2019 League of Legends World Championship team power rankings

2019 League of Legends World Championship team power rankings
2019 League of Legends World Championship team power rankings

The 2019 League of Legends World Championship is finally here. After two splits, a Mid-Season Invitational, and hundreds of games around the world, we’re power ranking the 24 teams that made it to the big dance.

1. G2 Esports

Beyond being one of the best western teams of all time, G2 Esports is the most adaptable team in the 2019 World Championship. No matter the meta, you can count on them to adjust and then break it – much to head coach Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann’s chagrin.

In a meta favoring solo lanes, G2 fields top laner Martin “Wunder” Hansen and mid laner Rasmus “Caps” Winther at the forefront of 1-3-1s. Should the game deviate to the bot lane, Luka “Perkz” Perkovic’s wide champion pool and Mihael “mikyx” Mehle’s lethal initiations should make opponents think twice about targeting them.

You can’t stop G2 Esports, but maybe you can slow them down by targeting a solo lane. Or maybe you can go after jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski – a tough task, since Jankos usually neutralizes opponents through clever map movement.

Right now G2 are at their strongest. Their games against Phong Vu Buffalo at the Mid-Season Invitational and Fnatic in the summer playoffs highlighted correctable issues in the early game, making them potentially scarier at worlds. At this rate, G2 Esports may well achieve what no other team in League of Legends history has: the Golden Road – winning every tournament they participate in during a single season.

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– Adel Chouadria

2. SK Telecom T1

Last year’s disappointing performance from all three League Champions Korea teams – rivaling only the 2015 performance of all three League Pro League teams in regional disappointment at worlds – occurred without SK Telecom T1, who failed to qualify.

SKT has always had an odd mystique that was first attributed to the strength of South Korea, and then to SKT themselves. SKT’s style became “the Korean style,” and if other South Korean teams couldn’t win, then SKT surely would have. That mystique has somewhat died out, but SKT are back this year, and this current iteration of SKT has a lot of “classic SKT” in them, for better or for worse.

SKT generally leave their bottom lane of Park “Teddy” Jin-seong and Lee “Effort” Sang-ho to their own devices and let them scale while trying to facilitate Kim “Khan” Dong-ha early. The recent crown jewel of SKT, or at least the player trying to drag them into a slightly more proactive pace, has been jungler Kim “Clid” Tae-min. Yet Clid still isn’t always on the same page as the rest of his team, particularly when they choose to lean significantly toward the side of caution.

Easily forgotten in the giddiness of G2 Esports’ rise to the top of the League of Legends world is that they were taken to five games in their series against SKT in the Mid-Season Invitational semifinals. If allowed time, SKT are a team that will make slight adjustments while studying their opponents and also stick to their own playstyle. Given how all three teams look at the moment, SKT, G2 and FunPlus Phoenix all have an argument for being ranked first in a team power ranking, and they all have significant exploitable weaknesses within their defined play styles.

– Emily Rand

3. FunPlus Phoenix

The perception of the LPL, earned or otherwise, is of mindless aggression and constant teamfighting or skirmishing. Frequently, the Western League of Legends community takes a cursory glance at something like Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang’s oddball mid lane champion pool, sighs, and says it’s “typical LPL.”

But FunPlus Phoenix are anything but typical.

In fact, every team the LPL is sending to worlds is actually wildly different from the others, and FunPlus are the most consistent team to come out of China this year in both results and gameplay. They are well coordinated and know exactly how they want to play. Within that playstyle, they are peerless, although the style is exploitable once studied. FunPlus play around Doinb who in turn facilitates the team’s side lanes and will sacrifice waves to do so. Doinb’s mid lane approach has also worked well with jungler Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang and opened up the jungle for him to farm or join Doinb in a side lane.

The player to watch on FPX outside of Doinb is LPL finals MVP Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song. FPX’s bottom lane players are frequent recipients of Doinb’s roams, and Crisp’s presence of mind in and out of lane have made them surprisingly formidable. Crisp has also been a strong facilitator in FPX’s teamfights, initiating or layering crowd control alongside Doinb.

– Rand

4. Royal Never Give Up

Royal Never Give Up AD carry Jian “Uzi” Zi-hao was the best player in the world going into the 2018 League of Legends World Championship. Provided by Riot Games

Haven’t watched much LPL this year? Did you miss watching Royal Never Give Up leave every last-hit on a minion, ward or neutral monster for legendary bot laner Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao? Then we have good news for you: RNG are back and more or less the same as always.

