League of Legends is the most popular esport on the planet and the World Championship is the biggest tournament of the year. Last year it broke records when 205 million people tuned in to watch Invictus Gaming triumph over Fnatic in the Grand Final.
The 2019 Worlds is edging closer and excitement is reaching a fever pitch among the dedicated community of LoL fans. Read on to learn more about this eagerly anticipated tournament.
When does the League of Legends World Championship take place?
The event begins with the play-in stage at LEC Studio in Berlin, Germany, from October 2-5. This sees 12 teams battling to reach the group stage. The top four out of this group of 12 will make it through to the groups.
The action then shifts to Verti Music Hall in Berlin for the group, which runs from October 12-20. The quarter-finals take place at Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, Spain, on October 26 and 27, and the semis are held in the same venue on November 2 and 3.
AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France, will then host the Grand Final on November 10.
Last year the Worlds took place in South Korea and the viewership figures were enormous. The Grand Final enjoyed 205 million concurrent viewers, which is way more than big sporting events like the Super Bowl could muster, and 90 million concurrent viewers watched the opening ceremony.
It will be interesting to see if it remains as popular when the action takes place in Europe this year.
What format does the tournament follow?
There will be 16 teams competing in the group stage once the play-in has concluded. They are divided into groups of four, and teams from the same region are kept apart.
The group stage follows a double round robin format and each match is best-of-one. The top two teams in each group will progress to the knockout stage of the tournament. If two teams have the same win-loss record, whoever did better in the head-to-heads will advance. If they were even in the head-to-heads, they will play a tiebreaker to determine who progresses.
Group A looks really exciting, as it features European powerhouse G2 Esports, who won the Mid-Season Invitational earlier this year, along with Korean second seed Griffin and Cloud9 of North America. The fourth team will come from the play-in.
FunPlus Phoenix, who have dominated the Chinese LoL scene this year, should cruise through Group B after they were drawn alongside J Team and GAM Esports.
Group C is a real group of death. It features SK Telecom T1 – the most successful team in LoL World Championship history – plus last year’s runners-up, Fnatic, and Chinese heavyweights Royal Never Give Up.
Defending champions Invictus Gaming find themselves up against ah1 eSports Club and Team Liquid, who finished second at the Mid-Season Invitational.
The eight teams that progress to the quarter-finals will be drawn into a single elimination bracket, where all matches are best-of-five. Teams that win their group will be up against teams that finish runners-up in a different group. If a team has an off day in the knockout stage, there is no chance of redemption and they will be going home.
How can I watch the action?
The Worlds can be viewed on the official Twitch channel of LoL developer Riot Games. It offers multiple language streams, each with a different set of commentators.
The number of viewers has been steadily rising in recent years, and we can expect some massive figures this time around. LoL is 10 years old now, but it is still the most watched game on Twitch, and this tournament will be extremely popular.
Who are the big teams vying for glory at the 2019 Worlds?
You can find odds on the outright winner of the LoL World Championship here and it makes for fascinating reading. SK Telecom T1 were the favourites until they were drawn into that hazardous group, but they are now second in the betting.
FunPlus Phoenix are the new favourites and they will be surging with confidence after storming to victory at LPL Summer earlier this year. They seized their first ever title courtesy of a 3-1 victory over RNG in the Grand Final, and they will be really pleased with their group stage draw for the Worlds.
SKT have roared back to form this year after rebuilding a new team around superstar Faker, and they would probably be reinstalled as favourites if they make it through to the quarters.
G2 Esports, who have dominated Europe this year and clinched the MSI, are also near the top of the betting, along with defending champions IG.
Invictus were on fire at MSI, going 9-1 in the group stage, but they slumped to a surprise defeat against Team Liquid in the semi-finals, and they form has nosedived since then. Yet they remain one of the best teams in the world, and it will be interesting to see how they respond at the big tournament.
How much prize money is on offer?
The prize pool for the 2019 Worlds is $2.25 million. That pales in comparison to the $34.3 million up for grabs at Dota 2 event The International 2019 or the $30 million Fortnite World Cup.
However, it will become the third most lucrative esports tournament of the year, and the prestige associated with winning it is immense. It will also open up significant commercial opportunities for the winning team, as LoL is massively popular and big brands will be keen to be associated with the world’s best franchise.
Which teams have enjoyed the most success in LoL World Championship history?
The first Worlds took place in Jonkoping, Sweden, in 2011. It was an all-European affairm as Fnatic beat Against All Authority 2-1 in the final.
The action shifted to Los Angeles in 2012 and the Grand Final became a best-of-five event. Tapei Assassins secured a 3-1 victory over Azubu Forest that year.
Then began a lengthy spell of Korean dominance. SKT lifted the trophy in 2013, before Samsung Galaxy White won in 2014.
The next three finals featured only Korean teams, as SKT beat KOO Tigers in 2015 and Samsung Galaxy in 2016, before losing to Samsung Galaxy in 2017.
Yet that Korean dominance was broken last year, as all of its representatives were eliminated before the quarter-final stage. Fnatic were bidding for their second triumph, but they were beaten 3-0 by IG in the final.
It means we have had five winners from South Korea, one from China, one from Taiwan and one from Europe. North America is still seeking its first champion.
SKT is easily the most successful team in the tournament’s history, with three wins and one runner-up finish, and Faker is the most decorated player. It will be fascinating to see if he can lead his team to glory once more in 2019.