The highlight of every season is coming closer and closer, and the attention of every League of Legends fan will peak in the upcoming weeks. As 22 teams prepare for the most important fight of 2020, we take a look at how European teams look in terms of their Worlds performance.
Europe can pride itself on winning the first-ever World Championship in 2011. xPeke, Shushei, LamiaZealot, Mellisan, Cyanide – those are the players who have made history for Fnatic, achieving something that nobody in Europe has yet managed to copy. It doesn’t mean no team has ever come close, though – the past two finals mark the presence of both Fnatic (2018) and G2 Esports (2019), with some notable top-four performances throughout the years as well. Unfortunately, no one seemed to be able to beat the Asian giants in the battle for the dream trophy of every player in League of Legends. So, is 2020 the year to put an end to Asian dominance on the international Rift?
In 2019, G2 were one Best of Five series away from claiming the grand slam. LEC Spring and Summer Splits, Mid-Season Invitational – they looked absolutely unstoppable. Their great run on Worlds could have foreshadowed the start of a new era, where Europe is to be feared… and yet their dreams were brutally shattered by FunPlus Phoenix. This year, with the Chinese team being absent on Worlds and G2 having held the MSI title and claimed both LEC Splits again, the hopes of G2 fans are rising yet again.
So far, 2020 proved to be bumpy for G2; especially the Summer Split, despite the overall victory, brought many ups and downs in their play. Nevertheless, the #1 European seed they claimed in their summer run might be beneficial in the group stage of Worlds. This way, during the group draw, they avoid Chinese TopEsports, Korean DAMWON Gaming and North American Team SoloMid, thus having a potentially easier way to advance into the play-offs.
Focusing on individuals, G2 Esports should always be considered as one of the main competitors for the highest of places. Both LEC Splits showed that Caps is capable of carrying even the hardest games – his recent mage-oriented performances, the highlights of the Summer play-offs, were the main reason G2 were able to tame their opponents. However, were it not for Jankos’ Rift intelligence and ability to play around his midlaner, Caps’ time in the lane might not have been so easy. Adding to this mixture Wunder and his on-and-off meta picks in the toplane and the Perkz & Mikyx duo from the botlane (despite the current meta not being much to their favour), there is a great likelihood G2 will step up in the hardest of duels.
Fnatic have yet to recreate their Season 1 success and win an international tournament. The closest they have got in the past years is becoming the runner-ups on Worlds 2018. However, since the departure of their midlane star-player Caps, the team has been struggling on both the regional and international Rift. Fnatic have undergone some minor roster changes throughout the last two seasons to ensure that the organization might still have a chance of resurfacing at the top. So far, they haven’t been able to secure a title on the European ground, but should still pose a threat moving on to Worlds.
Throughout the last split, Fnatic seemed to have been looking for their identity. They might have finally found it – during the play-offs, with Selfmade stepping up and being Fnatic’s primary carry. He found himself a spot of an aggressive, early-game oriented jungler that could snowball his lead into a victory for the whole team. This came along with Evelynn’s presence in the drafts and can play to Fnatic’s advantage when facing Asian teams. Still, is it going to be enough to let Fnatic hope for the highest places?
Fnatic have an international history full of unexpected comebacks. Only last year, they took down RNG, their long time rivals, and secured a second place in their group. The ability to pour their heart out in the most important moments bodes well for their 2020 run. Together with G2, they are carrying a great deal of European hopes and dreams for the Summoner’s Cup – and only time will tell how well both of the teams do.
The first team in the world to qualify for Worlds 2020 is now the #3 European seed of the tournament. Alongside MAD Lions, they’re also the least experienced when it comes to international stage – with Vander being the only to have competed on Worlds (2016). He has already gained a place as the team’s “Professor”, the most mature one to guide his younger teammates through the meandres of competitive play. Considering 2016 brought Vander a classification just behind the runner-ups, he might be crucial for Rogue to not lose their heads during the tournament.
As for Rogue’s playstyle, Summer Split brought some surprising resolutions. They had been broadly considered to be a very orderly team, playing on-meta compositions that were almost sure to work out in the game. However, play-offs showed a more “rogue” side of their gameplay and proved that Rogue can greatly adjust to what is happening on the Rift, thus being more flexible and unexpected for their opponents. Even though this type of demeanour on Worlds is commonly-anticipated rather than an advantage, Rogue might bring fans some surprises in their group stage run. They will certainly face some giants in this stage, therefore having a harder time coming in the top 2, yet it shouldn’t be considered impossible.
Out of all the European teams on Worlds, MAD Lions will certainly go through the longest way. They start in the play-in stage, which means that in order to compete in the Main group stage, they will have to play additional six matches in the “worst of best” scenarios (provided they win their group, the number drops to four). This equals more time spent on stage, but the outcome of MAD’s situation may vary. Our European rookies may either gain more experience in the early stages of Worlds – therefore building much more team confidence later on and bringing their momentum to the main stage – or fall victims to Worlds’ tight schedule and insane amount of pressure put on them from the very beginning.
From the current roster, Humanoid is the only player to have competed in an international tourmanent (Worlds 2019 – before Splyce rebranded to MAD Lions). For every other player, this year will be the first chance to show everyone how promising the young part of Europe is. Still, advancing to the Main event should be MAD’s main goal – a very achievable one, to be fair. As long as MAD Lions rise to the form they were presenting through most of the Summer regular season, they should be able to secure a top spot in the play-ins stage. Every match from this moment on should be considered an opportunity, not a must; an opportunity to show the best side of their team without the overwhelming feeling of pressure the top-rated teams will have to struggle with. Sometimes less is more – and hopefully this will be the case for MAD Lions.
Who do you think will go furthest out of the participants from LEC? Share your opinion in the comments and be sure to follow Worlds 2020 on the Rift and in our news. Starting October 25th, the next few weeks will bring extraordinary excitement as the top teams face each other.