By Petar Vukobrat
October 9, 2019
We are just days away from the most important League tournament of the year, so let’s do a somewhat quick League of Legends Worlds 2019 preview to see what’s in store, and what’s expected from each team going forward.
Predicting what’ll happen this time around is pretty much impossible. There are so many exciting narratives lingering in the air which means we could, by all means, see a brand-new champion crowned. These are thrilling times if you’re a fan of competitive League, and it’s only going to get better.
With so many capable challengers just itching to duke it out on the Summoner’s Rift, things are bound to go from zero to a hundred rather quickly. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty!
First of all, there was never a World Championship quite like this one. With almost every region being equal skill-wise, it’s fair to say that the Worlds throne is up for the taking.
Most regions also fully acclimated to the hectic, flex-heavy meta. While Western teams had the edge throughout the year, it’s important to highlight that regions like Korea and China have finally caught up — based on everything that we’ve seen. There is no gap between the regions at the moment, or at least it’s not as noticeable and evident as it was in the past. This means everyone has a puncher’s chance. Anything that happens in a couple of day’s time simply cannot be considered as an upset. Favorites might fail to get out of groups, champions might lose to the unlikeliest of challengers, and absolute chaos could, by all means, break out from the moment these teams step foot on stage.
In short, we should be in for one heck of a ride.
The tournament is also being held in Europe, across multiple different countries and sports halls. The Play-In Stage was played at the LEC Studio in Berlin, Germany. The Group Stage will be played at the Verti Music Hall (which also happens to be in Berlin), whereas the Knockout Stage will move to the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, Spain and the Accorhotels Arena in Paris, France.
This is perhaps most interesting because the LEC champions G2 Esports recently won the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational (in rather convincing fashion against Team Liquid, one might add). It was a seismic triumph, and it also marked the beginning of a new, more even era when comes to competitive League. Now they’re entering Worlds as one of the biggest favorites and they have a metric ton of hype and momentum behind their backs.
The fact that they’ll have thousands of fans cheering them on as they take on the many challengers from all over the world will surely help them out immensely.
Will it be enough, though? We’re all eager to find out.
League of Legends Worlds 2019 is divided into three stages. The Play-In Stage, which consists of twelve teams (mostly wildcard regions and major region third seeds) is the very beginning of the tournament. It’s not exactly the most exciting segment overall because it often lacks top-tier play and is filled with one-sided blowouts.
The four best teams from that stage then advance into the Group Stage, where they join the twelve teams that already qualified. All of these challengers are divided into four groups consisting of four teams who then go on to compete in a Double Round Robin, with the matches being Best of 1. The top two teams from each group then advance into the Knockout Stage.
The Knockout Stage is where the eight best teams in the world duke it out in a Best of 5 format in an attempt to reach the semifinals. It’s a single elimination bracket, with each 1st seed fighting against a 2nd seed from a different group.
The remainder of the tournament is also played in the Best of 5 format. The tournament patch is version 9.19.
In general, the most exciting part of the tournament is the Group Stage. It is the moment when most teams first step foot on stage and clash on a completely new patch. It is also the part when most upsets tend to happen, not just because everyone’s competing in a volatile format but because teams need time to adapt and figure out the best and most optimal way to play the game.
The first week, in particular, tends to be filled with upsets as everyone’s competing on a level playing field. Once the second week comes around, however, things tend to stabilize fairly quickly. That said, the Knockout Stage is the moment when you really get to see the titans of competitive League butt heads in a format that favors flexibility, creativity, mental fortitude, and a boatload of resilience.
It is a marathon rather than a sprint. A team has to have deep champion pools and be prepared for an absolute war; a tiring clash that can go on for hours.
Much like the last couple of World Championships, this one has a starting prize pool of $2.225 million dollars, but it’s not fixed. Instead, casual players and fans of competitive League can chime in and increase the total prize pool by buying in-game items that are Worlds-specific.
Last year’s Worlds had an approximate prize pool of almost $6.5 million dollars, whereas previously it had a slightly more modest $4.9 million tally.
How high this one will go still remains to be seen, but it should definitely make it over the five million mark as the competitive scene seems to have peaked in many aspects. This is also the most exciting Worlds in history, so it’s only natural to expect a lot of people to tune in.
While the prize pool isn’t as big as the one that comes with Valve’s The International, it’s still far from chump change. The team that wins it all will earn more than two million dollars which is — regardless of the way you slice it — life-changing money.
