Healthy debate has raged on about which team was the most dominant world champion, which teams have performed well on an international stage, and which teams seem to choke when they go to Worlds. In this article, I’ll use computer rankings to try to objectively see which teams have performed well and which have not, while taking into account strength of schedule. Of course, this isn’t going to be perfect (some teams only play 2-3 games at worlds, for some reason), but it is an attempt to bring analytics into what currently is a really subjective argument.
(Skip the next three paragraphs if you just want to get to the rankings)
I used a rating system that used to be in the BCS computer rankings. (For those of you who don’t know what that is, these rankings were used to decided who would play in the college football national championship.) The website is here , the mathematics are explained here , and it’s intuitively explained here .
The big advantages are that the system takes into account strength of schedule (for instance, NaJin’s 3-0 against OMG during Season 4 negatively affects C9’s and Alliance’s ratings), and that it doesn’t consider margin of victory.
The coolest thing about this system is that you can check the probability for each team winning. If you want to see how often A would beat B, just use the formula 0.5+A-B. For instance, the system thinks that Fnatic would have a 59% chance of beating aAa in Season 1 if they played one game. If there’s more than 0.5 difference between two teams, just assume that the chances of the higher ranked team winning is very close to 100%. Without further ado, the rankings:
|against All authority||.6561||7-5||Finals|
|Counter Logic Gaming||.5076||3-3||5th|
|Team Pacific||.3044||0-3||Group Stage|
Team that did better than you thought: Xan (Who?????)
Team that did worse than you thought: No one
Observations: This is the tournament where the ratings are going to match the records most closely because there were only eight teams, so there aren’t a ton of surprises. Epik’s record is pretty misleading because they had to play in the hard group (aAa, Fnatic), where they somehow went 3-0, then play Fnatic and TSM in the playoffs.
Also, if the format had been like Season 4, Fnatic wouldn’t have even made it out of group stages after going 1-2. However, they established themselves in the playoffs by going 7-1 against top-shelf competition. What if they had been allowed out of the group stages in Season 4? The world will never know.
Finally, Group B of this tournament wins the award for “worst ever collection of teams at a worlds tournament”. TSM and CLG were decent enough, but Team GAMED.DE was just some random German team with a joystick as their logo, and I couldn’t find any information on whatever “Xan” was. Gamepedia has pages for Team Astral Poke and Square Duck, but they couldn’t find room for a team that won a game at worlds. Must have been a truly embarrassing performance.
|Counter Logic Gaming Europe||.5640||5-4||Semis|
|Saigon Jokers||.3833||1-2||3rd in Group|
|Counter Logic Gaming Prime||.3795||1-2||3rd in Group|
|Team Dignitas||.2167||0-3||4th in Group|
|SK Gaming||.2129||0-3||4th in Group|
Team that did better than you thought: Taipei Assassins
Team that did worse than you thought: Azubu Frost
Observations: Some people see TPA as sort of a “fluke” champ and would rather have seen an M5 vs. Azubu Frost final, but this system shows the Southeast Asian side as a truly dominant one. Remember, Season 1 Fnatic, a team that went 7-1 in the playoffs, had a 9% gap between them and second; TPA has almost twice that!
This system saw the M5 vs. TPA semifinal as the two best teams in the tournament duking it out, while the Azubu Frost vs. CLG.EU semi looked to be a couple mediocre teams going at it. While these observations are counter to what most people think, they fortify Moscow 5’s rightful place in the annals of League of Legends lore.
Unfortunately, this tournament’s format is terrible for rating the lower ranking teams, as many squads only played two or three games.
|NaJin Black Sword||.9396||3-3||Semis|
|SK Telecom T1||.9372||15-3||Champs|
|Samsung Galaxy Ozone||.5695||5-4||3rd in Group|
|Lemondogs||.4722||3-5||3rd in Group|
|Team Vulcun||.4028||3-5||4th in Group|
|Team SoloMid||.3889||2-6||4th in Group|
|GamingGear.eu||.3055||1-7||5th in Group|
|Mineski||.1528||0-8||5th in Group|
Team that did better than you thought: NaJin Black Sword
Team that did worse than you thought: Fnatic/Royal Club
Observations: I just ragged on public opinion in discussion the Season 2 results, but I’m going to have to eat my words. The almost-unanimous consensus is that the 5-gamer between NJBS and SKT was the “real final”, and the system backs this up. These teams dominated the competition, and it was truly a sign of Korean superiority.
