By Petar Vukobrat
September 29, 2019
With the biggest and most prestigious tournament of the year quickly approaching, let’s take a closer look at our four bold predictions for the 2019 LoL World Championship! First of all, it’s important to note that we’re entering the most flexible, even and downright exciting Worlds in history. The meta is at its best when it comes to flexibility and versatility, there are many teams brimming with strength and potential, and the gap between the East and the West has finally shrunk.
If you’re a fan of top-tier competitive League, things really cannot get any more exciting. One of the reasons why that’s the case, is because anything can happen going forward. We’ve seen the world of competitive League turned on its head over the last year or so which ushered in a new, much more exciting era. Korea was no longer at the top, China was strong but inconsistent, Europe was staggeringly creative and aggressive, and North America… Well, no one really knew what to make of it, but it was far from a pushover, as evidenced by Team Liquid’s second-place finish at the most recent 2019 Mid-Season invitational.
Simply put, the throne is up for the taking, and who’s going to emerge victorious is completely up in the air. Now sure, some teams and regions are more favored than others, but nothing is set in stone, which is quite a fruitful context for upsets to happen and bold predictions to be made.
The nature of any bold prediction is that it may or may not happen. At the very least, the ones listed below a possibility and are within the realm of probability. If these scenarios do transpire, no one will be too surprised, but more than a couple of people are bound to be disappointed and/or shocked. While there’s a huge chance of things further developing into the unknown, they could also revert back to an older state. It’s hard to shake off years of Korean dominance, even after an entire season in which they didn’t win anything.
Everyone can have a bit of down time, everyone has ups and downs, and it’s still too early to know whether this is just a temporary thing, a momentary detour from the established order or an actual seismic shift in the world of competitive League.
And we won’t really have an answer until Worlds concludes either, so we can theorize to our heart’s content.
So without any further ado, let’s dive a bit deeper into our list of four bold 2019 LoL World Championship predictions, listed in no particular order!
First of all, there’s a huge chance of Splyce and/or Clutch Gaming leaving a mark. What that actually means still remains to be seen, but they’re far more capable than people give them credit for. They have a solid enough read on the meta, they’re in sync, they’re aggressive and willing to throw down right from the very get-go, and they have more than enough mechanical prowess to compete with almost anyone at Worlds.
So by all accounts, they’re well-rounded and deceptively dangerous. They are, however, also fairly inconsistent and have more than just a couple of exploitable weaknesses and in-game/drafting tendencies (Clutch especially).
These two teams aren’t your run-of-the-mill third seeds. They will be competing at Worlds for a reason and they had to go through thick and thin to get to this point. In other words, if they’re going down, they’re not going down without a fight.
Perhaps most importantly, these two teams have no illusions of grandeur. They know their place in the overall Worlds hierarchy, and they’re not entering the tournament thinking they’re the ones who’ll eventually lift the trophy. They’re not that insane. Instead, they’re the underdogs and are fully prepared to channel such a status and turn some heads.
Also, they’re aware that they probably won’t be able to beat the likes of SKT T1 or Invictus Gaming through standard play. They won’t out-SKT SKT, no matter how hard they try. So instead, they’ll first go the standard route and push things as far as possible. Once that fails, they’ll flex their creative muscles and come up with something new and insane — that’s when the real fun starts.
Splyce is known for their off-the-wall pocket picks. Blitzcrank, Veigar (as an AP carry), Vel’Koz, Warwick, Ivern, Rumble jungle, and so on. They can play anything they want, and their patented team fighting will do the rest. When they’re on the same page they definitely have a puncher’s chance.
By the same token, Clutch doesn’t shy away from forays into the cheese realm, although they don’t exactly try to “break” the meta as much. You know what their players will prioritize and how they’ll play the game, but you still have to contain all the craziness in order to emerge on top.
At the very least, these two teams have the capacity to create absolute chaos — Clutch especially if their most recent LCS run is anything to go by. They still need to go through the Play-In Stage but their qualification for the Group Stage is basically a given at this point. Once that happens, they’ll look to play spoiler from the moment they step foot on stage.
The loss of Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen didn’t hurt Cloud9’s chances of remaining competitive, but it does mean they lost a rock in the mid lane — something of incredible value on the international stage. Jensen’s track record is nothing short of fantastic and not being as competitive in the mid lane as they once were could seriously hinder their chances of attaining success.
And this isn’t a knock on Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer either. He’s a fantastic player, but it’s still too early to give him the full benefit of the doubt against the best mid laners the world of competitive League has to offer. Furthermore, he’s one of the few Cloud9 players who didn’t fluctuate performance-wise throughout the most recent split.
