2019 World Championship
The League of Legends World Championship is the biggest esports event in the world, consistently breaking records in regards to viewership. For the 2019 Championships, Worlds go to Europe, stopping to play in three major cities (Berlin, Madrid, Paris).
The best League of Legends teams in the world have been competing for a year across multiple circuits and events globally to prove themselves and earn a spot at the World Championship stage.
2019 World Championship Betting Tips
SK Telecom T1
SK Telecom T1
Hong Kong Attitude
SK Telecom T1
SK Telecom T1
SK Telecom T1
2019 was, by all accounts, an insane year when it comes to competitive League of Legends. It was, at once, both spectacular and confusing. But even though it often caught us off guard, there was never a dull moment, or an interval of time during which we were not entertained.
This truly was one of the best, most competitive and surprising years in League’s history — and that’s saying something, considering the game had its fair share of ups and downs.
Perhaps most surprisingly, this year turned everything we knew, and everything we believed in on its head. In other words, 2019 was the year of absolute chaos — and we loved every second of it. In many ways, it was the year that will long be remembered because it marked the moment in which the gap between the East and the West finally shrunk.
Now, whether there’s still a difference between all the major regions is less important. What is important, however, is the fact that they have never been this close to one another when it comes to skill and sheer prowess. If a Western team lifts the Summoner’s Cup, no one will be overly surprised.
Let that one sink in. The days of Korean and Chinese dominance are seemingly over, and no one’s too sure what to think of it.
In the words of William Gibson, “there are no maps for these territories.” We truly have entered uncharted lands. Terra incognita. Based on all that we know and all that we’ve seen over the last year, we can fairly assume that Europe is sitting at the top. It is the region that fostered what can rightfully be deemed as the most creative and flexible team in competitive League’s history — G2 Esports.
And all of these unexpected developments came as baffling, mind-blowing surprises. While we can definitely trace Europe’s success and further explain how this state of affairs came to be, it’s still hard not to be confused that it all transpired in the way it did.
This is a brand-new narrative, one that isn’t rooted in history.
And that one fact makes everything going forward that much more exciting. This is a refreshing development in the world of professional League, and it came after years upon years of stagnation. By all accounts, these are seismic changes.
And right now, we cannot know whether the world is overreacting and over-hyping G2, or if it’s all well deserved. We cannot know whether they truly are the best team in the world at this point in time, or if they just capitalized on a monumental meta shift and reaped the rewards.
One thing, however, is for certain — every region adapted. No one is perfect in execution, but everyone is trying their hardest to make sense of the meta and adapt to the best of their ability.
Many are still doubting the potential of Western success on the international stage, and it’s hard to blame them. After all, Eastern teams dominated for so long. Their numbers and sheer success rate are second-to-none.
But the times are changing.
How much do we need to see before saying that a brand-new era of competitive League has been ushered? How much longer do we need to wait before we can rightfully say that the playing field has been leveled?
All signs are pointing towards such a reality. G2 Esports won the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational. They defeated one of the best Korean line-ups in history. Team Liquid took down the defending World Champions Invictus Gaming. Two seismic upsets in one fell swoop.
Last year’s Worlds kind of foreshadowed what would eventually transpire. The fact that we had three Western teams in the Top 4 wasn’t just a flash in the pan; it wasn’t a one-off occurrence. Instead, it was a sign of a shift; it was concrete proof that we were on the brink of a different kind of status quo.
Exciting times, to say the least.
All of this raises so many questions, and yet there are no answers in sight. We simply do not know how things will eventually unfold — even less than in years prior. Anything can happen going forward, and that makes this upcoming World Championship the most exciting one in history.
Will Europe truly solidify its spot as the best region in the world? Will G2 Esports complete the Golden Slam (winning every tournament in the calendar year)? Will Korea reclaim their long-lost throne? Is FunPlus Phoenix as good as many think? Will North America continue building on its most recent success?
There is an endless list of questions we can ponder. And even though coming up with any kind of concrete verdict might seem ludicrous, we do have more than enough information on every team competing to actually theorize and come up with a solid enough list of assumptions.
The “Best of” Conundrum
The Group Stage will be played in a double round robin Best of 1 format. That’s, at once, both exciting but also frightening — to both the fans and professional teams alike. In such a format, every single team has a puncher’s chance of scoring an upset. We’ve seen this happen on many occasions throughout history. You only need one good game to actually score a win — deep champion pools and layered strategies are not a necessity. This also means that certain teams won’t get to shine as much as they would otherwise. Teams like G2 Esports, Fnatic, SKT T1 and many others perform best when they have multiple games to wrap their heads around.
