Just about a week remains until 2016 Worlds begins, as 16 of the best League of Legends teams in the world square off for international acclaim and one giant trophy. Of those 16 times, six come from either the North American or European LCS, and those are the six teams we’re going to talk about today.
Since Fnatic won Season 1 Worlds (the only Worlds without any Korean or Chinese teams), no Western team has ever even made the final. In every Worlds but 2014, at least one Western team has made the semifinal, but Counter Logic Gaming, Moscow Five, Fnatic (twice) and Origen failed to punch their tickets to the final.
This year, the Western teams face another tough challenge, with a stacked field ahead of them and plenty of tough groups. Here’s how we rate their chances of making it out of the group stage, in order of likelihood:
Group: A (ROX Tigers, Counter Logic Gaming, Albus Nox Luna)
Power ranking: 7th
Likelihood of knockout stages: 8/10
G2 gets the highest ranking here not based on the strength of the team (there are legitimate questions to ask about their solo lanes in international play), but because of the makeup of the group. While anything can happen in the month between the end of the season and Worlds, CLG looked like the weakest of the six Western teams going to Worlds towards the end of the split. While G2 should not really be expected to compete with the ROX Tigers, second-place should be an easy claim, barring a repeat international disaster like at MSI. Thankfully, G2’s current bottom lane is miles better than the one used at MSI.
Group: D (Royal Never Give Up, Samsung Galaxy, Splyce)
Power ranking: 6th
Likelihood of knockout stages: 7/10
TSM is likely the strongest Western team at Worlds, but it was also placed into the strongest group in the tournament. Any of these four teams could conceivably advance to the next round, and while I think TSM is favored to do so, it’ll have to beat out either a Korean or Chinese team first. That’s something I think TSM can do, but it won’t be an easy task.
Group: C (EDward Gaming, ahq e-Sports Club, INTZ e-Sports)
Power ranking: 14th
Likelihood of knockout stages: 5/10, arguably 8/10 for being in the same group as two teams that choose to spell it “e-Sports”
H2K’s probably been the most popular “third team to make it out” I’ve seen — the player of INTZ e-Sports rate H2K as the second-best team in the group, and since the return of AD Carry Konstantinos “Forg1ven” Tzortziou H2K has played like a different unit. This is a relatively easy group, too, unless ahq plays up to previous LMS international form — I seem to be rating LMS higher than others, but I do believe ahq’s solo-lane strength could give H2K problems.
Group: D (Team SoloMid, Royal Never Give Up, Samsung Galaxy)
Power ranking: 11th
Likelihood of knockout stages: 4/10
In just about any other group, I’d rate Splyce highly to make it out. They’ve been playing good League of Legends all split, especially in their mid-to-late game fights, and have strong enough talent in the side lanes to compete with some of the top teams in the world. But this is a very difficult group that’s been handed to them, and it’s going to take a lot to get out of it and into the knockout stage.
Group: B (Flash Wolves, SK Telecom T1, I May)
Power ranking: 10th
Likelihood of knockout stages: 3/10
Maybe the hottest Western team entering the tournament, Cloud9 was helped by world-class play from top laner Eon-yeong “Impact” Jung in the postseason. Now C9 is stuck with one of the toughest groups in the tournament — it’s the only group with just one Western team and no Wild Cards — and Impact will have to go up against his old team SKT.
This will be a tough group, and C9 will need improved play from jungler William “Meteos” Hartman, who struggled at times in the postseason, in order to have a chance at advancing to the knockout stages.
Counter Logic Gaming
Group: A (ROX Tigers, G2 Esports, Albus Nox Luna)
Power ranking: 13th
Likelihood of knockout stages: 2/10
Oh, CLG. Just a few months ago, this team was on top of Western League of Legends, fresh off a second-place finish at MSI and the best international showing for a North American team ever.
Then, the Summer Split happened, and CLG kind of fell apart with the exact same roster. The two-time defending NA LCS champions didn’t even make the finals this time around, and when CLG auto-qualified for Worlds there was some controversy, considering both Cloud9 and Immortals had arguments to be considered the better team. But CLG is here now and has performed before on the international stage with this exact roster. If G2 slips up and performs like MSI, there’s a spot wide open in this group to advance.