By Petar Vukobrat
November 1, 2019
There’s a burning question lingering in the mind of every Western League of Legends fan right now: could G2 Esports win Worlds 2019? Could a European team actually do it? These are exciting times for competitive League, to say the least. Four teams have punched their ticket for the semifinals, and for the first time in history, a European challenger is (at least partially) favored to win the whole thing.
Now, Europe had its fair share of triumphs on the international stage, but ultimate success was always out of reach, for one reason or another. There was always someone in the way, a team seemingly more capable and dangerous. But 2019 ushered in a plethora of exciting new narratives and with them, propelled Europe to greatness. For the first time ever, Europe was the one dictating what was the best and most optimal way to play the game; Europe was the region that defined the meta.
As a result, G2 Esports and Fnatic were considered as bona fide contenders for the Worlds throne, if not even the favorites to win (in G2’s case, at least).
The Group Stage, however, didn’t go exactly as planned. There were many positives, but overall, it felt like the LEC hype train crashed at least ever so slightly. European teams looked good, but far from extraordinary.
On one hand, it’s hard not to be excited if you’re a fan of Western League of Legends. On the other, it’s hard not to be at least slightly skeptical. All signs are pointing towards a return of the age-old competitive League status quo. SKT T1 has looked incredible and is rightfully considered a front-runner to win the whole tournament. Again.
While some might welcome the return of our Korean overlords, it’s hard not to dread such an outcome and it’s not because of any allegiance.
We could really use a change of scenery. If SKT wins this year for the nth time, Riot might as well rename the World Championship in their honor. In that case, whenever someone else would win, their success should automatically be treated as a statistical anomaly. A world of competitive League in which there’s no uncertainty is a world in which excitement is absent; a world where a single tale is retold time and time again.
The script might deviate slightly with each season, but the outcome always remains the same. And this isn’t a knock on the LCK — not in the slightest. They deserve every bit of success and respect they’ve attained over the years. It’s just that seeing the same organization get showered in confetti year after year doesn’t exactly create a lot of hype. And even when someone else takes their throne — like Samsung Galaxy in 2017 or Invictus Gaming in 2018 — we all know it’s only a matter of time before the best and most storied organization in the history of competitive League re-assembles a killer roster and makes yet another run.
But after years of expected outcomes, G2 Esports finally has the opportunity to leave a lasting mark at Worlds 2019, but it’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure. If there’s one thing that became apparent after the Group Stage concluded, it is the fact that there’s no easy “free” win this time around.
Every team — regardless of the region they represented — had bad moments throughout the early stages of the tournament. SKT T1 was overeager to make things happen and was often too aggressive. G2 Esports went 5-0 and then completely imploded against Griffin, Invictus Gaming maintained a respectable level of play but was unable to best DAMWON Gaming, whereas FunPlus didn’t instill anyone with confidence after they nearly lost to Splyce in all three of their encounters.
Heck, no one’s even sure what to think about the upcoming semifinals. Anything is possible, and all four teams have what it takes to go all the way. The World Championship has never been this exciting and even. Is it a sign that change is coming? Or just a small detour from the age-old narrative in which the East dominates beyond measure?
It’s impossible to know at this point in time, and that’s exactly what makes every match going forward an absolute must-watch. If the LEC champions continue playing at such a high level, we might see a seismic change in the world of competitive League. That’s what we’re all hoping for; that’s what we all want. A change in the overarching narrative, an opportunity for new storylines to spawn, for teams to play on an even footing.
No one’s clamoring for a complete reform, but rather for just a bit of variation. And for the first time in history, Europe has a chance to give us that; a chance to solidify its spot as a region that stands shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Korea and China. Such a notion seemed ludicrous for the longest time, but now it’s actually coming to fruition.
Every region has a solid enough read on the meta. Every team knows what’s at stake and has the right tools to compete. Now it’s all about the minutiae, the smallest of details and nuances that’ll determine who’ll come out on top. It’s an overused cliché at this point but every click going forward matters; every decision — no matter how small in nature — will determine whether this is a start of something new, a beginning of a completely unique narrative, or just a flash in the pan; a one-off occurrence that got us all excited for nothing.
For G2, the pressure is mounting. There’s a lot to fight for, and they have the expectations of thousands of fans on their shoulders. It’s a thankless position to be in, but the payoff is well worth it.
So could G2 Esports win Worlds 2019? It’s definitely within the realm of possibility. In fact, Europe never had as good of a chance as it does now. Will it be enough, however? We’ll have to tune in to find out.
The road towards lifting the World Championship trophy is a long and arduous one, filled with many complex obstacles — each of them unique in their own right. Behind this first challenge lies another, equally as complex and seemingly insurmountable — the LPL giants.
But as with any good myth, monsters must be fought, and fears conquered. It is the only way, and the only path that has been presented before the European region. No kingdom is immune to the passage of time, and we hear there be dragons to fight in Madrid.