- The League of Legends World Championship 2019 Play-in Group Stage starts on Oct. 2 and the Play-in Knockout Stage starts on Oct. 7. Here are our predictions.
Worlds 2019 Preview: Play-In Stage
Those of you who will be experiencing the annual insanity of the League of Legends World Championship for the first time are in for a treat. Here’s a primer for all the teams participating in the play-ins as well as how you can get ready for your first viewing.
What is the Play-In Tag At The Worlds?
Before 2017, in order to qualify for the Mid-Season Invitational and the World Championship, the top teams from the minor regions played in the International Wildcard Invitational and the International Wildcard Qualifier, respectively. These were held right before the Group Stage starts and were held in a different venue, making it even more difficult for minor region teams to compete against the major regions. Moreover, most viewers from major regions tend not to bother watching it since it’s in a different venue and most likely at a time inconvenient for them. Hence, Riot integrated the Wildcard tournament into the World Championship and implemented the Play-in Stage in MSI 2017.
Riot made sure viewers would pay attention to the play-in stage by adding teams from major regions into the play-in tournament. Riot used a point system using the major regions’ collective performance in past international tournaments.
There are 4 groups with 3 teams each, and each team plays both teams in their group twice. The top 2 teams from each group advance to the Knockout Stage of the play-ins. The #1 teams of every group will randomly get matched with a #2 team from a different group and will duke it out in a Bo5 series to determine who’s going to the Main Event.
This Year’s Play-in Groups
Last year’s Play-ins gave us some of the best moments the wildcard regions have ever had to date and they’ll be coming in locked and loaded to surpass those moments. Here are the groups:
- Clutch Gaming (LCS 2019 Regional Finals Champion)
- UOL (LCL 2019 Summer Champion)
- Mammoth (OPL 2019 Split 2 Champion)
Looking at this group, Clutch Gaming is the clear-cut favorite to get the top seed, no doubt. They are a solid team with a world-class top laner and explosive primary carry in Huni, as well as veterans Lira and Cody Sun. Worlds 2019 will surely have some upsets but it will also likely have hard stomps. This team can bring you both on a day-to-day basis.
UoL is the poised to get the #2 seed out of the group. Led by the Thresh Prince himself, Edward and their coach Sheepy, UoL has a slew of veterans who are not new to the international stage. They will look to replicate the success of ANX and bring pride to CIS region.
As for Mammoth, the OPL’s performances in the past years are quite disappointing. This should fuel Triple and k1ng to be on the best shape of their careers in order to score an upset or two against their far superior opponents.
- Clutch Gaming
- Splyce (LEC 2019 Regional Finals Champion)
- Isurus Gaming (LLA 2019 Closing Champion)
- DetonatioN FocusMe (LJL 2019 Summer Champion)
This is my favorite group of the Play-ins by far. DFM went viral last year when they won Japan’s first ever wins on the world stage and honestly had me hoping they could score an upset against EDG. With last year’s roster pretty much intact, they’re looking to replicate that success and hopefully make it to the Group Stage for Worlds 2019.
Standing in their way are the LEC’s 3rd seed, Splyce, led by their ever-reliable ADC Kobbe and their young, upcoming mid laner Humanoid. They may not be an explosive, early game team but they rely on their top laner Vizicsacsi to absorb pressure in the top lane to allow Xerxe and Humanoid to snowball Kobbe into an unstoppable late game carry.
The third team from the group is Isurus Gaming, the champion of the merged Latin American regions, led by the most decorated Latin American pro, Seiya. Look for him to carry the hopes of an entire region and empower his team to the Bo5 round.
- DetonatioN FocusMe
- Hong Kong Attitude (LMS 2019 Regional Finals)
- Lowkey Esports (VCS 2019 Summer Runner-Up)
- MEGA (LST 2019 Summer Champion)
This is going to be a crazy group. Remember the Bangkok Titans? Lloyd and G4 are back on the international stage, now reinforced by a Korean duo in the bot lane. I will never forget G4’s balls-to-the-wall pre-rework Irelia pick against Faker 4 years ago. I hope he’s still up for more of that craziness.
The Pool 1 team in this group is Hong Kong Attitude, which is without a doubt the weakest of the Pool 1 teams in the Play-in Stage as the LMS are plagued by a talent drain with their best players moving to the greener pastures of the LPL. Nevertheless, Chawy’s band of misfits will have plenty of opportunity to prove that the LMS is still alive and kicking.
Last but definitely not the least: Lowkey Esports, the VCS 2nd seed. Most fans will attribute Vietnam’s rise solely to the success of the Gigabyte Marines, but I think that’s unfair to the rest of the region. Expect a great showing by this team to prove to the rest of the world that Vietnam isn’t just Levi country. With that said, it’s no secret that #2 seeds from every group will hope they get matched with whoever gets the #1 seed from this group but that shouldn’t stop any of these teams from going into the tournament guns blazing.
Prediction: (Don’t @ me)
- Lowkey Esports
- Hong Kong Attitude
- Damwon Gaming (LCK 2019 Regional Finals)
- Flamengo eSports (CBLOL 2019 Split 2 Champion)
- Royal Youth (TCL 2019 Summer Champion)
That’s not a typo. Yes, there is an LCK team in the Play-in Stage for Worlds 2019. What a time to be alive, huh? Korea’s recent performances were, to put it lightly, underwhelming. This year’s worlds is highly touted as Korea’s revenge tour and the first test for Korea is arguably the hardest group in the entire Play-In tournament. Damwon is led by powerful solo laners in Nuguri and Showmaker, bolstered by their jungler Showmaker.
Flamengo is fueled by most rabid fanbase in LoL. On top of that, they are led by the ultimate Brazilian ADC, brTT. Given that, you’d best expect this team to rebound from Kabum’s bomb of a performance last year, lest they risk the wrath of the CBLoL fans.
Rounding out this group is Royal Youth from Turkey, who beat Supermassive in the TCL Finals to earn the right to represent Turkey in the World Championship. This team is led by jungler Closer and Korean ADC Pilot. Expect Pilot and brTT to have their hands full as they try to match the explosiveness of Damwon’s top half of the map in Nuguri, Canyon and Showmaker.
- Damwon Gaming
- Flamengo eSports
Top Players To Watch In Worlds 2019
If you’re not too familiar with these teams, here are the list of players most likely to pop off:
- DWG Canyon
- CG Huni
- SPY Humanoid
- DFM Ceros
- FLA brTT
The Group Stage will kick off after the Play-Ins Bo5 on October 12th. Tune in for my predictions for the Main Event Group Stage.