EDward Gaming, China’s best team throughout the year until they ran into LGD Gaming in the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) playoffs last month, secured a berth at Worlds by sweeping their way through the China Regional Qualifier. That leaves three open spots at the event, all set to be decided tonight as qualifiers in China, Korea, and Chile conclude.
When EDward Gaming beat SK Telecom T1 at the Midseason Invitational (MSI) in May, they announced to the world that they could be its best team. Everyone expected them to dominate China and enter Worlds as the favorite. During the LPL regular season they played the part, posting a 14-6-2 record, topping the league by a wide margin. But in the playoffs they faltered, suffering a shocking 3-0 defeat to LGD Gaming before falling to Invictus Gaming 3-1 in the third place match. LGD Gaming eventually won the league, securing an automatic berth to Worlds and setting up a scenario where EDward Gaming could quite possibly fail to win the chance to defend their position as League’s reigning international champions.
But in the China Regional, EDward got a shot at revenge against Invictus Gaming. After beating Snake 2-0 in the opening round, EDward met Invictus in the upper bracket final. The Regional decides the final two teams who will represent China at Worlds, with the upper and lower bracket winners of a small four-team bracket earning berths. With a spot at Worlds on the line, this time EDward Gaming pulled through and beat Invictus in four games, with a little help from jungle pick Skarner.
That leaves just three open spots at the Riot World Championships, which will span the month of October and four cities in four countries in Europe.
Invictus will fight for the final Chinese seed tonight starting at 12:10am, when Qiao Gu and Snake play for the right to face Invictus with the final Worlds spot on the line. While Invictus beat the Qiao Gu Reapers in the opening round of the Regional, Qiao Gu was China’s second-best team over the course of the Summer LPL season, and like EDward are probably excited over the prospect of revenge for their prior loss.
In Korea, a similar showdown will take place at 5am ET. KT Rolster, the second-place team from the summer season of the SBENU Champions League (LCK), will face Cinderellas Jin Air Green Wings with Worlds on the line. The Green Wings are one win away from pulling off a similar achievement to Cloud9 in America, who qualified for Worlds in impressive fashion by winning three straight best-of-three series against some of their region’s best teams. Jin Air beat NaJin e-mFire 3-0 on Wednesday before taking out CJ Entus 3-2 last night. But KT Rolster, like Qiao Gu, was their region’s second best team in the Summer season.
Then, at 2:50am ET tomorrow, the final spot at Worlds, the second of two International Wildcard berths, will go to a Brazilian team. Kaos Latin Gamers and the favored paiN Gaming, who dominated the group stage portion of the International Wildcard Tournament in Chile by beating their counterparts in two games already, will play a best-of-five series with a spot at Worlds on the line. While neither team could be considered a World title contender like Korea and China’s entrants, KaBuM! proved last year that even the lowliest attendee could make a huge difference when they eliminated European champions Alliance with a surprise group stage victory. And whoever Brazil sends to Worlds, they’re a much better team than KaBuM! was last year.
With just under one month before the event begins, this year’s Riot World Championships is quickly shaping up to be the most competitive in years. While Korea may have a dominant team, for the first time they aren’t the dominant region. EDward Gaming is the reigning international champion, but they won’t even be their region’s top seed. Europe’s record setting champions Fnatic nearly toppled SK Telecom T1 at MSI, and they greatly improved during the Summer season. Even North America, the weakest of those big four regions, is sending some fresh blood to Worlds in the form of Counter Logic Gaming.
Tomorrow, three more teams will earn the right to clash with those big names.