The majority of the team just wasn’t as consistent or dominant as most people expected.
To make matters even worse, they’ll be up against G2 Esports and Griffin. That’s about as insane of a group as you can get at this point in time. Two titans known for their unrelenting aggression and flexibility; two teams of unparalleled strength. And you never know what they’ll do in-game or what they’ll draft, especially in a Best of 1 format.
While Cloud9 has more than enough tools to compete, it’s hard seeing them coming out on top against either G2 or Griffin. They won’t go down without a fight, but it feels like they won’t be getting out of their group this time around, and that’s disappointing. They’re a capable challenger, and after their spectacular success back in 2018, we know they’re worthy of competing on such a big stage.
Despite this, inconsistent individual performances along with stiffer competition will probably translate into an early exit. That said, if there was ever a team that succeeded in defying the odds, it has to be Cloud9, so it’ll be fun seeing whether they pull off another miracle or if this really is the end of the road.
Depending on who you ask, this may or may not be considered as a bold prediction. Most people are treating G2 Esports as a worthy challenger, as a team that could, by all means, lift the Summoner’s Cup, but everyone’s also kind of uncertain.
There’s doubt lingering in the air.
On one hand, we’ve seen their staggering flexibility, mechanical prowess and sheer talent. In many ways, they truly are the best team in the world. But that’s just one half of the equation. The passage of time aids everyone except G2 Esports.
Back in Spring and at the Mid-Season Invitational, they were somewhat of a novelty. Their approach to League of Legends was refreshing and original, which gave them an upper hand almost immediately. But other teams and region watched, and they took notes. Everyone knows what’s the best and most optimal way to play the game right now, but that wasn’t the case a couple of months ago. Back then, teams were still experimenting, trying what they could in an attempt to find success.
This time around, there are no uncertainties. G2’s playstyle is spectacular, and while it’s not exactly an easy thing to pull off or imitate, we saw a similar approach work wonders over with FunPlus Phoenix in the LPL. SKT T1 also adapted quite a bit from Spring to Summer.
In other words, G2 Esports doesn’t have as big of an edge going forward. They nearly lost to Fnatic twice in a row recently. They nearly lost to SKT T1 back in the Mid-Season Invitational semifinals. They’re vulnerable, and they bleed.
And so a question rises: what if that one deciding game was always the result of their early read of the meta? Now with things being a lot more even, it’s easier to imagine them losing a Best of 5.
That’s not to say that they aren’t favored to win the whole thing, but things are going to be a lot more competitive and even than some expect. And in such a setting, G2 Esports dropping out in the quarter or semifinals isn’t really in question among our LoL World Championships predictions but instead, quite a possibility, depending on how the bracket unfolds.
It’s also a bit unreal to imagine them winning the whole thing. Europe was always on the outside looking in, always so close and yet so far away. They consistently fought their heart’s out only to eventually be bested in one-sided fashion. Fnatic’s resounding loss to Invictus Gaming last year is still somewhat fresh.
The wounds from such a shellacking still didn’t heal.
Maybe Europe’s recent success is just a one-off thing. Or maybe it’s a sign of great things to come. Fortunately for us, we’ll soon get an answer to such a burning question.
Finally, there’s a very strong chance of things fully reverting back to how they once were. That means an Eastern champion, Korean or Chinese dominance, Europe being right behind, with North America once again faltering at the most random of moments (with one of their contenders actually accomplishing something). This is how things resolved for years, without any deviation. It was the standard script, and that made things incredibly stale.
It was no longer a matter of “could this team win” or “could we see a change in the established order” but rather “how long will these Western teams fight until they succumb to the immense pressure.” The gap definitely shrunk, that’s obvious, but that doesn’t mean it is non-existent. And that small remainder of a gap, that miniscule space between the regions could end up being the deciding factor. The odds of the East getting back to its prestigious, dominant position are much higher than the West taking over, no matter how well G2 and Liquid looked over the last couple of months.
Eastern teams are not used to playing second-fiddle. To them, it is a previously unknown position. One that is defined by a disgraceful aura; the aura of not being good enough. You can expect Korea and China to fight harder than ever in order to reclaim their position in the pantheon of competitive League.
That’s it for our four bold 2019 LoL World Championship predictions! How things will eventually unfold still remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: we’re in for one of the best and most competitive LoL World Championships in history. Mark your calendars, because you do not want to miss out on the action.