m a big NA fan but more importantly, I’m a Doublelift fanboy. With that said, I try my best to be objective and unbiased. Damwon Gaming and Invictus Gaming are all better teams across the board. Sure, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, as the MSI series against IG showed us. My point is this: from that series to this tournament, IG have been practicing against much better teams than Team Liquid. Their geographic advantage allows them to scrim against Korean teams if they wanted to. The same goes for Damwon Gaming. On top of their insane talent is healthy competition that helps talented players reach their potential. I’m hoping to be wrong, but I will be bracing myself for another early exit from the NA #1 seed.
The Group Stage of the League of Legends World Championship starts on October 12th in Berlin, Germany. Stay tuned for our daily recaps of the Group Stage games.