A beginners guide to the League of Legends World Championship
September 28 2021
League of Legends is one of the biggest esports games in the world. Riot Games launched the MOBA on the 27th of October of 2009. Since then, the game has grown more and more, year after year, achieving a status that only a few other video games have been able to reach.
Like most esports, League of Legends has various tournaments in different regions throughout the year. However, the main reason all those tournaments exist is so you can qualify to the biggest stage of all: the League of Legends Worlds Championship that happens each year in October.
How teams qualify for the tournament
The tournament is composed of 22 teams. Teams come from all over the globe, with each team representing a region. Some regions can take more teams than others to the event because of the success of the teams from that specific region in the previous editions of the tournament.
The Chinese league—named LPL—and the Korean league (LCK) can take 4 teams each and are the regions with more spots at Worlds. The LEC, which is the European league, and the LCS both take 3 teams each. These 4 regions—LPL, LCK, LCS, and LEC—are considered the major regions in Riot games international circuit. All the other regions are called the wildcard regions. They are considered weaker regions and can only send 1 representative each, except the PCS, which can send 2.
If a team from any of the regions wins the Summer Split—which is the second of 2 splits that every region plays—they are automatically qualified for Worlds. For the wildcard regions that can only send one team, winning the Summer Split is the only chance a team has to make it into Worlds.
As for the four major regions, the Summer Split rule also applies. However, since those regions take more teams, there is another way to decide who is going to Worlds. For the LEC and LCS, the second and third-place finishers in the Summer Playoffs also punch their ticket to worlds, while in the LCK and the LPL you have something called the Regional Finals. The Regional Finals are composed of the top 4 teams in championship points. You win championship points if you qualify for the playoffs, and the better you place in playoffs, the more points you win, and this goes for both the Summer and Spring Split playoffs. The first and second-placed teams from the Regionals also guarantee their presence in the game's biggest event.
The Play-in, group-stage, and playoffs formats
Worlds is a one-month-long event with three parts: the play-in, the group stage, and the playoffs, with each phase having a different format.
The play-ins are considered by many as a kick-off show. In the play-ins, we have all the teams that didn't make it directly to the group stage and are fighting for a chance to reach that phase.
All the minor regions teams—except the first seed of the PCS—start on the play-in together with the fourth seeds of China and Korea, and the third seeds of NA and EU.
The Play-in format
In the first stage of the play-in, there are 2 groups consisting of 5 teams each. Each team plays one match against all the other teams in their group, with each group's first place going directly to the group stage and the last team of each group being eliminated. Then the third and fourth team of each group will play a best-of-5 with the winner of that series going on to play one more best-of-5 against the second seed of the opposing group, the two winners of the last best-of-5 will advance to the group stage.
The group-stage is where the real show begins. In this phase of the tournament, you will see the best 16 teams in the world battling for a ticket to the playoffs. Fans can finally see how teams from different regions and with different playstyles stack against each other, and it is where some upsets and memorable matches also happen.
In the group stage, we have 4 groups with 4 teams each. Teams from the same region can't be in the same group, and the groups are drawn before we know what teams make it from the play-in.
The teams play twice against each opponent from their group in a best-of-1 format, with the top two from each group qualifying for the playoffs. If the teams end up tied for first or second place, we have a tie-break match to decide which team secures that specific place and, in some cases, if the team advances or if their dreams end right there.
The group stage lasts for two weeks, with games from various groups being played on the same day in week 1, while on week 2, each day is used for all the matches of a group.
The Playoffs format
The playoffs are where legends are made. This is where the tournament winner will come out from and where we can see the pinnacle of League of Legends with the best 8 teams in the world battling each other.
It's a single-elimination bracket with randomly drawn teams, first place teams face the second-place teams, and teams from the same group can't be on the same side of the bracket.
All the matches are best-of-5, which makes this the most fun part of the tournament to watch, as, in a best-of-5, both teams have to adapt, and you can see different playstyles colliding, leading to exciting and unpredictable matches.
How to watch Worlds
Well, the best and most fun way to watch Worlds would be in person. This year's edition takes place in Iceland, and each year the tournament takes place in a different continent and sometimes even in more than one country.
There are plenty of platforms that transmit the League of Legends Worlds Championship. Riot Games English official channel is the most viewed, and you can find it on Twitch, YouTube, Trovo, and other platforms. Additionally, each region also has its official broadcast, and if that's not enough, some big content creators, even some ex-pro players or coaches, are given the right to broadcast the games. There are many options for people who want a more detailed and professional view of the games and those who want a more relaxed and "casual" vibe of casting.
Join other fans at the heart of the action by following Riot Games' official Twitch channel.
League of Legends World Championship 2021 starts on the 5th of October. It will certainly give all the Esports and League of Legends fans a month full of exciting matches, memorable moments, and a roller coaster of emotions.
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