With over 67 million active players per month, League of Legends is one of the largest games in the world. Now, the top 400 players among them have been selected and sorted for what will likely be the most biggest esports event in history.
This afternoon, Riot Games announced the group draw for the first phase of the World Championships.
Prior to the draw, 16 teams earned their spot at the main event through a series of regional qualifiers. Their placement in these qualifiers earned them a seed of one, two, or three for the official draw. Each group was then selected by randomly drawing teams from each of these seeding pools until all spots had been filled with no two teams from the same region meeting in the same group.
That’s the boring part. The exciting part is that each of these groups carries its own storylines, expectations, and potential upsets.
Group A features Korean juggernauts Samsung White and Chinese champions Edward Gaming, for whom the rest of the group should be a walkover. Their opponents, AHQ Esports Club from Taiwan and Dark Passage from Turkey, both come from competitively weaker regions.
Group B is the most balanced, which is good for fan-favorite Team Solomid. The multi-national side out of North America will battle against China’s Star Horn Royal Club, Taiwan’s Taipei Assassins, and Europe’s SK Gaming. At first blush, no team in group B appears to have a dramatic edge over the others, which should make for taut gameplay and tense fan bases.
For all intents and purposes, the “group of death” this year will be Group C. The field features Chinese transplant LMQ who qualified out of North America, China’s whirling dervish OMG, Europe’s darling Fnatic, and Korean powerhouse Samsung Blue. For those familiar with the teams, this group is too close to call. For those who are new to League of Legends esports, get ready for some tight matches.
Finally, Group D pits Europe’s great hope, Alliance, against a pair of dark horse contenders. Their opponents include North American stalwart Cloud9 and Najin White Shield who, despite earning the last spot from Korea, are on form to best even the top teams from other regions. With Najin White Shield looking stronger than ever, at least one popular Western side may be making the trip home early.
As prognosticators ready their arguments and predictions, one thing is clear: the competition will be fierce. With the field more competitive than ever, one big play or misstep could mean the difference between shattered dreams and the ultimate prize: a world championship.