While RNG showed as recently as the LPL summer finals that they can play through solo laners Xie “Langx” Zhen-Ying and Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao, they’re still primarily going to play through bot side with Uzi and support Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming. This is simultaneously RNG’s greatest strength and their most frustrating area of improvement: recognizing when it would be better to attack through solo lanes and apply pressure through mid or top.

The Chinese support pool is deep, and the LPL are sending two of their strongest supports in Ming and FPX’s Crisp. Expect Uzi and Ming to contest for nearly every wave, every minion, take aggressive trades and help set up for dragons. RNG’s downfall last year was that they didn’t adapt to growing solo lane influence and stubbornly stuck to their bot-centric teamfighting style, despite having the talent to be more flexible.

This year, the hope is that RNG will use that flexibility if necessary.

– Rand

5. Fnatic

Over the course of a tumultuous 2019 campaign, Fnatic have asserted themselves as G2’s strongest opponent in the western scene (LEC and LCS combined). Although their focus may waver at times, their level of play allows them to be strong contenders for a second world championship (yes, Season 1 counts). Fnatic’s biggest challenge entering this year was to carry their 2018 momentum without Caps. To that effect, they invested in the growth of rookie mid laner Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek.

Although they started on an awkward 0-4 in the spring split, the move’s payoff surpassed everyone’s expectations. Indeed, the team has pushed G2 Esports to five games twice in the LEC playoffs, with Nemesis’ ability to neutralize Caps a key factor. Should Fnatic’s drafting be on point at the world championship, their odds of returning to the finals are much higher than currently outlined by Bet365.

That is, provided they move past inconsistencies in their focus. Although they boast strong lanes across the board – with the bot lane rated very highly by Perkz – they still tend to stray off course during the laning phase. Whether the lulls in focus stem from extreme confidence or a disregard of safety, those mistakes could undo an otherwise frightening Fnatic.

– Chouadria

6. Griffin

Griffin poses at LoL Park after a victory. Provided by Ashley Kang

While Griffin’s rain dance for worlds has ended, the Rorschach test that is their team continues.

It all depends on your perspective. Are Griffin:

A group of bold, mechanically gifted pros, eager to exert their will over the world’s best? Bat.

A fragile, momentum-dependent unit that consistently falters when tested in playoffs? Moth.

A sign that the LCK’s youth movement has matured in time for its upcoming closeup? Butterfly.

The ink has dried on a few facts. Since Griffin were promoted to the LCK in April 2018, they have gone 1-4 across all best-of-fives, their lone win a narrow 3-2 semifinal victory over Afreeca Freecs during the 2018 summer playoffs. Twice this year, Griffin found themselves directly invited to an LCK final, only to fold in the face of Faker’s SKT. But Griffin qualified for worlds anyway by accumulating enough championship points so that playoff performance became irrelevant.

Paced by jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong, Regular Season Griffin leveraged their undeniable talent at every position to finish 28-8 over two splits. In doing so, they displayed a level of consistent form unmatched by younger teams in their cohort (Damwon, Sandbox), older institutions that should know better (Gen.G, KingZone) and, ironically, Playoff Griffin. Whether you call it the collective weight of expectations or the result of Taliyah-Pantheon bot lanes, Griffin have yet to prove they can play on the big stage, and there is no bigger stage in League of Legends than worlds.

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Look again: If Regular Season Griffin shows up in Berlin, expect a run to the semifinals. If it’s Playoff Griffin, they might not make it out of groups.

– Miles Yim

7. Team Liquid

Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, right, and support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in. Photo by Paul de Leon/Provided by Riot Games

This tournament means everything for Team Liquid. At the 2018 iteration of worlds, Liquid fumbled and dropped out of groups with a disappointing 3-3 scoreline. Their biggest win came after they were already mathematically eliminated from advancing. The North American champs decided domestic success wasn’t good enough to warrant middling international results and overhauled the starting roster, bringing in former world champion Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen to take Liquid to the next level. The team has continued its domestic glory (now at four-straight titles in NA) and even improved internationally, going to MSI earlier this year in Taiwan and making it all the way to the final by upsetting reigning world champions Invictus Gaming.

