The 2019 League of Legends World Championship song “Phoenix” was released earlier this week.
“Phoenix” is the sixth Worlds song to come out, and within two days, it’s accumulated over 7.2 million views on YouTube. Additionally, it’s the first song to feature a previous Worlds artist—Chrissy Costanza was featured in the 2017 song “Legends Never Die.”
In honor of the release of “Phoenix,” we’ve decided to rank every Worlds song. Riot Games has published a Worlds anthem and music video every year since 2014 to kick off the championship.
Since each song is released as a complete music video, the rankings have been based on the song and video combined. Additionally, this list will only feature the official Worlds music videos, so songs like “Pop Stars” won’t be included.
Here are our rankings of the best Worlds songs and music videos.
6. “Worlds Collide” (ft. Nicki Taylor) 2015
“Worlds Collide” is the quintessential sound of League of Legends. Created in 2015, this song set the stage for Riot’s future musical projects like “Bring Home the Glory” and “Awakened.” Driving strings, blaring brass, and a mix of synths combined with a bright female vocalist defines the style behind “Worlds Collide.”
Despite being ranked last on our list, “Worlds Collide” does have a powerful and addicting chorus. The biggest issue with the song is the video—or lack thereof. “Worlds Collide” is the only Worlds song that was created without a full music video. Instead, the official release video features a bright red crystal encapsulating mini versions of European landmarks. The crystal does rotate along with a few rocks, so it’s animated. But an animation loop isn’t enough to save “Worlds Collide” from a last-place finish on this list.
5. “Phoenix” (ft. Cailin Russo and Chrissy Costanza) 2019
“Phoenix” is the latest addition to the Worlds song catalog and was arguably the most highly-anticipated song of any year. “Phoenix” was expected to be released before the play-in stage but delays in production pushed it back by roughly two weeks. Amidst the suspense, the song alone leaves much to be desired, however.
“Phoenix” starts with a soft, shadowy intro, but as it continues, the lack of dimension quickly becomes apparent. The build into the chorus is almost non-existent and is overall uninspired, leaving a feeling of dissatisfaction. Moving between each verse and chorus iteration, it feels like we’re listening to the first minute over and over. Fans have criticized the YouTube version for dampening the quality of the song, but even when listening on Spotify or SoundCloud, the sentiment remains. The lyrics, however, paint a picture of rising above challenges, which is truly wholesome and relatable.
The saving grace for “Phoenix” is the beautifully-crafted video. The video itself rivals the top contenders. The animations are breathtaking and the crossover between real life and CGI is masterfully meshed together. The video and the song’s lyrics combine to create a cohesive story that emphasizes the struggles Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther, and Song “Rookie” Eui-jin must overcome during this year’s Worlds.
4. “Legends Never Die” (ft. Against The Current) 2017
Ranking “Legends Never Die” wasn’t easy. The song itself is amazing, but the video would be in last place if it weren’t for “Worlds Collide” not having one. The moments of serenity throughout “Legends Never Die” are paralleled with passionate crescendos leading into an explosive chorus. It’s constantly driven by heavy percussion, which helps build anticipation and keeps the song moving forward without feeling tired.
As for the video, it looked amazing stylistically. But it had practically nothing to do with Worlds. Instead of showcasing pros or fantasizing the idea of competing on the international stage, “Legends Never Die” told short stories of Ashe, Lee Sin, and Garen. The champions didn’t appear to be linked to any specific player or moment in League esports. either. Overall, the video felt disconnected from Worlds, which dampens the impact “Legends Never Die” has as a whole.
3. “Ignite” (ft. Zedd) 2016
“Ignite” goes in a completely different direction compared to every other Worlds song. The electronic beats are accompanied by an orchestral arrangement that helps distinguish “Ignite” as a Worlds song without sacrificing its individuality. The drops are incredibly catchy along with the simple, yet cheesy lyrics. Riot stepped out of its comfort zone for “Ignite” and it worked. The issue with “Ignite” as a song is that it can feel empty and less hyped during verses that are particularly quiet.
Additionally, the song’s bright electronic tones are complemented by its equally-bright video. The vivid animation and the level of style this video emits is unmatched. But the combination of the song and video isn’t as impressive as the top two contenders.
2. “Warriors” (ft. Imagine Dragons) 2014
“Warriors” has withstood the test of time, despite being released in 2014 as the first Worlds song. The brooding undertones throughout “Warriors” highlight the significance of competing on the Worlds stage. The lyrics encapsulate the tireless journey of becoming a world champion while alluding to the League community that’s helped build the game into the spectacle it is today—a feat that arguably hasn’t been achieved in any other Worlds song. It’s also the only song that includes a guitar solo.
The video takes the lyrics to another level by visualizing the pain players feel after a loss and their desire to become better. Unlike other videos, “Warriors” uses generic players to tell a story rather than pros. Before the pros were competing on stage, they were playing games at home just like everyone else, which makes the approach that “Warriors” takes incredibly relatable.
The song and video are iconic, but “Warriors” also represents a crucial point in League history. When “Warriors” came out, esports was still relatively unknown outside of gaming circles. Having a mainstream group like Imagine Dragons collaborate with Riot helped validate League as a game and esport.
1. “RISE” (ft. The Glitch Mob, Mako, and The Word Alive) 2018
“RISE” is the culmination of four years worth of Worlds music videos. As a song, “RISE” checks every box. It has a satisfying build up, powerful chorus, and cheesy, but inspiring lyrics. “RISE” constantly takes us through its captivating chorus while making each iteration sound new and refreshed. And the eerily desolate bridge keep us waiting in anticipation for the hook to return.
The lyrics perfectly represent the spirit of Worlds and what it means to compete on the international stage. This is further emphasized when adding in the video. “RISE” retells Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong’s epic journey to becoming a world champion. Throughout the video, he’s met with challenge after challenge but continues pushing himself until proving that he’s a champion.
Furthermore, the song and video seamlessly mesh together. Moments of intensity are met with equally energetic visuals. Likewise, lulls in the song are met with serene landscapes. To top it off, everything in the video down to the wheat field is stunning.
“RISE” doesn’t necessarily break the mold for Worlds songs, but it takes ideas that Riot has used in previous years and perfects them. As a complete package, “RISE” comes in first because of the combination of its polished song and video.