Note: This article previously stated that Infinity Esports “reach[ed] Rainbow7 (Lyon rebranded) at [Closing] finals,” when they actually played Dash9 Gaming. The article also included an outdated picture of the roster, which excluded SolidSnake, Renyu, and Arce. These items have been updated with more accurate information.
With many of the world’s League of Legends professional circuits crowning their domestic champions, the 2018 World Championship is around the corner. Like last year, this year’s Worlds will start with a Play-In stage, which will determine which four organizations get slotted into the Main Event against major regions’ top representatives. The third seeds for China, Europe, North America, and Taiwan will compete against the best teams from minor regions, beginning on October 1. Here are six of the twelve teams that qualified for the Play-In stage this year.
SEA – ASCENSION GAMING
Roster: Rockky – Lloyd – G4 – Niksar – Rich
The SEA Tour replaced the Garena Premier League (GPL) this year, as Southeast Asia’s professional circuit for League of Legends. Ascension is a Thai team that won the Summer Tour against Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore, following an undefeated run through Thailand’s competition. They won their SEA group 6-0, took down Kuala Lumpur Hunters 3-1, and faced fellow Thai team MEGA in the finals. Ascension won 3-0, qualifying for Worlds 2018. This will be their first Worlds appearance.
Ascension anchors itself around mid laner G4, who generally plays control mages, like Ryze and Vel’Koz, but also frequently drafts Leblanc. This team played at the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational, where they tied for third in Group A of the Play-In stage. At that time, Lloyd played as Ascension’s bottom laner, and he stood out as their best performer. He has since role-swapped to jungler, where he can exert more control over early tempo on picks like Kindred, Elise, Trundle and Lee Sin.
OPL – DIRE WOLVES
Roster: BioPanther – Shernfire – Triple – K1ng – Cupcake
The Dire Wolves return for their second World Championship, following another dominating performance in the Oceanic Pro League. They went undefeated, with a 10-0 record for Split Two. Dire Wolves took down the Chiefs in the finals 3-1 to qualify to Worlds 2018. They have represented the OPL at Worlds 2017 and MSI 2017 and 2018.
Dire Wolves’ bottom side of the map is their strongest. K1ng and Cupcake, the ADC and support, are particularly powerful within the OPL. They regularly finish games deathless, and the duo is not afraid to draft non-meta picks, such as Vayne, Mordekaiser, Zac, and Soraka. Although the Dire Wolves have two years of international experience, they have not had great showings outside of Australia. They went 1-3 in their Play-In group last Worlds, and 2-4 in their Play-In group this last MSI.
LCL – GAMBIT ESPORTS
Roster: PvPStejos – Diamondprox – Kira – Lodik – Edward
In that same vein, Gambit Esports will make their second Worlds appearance this year, continuing their trend of representing the LCL at Worlds 2017 and MSI 2018. Gambit actually had competition this summer, with the top six CIS teams finishing within three wins of one another. M19 won the regular season, but lost in the quarterfinals. The finals pit Gambit versus fourth seed Dragon Army, where Gambit won 3-1 to qualify for Worlds 2018.
This is the same Gambit roster from the rest of the year: PvPStejos, Diamondprox, Kira, Lodik, and Edward. Their bottom lane consistently carries games, while Kira, Diamond, and Stejos have high and low points. This Russian team was hyped prior to MSI 2018, and they won their Play-In group 5-1, but lost 3-0 to Flash Wolves in the qualifying round.
LLN – INFINITY ESPORTS
Roster: Relic – SolidSnake – Cotopaco – Renyu – Arce
Playing in LLN for two years now, Infinity Esports finally gets a shot at international competition. Lyon Gaming has played gatekeeper up until now. Infinity finished the Closing Split 9-5 for third place, placing them in quarterfinals to start playoffs. They won 3-0 over 6Sense, and knocked out Predators Esports 3-1 in semifinals to reach Dash9 Gaming at finals. A nail-biter 3-2 victory locked the Costa Rican organization into a 2018 Worlds seed.
Jungler Solidsnake and support Arce play important roles in Infinity’s dynamic. These two set the pace for their games, while Cotopaco and Renyu play scaling carries. Top laner Relic generally opts into tanks, but occasionally plays Aatrox or Rumble. LLN representatives have never progressed beyond entry into international events, as Rainbow7 went 3-3 at 2018 MSI, Lyon went 2-2 at the 2017 Worlds Play-in and missed Worlds 2016 after winning the Group Stage of the International Wildcard Qualifier.
CBLOL – KABUM! ESPORTS
Roster: Zantins – Ranger – Dynquedo – Titan – Riyev
KaBuM! became an immortalized name in League of Legends when they beat Europe’s number one seed, Alliance, at Worlds 2014. Since then, the organization has struggled to make it out of Brazil’s CBLoL and compete internationally. KaBuM! made it to MSI 2018, and went 4-2 in Group Stage, but fell just short of qualifying to the Main Event. They took the winter regular season with a 5-2 record, and won the playoff finals 3-2 over second seed Flamengo Esports.
Mid laner Dynquedo generally shines through on this roster. He won four Player of the Game awards during the regular season and two more in playoffs. Titan is their other carry, in the bottom lane. He usually opts for mobile marksmen, Ezreal and Lucian, but he also plays a pocket-pick Vel’Koz to great success. From 2014 to 2016, Brazil stood as a top wildcard region for League of Legends. However, they have declined over the last two years, in favor of Vietnam (now its own major region) and Turkey.
CLS – KAOS LATIN GAMERS
Roster: Nate – Tierwulf – Plugo – Fix – Slow
The mainstay representative for South America, Kaos Latin Gamers return for their fourth shot at the World Championship. The Chilean organization represented the CLS last year in the Play-In stage, finishing third of three in Group C at 1-3. KLG had a similar showing at this year’s MSI, finishing at the bottom of Play-Ins Group A with a 2-4 record. At the International Wildcard Qualifier events in 2016 and 2015, KLG failed to pass through to Worlds.
This year, KLG have the same roster as their Worlds appearance last year, except their new top laner, Nate, replacing Mantarraya. KLG’s jungle-mid duo, Tierwulf and Plugo, generally take on carry duty. Tierwulf specializes in single-target champions, like Nocturne and Skarner, while Plugo prioritizes Zoe, Ryze, and Taliyah. KLG has won six domestic titles over the past four years, and this year, they are clearly the best CLS representative.