Team Liquid came out of the dizzying MSI loss promising improvements come worlds, and now this is their opportunity to redeem their earlier international performance. At MSI Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng officially made it out of a group stage at an international event, but that curse isn’t going to be ripped entirely from his record until he does it at the biggest tournament of the year.

Liquid was built through money and experience to perform at worlds. When it comes to age, they are one of the oldest, and they house two world champion starters. No longer can NA solely rely on Cloud9. As a No. 1 seed, TL will have the weight of NA’s dreams of a successful worlds on their shoulders. If they somehow fail to make it out of groups for the second year in a row, even a year with an international final and two domestic crowns should be considered a disappointment.

– Tyler Erzberger

8. Damwon Gaming

South Korea has never had a team dropped into the play-ins portion of worlds before, but DAMWON probably couldn’t be happier to be the first. They’re rough around the edges but might have the highest ceiling of every team in the tournament, including favorites like SKT and G2. This team is loaded with blue-chip prospects that have made it to the world championship in their first season as pros. The team’s ace, top laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, is a one-man army, unafraid to use the top lane like his own personal playground and pushing into the enemy laner like junglers don’t exist.

DAMWON is a team that could fall apart at any second due to their inexperience, and luckily, the play-ins will give them a few extra chances to work out the kinks before they make it to the group stages. This team’s talented enough to fall behind early and mess up against fledgling region teams before figuring things out to stave off an embarrassing defeat. Nuguri is going to have a field day with some of the top laners pitted against him in the play-ins.

After play-ins, all bets are off on DAMWON. They could be this year’s iG where their zany teamfighting and raw talent plows through the competition, or, like other green teams in the past, they could find the world stage too daunting en route to an early exit.

– Erzberger

9. Invictus Gaming

Invictus Gaming’s Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo is making a name for himself among a team of superstars at the Mid-Season Invitational. David Lee/Riot Games

In 2015, during the first hybrid iteration of Invictus Gaming with mid laner Song “Rookie” Eui-jin and Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, I said that third-seeded iG were such a volatile team that they would either win or lose all of their games. They proceeded to win only two of their group stage matches, and both KaKAO and AD carry Ge “Kid” Yan had such underwhelming performances that they became jokes for years to come.

I feel similarly about this year’s third-seeded iG. The roster is different, but they have the same chaotic energy (which has actually been an iG staple since the team’s inception).

Invictus Gaming’s mechanical prowess should not be ignored. They are the reigning world champions. While Rookie hasn’t looked as strong as he did going into last year’s worlds, top laner Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok is still one of the best, if not the best, players at in his position. Bot laner Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo has been the team’s strongest performer as of late, and another year in the LPL has only complemented his already impressive mechanical skill. New starting jungler Lu “Leyan” Jue (I, too, am sad he changed his in-game name from “Carl”), who was called up from iG Young after his 17th birthday, should continue to look more and more comfortable with the team as they have more time together.

Few expected iG to win the championship last year – the favorite out of China was Royal Never Give Up, who had won the Mid-Season Invitational – and their run to the title was explosive and unpredictable. This team is always explosive and unpredictable and could just as easily bomb out of groups as it could seriously contend for another title.

– Rand

10. Cloud9

Ah, here we go again. It’s time for another world championship, and we have Cloud9, seated as a good but not great team, hovering around the No. 10 spot. And, every year like clockwork, C9 proves that they’re better than their pre-tournament ranking, repeatedly making it into the knockout rounds.

So did their semifinal appearance change anything this year? Nope. Here they are, once again at No. 10, considered a frisky team with experience and talent but not enough experience and talent to be a true contender for the championship. C9 is the most consistent team in the world. They’ve made the world championship every single year of their existence and have missed the knockout rounds only once. That was in 2015 (when worlds was also in Europe) where they finished with a record of 3-4, losing a tiebreaker match that would have sent them to the brackets.

C9 deserves more respect. We’ve seen franchises expected to do great fail at worlds. C9? They’ve always over-performed and impressed.

Thus, here we are. We, and everyone else, will underrate C9, they’ll make it to the quarterfinals, maybe make a semifinal run and then next year, after losing another heartbreaking domestic final to end the summer, we’ll put them in the No. 10 position again with mostly the same roster. The cycle of C9 never ends, and I don’t think they’d have it any other way. See you in Madrid, C9.

