League of Legends Worlds season comes once a year, and the upcoming 2020 World Championship will be especially gratifying after such a rocky year. Fans who saw their favorite teams qualify for Worlds will no doubt be cheering for them on the international stage, but 2020 saw a good amount of fan-favorite teams miss out on the event, and many will be looking for a new set of faces to cheer for. With so many different teams and storylines to follow, finding one that resonates with you may be a challenge. So here is a guide on who to root for in Worlds 2020.
The Favorite – Top Esports
Some may call it being a “front-runner.” Others, a “bandwagoner.” But sometimes, rooting for the winning team is simply a lot of fun, and no one has been winning more than China’s Top Esports. Since acquiring star bot laner Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo, Top Esports have been an unstoppable force in the League of Legends Pro League.
Loaded with star players in every lane, highlighted by the 20-year-old mid laner Zhuo “knight” Ding, who many call the best player in the world, Top Esports were crowned champions of the LPL Summer Split. The star-studded team took down JDG and won the title in the most competitive region in League of Legends. Top Esports will no doubt come into Worlds 2020 as the favorite to win it all.
The Underdogs – FlyQuest and Machi Esports
If rooting for the favorites seems boring, then maybe rooting for the underdogs may be for you. FlyQuest, North America’s second seed, and Machi Esports, the lone representative from the newly minted PCS, are by far the biggest underdogs already qualified for the Group Stage.
FlyQuest, the only team to make it to the both Spring and Summer Finals in North America, were consistently underrated by their constituents. With a strong mid-jungle duo in Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen and Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and a strong bot lane in Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and Brandon “Mash” Phan, many believe the underdog to be North America’s greatest hope at Worlds (for what it’s worth.)
Machi Esports, an organization based in Taiwan, are the first and only representative of the Pacific Championship Series. Since 2016, only one team not from China, Korea, North America or Europe has ever made it out of the group stage (Albus NoX Luna). No team from the Pacific has made it since 2015, when Flash Wolves and ahq eSports Club made it out of groups. Is Machi up for the challenge?
The Kings of Korea – DAMWON Gaming
Although hearing “Kings of Korea” may make you think of Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and T1, DAMWON Gaming is changing that. Over the past two years, DAMWON have made a name for themselves internationally. Since qualifying for the LCK through the amateur scene in Korea at the end of 2018, fans and analysts have been waiting for DAMWON to hit their peak. After winning their first LCK title this past summer, many are saying that it has finally happened, and will be expecting a lot from Korea’s champs.
DAMWON aren’t the cleanest team in the world, and they often seem more like a Chinese team than a team from Korea, a region known for its slow and methodical playstyle. Top laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon at times looks like the world’s most talented top laner, while at other times you’ll be scratching your head, wondering why in the world he decided to fight there.
While Korea is known for their cautious, counter-play style, DAMWON have conquered the region using a fight-first mentality that has dominated China and propelled them over Korea in terms of level of performance. After Korea won five straight Championships, China has won the past two, and DAMWON may just be Korea’s hope in reclaiming their former glory.
The Pride of Europe – G2 Esports
G2 Esports are known as many things. They’re the team that launched Europe from North America’s shadow to the World Finals stage. They’re the first Western team to win an international tournament. They’re the eight-time European champs, and the most successful team the region has ever produced. Also, they’re the team with Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther.
G2 has long been synonymous with dominance, and although the team hit their share of roadblocks this year, 2020 has been no different. They’ve won the past four LEC titles, tying their own European record. Their two sweeps of Fnatic in the Spring and Summer Finals marked their seventh and eighth titles since joining the league, tying and then breaking their opponent’s previous record.
G2 are no strangers to the Worlds stage, having gone all the way to the Finals against FunPlus Phoenix last year, before being swept by the Chinese juggernauts. However, FPX won’t be at Worlds this year, and although no Western team has ever won it, G2’s eyes remain on the Summoner’s Cup.
Pups Among Beasts – Suning
If there is a word to describe the teams that China’s LPL fields, “beasts” is one of the first that comes to mind. However, Suning isn’t like the other beasts in the LPL. While Top Esports and JDG are the favorites coming out of the region, Suning readily awaits the Group Stage with a roster full of talented, young stars in the making.
Top laner Chen ”Bin” Ze-Bin, mid laner Xiang “Angel” Tao and AD carry Tang “huanfeng” Huan-Feng, all under 20-years-old, comprise the rising talent on Suning’s roster. With veterans Lê “SofM” Quang Duy and Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh leading the way, Suning are ready to prove themselves on the international stage.
Europe’s Fresh Young Stars – Rogue and Mad Lions
While G2 and Fnatic represent the grizzled veterans of Europe, Rogue and Mad Lions represent the young guns ready to make a name for themselves.
In their first season under the MAD Lions banner, the young roster had a successful 2020 campaign, coming in third and fourth respectively in the LEC Spring and Summer Splits. The team had looked like the best team in Europe for much of the Summer Split, before hitting a rough patch prior to the playoffs. Every player came into 2020 as a rookie, besides mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda, who had a year under his belt before coming into the year.
On the flip side, Rouge also had a successful 2020, and a particularly strong Summer Split, where they matched MAD Lions step for step, and ended up beating them out, finishing the regular season in first place, and then eliminating them from the playoffs. Mid laner Emil “Larssen” Larsson was one of the many bright spots on the team, along with jungler Kacper “Inspired” Słoma, who together composed one of the strongest mid-jungle duos in Europe.
For The North American Homer – Team SoloMid
There are few who legitimately think TSM will perform at Worlds. However, there are a lot of TSM fans out there, and even more North American fans who all desperately want to see their teams perform internationally.
Led by legendary North American mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, TSM ended the Summer Split strong after a shaky year. Prior to summer, the team reacquired another North American legend in Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. TSM also shook up their jungle, adding rookie Mingyi “Spica” Lu, who played a major part in securing their Summer title.
The Old Guards Of The West – Fnatic and Team Liquid
Coming into 2020, Team Liquid was on a four-title win streak in North America. Then the 2020 Spring Split came, and Team Liquid collapsed. They finished the split in ninth place with a meager 7-11 record. The team then made waves in the offseason by signing long time caster Joshua “Jatt” Leesman to be the new head coach.
After a lot of work, Jatt turned Team Liquid around. The players adopted a reserved playstyle, playing to punish the mistakes of their opponents. Although they never looked flashy or brilliant, Team Liquid slowly chugged along and out-lived everyone else, finishing the split in first place.
Fnatic, the most storied team in Europe, did not have the 2020 they envisioned. Although the team ended up making the finals in both spring and summer, both series ended disappointingly, with Fnatic getting swept by G2 in both. Nearly everyone on the roster struggled in some capacity throughout the year.
Although they’re not the same Fnatic and Team Liquid that dominated their respective regions, they’ll look to extend their traditions of success into Worlds 2020.
The Return – LGD Gaming
It’s been a while since fans have seen LGD on the Worlds stage, five years to be exact. However, now it’s 2020, and LGD is back. The team has gone through a quick rebuild in the past few months, acquiring star top laner Xie “Langx” Zhen-Ying, mid laner Su “xiye” Han-Wei and support Ling “Mark” Xu prior to the Summer Split.
With veteran Han “Peanut” Wang-ho in the jungle, LGD and their massive fanbase are ready for the team’s return to Worlds.
The Worlds Play-In Stage is set to begin September 25th, and the Group Stage on October 3rd. Big news on all these teams to come.