Conversely, teams like Griffin, Clutch Gaming and many LPL representatives love a good old Best of 1. Their sheer aggression and willingness to fight from the very get-go are basically unrivaled. They’re not as capable and flexible nor do they possess the nerves of steel which are often necessary in those five-game brawls. Then again, they don’t need them, at least not at this point in the tournament.
So in other words, a team can be downright spectacular in one format, and then completely implode in another. For someone who’s looking to bet on the World Championship, this is the equivalent of a nightmare. We’ve also seen teams go on abysmal losing streaks only to clutch things out in the very last moment (Fnatic in 2017 immediately comes to mind).
A team’s strength also fluctuates on a daily basis. The meta is bound to change with the latest patch (9.19), so no one’s coming into the tournament with a bulletproof idea on how the game should be played. Whenever that’s the case, absolute chaos tends to ensue.
Because of this, make sure to watch as many games as you can before betting. By having up-to-date in-depth knowledge on how these teams perform and how fast they are adapting, you’ll automatically gain an advantage whenever you decide to put your money on the line. Also, the first week of play is often the moment when logic and reason go out the window. These teams have been practicing for weeks non-stop, they’ve been scrimming on a daily basis, they all have their own ideas on how the game should be played and yet most of them are completely wrong.
That’s the moment when favorites start dropping games and when people start overreacting. A couple of games are not the end all be all, so just have that in mind when coming up with your own verdict.
So with that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the upcoming World Championship, starting with the Group Stage!
This is where the fun starts. Sixteen teams, divided in four groups, fighting in a Best of 1 format. This is the moment when we first get to see everyone clash; the moment when wildcard teams and seemingly inferior regions stand a chance of scoring seismic upsets.
And seeing how there’s no set way to play the game right now, everyone will have a chance of leaving a mark. Teams will need time (and multiple games) to get acclimated to the stage and the format itself, which means betting on the favorites won’t always pan out. The first week is always the hardest to predict, but things pretty much settle into place immediately afterwards.
Finally, twelve teams already know whom they’re up against. They know their groups, and they know — at least in theory — how they want to practice going forward in order to stand a chance of reaching the Knockout Stage. But there are still four teams left; four teams that have to go through the Play-In Stage. Those four challengers either have no idea where they’re going to end up, or they know they’ll end up in one of two groups. Either way, it’s a fascinating position to be in.
On one hand, they get to practice and go through any stage fright they might have. That’s always a huge plus. They also have the element of surprise, which can definitely come in handy, especially in a Best of 1 format. Then again, there’s a negative: they have the least amount of time to prepare for the three teams they’re bound to fight against.
Either way, everyone’s banking on Splyce (European third seed), Clutch Gaming (North American third seed), Damwon Gaming (Korean third seed) and either Hong Kong Attitude or Unicorns of Love to go through. The first three are basically a given at this point as they’re better in every conceivable way than the teams they’re bound to play against. The last two, however, are still unknown quantities. They come from strong regions and have done more than enough to deserve our benefit of the doubt, but which of the two (if either) will go through is anyone’s guess at this point. There are simply too many unknown factors.
As for the first three, well, they’re all as crazy and unhinged as humanly possible. They all possess either incredible mechanical prowess or insane flexibility when it comes to champion pools and drafting capabilities. While they do find success through different means and avenues, they’re all incredibly capable challengers and should not be underestimated.
We’ll go over all three teams further down below in the specific groups they’ll most likely end up in if they actually go through the Play-In Stage.
The four groups below could also be defined through simple titles:
Group A — The group of aggression and sheer mechanical prowess. There should not be a dull moment whenever these teams clash on the Summoner’s Rift.
Group B — The group of life. Everyone knows how this one is going to end up. And if you’re short on time and just can’t tune in as much as you’d like, you can definitely skip out on this one.
Group C — The legacy group, but also the group of death. Three teams, three legendary organizations. How this one will ultimately resolve remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: top-tier play will not be absent.
Group D — The group of balance. This one isn’t exactly easy to predict, but it’s also not overly complex either. It’s a great mix: many skilled competitors and a bit of uncertainty sprinkled throughout.
The first group is one brimming with insane potential. These three teams are as famous as they come, and they really do have some of the best and most capable players the world of competitive League has ever seen. Furthermore, as if that wasn’t enough reason to tune in, they all want to find success through different means. G2 Esports is insane and flexible but they often push things too far. Griffin are as aggressive and “in-your-face” as possible but they’re also inexperienced and pretty inconsistent. Cloud9 are perhaps a mix of both but they haven’t been as dominant or clean throughout 2019.