However, I know what you’re thinking: NaJin Black Sword over SKT Telecom? Didn’t SKT beat them??? Remember, though, that SKT lost to OMG. Also, their record was inflated by a pretty awful group (OMG, Lemondogs, Team SoloMid, Mineski) and a tepid first-round opponent. Meanwhile, NaJin’s only other result was a 2-1 against a solid Gambit team. Strength of schedule, folks!
Also, this wasn’t exactly North America’s finest hour, with the region not placing any of its three teams in the top half, and TSM losing to GG.EU. Reverse karma would strike for Team SoloMid in the next worlds though.
|Samsung Galaxy White||.9285||15-2||Champs|
|Star Horn Royal Club||.7073||12-8||Finals|
|Samsung Galaxy Blue||.6657||8-5||Semis|
|ahq e-Sports Club||.5228||3-4||3rd in Group|
|NaJin White Shield||.4454||5-5||Quarters|
|LMQ||.4285||2-4||Tied 3rd in Group|
|Fnatic||.4285||2-4||Tied 3rd in Group|
|SK Gaming||.4130||2-4||3rd in Group|
|Alliance||.3940||3-3||3rd in Group|
|Taipei Assassins||.3130||1-5||4th in Group|
|Dark Passage||.2644||0-6||4th in Group|
|KaBuM! e-Sports||.1940||1-5||4th in Group|
Team that did better than you thought: Team SoloMid
Team that did worse than you thought: All of Group D (NJWS, Cloud 9, Alliance)
Observations: Stare in wonder at the gap between first and second; we could play 50 worlds tournaments and not see something like that again.
The more interesting stuff is at the middle of the pack. That OMG 3-0 of NaJin had a ripple effect on Group D’s rep; Cloud 9 is stuck in the bottom half even though they took a game off of Samsung Blue, and NaJin somehow graded as a below-average team.
Also, TSM should thank their lucky stars for that win against SSW, because it really buoyed them in these rankings.
Observations of each individual worlds is interesting, but which franchise has sustained the most success across all 4 tournaments? My methodology is as follows:
I assigned a 25th-percentile (so 6th in Season 1 and 12th in Season 4) performance as a rating of 0. This is because a team that finished in this position would be neutral; they could say they made it to worlds and didn’t embarrass themselves, but they really didn’t accomplish anything of note.
The average 25-th percentile finish was .3868, and we’ll just add or subtract each teams ratings’ off of this number. The top 10 results:
|NaJin (Black) Sword||.8020||6-5||2|
|Samsung Galaxy Ozone / White||.7244||20-6||2|
|(Star Horn) Royal Club||.7061||17-12||2|
|Moscow 5 / Gambit||.568||10-7||2|
|SKT Telecom T1||.5504||15-3||1|
|Samsung Galaxy Blue||.2789||8-5||1|
Better than you thought: NaJin Sword
Worse than you thought: Team SoloMid
Observations: Yes, a team with a sterling 6-5 record is the greatest worlds team of all time. This is a really surprising result, but it makes sense in context:
The only franchises to be “contenders” at 2 World Championships: NaJin Sword, Royal Club, Fnatic, OMG, Moscow 5/Gambit?, TSM?
The only franchises to have ridiculous peak performances: NaJin Sword, Samsung White, SKT Telecom T1, TPA
The only team to be on both lists? That would be our friends NaJin Sword.
Also, congratulations to Team SoloMid for being on this list despite having a losing record. What other franchise could beat Samsung White and lose to Gaming Gear.EU?