The final prize pool will be distributed in the following way:
1st Place: around $834,000 minimum (37.5% of the total prize pool)
2nd Place: around $300,000 minimum (13.5% of the total prize pool)
3rd — 4th Place: around $155,000 minimum (7% of the total prize pool)
5th — 8th Place: around $89,000 minimum (4% of the total prize pool)
9th — 12th Place: around $50,000 minimum (2.25% of the total prize pool)
13th — 16th: around $27,000 minimum (1.25% of the total prize pool)
17th — 20th: around $17,000 minimum (0.75% of the total prize pool)
20th — 24th: around $11,000 minimum (0.5% of the total prize pool)
One of the reasons why the upcoming Group Stage looks so darn spectacular is because it is filled with many different teams, all unique and capable in their own right. We have age-old legends and perennial titans, gatekeepers, undervalued minor regions, but also multiple up-and-coming challengers like Griffin, DAMWON Gaming and FunPlus Phoenix — teams that attained loads of success back on home soil but never had the chance to compete on the international stage.
We already went over all competing teams in our Group Stage breakdown, so we’ll focus on entire regions and their own narratives here instead.
Europe is, for the first time in history, entering an international tournament with the same amount of respect and admiration as Korea and China. A precedent, by all accounts. G2’s recent seismic triumph definitely turned a lot of heads, and their staggering flexibility and mechanical prowess made everyone realize: this is what peak League of Legends looks like and right now, it’s coming from Europe.
Korean teams haven’t lost much stock despite the fact that they didn’t win any major international title in a whole calendar year. For a region of their stature and pedigree, that’s a shocker, but also a fascinating development. They’re not used to being the “odd one out,” and you can expect all three of their teams to enter the Group Stage with a chip on their shoulder.
SKT T1, in particular, is favored to at least reach the Top 4, if not even win the whole tournament. The organization is sending a beastly line-up and they should, by all means, be able to dominate throughout the entirety of the tournament.
No one should count out Griffin or DAMWON Gaming either, but they definitely lack the experience and mental fortitude which are necessary to compete at the highest of levels. Will that matter in the grand scheme of things?
It is a key question, and we’ll get an answer sooner rather than later.
China is in a strange situation right now, and it’s hard to realistically gauge just how strong they truly are. On one hand, we have FunPlus Phoenix, a team many are considering as the front-runners to win the whole tournament. But they’re also young and relatively inexperienced — two traits that could end up hindering their chances of attaining success.
Royal Never Give Up and Invictus Gaming are perhaps even bigger question marks at the moment. We know they’re exceptional in many facets of play, but whether or not that’s going to be enough with the West stepping up still remains to be seen.
North American teams are entering Worlds with a fair bit of momentum. They’ve solidified their spot as some of the best and most capable challengers in the world, but they’re still somewhat rough around the edges. Regardless, all three teams pose unique and highly idiosyncratic challenges and should be able to leave a mark once again.
The LMS, as a region, never found much success on the international stage, but they’ve always been close enough to doing so in order to be deemed as a well-rounded and dangerous region.
This year things aren’t much different, although there’s a familiar face missing: the legendary Flash Wolves. How high these three teams will eventually climb is anyone’s guess at this moment, but they should not be underestimated. They often scrim with the best LPL teams and their innate aggression should allow them to rack up a couple of wins in the Best of 1 format.
Still, don’t expect too much from Taiwanese teams. Other regions stepped up to such a staggering degree that it’s hard seeing LMS leaving much of a mark.
Finally, we have Vietnam, a region known for its creativity and sheer grit. The VCS champions never go down without a fight and they’re surely looking to upset the status quo (at least ever so slightly) once the Group Stage begins.
As with any World Championship, upsets and mind-boggling twists are almost guaranteed. If you’re interested in what could potentially happen, you can check our bold predictions list,
The coming weeks will be filled with many exceptional clashes between some of the best and most capable teams in the world. The meta is as flexible and exciting as possible, which means you really don’t want to miss out on any of the action.
You can take a closer look at the upcoming schedule on Riot’s official website by clicking here.
That’s it for our League of Legends Worlds 2019 preview! We’re in for an absolute barnburner and while it’s still too early to predict anything with confidence, we can fairly say that this World Championship has the potential to go down in history as the best and most competitive tournament in League’s history.
And on the off chance you don’t know which players to keep an eye on once the Group Stage begins, we suggest you take a closer look at our Top 21 players at Worlds list!