– Erzberger

11. Splyce

Provided by Riot Games

Unlike G2 Esports and Fnatic’s go-for-broke approach to the early and mid game, Splyce approach things more cautiously. Their solid macro play and teamfighting in the late game landed them the third LEC seed over Schalke 04 and Origen, taking Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamas to his first world championship out of five tries – and there was much rejoicing for European and Unicorns of Love fans.

Comfortable in the late game, Splyce are still proactive in the early game when Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir’s jungle pathing yields fruit. They have shown the ability to slow games down to a crawl against teams with lesser macro sense. Their track record in Europe indicates that they shouldn’t worry too much until the group stage comes, unless they face an early-game team with clean follow-up macro (as they did in the LEC summer playoffs against Rogue, a team that did not qualify to the gauntlet).

The pressure is on for worlds first-timers in Vizicsacsi, Xerxe, support Tore Hoel “Norskeren” Eilertsen and rookie mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brazda. Should their morale hold steady (unlike their playoff selves) and should their internet connection stay stable enough for scrimmages, expect the players to gain experience, and the LEC to gain an intriguing bracket stage participant.

– Chouadria

12. Clutch Gaming

It’s been an interesting year for Clutch Gaming. They started by going all-in with a volatile roster in hopes of talent prevailing and watched as they dropped like a boulder to the bottom of the NA rankings. By the summer, Clutch had been acquired by Dignitas, Cody “Cody Sun” Sun was promoted to starting AD carry and everything turned around for the team. The franchise embraced their wild side by becoming a team fueled by early-game aggression and fights around the Rift Herald. They enter the tournament in the play-in stage with the moxy to make even the top teams bleed, but the inconsistency to lose to the teams at the bottom of this ranking.

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Clutch’s success or failure will rest in the hands of their South Korean duo of Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo. Huni is the team’s driver in the top lane and most of the good things that happen for Clutch go through him. If Lira can get Huni ahead and Tanner “Damonte” Damonte can get a roaming assassin that makes it through the laning phase, Clutch can sail through play-ins and do damage. Otherwise, in a world where Huni is locked down and the team’s sometimes straightforward play is countered, Clutch probably still gets out of play-ins but has no shot of doing anything in the group stage.

– Erzberger

13. J Team

The days of Flash Wolves ruling Taiwan are over. J Team took their very first LMS title this summer and will be heading up the LMS region for the first time in organizational history.

Since the Flash Wolves’ nosedive in summer, J Team have been nothing short of dominant in the LMS, playing the early and mid game well to consistent victories despite struggling to be more than a “team fighting only” team in the past. While fans might assume that a Flash Wolves-less LMS lacks star power, J Team has plenty to fill up the night sky with the talents of mid laner Chu “FoFo” Chun-Lan and top laner Hsu “Rest” Shih-Chieh anchoring the team this season.

The primary concern for J Team going into worlds will be jungler Chen “Hana” Chih-Hao, who notably stepped up this split but has struggled in the past to keep his wits in close games. J Team have all the talent to take games from the best teams in each region but will probably take one or two games at best in a competitive group. The bot lane of Chen “LilV” Chin-Han and Lin “Koala” Chih-Chiang will be the X-factor for J Team: If they can control the pace of the game, the solo lanes should have no problem reciprocating with redistributed pressure.

– Xander Torres

14. GAM eSports

GAM eSports have gone through many roster swaps to reach worlds, and they brilliantly adapted to the circumstances thrown at them. During Phạm “Zeros” Minh Lộc’s suspension in the first six games of the VCS summer split, they developed Lê “Yoshino” Trung Kiên and Trần “Kiaya” Duy Sang as flexible solo laners in GAM’s system. After his return, they improved with Zin’s inclusion in the bot lane.

In the midst of the it all, former AD carry turned support Nguyễn “Slay” Ngọc Hùng and the returning jungler Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh held steady, providing a backbone to their macro approach. By the time the playoffs came, head coach Dương “Tinikun” Nguyễn Duy Thanh used Kiaya, Yoshino and Zeros interchangeably in the solo lanes, fully confident that team chemistry would stay intact.