No matter how you spin it, this is a recipe for a boatload of entertainment. When you have three exceptional teams and none of them are willing to step down and surrender, fireworks are almost guaranteed.
1. G2 Esports (First seed from Europe) — One of the favorites to win the whole thing. 2019 can, in many ways, be defined as the year of G2 Esports. Their meteoric rise to the top of the world caught many people off guard, but they deserve every bit of praise they can get. Five players, five mechanical beasts, five individuals with champion oceans and the willingness to experiment and throw down at any stage of the game. They’re incredibly hard to read and in order to actually beat them you not only have to match their skill and in-game experience, but also their sheer creativity and the ability to adapt in a split of a second. That said, when everyone else was struggling to understand what the best and most optimal way to play the game was, G2 Esports plowed through and dominated.
But in doing so, they showed the world many of their tricks. Right now, there’s no uncertainty — everyone knows how the game should be played, through which lanes and in what fashion. And when everyone’s on the same page, that means G2 lose quite a fair bit of their edge. They no longer have such a big upper hand which isn’t the end of the world if you’re a G2 Esports fan, but it does complicate things. A lot.
How high they will eventually climb remains to be seen, but they’re definitely a League of Legends titan at this point in time and they know that this is as good of a chance to win the World Championship that they’re ever going to get.
Expect a very serious, in-sync and in control G2 Esports from the moment they step foot on stage.
2. Griffin (Second seed from Korea) — Back in 2018, when Griffin burst onto the LCK scene, they managed to turn a lot of heads. Perhaps that’s even an understatement. Their high octane style of play, paired with immaculate mechanics and a commanding pace of the game garnered them a ton of attention, along with a boatload of fans across the globe. There wasn’t a team like them in the LCK, and that — for a region known for their macro-oriented style of play — came as quite a surprise. They didn’t want to win like everyone else, nor were they willing to abide by any kind of LCK meta. Instead, they realized they needed to offer something unique, and they definitely succeeded in finding their own identity.
While they ultimately failed to lock down a ticket for the World Championship, they showed more than enough to make people believe in their eventual success. And those who did believe were definitely rewarded in 2019. Griffin didn’t change much, but the meta did, and this time they had the upper hand. Unrelenting aggression, sheer creativity and mechanical prowess were the name of the game, and they had them in spades.
That said, they’re definitely not the epitome of consistency. They fumble when there’s a lot on the line (a defining characteristic, evident in both 2018 and 2019), their play deteriorates when there’s a ton of pressure and seeing how this is going to be their first showing on the international stage, it’s only natural that they don’t start off with a bang.
They will surely dominate — there’s no doubt about that, but it probably won’t happen immediately. That said, if there’s one part of the tournament when they’re bound to shine, it has to be the Group Stage.
3. Cloud9 (Second seed from North America) — As if G2 Esports and Griffin weren’t enough, we also have a perennial North American giant in the group; the one team from the LCS that attained the most success over the years. No matter their line-up, Cloud9 always found a way to leave a mark. That is not just the hallmark of a great team but also of a great organization, one that is built around the players and their best interest. Cloud9 is also not an organization that’s going to impose any kind of rule and restrict what its players want to do — unlike teams like Team SoloMid. Instead, they’re given free reign and can experiment to their heart’s content in a controlled environment.
The result? Spectacular success on the international stage (by LCS standards). While they never actually won anything, they always managed to succeed expectations and have never let their region down. They’re creative, flexible, mechanically gifted, versatile and they’re always having fun. They’re constantly able to thrive under pressure because, to them, this is the best job in the world, so why stress anything? They know they’re the underdogs, so might as well go out guns blazing.
Their current roster is fantastic, there’s no doubt about it. That said, we still need to see how competitive they are with Nisqy as their mid laner. Playing against LCS teams isn’t exactly the hardest test ever. Competing against the very best mid laners the world of competitive League has to offer is.
While their 2019 season wasn’t as dominant as most people expected, we know what Cloud9 is capable of, and we also know that their stellar coaching staff is going to prepare them for the many challenges they’re bound to face. They were one game away from dethroning Team Liquid in the most recent Summer Split finals, so they’re surely entering Worlds in good form.
4. TBD — This is where the fourth Play-In team will get slotted in. This team cannot be from Europe, North America, nor Korea. And seeing how they’ll face against three absolute behemoths, it’s fair to say that they don’t stand a chance of reaching the Knockout Stage. Furthermore, the three teams above are so staggeringly dominant and capable that they’re probably not going to drop even a single game to this fourth challenger.
