Which teams have the best chance to make it out of Groups?
The 2020 League of Legends World Championships groups have been drawn. Twelve teams have been sorted into four groups for the tournament group stage, while ten have been sorted into two groups for the play-in stage.
This year's Worlds is decently competitive across the event's structure. The teams hailing from outside the four big leagues look hungry and competitive, while organisations within those leagues have hopes of lifting the Summoner's Cup, or just making it past the group stage.
The play-in groups look a little different this year because of the additions of the fourth-seeded LEC and LPL teams - MAD Lions and LGD Gaming. There is also the hitch that Vietnamese teams could not make the trip this year. These factors all culminate into a play-in stage with a two-group format of five teams each.
The first group in the competition, Group A, looks to be the most stable. It has the North American third seed, Team Liquid, the aforementioned MAD Lions and SuperMassive Esports, INTZ, and Legacy Esports. The two frontrunners to leave the group and advance are MAD Lions and Team Liquid, but SuperMassive and INTZ have both been to Worlds before and are looking to improve on their last placements.
The play-in stage has the first-placed team in each group automatically advance to the group stage after the round-robin. MAD Lions and Team Liquid are going to be battling for the top seed to avoid fighting in a best-of-five bracket with the other teams for the last spot into the group stage. Both teams struggled in their respective regions in that format, and while they would still be the favourites, if either SuperMassive or INTZ gain momentum, they could look to upset the bracket.
Group B, on the other hand, is open in terms of who could take the second spot into the group stage. LGD moving on to the group stage already seems like a foregone conclusion, but their partner is harder to parse. The rest of the group is filled out with PSG Talon, Rainbow7, Unicorns of Love, and V3 Esports. Unicorns of Love are the most recognisable team in that group, but that doesn't mean the squad will take the second spot. The two teams along with Unicorns of Love that will be vying for that spot will probably be Rainbow7 and V3 Esports. Rainbow7 is the LLN representative and was created with the sole intention of making a superteam from the region. It is also the organisation's second trip to Worlds. V3 Esports is a Japanese side that has been up-and-coming in a region that has also been improving steadily since its first appearance at Worlds in 2018.
This group will probably be the most fun to watch in the play-in stage because of its uncertainty. These teams will definitely showcase what the smaller regions have to offer in terms of talent and strategy.
Group A has been heralded as the easiest group of the tournament. Containing the LEC No.1 seed, G2 Esports, the LPL No.3 seed, Suning, and the PCS No.1 seed, Machi Esports. The fourth team to round out the group will probably be Team Liquid, barring some major upsets in the play-in stage. This group looks pretty wide open for any team to make it out, and does not have any positions that looked stacked across it. Some have called this the group of life, but it remains to be seen whether this group will hold any opportunities for Team Liquid and Machi Esports, or if Suning and G2 Esports will just run over the competition into an easy knock-out stage birth.
On the other side of the difficulty spectrum, Group B is easily the hardest group out of the four, but does not reach the denomination of the group of death. The group that has the LPL No.2 seed, JD Gaming, and the LCK No.1 seed, DAMWON Gaming is a potential World Finals preview. DAMWON dominated the LCK in the Summer Split, and JD Gaming was neck-and-neck with the LPL No.1 seed in their Summer Split, losing the LPL Summer Finals in a five-game series. The third seed in Group B is the LEC No.3 seed Rogue who seem slightly out of place as a team of young players in a group of highly seeded veterans. This group is going to be defined by both games between DAMWON Gaming and JD Gaming, to the point that it does not really matter who the fourth team will be from play-ins.
Group C is the real group of life in this tournament, especially for LCS fans. This group is probably North America's best hope to make it to the knock-out stage after not having a single team qualify in 2019. The group consists of the LCS No.1 seed TSM, the LEC No.2 seed, Fnatic, and the LCK No.3 seed, Gen.G. This group is also the only destination for LGD Gaming if the team makes it out of play-ins. The bottom lane talent in this group is probably going to decide the series with veterans Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng, Martin "Rekkles" Larsson and World Champion Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk all battling for a spot in the knock-out stage.
Lastly, Group D looks like the second most stacked group in the tournament. With the LPL No.1 seed, Top Esports, the LCK No.2 seed, DRX, and the LCS No.2 seed, FLyQuest, this group is more of a race for second place than anything else. Top Esports are the current tournament favourites and have the best mid lane and jungle player combination of the tournament and Group D. The mid lane is also the defining position for this group with Chinese prodigy Zhuo "knight" Ding, and two Worlds veterans Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon and Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage all competing for dominance. Marek "Humanoid" Brázda will also join that group if MAD Lions make it out of the play-in stage.
This Worlds group draw has an interesting lineup of teams that either look certain to make it to the next stage, doomed to fall flat, or have a shot at moving on if it plays its cards right. While there does not seem to be any groups of death, with three or more teams that could make a deep run in the tournament, there are fascinating matchups with potential for competition. All that can be done now is to wait for September 25, for the first day of the tournament.
Images via lolesports