As a result, GAM emerged as an untouchable powerhouse in Vietnam and, like Team Liquid in North America, developed much in adapting on the international stage at worlds. Should they succeed, their meta reading abilities and decent macro, Slay’s cross-map roams, Levi’s mechanics and the solo lane roulettes could turn them into Vietnam’s first-ever bracket stage participant – something they should ultimately hold as a realistic goal, unlike their cheese-induced near-qualification in 2017.

– Chouadria

15. ahq eSports Club

After a year of domestic disappointment in 2018, ahq is back to represent the LMS at worlds, this year with a nearly complete roster overhaul and a strong finish to the summer season. Gone are the days of Liu “Westdoor” Shu-Wei, but new mid laner Hsieh “Apex” Chia-Wei brings the element of control that ahq have been missing all these years. He’s not flashy, but he gets the job done on most occasions and has taken pressure away from top laner Chen “Ziv” Yi to perform perfectly each and every game.

Ahq was arguably the best LMS team during the spring season, but a late-season loss to Flash Wolves ruined their chances of showing that at the Mid-Season Invitational.

Coming into worlds, ahq’s hopes mostly reside on the back of star top laner Ziv. While he has slowly been outclassed domestically, he still has the potential to be one of the best top laners in the world on both carry-focused and supportive champions.

Ahq might not necessarily be worse than the Gigabyte Marines, but a generally weak finish to the summer split along with AD carry Tsou “Wako” Wei-Yang’s sloppy play leaves ahq’s stock a little lower than usual. Make no mistake though: Ahq can be just as good at J Team, if not better, on the right day.

>– Torres

16. Unicorns of Love

Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás after a win with the Unicorns of Love. Provided by Riot Games

In the end, Vizicsacsi, Xerxe, and Unicorns of Love finally made it to the world championships they were long denied. But not together.

For Xerxe and Vizicsacsi, deliverance arrived through Splyce, an organization only accepted into LEC franchising once Movistar Riders and North passed. Unicorns of Love were denied outright, forced to compete in Germany’s ESL Meisterschaft 2nd Division before jumping east to the Commonwealth of Independent States last May. Unicorns of Love Sexy Edition still competes in Germany, while the senior side has taken the LCL by storm.

First, a bit of luck. Vega Squadron did not re-sign top laner Vladislav “Boss” Fomin, jungler Kirill “AHaHaCiK” Skvortsov or mid laner Lev “Nomanz” Yakshin after the trio propelled Vega to a strong showing at the Mid-Season Invitational. After completing their buyout of Team Just’s LCL slot, Unicorns of Love signed all three and added veteran support Edward “Edward” Abgaryan for good measure.

Led by founder and head coach Fabian “Sheepy” Mallant, UoL were competitive immediately, amassing a 12-2 regular-season record through Nomanz’s dominating mid play. They met Vega in the summer finals and edged them 3-2 after Nomanz pulled Mordekaiser out of his pocket to win Game 5.

Due to their roster’s international experience and draft versatility, UoL enter the play-in stage as one of the stronger minor region sides. Expect UoL to qualify for a best-of-five no matter their group, which, by a twist of fate, might include Europe’s third seed: Splyce.

– Yim

17. Hong Kong Attitude

Last time HKA made it to the world championship, they were swept aside by Turkish hopefuls 1907 Fenerbahce in the play-in stage – the first and only time that a major region gave way to an emerging region seed.

Still, that’s in the past, and this HKA team is more fine-tuned than the disappointing roster from 2017, most notably having stronger players at both jungle and top lane. The core of HKA’s gameplay remains centered on the bot lane of Wong “Unified” Chun Kit and Ling “Kaiwing” Kai Wing, but the addition of Chen “3z” Han brings another potential avenue of victory for the team. South Korean jungler Lee “Crash” Dong-woo also shores up the jungle position that was previously manned by the inconsistent Huang “Gemini” Chu-Xuan.

Much like G-Rex last year, HKA aren’t expected to do all that well in this tournament. Despite that, Hong Kong Attitude are expected to progress to the main stage unless their play-in stage group draw features Lowkey Esports, who are the biggest threat among minor region teams.

Vietnam poses a bit of an issue for HKA, but the rest of the teams lack the same mechanical muscle or macro know-how to compete with this squad.

– Torres

18. Royal Youth

No matter how hard Royal Bandits tried, SuperMassive were always better.