As mentioned above, this group is definitely the least exciting of the four. That doesn’t mean that top-tier play won’t be present, or that these teams don’t have what it takes in order to entertain. That’s definitely not the case. Not in the slightest. But when you compare them to many of their adversaries and many incredible narratives that are surrounding other groups, it’s hard to be excited about this one.
1. FunPlus Phoenix (First seed from China) — The one reason you should tune in and watch whenever Group B plays. The LPL champions are entering Worlds with a metric ton of hype and momentum, and much of it is well deserved. They’re playing a lot like G2 Esports, and they have more than enough mechanical prowess to back any insane strategy or in-game decision.
Now, much like with G2 Esports, the fact that they dominated throughout the most recent split speaks volumes about their inherent skill and potential. They beat Royal Never Give Up, a team that is synonymous with the region itself. They beat Invictus Gaming — the defending World Champions, a team that outclassed everyone put in front of them just a year ago. FunPlus Phoenix did all of this with staggering ease. They’re the real deal, and the only question right now is: can they do the same when the stakes are this high? Will their inexperience on the international stage affect their performance?
We can’t wait to find out.
2. J Team (First seed from Taiwan) — J Team is definitely worthy of your time and attention, but they come from the LMS, a region that — while far from a wildcard — never actually left much of a mark in the grand scheme of things. They’re exciting, they’re aggressive and they prefer a fast-paced game, but when every other team and region is doing the same, Taiwan loses a lot of its allure.
3. GAM Esports (First seed from Vietnam) — By the same token, GAM Esports (formerly known as the Gigabyte Marines) is well-known for their exceptional aggression and their ability to skirmish from minute one. There’s not a lot of teams in the world that can match their bravado, but then again, they lack the consistency, the macro and the mental fortitude which are necessary to actually compete at the highest of levels. In other words, they don’t have that much to offer in today’s meta, especially when you pit them against two regions that are synonymous with aggressive play.
4. TBD — If the three big Play-In favorites reach the Group Stage, this spot can go to either Splyce or Damwon Gaming. Regardless if it’s one or the other, it’s important to note that both of them will be favored to get out of the group along with FunPlus Phoenix. Splyce might not have as easy of a time when compared to Damwon, but they still have a lot of depth, along with many talented veterans and a fantastic coaching staff to back them up. That said, they could definitely drop a game or two to GAM and J Team. Damwon, however, is simply on another level based on what we’ve seen recently, and should have no problem in mopping the floor with both competitors.
Next up, we have a group that makes everyone’s mouth water. A dream group, by all means. The most successful Korean team in history, the most recognizable European team in history with the biggest fan base, and a Chinese giant that — for many years — was the only LPL team known to the average viewer.
This is your birthday, New Year’s Eve and Christmas all rolled into one.
1. SKT T1 (First seed from Korea) — The Korean giant is about as dangerous as ever. They have a sensational, multi-threat line-up, and they’re utilizing every last bit of it. They also adapted to the current meta, but they never let go of their macro-oriented nature. Depending on the opponent, that’s quite a huge benefit, as they can adapt on the fly. Next to G2 Esports and FunPlus Phoenix, many are considering them a favorite to win the whole thing, and with good reason.
While we still don’t know how well they’ll perform against such insane opposition, it’s fair to say that they have all the right tools at their disposal in order to dominate across the board. And Faker, the best and most accomplished player in League’s history, is still every bit as good and dominant as in years past. With so many stellar teammates around him, his goal is fairly simple: win the World Championship and reclaim his throne.
Whether or not that’ll happen still remains to be seen, but the odds are definitely stacked in his favor.
2. Fnatic (Second seed from Europe) — The former “kings of Europe” are entering Worlds with a fair bit of hype as well. After nearly taking down G2 Esports, a lot of people are proclaiming that Fnatic is “back” after a tumultuous 2019 season. And, to be fair, it seems like they are. They’re aggressive, on the same page, and their immense experience will surely help them out considerably from the very get-go. That said, they haven’t displayed a lot of flexibility over the last couple of months. Whenever they got their hands on comfort picks they were fantastic, but when that failed to be the case, they were far less dangerous.
And in a meta that favors insane flexibility (not to mention the toughest of opposition) that’s quite a problem. They’re aware of it and are working around the clock to surprise a lot of people once the Group Stage begins, but whether or not that’ll be enough against the likes of SKT and RNGU still remains to be seen.
