League of Legends has produced some of the most iconic esports players in history. From Faker to Uzi, several players have made their mark on League with dominating performances at the highest level of competition.
Worlds has proven to be the culmination of talented players, upcoming rookies, and seasoned veterans. But there are some players who don’t get to show their true potential on the biggest stage in League.
Perhaps these players don’t deserve it. Perhaps they didn’t earn the right to play at the highest level of international competition League has to offer. Others could’ve gotten unlucky with poor performances from individuals on their team. Whatever the case may be, Worlds is a place for the best and only the best.
It’s no secret that some of the best players in League’s history are missing from Worlds 2020. The 2019 world champions FunPlux Phoenix were knocked out of Worlds contention following a loss to 2018 world champions Invictus Gaming in the the LPL Regional Finals in August. Invictus Gaming also lost to LGD Gaming, the fourth Chinese seed at Worlds, in the second round of the Regional Finals. It was clear that the veterans of the game and proven winners had fallen flat just before the biggest tournament of the year.
There’s no doubt that these two teams have some of the best League players in history, but they aren’t alone.
Dot Esports talked with commentators Max “Atlus” Anderson and Robert “Dagda” Price from the English LCK and LPL broadcasts, respectively, to come up with a list of the best players who didn’t make Worlds this year.
Top lane: Canna, TheShy
The top side of the Rift is full of great players at the World Championship, from Europe’s Wunder and Bwipo to Korea’s Nuguri and China’s 369, just to name a few. Yet there are some historic names missing from the top lane at Worlds 2020.
The LCK has had a knack for producing talented rookies—and that trend continued this season. Around May 2019, SKT’s Canna joined the squad alongside future mid lane prospect Clozer. He made his LCK debut earlier this year and helped T1 earn a second-place finish in the regular split and a title victory against Gen.G in the Spring Playoff finals.
But T1 were inconsistent during the Summer Split, finishing in fourth place, which barely solidified their place in the Summer Playoffs. For Canna, this was his route to the first World Championship of his career. But T1 were outclassed in the first round of the playoffs and then lost to Gen.G in the Regional Finals.
This doesn’t mean that Canna wasn’t one of the few shining lights for T1, however. The 20-year-old was arguably the second-best top laner in the LCK in the Summer Split, barely bested by Nuguri.
But the most obvious top laner missing from Worlds 2020 is TheShy. Arguably one of the best top laners of all time, TheShy has a proven history of winning. The Korean top laner won Worlds in 2018 alongside the rest of Invictus Gaming after sweeping Fnatic in a historic final.
To the surprise of some fans of the LPL, TheShy was named the No. 1 top laner on the All-Pro team following the conclusion of the Summer Split earlier this year. Some argued that JD Gaming’s Zoom should’ve been the top pick, but only one of them went to Worlds—and it wasn’t the league-picked best top laner for the Summer Split.
Dagda said much of IG’s success came down to their star mid laner Rookie rather than TheShy.
Jungle: Weiwei, Gilius
The jungle difference has been in full swing for this season of League, with many junglers synergizing with the mid lane to simply overtake games. But some incredibly talented junglers aren’t at Worlds this year.
A name that most casual League fans wouldn’t be aware of is Weiwei. The Chinese jungler for Victory Five in the LPL proved that he can compete with the best despite his minimal experience at the professional level.
In fact, LPL caster Dagda said Weiwei was “constantly in the conversation for best jungler in the LPL, up against names like Karsa and Kanavi.”
Weiwei held incredible records on some of the most popular carry and support junglers in the current meta. In the LPL Summer Split, Weiwei won around 83 percent of his six Nidalee games and held a 67-percent win rate on Graves, his most played champion of the split, according to gol.gg.
In terms of storyline potential, Schalke 04’s jungler Gilius from the LEC is toward the top of that list. The miracle run by Schalke will go down as one of the best comeback stories in League history. After being at the bottom of the LEC with little hope left, ‘God Gilius’ stepped up to the plate.
But Gilius and the rest of Schalke lost to MAD Lions in the 2020 LEC Summer Playoffs, effectively killing the dream of attending Worlds for the roster. Perhaps Gilius could’ve performed under pressure at the biggest tournament of the year, but even gods have to be struck down once in a while.
Former world champions Ning and Tian are also stuck at home. This would’ve been the chance for Tian to defend his Worlds title in only his second year of professional competition, while Ning will miss his first World Championship since 2017.
Mid lane: Rookie, Faker
The most dominant role in League history has introduced legends to the Worlds stage. Almost every region historically puts forward arguably the best player from their respective region in this role.
