This year, fans are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the one of the most-popular and exponentially-growing tournaments: League of Legends World Championship, also known as ‘Worlds’.
But first, a quick rundown on how the general tournament works: 24 teams from different regions are invited to the tournament. Play-In begins, and the ‘Group Stage’ starts it off with 12 teams drawn to 4 groups (3 teams each). Through a best-of-one match and their win-lose ratio, the 3rd-placing team in the group is eliminated. Winners move on to Round 2, ‘Knockout Stage’. ‘Group Stage’ 1st-placers are put against 2nd-place teams on at best-of-five match. 4 ‘Knockout Stage’ winners then are able to move on to the Main Event.
Main Event’s ‘Group Stage’ starts with 16 teams divided into 4 groups (4 teams each). Still with a best-of-one match, teams play using a Double Round Robin format. Top 2 teams coming out of the ‘Group Stage’ advance to the ‘Knockout Stage’. Through a Single Elimination bracket and following the 1st-placer vs 2nd-placers format, with a best-of-five match we reach the final match-up of the season.
*2020 Worlds format has been tweaked due to teams’ unavailability. Check out World Championship 2020 Format Update: Only 22 Teams, Vietnam Out for more information about this year’s format.
Of course this all had to start somewhere… though it’s just ‘a bit’ smaller.
Season 1- Fnatic vs aAa (2-1)
This 3-day tournament in June 2011 had 8 teams competing for the first title of “Riot Season 1 Champions”. The final match-up was between 2 EU teams: against All authority and Fnatic. aAa had the roster of sOAZ, Linak, MoMa, YellOwStaR, kujaa against Fnatic’s xPeke, Cyanide, Shushei, LamiaZealot, Mellisan. Fnatic was able to re-group after a tough first day, which included a defeat against aAa when xPeke finally arrived after a delayed flight. Though the game was in its earliest days, some impeccable plays still showed like aAa’s YellOwStaR’s Ashe arrow from mid to bottom lane and, tournament MVP, Fnatic’s Shushei mid-laning performance. Fnatic eventually proved their worth and came out of the tournament as League’s Season 1 Champion. Even with less than a hundred in-person audience, the event was carrying more than 150,000 online viewers. League has definitely come a long, long way.
Season 2 – Taipei Assassins vs Azubu Frost (3-1)
Rising from the previous $100,000 prize pool all the way to $2,000,000, the game has proven its massive growth over the year. On October 2012, the tournament was held in Los Angeles’s USC Galen Center. This season signified the start of the Korean force in League of Legends as the first season LCK teams have joined the main stage. Prior to the finals TPA and AZF have not crossed paths. Despite this, fans expected great dominance from the Korean team. Many dubbed the match-up as “David and Goliath”. However, just like the famous story turned out, TPA pulled a strong performance, defeating Azubu Frost 3-1. Despite TPA’s strong early game, Azubu Frost proved their strength showing off 54 kills and taking Game 1. But this was not enough to tear down Taipei Assassins’ grit, answering in Game 2 and forcing a strong hand in Game 3. Leading to Frost’s surrender 22 minutes into the game. In an aggressive Game 4, TPA confirmed their title as the new “World Champion”.
Season 3 – SK Telecom T1 vs Royal Club (3-0)
This year marked the legendary SKT line-up of Impact, Bengi, Faker, Piglet and PoohManDu against Royal Club’s GoDlike, Lucky, Wh1t3zZ, Uzi, Tabe. The finals possessed 32 million viewers, with 8.5 million people watching concurrently at its peak. Lots of fans anticipated Faker’s overwhelming play against Royal Club with lots of weight for carrying on Royal Club’s Uzi shoulders. Everyone knew about SKT’s presence. However, after Royal Club’s win against fellow-LPL team, OMG, who only lost 1 game against the Korean team and defeating the strong EU contender, Fnatic, fans had faith Royal Club might be able to pull something together against this League giant. Royal Club felt the defeat hard by Game 3, losing the round in just 20 minutes. Many fans questioned where the fierce and hyper-aggressive Chinese play style was that Royal Club could’ve leaned into was. Despite the loss, Royal Club respectfully-placed second and that year would be written down as SKT T1’s first of many wins at the world championship stage.
2014 Worlds – Samsung White vs Star Horn Royal Club
The 2014 Grand Finals crossed the Pacific Ocean and was held in Seoul, South Korea on October 19, 2014. SSW and SHR both entered the tournament as 2nd Seed teams from their respective regions. With SSW impressive win on sister-team Samsung Blue with the record 3-0 and Star Horn’s creditable-fight with fellow LPL team, OMG, ending at 3-2, both teams were expected to have a solid battle for the championship title. However, many fans anticipated that the semi-final between Samsung White and Blue would be creating the next champion. Despite Star Horn’s growth from their 2013 appearance, it wasn’t quite enough to defeat White’s power, especially while SSW was playing in their own home. The Summoner’s Cup ended in the hands of SSW’s imp, DanDy, Mata, PawN and Looper.
We hope you enjoyed that trip down memory lane, and make sure to check out Every ‘League of Legends’ World Championship Finals (Part 2) where we re-visited the more recent LoL World Championship from 2015 to last year as we welcome the 10th anniversary of this esteemed professional tournament.
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