Either way, most people are expecting them to get out of groups as the second seed and they definitely have a solid chance of doing so. It might not be easy, but it can definitely happen, especially if they play as well as they did back in the Summer Split finals.
3. Royal Never Give Up (Second seed from China) — The LPL giant is still as capable as ever, but they aren’t exactly as dangerous as FunPlus Phoenix or even Invictus Gaming. While they definitely have the right tools to compete with anyone in the world, they lack the flexibility and a diverse arsenal of “weapons” in order to actually come out on top. They’re still relatively one-dimensional in the way they play the game, and they haven’t shown the willingness to make a change. That’s a huge flaw in today’s League of Legends and it’s going to hinder their chances of attaining success sooner rather than later. That said, they’re an incredibly dangerous competitor and will definitely give both SKT and Fnatic a run for their money. When it comes to Best of 1s, Royal Never Give Up should never be underestimated.
4. TBD — If the three big Play-In favorites reach the Group Stage, this spot is basically reserved for Clutch Gaming. It’s the only way things can unfold. If that really does happen, this group becomes even more insane — in the best way possible. While Clutch lack the versatility or the potential of the three teams above, they’re definitely a potent challenger, one that is unafraid of trading heavy blows regardless of what the oddsmakers say. If they manage to impose their will, they can definitely upset any team listed above.
Finally, we have a pretty balanced group in terms of strength and overall potential.
Team Liquid (First seed from North America) — What can one say about the four-time LCS champions that hasn’t already been said? They’re the best and most stacked North American team in history, but they’re also fairly one-dimensional. You know what Liquid is going to do. There’s rarely any huge surprise when it comes to the way they want to play the game out. While that doesn’t make them an easy target or a negligible challenge, it does make them easier to read and prepare for. The sights of them taking Invictus Gaming down are still fresh in everyone’s mind, so most people give them the edge this time around as well. But just because they won back then doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to do the same again. Or do the same in such a fashion. They’re definitely one of the better teams at the tournament, but that one fact does not guarantee them success. Not in the slightest. They need to play their best League of Legends yet if they want to stand a chance of leaving a mark in a tournament stacked with insanely talented teams and players.
ahq e-Sports Club (Second seed from Taiwan) — The LMS representative isn’t exactly entering Worlds with a ton of hype, but they definitely have a chance of scoring an upset here and there. They’re not predicted to do much and are a shoe-in for fourth-place, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to make things at least somewhat competitive.
Invictus Gaming (Third seed from China) — Saying how strong or capable Invictus is as this point in time is downright impossible. There are, however, more than just a couple of facts that have to affect our verdict. One: they’re the defending champions and they carry such a role for a reason. Two: they can afford a bit of downtime and not dominating in the LPL doesn’t mean they’re hasbeens. Three: the way they want to play the game is still perfectly viable. Four: they still have some of the best players in the world, most notably in the top and mid lane, and while they didn’t perform as well as many expected, they’re still staggeringly powerful and can turn things around on a dime. By all means, they have a lot going for them and if they make the right choices and adapt to the meta, they definitely stand a chance of getting out of groups.
TBD — This spot goes to either Splyce or Damwon Gaming. If it’s the former, then they’re probably sentenced to a third-place finish. If it’s the latter, however, then there’s a myriad of ways things could unfold. Team Liquid are by no means a clear-cut favorite to get out of groups if Damwon slots in, so expect absolute chaos to break out. This group will be determined by the slimmest of margins, and you do not want to miss out on any of the action. That’s for sure.
Predicting what'll happen at the upcoming World Championship is downright impossible. While this one fact makes things incredibly exciting, it's impossible not to be a bit worried when it comes to betting. But even though absolute chaos is bound to ensue, we have more than enough information to come up with a solid enough verdict. Every team (and region) entering Worlds is doing so with their own unique narrative, and once you have a grasp of the overarching storylines surrounding the sixteen teams playing in the Group Stage, things become a lot easier. And again, make sure to watch as many games as you possibly can because things tend to shift and change on a daily basis. Every World Championship has a meta of its own and the sooner you realize who's excelling at it the better you're going to end up betting-wise.
Twelve teams are seeded into four double round robin groups of three teams each. The top two teams from each group advance to the second round. For round two the first place team of each group are seeded against a second place team to face off in a Best-of-Five. The winner of the series advance to the main event.
Main Event, Group Stage:
The sixteen participating teams are split into four double round robin groups of four teams each. Matches are Best-of-One, and the top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage.
Main Event, Knockout Stage:
Single elimination bracket with Best-of-Five matches.