The 2018 League of Legends World Championship begins its Main Event soon, which means the top 16 teams in the world will battle for their chance at the Summoner Cup. Every team has its own narrative, its own strengths and weaknesses, its own win conditions. Each of these teams has its own share of rookies, stars and legends.
The top 10 players represent the true best in the world. Most names should be familiar, making numerous appearances on big stages with high stakes. However, some of the names may surprise, as they are relatively new. The 2018 World Championship could top off the first chapter of the newcomers’ blossoming careers, while adding another notch in the belts of the veterans. Expect big plays and clutch moments from these individuals. Anything less will be a disappointment.
#10 – Karsa – Royal Never Give Up – Jungle
In one of the more interesting off-season moves, Karsa left his long-time home Flash Wolves and transferred to the LPL to play for RNG. Splitting time with Mlxg, the jungler looks as gifted as ever. While high-pressure champions, like Lee Sin and Elise, have historically been favorites for Karsa, he also sports an 80 percent or higher win rate on Trundle, Gragas and Zac this summer. The veteran enters his fifth straight World Championship, hoping to make it deeper than ever before (fifth-eighth) with this new organization.
Comment: “He was here last year with Flash Wolves and moved on to RNG with the likes of Uzi. The crazy thing is that he has taken away significant time from Mlxg and shown that he can continue to be aggressive and set up his juggernaut of a team.”–Robert Hanes
#9 – Kiin – Afreeca Freecs – Top Lane
In his first real year of pro play (disregard the half-split with Ever8), Kiin has grown into a fan favorite top laner. Afreeca Freecs finish 2018 with its first World Championship qualification since joining the LCK in 2016. Stepping into MaRin’s shoes was a tall order for a pseudo-rookie, but Kiin has worked all the way up to representing Team Korea in the inaugural Asia Games. This is his first World Championship, so ranking him this high may be a tall order, but he has lived up to the expectations so far.
Comment: “For a large part of the season, Kiin was the best top laner in Korea. While Smeb has found his form once again, Kiin’s performance shouldn’t be ignored. Acting as one of the key playmakers for Afreeca Freecs, Kiin has been a solid player that the team can rely on at all times. Because of his amazing play throughout the season I believe he deserves his top 10 placing.”–
#8 – Xiaohu – Royal Never Give Up – Mid Lane
Xiaohu has been a central player throughout RNG’s successful year. He returns to his third straight World Championship, making him a true veteran of the international stage. As the third highest LPL representative, Xiaohu has much of China on his shoulders, as he had at MSI, Rift Rivals and Demacia Cup. If RNG top off their year like analysts expect, then Xiaohu should be considered one of the all-time best mid laners.
Comment: “On a Royal Never Give Up that revolves around Uzi, it is hard for other players to stand out. However, Xiaohu has maintained a high level of performance across the entire year. Whether playing with Zz1tai or Letme, Karsa or Mlxg, Able or Uzi, Xiaohu holds down mid lane against the greatest in the world. He has played 16 different champions over the summer season, and he stood out at this year’s Mid-Season Invitational. Rookie and UCal may be ranked higher, but fully expect Xiaohu to put on some carry performances, especially during the best-of-fives. “–Thomas Baker
#7 – Ucal – KT Rolster – Mid Lane
The highest ranked rookie on our list, UCal has done for KT Rolster what Kiin has done for Afreeca Freecs. He has allowed the veteran members of the roster to really shine. KT has a more loaded history, narrowly missing Worlds in 2016 and 2017, despite always having some of the best players in the game. UCal is ranked fairly high for such a young player, but a successful tournament for KT could solidify his future as a star mid laner.
Comment: “Ucal made a promise to Score that he’ll help him win a title. Not only has he fulfilled that promise, but Ucal has also developed into one of the best mid laners in Korea. Leading the way with other mid lane prodigies in the region, Ucal has shown that the future is bright for the region. With his great play leading up to their title, Ucal has shown he deserves a spot in the top 10.“–
#6 – Deft – KT Rolster – Bottom Lane
One of the true legends of the tournament, Deft has turned heads since Season Three. His veteran status, mechanics, positioning and decision-making make him a beast on the Rift. It’s no surprise to find Deft so high on our Top 30, considering he has been widely viewed as a top five AD carry for years now, and 2018 marks his fourth World Championship showing. With such a deep field of talented bottom laners, any KT wins will heavily involve Deft. He has never placed lower than fifth-eighth in the tournament.
Comment: “Most ADC’s shudder at the thought of laning against Uzi, but Deft revels in it. Before the formation of this KT superteam, Deft was the gatekeeper preventing Uzi from ascending to the throne time and time again with EDG. Known for his flawless positioning and perfect orb walking from the days of Samsung Blue, Deft has added lane bullying to his repertoire. This isn’t a player that is looking to survive against Uzi; he smells blood and he wants the crown, just like old times.”–Taylor Damaschi