2022 League of Legends World Championship Groups roundup: Woes of the west
- By Edward Brady
The World Championship (also known as Worlds) is the second of two yearly international tournaments in the League of Legends Esports scene, where players compete on franchised teams for fame, pride, a considerable salary, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash prizes.
24 teams from 11 regions across the globe will compete for the ultimate prize in LoL esports, the Summoner’s Cup. The tournament started with the play-in stage on September 29th, before advancing to the main stage groups which began on October 7th and eventually ending with the finals on November 5th.
The group stage has concluded. The final group of 8 teams emerged and left the other half of the field in the dust. This will go down as an odd group stage to put it lightly. Where underdogs rose up, then promptly collapsed, where the tournament was run by 2 leagues. Here are 7 thoughts about the World Championship Group Stage!
Let’s get into them.
Group A: The journey, not the destination
Group A found itself in a unique spot, in that almost anyone could’ve won it. Thanks to Cloud 9 being nowhere near expectations, the other 3 teams all sat at 2-1. Fnatic found a surprise win over T1, T1 blasted Edward Gaming on day 1, and Edward Gaming held off a furious comeback from Fnatic. It was a rock paper scissors between the top 3, and the NA rep on the outside looking in.
And then the 2nd week happened.
Cloud 9 came out swinging by not only beating Fnatic in the first game of the day but dominating their European rival. Apparently, content with that one victory, the Cloud 9 that was advertised vanished back into thin air as Edward Gaming curb-stomped them in an almost perfect game.
To their credit, Fnatic wouldn’t let that C9 loss be their death. They’d finish the job themselves. With a combination of self-inflicted errors, the other teams solving them, and a straightforward skill gap, Fnatic put up little to no resistance in their final 2 do-or-die games. After having a golden opportunity land in their lap, Fnatic dropped the ball so hard that “the ball” is headed on a crash course to the Earth’s core. To cap off the group, T1, led by Keria’s Soraka and Zeus’s Gangplank, completed the sweep of EDG in a convincing fashion to secure 1st place.
Group B: Status quo
Unlike the above group, Group B not only had a clear hierarchy the moment the group was drawn, but it also stuck to said hierarchy all throughout. While Evil Geniuses and G2 Esports had some good moments and came close to upsets over JD Gaming on days 1 and 3 respectively, JDG pulled through in the end, neither western team could stand up to Damwon KIA, and the gap between the east and west was apparent in the records. Two 5-1 teams, two 1-5 teams. At the very least, the Damwon/JDG matches were some of the best of the tournament, with the tiebreaker, in particular, showing why 369 was as hyped up as he is.
Group C: A tainted miracle
Group C: A tainted miracle
If there was any group that didn’t go according to plan, it was group C. Against common expectation, Rogue and DRX were the ones leading the group at the end of the 1st round robin. GAM hadn’t played spoiler, and TOP Esports was not looking like their usual selves. DRX capitalized on it by blasting JackeyLove’s signature Draven for an easy victory, and Rogue went undefeated to the surprise of many.
Then week 2 happened.
And things got weird.
Rogue beating GAM in the first game was one of the only normal things that occurred that day. Immediately following that in the upset of the tournament in the game of the year, GAM Esports defeated TOP Esports.
It cannot be overstated just how significant this game was. With the region’s star jungler Levi on Karthus, and Sty1e leading the charge on Kalista, GAM matched TOP blow for blow. It was a 41-minute slugfest with one of the craziest endings in LoL history. In the final fight, JackeyLove stole the elder after a missed smite from Levi. The LPL 2nd seed marched down the mid-lane to end the game, but the members of GAM respawned just in time. Levi dropped the Requiem, TOP frantically tried to destroy the base, and when all was said and done, all members of TOP were dead, and the Nexus was two auto-attacks away from being destroyed. From there, GAM immediately marched down the mid-lane to end the game, held off the reinforcements from TOP, and took the win. It was an absolute miracle, secured Rogue a playoff spot, and is just an incredible story all around, right?
Turns out, there’s a bit more to it than that.
JackeyLove’s Lucian had built Maw of Malmortius, an item that gives a champion magic resist, and a magic damage shield that procs when they fall below a certain HP threshold. As it turns out, due to a bug (discovered by content creator Vandril a day later), JackeyLove’s Maw should’ve activated after the Requiem from Levi, but DIDN’T.
