The League of Legends 2016 World Championships are right around the corner. Officially things got kicked off on Saturday with the group draws on Prime Time League. Here is a preliminary power ranking of all 16 teams that have qualified for Worlds:
1. SK Telecom T1
2. Edward Gaming
3. ROX Tigers
4. Samsung Galaxy
If you have watched Worlds over the past three years, this group likely isn’t much of a surprise. What might be surprising is that the gap between these four teams and the teams under them is smaller now than it’s ever been. In the past, there has always been a team that comes into Worlds with an air of inevitability - over the last three years those teams have also been the champions - but that kind of team is notably absent this year. The closest approximation would be 2015 World Champions SK Telecom, but they have looked shaky over the last couple months and were knocked out of the LCK Summer Playoffs by a KT Rolster team that didn’t even make it to worlds. While these four teams are likely the strongest in the tournament, I wouldn’t be shocked if one or two of them went home early.
5. Flash Wolves
6. Team SoloMid
8. Royal Never Give Up
This is the group where things start to get fun. LMS, EULCS, and NALCS all see a representative here for the first time in a while. The Flash Wolves look like a team dead set on proving themselves - and the LMS - as a legitimate contender on the World’s stage. Meanwhile, G2 and TSM both look like the strongest teams their regions have ever fielded. All this at a down moment for the LCK and LPL - despite RNG’s place here which is earned through shear player talent - and we have the first legitimate chance at a western World Champion since 2012.
9. ahq e-Sports Club
This is the group of regional qualifiers. It isn’t that these teams are bad - despite their bottom half ranking here - in fact in their regional tournaments they all looked quite good. The issue for these four is going to be in proving that their performances in qualifying were more than just flukes. If they can do that one of these teams could easily make it to the Semi-Finals.
13. Counter Logic Gaming
15. INTZ e-Sports
16. Albus NoX Luna
Remember when I said that the gap between teams was small? Well, ranked 13 here is the MSI runner up CLG. Sure, they have had a tough Summer Split, but they are still more than capable of taking games off of most of the teams above them. In fact, so are all the teams here - especially the International Wild Card teams who look better than ever. The problem for these teams is going to be beating the teams ranked above them consistently. It’s easy to imagine one of these teams escaping their group, but it’s a little tougher to see them progressing forward after that.
This is the best lineup of teams ever at a League of Legends World Championship. The teams who are ranked lowest are, for the first time ever, there, not because they are bad, but because their competition is so good. Each region has fielded more than one legitimate contender and - outside of the IWC teams - it is hard to imagine any single game feeling like much of an upset. With teams being this close and talent levels being as high as they have ever been, these teams are going to make this the most unpredictable and most exciting Worlds.