A primer to the biggest esports event in the world
On Sept. 25, the 2020 League of Legends World Championship Play-In Stage began in Shanghai, China. This year marks the 10th edition of the biggest esports event in the world, and features the top teams from regional leagues around the world in a battle to earn the title of world champion. With one week of action wrapped up and many more to come, here’s everything you need to know before the championship’s main event.
What is League of Legends?
League of Legends is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) video game, developed and published by Riot Games in late 2009. It quickly became one of the most popular video games in the world, and is one of the most recognized esports games to this day.
It’s a five-on-five team game where players assume the role of a “champion,” each equipped with a unique set of abilities.
Gameplay can often be tough to comprehend, as chaotic skirmishes ensue across Summoner’s Rift, representing the map and settings where every match of the 2020 World Championship will be played.
Unfamiliar viewers looking to catch some action should know that the objective of each match is quite simple: destroy the enemy base before they can destroy yours.
What’s the format of the tournament, and who is competing?
The tournament began with the Play-In Stage, wherein 10 teams were split into two groups of five. Each group played a single round-robin cycle, where the top two teams from each group advanced to the Group stage.
For a recap of the first week of Worlds 2020, check out the Weekly Rundown provided by Riot Games.
On Oct. 3, the main event began with the Group Stage where 16 teams are split into four groups. Each group consists of one Play-In team, and three other teams that earned their spot in the Group Stage based on regional ranking. Groups are randomly selected, but balanced; the top seed from the four major regions earns the right to be separated in the group stage.
On Oct. 15, the Knockout Stage will transition to a single-elimination bracket consisting of the top two teams from each group. All matches will be played in a best-of-five format that will conclude on Oct. 31, where the team that comes out on top will be crowned the 2020 World Champions.
A region’s seeds are earned based on past international performance. A strong region will send most, if not all, of their seeds straight to the group stage, whereas weaker regions receive fewer seeds and/or must start in the Play-In Stage. The four main regions are China and Europe, who have a total of four seeded teams, as well as South Korea and North America, who have three representatives. Twenty-two teams will be competing this year.
What teams should I look out for?
There are new faces looking to set a new standard for competitive esports; regional legends looking to re-write history and cement their names in international League of Legends lore; and multiple Canadian players to watch. Here’s a brief rundown of teams to look out for whether you’re a die-hard consumer of esports or a casual fan looking to get your feet wet.
- Top Esports (#1 seed, China) and G2 Esports (#1 seed, Europe): Top Esports (TES) has a dynamic duo in Knight and Karsa in the mid-lane and jungle respectively, and is the top seed from the top region in China. If you’re looking to watch the highest level of gameplay, look no further. G2 is coming off another year of regional dominance led by their star mid-laner Caps, who continues to raise the bar for his team by displaying calculated aggression and IQ at all stages of the game.
- Team SoloMid (#1 seed, North America) and Fnatic (#2 seed, Europe): Two of the oldest franchises that have been around since the dawn of League of Legends, Team SoloMid (TSM) and Fnatic have some of the largest fan-bases in esports. Both teams enjoy regional success on a regular basis, but have failed to obtain international success as world champions, except for Fnatic’s Season 1 Worlds victory in 2011.
- FlyQuest (#2 seed, North America): FlyQuest has two high-profile Canadian marksman players on their roster in Toronto’s WildTurtle and Mississauga’s MasH. The team uses both players interchangeably, giving FlyQuest additional flexibility that most teams cannot match.
Where can I watch?
The event is taking place in Shanghai, but all Worlds matches can be watched on-demand on the official League of Legends esports site.
Graphic by Taylor Reddam