If it did activate, perhaps he survives the ultimate from Kati’s Sett, perhaps he lands the final 2 auto attacks to take the win. And if that happened, it would’ve changed the entire group. Rogue lost all their remaining games, TOP won out, and if they had simply won that game against GAM, there would’ve been a 3-way tiebreaker for 1st that (given their apparent forms) TOP would’ve won.
With a single bug, one of the most exciting upsets in the game’s history is now surrounded by controversy and wonders of what could’ve and should’ve been.
Group D: Status quo part 2
Group D, much like Group B, was an open-and-shut case the moment the draw happened, and barring 1 or 2 surprises that ultimately had no impact on who got out, went exactly according to expectation. Gen. G and Royal Never Give Up were simply the much better teams. RNG took the 1st game against the LCK champs, but thanks to Gen. G waking up, and all 5 RNG members playing with COVID, Gen. G stormed back to take the 2nd game, the tiebreaker, and the group.
To their credit, 100 Thieves did put up a bit of a fight in their games against RNG. But 100 Thieves’ inability to capitalize on their early leads and RNG’s sheer skill meant the games were only ever going to end one way. At the very least, the team with the best name in esports, CTBC Flying Oysters got to bring some pride back to the PCS by upsetting the LCS 2nd seed on day 1.
As you may have seen from the group breakdowns, things didn’t exactly go so well for the home region. While the LCS was never expected to win the whole thing, and underwhelming international appearances are the region’s calling card, this was undoubtedly the worst showing yet.
The LCS’s week 1 performance was flat-out appalling. All 3 teams went winless for an overall 0-9 record, their losses were the opposite of competitive and some of the fastest in the tourney. Even worse, they hadn’t even taken a tier 2 tower. The dreaded 0-18 was not only not out of the realm of possibility, it was looking inevitable.
While week 2 was marginally better, it was nowhere near enough to save the region’s reputation. Dragging down their bitter rival with them is a silver lining, but they still went winless against the east and were nowhere near a knockout spot.
This was the first Worlds in North America in 6 years and almost nobody on any of the 3 teams bothered to show up. Hard questions need to be asked, and it’s all but certain that some dark times are ahead for the league.
There is some good news for the LCS teams: you didn’t post the worst record of a 3-team region in the tourney’s history (set by the LMS in 2018-19, 3-15). You only tied it.
The rise and fall of the LEC
Is it more painful to be dominated from start to finish with no hopes for victory? Or to unexpectedly ascend to new heights against all expectations, only to come crashing down at terminal velocity?
With their brother league taking the former path, the LEC chose to follow the latter. Against all expectations that it was going to be an 8-team race and none of the west was invited, Europe looked good in week one. G2 might’ve been 1-2, but they put up a legitimate fight against JDG of all teams and were hindered mostly by the draft (a fixable issue). Fnatic not only crushed the team they were expected to joust for 3rd with, but they took a game off T1 and were a bad early game away from going undefeated. Rogue did go undefeated!
But when week 2 rolled around and it was time to finish the job, all 3 teams looked almost unrecognizable from their week 1 counterparts. G2 lost to a team they were 7-0 against in 2022 and were slaughtered by the top of the table. Fnatic was torn asunder by all 3 teams in a winless week. After a win against the winless GAM, Rogue dropped their final 2 games, and the tiebreaker in an incredibly one-sided fashion. And as noted earlier, this team basically needed an act of divine intervention to avoid the dreaded 3-way tiebreaker. Judging by their form that week, they would not have won it.
After an incredibly respectable 6-3 to start the group stage, the LEC plummeted to a 1-9 week 2, with their only victory being against a minor region. For as much as they made fun of NA for not taking a tier 2 in week 1, the LEC pulled the exact same card against the major regions. As for the one team that did make it out, unless Rogue does the same thing they did on finals weekend (massively improve out of nowhere despite all logic and expectations) on a much bigger scale, a quick 3-0 at the hands of JDG
Parity (except not really)
All in all, this group stage can be summed up by 2 key stats.
For the 1st time since 2016, there were no winless teams.
The teams that didn’t make playoffs went 3-29 against the teams that did make it (and 2 of those were from an already eliminated TOP Esports that was expected to win the group)
On one hand, the teams that aren’t expected to do anything are no longer completely outmatched. These teams can play spoiler if the hopefuls aren’t careful. On the other hand, the gap between the top teams and everyone else is so unbelievably massive that it’s almost unquantifiable. The League of Legends esports world is run by the LPL and LCK and may God help anyone and everyone else.