Worlds 2019 is almost upon us! In just a few hours, Clutch Gaming and Unicorns of Love will kick off the play-in stage of the year’s biggest League of Legends tournament. Maybe by then we’ll finally have gotten the Worlds theme as well.
The players and teams we’ll see compete over the next several include legendary multiple time champions, players who have fought their whole careers to get here, and even some astonishing rookies. But of all the players who will step foot on the World stage, who are the very best, and prove to be the cream of the crop? Just like we did for the Mid-Season Invitational, we’ve ranked each of the Worlds players into first, second, and third teams.
There’s no easy way to accomplish this task. The point isn’t to create definitive lists, but frameworks for discussion. In this case, we’re measuring the best players by those who have displayed the most skill this year and who have contributed the most for their teams.
- Top lane: Martin “Wunder” Hansen, G2 Esports
- Jungle: Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong, Griffin
- Mid lane: Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon, Griffin
- Bot lane: Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-bo, Invictus Gaming
- Support: Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov, Fnatic
This got spicy real quick. We have no members of LCK winners SK Telecom T1, LPL winners FunPlus Phoenix, or LCS winners Team Liquid. Well, that last part is probably not too surprising. But what in the heck is going on?
We do have Wunder from G2, the LEC champions. He’s hard-carried his team when needed all year and won the only lane matchups that matter. And while all five members of G2 can basically play anything, Wunder’s champion pool flexibility is the most useful. That puts him a leg up on others top laners, even those with better mechanics.
Hylissang likewise makes this list because of his improved champion pool flexibility. It was extremely hard to choose between him and other supports, like G2’s Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle. At the end of the day, though, Fnatic have less going for them than other teams, and Hylissang’s ability to find engages was the difference maker for the team down the stretch.
Tarzan is a mechanical marvel and the beating heart of a Griffin team that won the most games in both LCK splits. You can pick nits over their playoff performances, but at the end of the day, Tarzan and Chovy have gotten Griffin into three straight LCK finals.
Finally, there’s JackeyLove. For much of the summer, IG looked completely out of sorts—there was real danger that they’d miss Worlds altogether. But JackeyLove wouldn’t let them. He shook off some unexpectedly shaky play from mid laner Song “Rookie” Eui-jin and a jungle substitution to almost single-handedly carry IG to Worlds.
- Top lane: Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok, Invictus Gaming
- Jungle: Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski, G2 Esports
- Mid lane: Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, SK Telecom T1
- Bot lane: Park “Teddy” Jin-seong, SK Telecom T1
- Support: Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle, G2 Esports
The other consistently performing member of IG makes the second team. TheShy got less help than he did last year and has played at a similar mechanical level.
The other four positions include a pair each from G2 and SKT, the two favorites to win the tournament. G2’s jungle-support combo allows them to push the pace faster than almost anyone can match. You could reasonably argue that either is the best player in the world regardless of position.
The SKT duo isn’t quite at that level, but Faker and Teddy have been monsters this year. Faker’s champion pool has expanded, which led to some growing pains, but we saw the customary Faker playoff buff again this summer. Now, we get to see the Faker Worlds buff in action. He makes the second team with Teddy, who has been SKT’s most consistent player the whole year and has won them several games through the sheer power of his teamfighting.
- Top lane: Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, DAMWON Gaming
- Jungle: Gao “Tian” Tian-liang, FunPlus Phoenix
- Mid lane: Heo “ShowMaker” Su, DAMWON Gaming
- Bot lane: Jian “Uzi” Zi-hao, RNG
- Support: Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song, FunPlus Phoenix
This is where it gets really hard. There will be some amazing players that don’t make our list of the top 15. For some, it’s because their position is stacked, like jungle. For others, they’ll have to show us in competition that we’re wrong.
Nuguri and ShowMaker led DAMWON to Worlds in their first year in LCK competition. Neither are perfect players—each has shown some flaws, from Nuguri’s zeal for Kleptomancy to ShowMaker’s sometime absence in teamfights. Damwon are one of the biggest question marks in the tournament—they could crash out early, or win it all. But their upside is driven by their top half of the map, so that’s why these two made the list.
LPL champions FunPlus Phoenix also get on board here with their jungle-support duo. FPX are best known for star mid laner Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, who has an amazing story. But it’s Tian and Crisp that enable so many of Doinb’s moves, helping him survive his lane and roam to the edges of the map. You could very well make an argument for Tian on the first team.
The last player on the list is Worlds veteran, Uzi. The man is an absolute machine, churning out Worlds appearances like it’s easy. No matter what happens, he finds his way back to this tournament—maybe this will finally be the year that he wins it.
All photos via Riot Games.