Winter 2018: BAUSupermassive’s bot side priority allows AD carry Berkay “Zeitnot” Aşıkuzun to dismantle Royal Bandits in a 3-1 series win, finishing 22-5-22 with two games of perfect KDA. Supermassive qualified for MSI, where they nearly made it out of groups against Vietnam’s EVOS Esports.

Summer 2018: Royal Bandits replaced AD carry Anıl “HolyPhoenix” Işık with Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek in the hopes of improving their bot lane against Zeitnot. That matchup goes slightly better, but it’s not enough. BAUSupermassive still prevail 3-1 through mid laner Lee “GBM” Chang-seok, whose 10-0-8 Xerath in Game 4 sent them to worlds. Royal Bandit’s star top laner Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik departs the following offseason for Team SoloMid.

Winter 2019: Now Royal Youth, the team reloads in the offseason by signing GBM and free agent AD carry Na “Pilot” Woo-hyung after MVP was relegated from the LCK. But SuperMassive signed their own South Koreans in support Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan and mid laner Kim “Frozen” Tae-il. The two rivals met in the semifinals and produced the closest series ever between the two, but SuperMassive advanced 3-2 after Royal Youth nearly completed the reverse sweep.

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Summer 2019: Finally, the breakthrough. Facing another 3-1 defeat in Game 4, Royal Youth catch Zeitnot in a crucial five-on-five around a choke point and forced Game 5. It is the only game of the series where the team who got first brick loses. In Game 5, Royal Youth last-pick a comfort Jayce for Turkish top laner İrfan “Armut” Berk Tükek, and his side lane pressure, built by plenty of early ganks from jungler Can “Closer” Çelik, carries the game.

Royal Youth play well from ahead, using Pilot’s solid laning to secure early advantages that they then attempt to rapidly snowball through Rift Herald. They should be able to execute that game plan against whichever Pool 3 play-in opponent they draw, and depending on their best-of-five matchup might even make groups.

But in lifting the TCL trophy at SuperMassive’s direct expense, the hard part for this team is already over.

– Yim

19. Lowkey Esports

Lowkey Esports can find comfort in qualifying to the world championship. After all, their qualification bodes well for Vietnam’s upcoming generation of League of Legends pro gamers.

Fittingly, two former Saigon Jokers are nurturing Lowkey Esports’s new generation: Mai “Nixwater” Nhật Tân and Nguyễn “Celebrity” Phước Long Hiệp. The circumstances couldn’t be more different for them; indeed, Nixwater has been at Worlds since Season 2 and will return there as a head coach, whereas Celebrity toiled for five seasons without reaching worlds (until now).

Instead of holding high expectations for Lowkey Esports, observers at large should instead focus on the prowess of players who, outside of 2017 Worlds participant Bùi Nguyễn “Venus” Quốc Hoàng, weren’t professionals or were barely getting started when Gigabyte Marines reached the worlds group stage in 2017.

Indeed, Nguyễn “Artifact” Văn Hậu (2017), Đỗ “DNK” Ngọc Khải (2018) and Nguyễn “Hani” Tuấn Phát (2018) have shown promise in a scene that is ceaselessly growing and generating talent of Levi’s caliber or nearing it. Look forward especially to DNK as he adds another name to the list of notable Vietnamese junglers, with Levi and LNG Esports’ Lê “SoFM” Quang Duy preceding him.

In short, expect fireworks, fun, and a fair bit of macro – enough to contend for a play-in bracket stage spot. But sleeping on them would be the ultimate blunder, for they have much to show without pressure.

– Chouadria

20. DetonatioN FocusMe

Since the 2018 world championship, DetonatioN FocusMe have consistently proven to be the strongest Japanese team in the region, while also performing well on the international stage. While a main stage berth continues to elude DFM, the team’s mechanical skill remains impressive for such a small region.

Top laner Shunsuke “Evi” Murase is still the crown jewel of Japan, performing well on the South Korean solo queue ladder and against top laners from other minor regions. DFM lack depth behind mechanical muscle, too often opting for the five-on-five teamfight approach, but some regular-season challenges this year might be enough to push the team to the next level.

Going into the play-in stage, DFM’s mid-game macro will be an important aspect to watch. In the past, DFM have opted to merely farm for late-game teamfights, but against an increasingly competitive field, that becomes difficult to execute consistently. At MSI, DFM were felled by Vega Squadron’s superior early game approach, and while that LCL team isn’t here, Unicorns of Love, Lowkey Esports and Royal Youth remain mountains to climb.

