This fall will host the ninth season of Riot Games’ League of Legends World Championship, which formally began with the play-in stages last Wednesday.
The top four teams of the play-in stage were determined Tuesday, where a total of sixteen teams – twelve of them seeded from six regionals around the world and the rest from the four play-in stages – were divided into 4 groups. The group stage matches will begin on October 12th.
In each of the groups, the upper three teams selected were joined by one top team from the play-in stage. Each group will then play in a double-round robin (each team plays the other three twice), in single-game matches. The top two teams in each group will be sent to the quarterfinals.
In Group A, the first seed went to G2, a team from the European LEC, followed by Cloud9 and Griffin from the American LCS and Korean LCK respectively. Don’t forget Hong Kong Attitude who proved its competence in the play-in stage earlier this week.
Hong Kong Attitude and Cloud9 will undoubtedly have a hard time playing against G2 and Griffin who had a 12 game win streak in LCK last spring. However, the resignation of Griffin’s coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho a two weeks ago may result in a change in the team’s pick-bans decision and game style and might slightly reduce the pressure on Hong Kong Attitude and Cloud9.
In Group B are FunPlus Phoenix - the first seed from LPL (China mainland), J team - the first seed from LMS (Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macao), GAM - the first seed from VN (Vietnam), and Splyce - the third seed from LEC (Europe). Judging by their play style in the LPL, FunPlus’s mid-laner and jungler could appear on the bottom lane early in the match.
Will teams from Taiwan, Vietnam, and Europe be able to endure the pressure of FunPlus’s bulked up bot lane? We’ll see on October 12th.
Group C includes LCK team SK Telecom who won the world championship for an unparalleled three times, LEC team Fnatic who won the second place in last year’s world championship, LPL team Royal Never Give Up who was the winner of the Mid-Season Invitational last year, and LCS team Clutch Gaming in the midst of three titans.
Fnatic’s website foreshadows some of the potentially entertaining matches coming in group C, mentioning “Three of the strongest teams(SK Telecom, Fnatic, and Royal Never Give Up) in League of Legends history, all in one sensational group.”
Last but not least is Group D, consisting of LCS’s first seed Team Liquid, LMS’s second seed ahq, LPL’s third seed Invictus Gaming, and LCK’s third seed DAMWON Gaming. Team Liquid has a great chance to stand out from the group, but Invictus Gaming and DAMWON Gaming will not offer Team Liquid an easy win.
By the way, Riot also released the theme song of this year’s World Championship called “Phoenix”. Could this be the sign of a victory for FunPlus Phoenix?