League of Legends World Championship underway; North American teams knocked out


Team Liquid

Team Liquid Logo for League of Legends

I went to sleep at midnight and my alarm woke me up at 12:50 a.m. despite having an 8 a.m. class. I had been up all night catching up on homework, in one class I was two weeks behind. I mustered the willpower to get out of bed and hopped on my desktop by 12:59 a.m. where my friend was already waiting for me in Discord. I said “hi,” opened up a Chrome tab for Twitch and we began watching Day 5 of the League of Legends World Championship Groups Stage together. 

League of Legends is currently the most-played PC game in the world according to Newzoo. The World Championship, or Worlds for short, is a yearly international tournament where top teams compete for glory and a fat cash prize. The prize pool amount just surpassed $5 million according to The Esports Observer. This year it’s taking place in Shanghai, China—which explains the god awful timing for me living on the West Coast. Over 20 teams from 11 different regions are participating this year. Naturally since I live in North America (NA), I root for them. Last year’s Finals “reached a record breaking 21.8 million Average Minute Audience (AMA),” according to LoL Esports. “Fans across the world watched more than 1 billion hours of content during the 5 weeks of competition.” 

This year, NA’s best chance at getting through the Group Stage—in my opinion—was Team Liquid (TL). We had two other teams, TSM and FlyQuest, but their scores from the previous week didn’t look too great and their competition weren’t pushovers. 

If I haven’t lost you yet, the following is for people who have a decent grasp on game terminology and mechanics, read at your own confusion.

North America’s No. 3 seed, TL, went into Day 5 needing to win their next three matches to move to the next round. Their first match pitted them against G2 Esports, Europe’s No. 1 seed. 

G2’s top and jungle presence was more impactful than TL’s. Small victories around the map added up for G2, which translated into a decent gold lead. Around the 18-minute mark, a fight broke out in mid where TL’s Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen bit off more than he could chew and made a much too ballsy engagement with Hecarim where he was immediately punished. G2 quickly capitalized on the mistake.

That left G2 with a comfortable 7,000 gold lead. At 26 minutes, a great flash play near baron inspired hope for a teamfight that would turn around TL’s position, but the gold difference proved insurmountable. As caster Max “Atlus” Anderson commented, “The wallets are too heavy on the side of G2.” G2 aced TL and took two inhibitors and returned to base. 

Shortly after, G2 won another teamfight and ended the match. The crushing loss left , TL needing to win their next three games and pray for a tiebreaker. My bed was looking pretty tempting right about then.

TL’s next match was against Suning, China’s No. 3 seed. It was also scheduled at 4 a.m. to my dismay. TL opted to go for the Level 1 jungle invasion, picking up three kills while losing a member of their own. But it was definitely worth it. A scattered team fight at around 11 minutes saw TL’s Edward “Tactical” Ra display his proficiency on Jhin as he made great use of his ultimate, hitting all four shots and picking up two kills. 

After a prolonged fight near baron at the 26-minute mark, TL came out on top once again with an apparent lead. Suning’s AD heavy team composition had a difficult time dealing with TL’s beefy frontline and lost six minutes later.

TL’s match against Machi Esports (MCX), Southeast Asia’s No. 1 seed, in theory would be their easiest. MCX had only eked out one win so far in groups, their win however was against TL. They had shown they had the potential to take the win before.

 I was a bit skeptical when TL’s bot lane locked in Senna and Pantheon. Tactical and Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in quickly made me feel better. Their Level 1 proved strong as they picked up an early kill, the enemy ADC’s cleanse and a fat chunk of health. 

TL’s CoreJJ proved to be a thorn in the enemy’s side as he made his presence known to MCX’s mid laner and jungle as well.A clutch Shen ultimate from TL’s Jung ”Impact” Eon-yeong, great pathing from Broxah and proactive plays from CoreJJ further cemented their lead. The gold difference only widened. As the casters noted, this match was looking like one of the most one-sided games so far. TL got too anxious to close out the game toward the end and overstayed, but it proved inconsequential as TL eventually triumphed. 

TL had done everything in their power and now their fate rested with G2. If G2 came out on top against Suning, TL would have a chance to take the second spot needed to advance.

A mostly even early game between G2 and Suning eventually tipped toward the latter as they collapsed on three members bot lane and Suning’s Bin proceedingly grew more and more massive. Suning closed out the game at a fast 23 minutes. TL was done.

Shortly after, G2 tweeted:

Following TL’s failure to get out of Group A on, I wasn’t optimistic that North America would get out of groups this year. While Team Solo Mid and FlyQuest were still in the running, their competition looked even tougher. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and watched as much as I could bear.

When Fnatic stole the dragon near the 17-minute mark against TSM I felt a part of my soul leave my body. After Fnatic secured dragon soul and had a 6,000 gold lead at 22 minutes I called it a night. TSM lost their next two games and went 0-6 in groups as NA’s first seed, something that’s never happened before.

As for FlyQuest, they ended at a respectable 3-3. They also managed to sneak a surprising win over Top Esports, China’s No. 1 seed and favorite to win Worlds. 

As we do every year, my friend and I painfully joked, “There’s always next year.” 

Semis run from Oct. 24-25 at 3 a.m. PDT. Finals take place on Oct. 31 at 3 a.m. PDT as well. The remaining teams are Suning, Top Esports, Damwon Gaming and G2 Esports. 

The League of Legends World Championships can be watched on: Twitch, YouTube and LoL Esports.

Alex Amaya can be reached at [email protected]