– Torres

21. Isurus Gaming

Most minor region representatives had to fight tooth and nail for their respective titles, but ISG decimated its competition.

While the spring split certainly came as a struggle for the Latin American champions, it never felt like any team could actually take Isurus Gaming down in summer. All Knights remained the team’s greatest competition, but ISG easily dispatched the South Korean-fueled roster in the final. Currently, ISG aren’t projected to do much better than other minor region teams, but their players have arguably the most room to grow at an ongoing South Korean boot camp and international scrims.

Mid laner Edgar “Seiya” Bracamontes is the first ISG player that jumps out at anyone. Having been around the Latin American scene since 2011, Seiya has taken a dozen titles for himself as the greatest Latin American player of all time. Still, he has a great supporting cast that have arguably done more of the carrying in the form of star jungler Sebastian “Oddie” Niño and the consistently dangerous AD carry Fabian “Warangelus” Bernal.

If ISG are to do well at worlds this year, Oddie and Warangelus need to show up as consistent secondary carries that can make the difference in close matches.

– Torres

22. Flamengo eSports

Since last year’s roster iteration with top laner Park “Jisu” Jin-cheol and support Eidi “esA” Yanagimachi, Flamengo eSports have been touted as Brazil’s best hope to shine once more on an international stage. The catch was that they were continuously beaten by other teams in Brazil’s CBLoL finals and were unable to qualify for any international events.

After several attempts, Flamengo will finally represent Brazil.

Back in 2014, Brazil was the initial “emerging region” in every context. Now they’ve watched as other minor region teams, particularly from Commonwealth of Independent States and Turkey, have surpassed them in international results and general understanding of the game.

Flamengo has a lot of experienced Brazilian talent, particularly bot laner Felipe “brTT” Gonçalves, whose name is synonymous with Brazilian League, although it’s nice to see both top laner Leonardo “Robo” Souza on the international stage again and mid laner Bruno “Goku” Miyaguchi qualify for his first international competition.

The building blocks are there in the talent, but Flamengo will have to learn and improve quickly while boot-camping in Europe before play-ins if they are to have a chance at making it out of play-in groups.

– Rand

23. MEGA

As Unicorns of Love learned in the LCL, one of the best ways to qualify for international tournaments is to sign the roster of the previous representative. After Ascension Gaming disbanded just days after being eliminated from the 2018 world championship, Thai outfit MEGA swooped in to sign top laner Atit “Rockky” Phaomuang, mid laner Nuttapong “G4” Menkasikan and Juckkirsts “Lloyd” Kongubon, the latter of whom flexes between jungle and AD carry.

Like clockwork, MEGA qualified for both international tournaments this year, though after a lackluster MSI there’s little expectation that the team will fare well at worlds. Part of the reason is the Southeast Asia region’s insular meta, which revolves around near-constant fighting to end games quickly. It’s a race to gain map control through kills, and leads are rarely relinquished once established. During the LST summer split, the league averaged 33 kills per game and a game length of 28:30. By comparison, the LPL averaged 27 kills per game and a game length of 31:55 this summer.

MEGA is no exception to the style, and that doesn’t bode well for their chances against better teams. One change to note: Lloyd has gone back to the jungle, opening a roster spot for South Korean AD carry Kim “DeuL” Deul. As DeuL goes, so goes MEGA: His deathless LST summer playoffs is a major reason the team is heading to Berlin.

– Yim

24. Mammoth

Someone had to come last, and like most international tournaments, it’s Oceania. The minnow of the League of Legends regions, it’s ironic this year’s team coming from them is named Mammoth. The team has some experienced members on the roster and they appear to be one of the better championship teams sent from Oceania, but as we’ve seen for countless years, being strong in Oceania is more of a big fish in a small pond than anything substantial on the international stage. Dire Wolves tried for years to make something happen in play-ins and failed.

A successful tournament for Mammoth would be to qualify for the best-of-five stage of the play-in rounds. Even if they were to get wiped by DAMWON Gaming in a series that lasts less than an hour, at least then Oceania will have finally made progress on the international stage. More than likely, though, it’ll be a similar finish for a region starved for any kind of success.

– Erzberger

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