In terms of individual performance, IG’s Rookie fought tooth and nail to try to get his team to Worlds. Words can’t begin to describe how much Rookie single-handedly carried Invictus Gaming throughout the regular split. To some, he was the best mid laner in the world considering his dominating performances on the Rift.
The possibility of seeing Rookie play against some of the best mid laners in the world, like Caps or Showmaker, became a figment of imagination following IG’s unsuccessful stint in the LPL earlier this year.
The level of Rookie’s performance can’t be understated, though. “The whole team was falling apart around him but still Rookie was making these huge plays to pick up wins for the team,” Dagda said.
The most historic player to miss out on Worlds this year, however, is T1’s Faker. Widely considered the best League player of all time, the unkillable demon king will miss his second World Championship since he began his professional career in 2013.
But this season was different for League’s seasoned vet. Faker didn’t start every game in the recent LCK Summer Split and was occasionally replaced by newcomer Clozer, who performed exceedingly well considering the circumstances of his arrival and the shoes he had to fill.
Faker’s individual performance was “middling” for half of the season, to put it lightly, Atlus said. Yet Faker had one of the most difficult tasks on his hands. He had to raise a young team to his standard in a short span of time.
“This coupled with Chovy, Showmaker and Bdd’s incredible mid lane performances this year makes it very tough for Faker to remain on top,” Atlus said.
Bot lane: Ppgod, Patrik, Teddy
The bot lane combination of an ADC and support has seen minimal praise from its veterans this year. It’s been difficult for some of the best players in the bot lane to shine compared to dominant role players in the jungle and mid lane. Yet there are some players who shined above the rest, especially when there was clear synergy between the ADC and support.
Ppgod—the forgotten substitute of FPX, the lord himself, the almighty savior of the bot lane—was considered one of the best support players in the LPL Summer Split following his successful debut in the summer. The 19-year-old got his chance to display his raw talent at the highest level regionally. In his rookie year, ppgod could have easily earned the title as the best support in the league but he fell short with Victory Five in the Summer Playoffs against Suning.
Europe’s shining light came in the form of Excel newcomer Patrik. He joined the side in December 2019 following his relatively successful stint with Origen. The ADC famously finished second in the 2019 LEC Spring Playoffs but lost to G2 Esports in the final.
He tore the LEC apart in the Summer Split and was by far the best player on Excel during the season. But the team fell flat toward the end of the season, just barely missing out on a playoff slot, so arguably the best ADC in Europe couldn’t go to Worlds.
Patrik particularly played well when put on hyper carries like Aphelios, boasting a perfect 3-0 record during the Summer Split. But he also took over games with Kalista and Caitlyn.
The LCK’s Teddy has to be mentioned as another talented bot laner who’s missing Worlds this year. Teddy has recently been considered one of T1’s most consistent performers, especially during its rebuilding period. Paired with T1’s Effort, the two have an incredible partnership. But both players were outclassed by Gen.G’s Ruler and Life or Damwon’s Ghost and BeryL.
For Atlus, one player who stood out in the LCK was 20-year-old Aiming. He was considered the shining light for KT Rolster, a team that missed out on qualifying for Worlds after finishing in last place in the Regional Finals.
“Aiming had a brilliant year this year and almost carried a pretty dysfunctional KT through the Spring Gauntlet,” Atlus said.
Perhaps the LPL Summer Split’s own outstanding rookie deserves a spot on this list, too. Jiumeng, the 19-year-old bot laner for Team WE, was considered one of the best bot laners in the LPL Summer Split.
A young trend
The noticeable trend from most of these players who barely missed out on Worlds is their age. Most of the players mentioned are in their early adult life yet they’re still competing alongside those who have been at the highest level for their entire careers.
This is likely a sign of the next stage in League’s competitive history. Some of the players on this list will likely attend Worlds in the near future, whether they’re picked up by some of the biggest organizations or simply carry their team to victory.
Whichever outlook League fans have, one thing is certain: League has become incredibly competitive, perhaps the most competitive it’s ever been, both regionally and internationally. This means that old timers and familiar faces need to step up if they want a shot at the title.
The LPL, for example, has some of the youngest players in League and they’re going up against the legends of the region, most of which have already fallen before the tournament even began.
“The depth of talent in the LPL, especially from newer players like Huanfeng, Bin, Ppgod, Hope, Jiumeng etc. is why the old familiar faces are falling away and won’t be representing the LPL at Worlds this year,” Dagda said.
Perhaps some of these players could win Worlds for the first time in the future or add another title to their cabinet. Whatever the case may be, League fans have some of the highest level of competition coming their way this month.
The group stage of Worlds 2020 continues on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 3am CT.
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