With Season 5 already underway, viewers have witnessed the rapid ascent of the League of Legends scene in the last four years. Many franchises came out of the humble origins of Season 1 to become powerhouses, but even these teams showed characteristics that would stay with them through these four years. It is interesting to note how quickly the stakes went up between seasons; Season 1’s prize pool was $99,500, while Season 2’s was $2,000,000.
With this in mind, I wanted to take a look back at how Season 1 shook out by using a BCS ranking system. (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 games I used for teams’ records were from January 2011 to December 2011.
One issue I ran into was the problem of which games to include, because Season 1 wasn’t very standardized. I used only games from tournaments with at least a $20,000 prize pool, which Gamepedia designated as “premier tournaments”. Also, I only included matches between teams with Gamepedia pages. Sorry, NaJin, you don’t get credit for beating the powerhouses Team Jantelaget and Orange eSports.
For those interested, here is a link to the full results for all 31 teams.
Most Prolific Rivalries:
4. SK Gaming 3 – Counter Logic Gaming 3
3. Counter Logic Gaming 5 – Millennium 2
2. Counter Logic Gaming 7 – Team SoloMid 3
1. Team SoloMid 8 – Epik Gamer 6 (The Battle of Dyrus)
Biggest Upsets (single matches, not necessarily series):
5. EHOME over Team WE, Semifinals of IEM Guangzhou (25% chance)
Team WE won the best-of-3 series, and finished 4-1 on the season over their Chinese rivals. Not a big deal.
4. Team Acer over Gameburg Team, Semifinals of Samsung Euro Championship (23% chance)
Gameburg wasn’t a great team, but they stared players like Czaru, Makler, and Kikis. Losing to an extremely unremarkable Acer was not a good look, although GBT eventually won the series.
3. Team Dignitas over Chicks Dig Elo, Quarterfinals of World Cyber Games (21% chance)
In a recurring theme, Dignitas took one game from CDE, but lost the series. This was Chicks Dig Elo’s only loss of the entire season, though, so it was a shocker.
2. Millennium over Fnatic, 3rd place match of IEM Cologne (20% chance)
With so few games, the only “upsets” are a team winning 1 game in a best-of-3 series. A 6-12 team beating the world champions even once must have been a surprise.
1. Team Curse over Counter Logic Gaming, group stage of MLG Raleigh (15% chance)
Remember, this is when CLG was elite on the world stage. Losing to a 3-10 Curse team? Not a good look.
Top 10 Teams:
10. EHOME (7-7)
Best result: 2nd place at Tencent Games Carnival
EHOME ran into the brick wall of Team WE five times over 14 games, so their record was pretty low. However, this Chinese side was a decent team that starred future star pdd.
9. NaJin e-mFire (3-2)
Best result: Quarterfinals at 2011 World Cyber Games
NaJin only played in the WCG, so there wasn’t much to go off. However, they did beat Millennium and Team FTW (the first version of TPA) in group stages.
8. Team SoloMid (25-20)
Best result: 1st place at MLG Providence
TSM showed an ability to beat up on weak North American competition, winning season series against Complexity, Curse, Dignitas, and Epik Gamer. However, they were .500 or worse against teams like CLG and against All authority. Overall, it was a decent start for a first-time franchise, although the first place finish was aided by weak competition.
7. SK Gaming (11-8)
Best result: 2nd place at IEM New York
The first LoL campaign for SK foreshadowed what was to come for them in the future. They were solid all year, going 3-3 against CLG and getting a winning record against a tough schedule. However, they weren’t elite enough to win an event, and went 0-3 against their European big brother, Fnatic.
6. Counter Logic Gaming (32-22)
Best result: 1st place at IEM Cologne, 1st place at MLG Raleigh
CLG showed that they were the dominant North American team during Season 1, dominating the NA competition to the tune of a 16-6 record. However, they never broke the glass ceiling of international competition, getting losing or .500 records against Fnatic, World Elite and SK Gaming. However, this was a great start for the squad, demonstrated by their two tournament victories.
5. against All authority (8-5)
Best result: 2nd place at Riot Season 1 Championship
aAa beat Fnatic in group stages in the World Championship. However, they couldn’t replicate this success, going 1-3 against their European brethren for the rest of the tournament and ultimatelyy going down as a footnote. Shortly after, most of the roster migrated to Millennium, and aAa couldn’t get a team together for a while. A sad story.
4. Gameburg Team (9-5)
Best result: 1st place at Samsung Euro Championship 2011
One of the few unknowns at the top of the charts, this team would eventually become MeetYourMakers. Take series off CLG and NaJin in one season is a worthy resume for top 5 inclusion.
3. Fnatic (20-8)
Best result: 1st place at Riot Season 1 Championship, 1st place at IEM New York
First off: Fnatic had a fantastic season, capturing the first world championship and generally being a force to be reckoned with in international tournaments. Going through the gauntlet of tough European and North American teams was worth plenty of accolades. However, this squad did lose some head scratchers to Epik Gamer and Millennium.
2. Team WE (8-2)
Best result: 1st place at IEM Guangzhou, 1st place at Tencent Games Carnival 2011
It was a travesty that WE did not get invited to worlds, as a WE-Fnatic final would have been the best match of the whole season. Interestingly, WE only played three “name” teams all season (CLG, EHOME, Millennium). Running up an 80% winning percentage against this quality competition was something to be proud of.
1. Chicks Dig Elo (7-1)
Best result: 1st place at 2011 World Cyber Games
I debated whether or not to include a team that had no intentions of ever being permanent, but the backstory and team name were too awesome not to include. CLG, Epik Gamer, and TSM were not allowed to compete in the WCG, because tournament rules were that all team members had to have come from the same country. So, Dyrus, Saintvicious, Reginald, Xpecial, and Chauster teamed up to become what essentially was the United States men’s national team. This all-star squad rampaged through the competition, took the title of best team of Season 1, and walked off into the sunset.