The League of Legends World Championship is moving into the Main Event Group Stage soon, which means the best teams in the world will finally meet to begin finding out who the best truly is. The Play-In Stage played out mostly as expected, with small upsets here or there. In the end, the major regions’ teams qualified, while the minor regions did not.
During the Play-In Stage, 82 different champions saw at least one pick or ban. That is roughly 56 percent of all of League of Legends champions. The question on many people’s minds becomes “Will this champion diversity carry over into the Main Event?” History tells us that this wide range of options will not flow from Play-Ins. However, history also tells us that the champion priority will change throughout each step of the tournament, as teams rise and fall in the standings.
During the Group Stage, most teams end up highly prioritizing similar champions. For example, this year’s Pantheon, Qiyana and Syndra will likely remain top-presence options. But sometimes groups develop unique priorities on certain champions that is different from the priorities of other groups. Then, once the top eight move into quarterfinals and teams from different groups clash, those priorities change again. For example, look at Galio’s presence at last year’s Worlds.
Galio at Worlds 2018
Groups A and B picked or banned Galio in eight out of 13 games (61.5 percent). He dropped to six of 12 (50 percent) in Group C and four of 13 in Group D (30.7 percent). Once the top eight teams were established and moved into quarterfinals, Galio’s presence changed. G2 and RNG dropped his presence to one out of five (20 percent), while C9 and AF had him picked or banned in three out of three (100 percent). Fnatic and EDG kept Galio at two of four (50 percent), while IG and KT rose to three out of five (60 percent).
Throughout semifinals, Galio was not picked or banned a single time over the six games (0 percent). Then he rose again to 66 percent presence in the FNC-IG finals, banned once by FNC and picked once by IG. Galio’s priority initially seemed tied to C9 and AF, because their group stage and quarterfinals matches showed higher presence than the others. But during semifinals he was not picked or banned, and then during finals he came back.
Now more than ever, teams are experimenting with unique picks. They are creating new compositions and bottom lane duos to compete at the highest level. Going into the Main Event for this year’s Worlds, what champions might be the Galios of 2019? Here are some predictions for unique, high-presence champions within each group of the 2019 Worlds Main Event.
Group A – Neeko, Yasuo
With G2 and Griffin in Group A, flexibility will be crucial for success. Within their respective regions, these two teams have helped define the 2019 theme of unique champion picks, putting champions in non-traditional roles and winning through mechanical outplays. Martin “Wunder” Nordahl Hansen has 17 unique champions this summer. Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon has 18. These are some of the largest champion pools in the world, and they are in the same group.
Flex picks are generally high priority right now, anyway. Akali, Irelia, Ryze, Vladimir and Tristana have been popular throughout the year, because of their ability to move around several lanes successfully. They make drafting more difficult. Taking C9 and HKA into account within Group A, Neeko and Yasuo will likely become higher priority than in other groups. Neeko and Yasuo can play in multiple roles and C9, Griffin and G2 have played them both multiple times during Summer Split.
Wunder, Choi “Sword” Sung-won, Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon, Eric “Licorice” Ritchie and Chen “3z” Han have played Neeko top lane. Griffin and G2 have flexed her mid lane, as well. She can build AD or AP. Her “tricky” theme and area-of-effect ultimate fit right into Griffin and G2’s preferred playstyes. During the Play-In stage, she saw five picks and one ban for 14 percent presence. That could possibly increase within this Main Event group.
Yasuo is a little more self-explanatory. He is the most-banned champion versus G2, because Luka “Perkz” Perković has a 100 percent win rate taking him bottom lane. Chovy also has a 100 percent win rate with Yasuo mid, and C9 has him banned in 34 percent of games, because they like to run the Gragas-Yasuo duo for Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer. HKA has not played Yasuo in the back half of the year, so they may be at a disadvantage here.
DAMWON won their Play-In match with Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon on Yasuo bottom lane. Lowkey then tried to play him mid lane, but lost. Yasuo was banned in four other games, giving his 14 percent Play-In presence. Group A in the Main event will likely have higher presence than that.
Group B – Lucian, Karthus
Funplus is the clear favorite of Group B, arguably the easiest group in the Worlds Main Event. While the current bottom lane meta is dominated by Kai’Sa, Xayah and Syndra, Lucian will probably become a popular pick for this group. Funplus’ bottom laner, Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiang, has Lucian as his most-played champion. Splyce also prioritizes him for Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup. GAM’s Nguyễn “Zin” Tuấn Thọ and J Team’s Chen “Lilv” Chin-Han have a few Lucian games each this summer.
During Play-Ins, Lucian assumed the fifth or sixth position for bottom lane. Once the Xayah-Syndra-Kai’Sa tier got picked or banned, teams moved to Tristana, Heimerdinger, Lucian and Ezreal. Considering Funplus and Splyce should be solidified as the best teams in Group B, GAM and J Team will probably feel pressure to draft around the Lucian pick.
A bit more of a stretch, Karthus jungle might see some priority in this group. J Team’s Chen “Hana” Chih-Hao and GAM’s Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh played it multiple times this summer, while Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang drafted it once. Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir surprisingly did not play Karthus jungle in Summer Split, but he had a pair of strong games in Spring Split. The Play-In teams picked Karthus jungle three times and banned it twice for 12 percent presence.
While there are several jungle champions with higher presence, Karthus jungle could have an uptick of popularity within Group B. With the skill discrepancy between Funplus and the rest of the group, a “cheesier” pick like Karthus jungle might be a way for the other teams to shake up the draft. It will also depend on how much jungle Ekko bounces back in popularity within the Main Event, as Karthus is the third priority magic damage jungler behind Gragas and Elise.
Group C – Karma, Twisted Fate
Group C probably has the most similarity in champion preferences of all the groups. They all rely on the consistency of their bottom laners to win games that other teams would probably not win. They also utilize flexible mid laners that are comfortable playing various styles and champions.
Karma and Twisted Fate are the two champions that pop out for a higher chance of presence in this group. During Summer Split, Fnatic put a very high priority on Twisted Fate for Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek . Clutch drafted him a couple of times, as well. SKT and RNG have not drafted Twisted Fate recently, but Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao could absolutely play him, if needed. Fnatic’s success with the champion alone could warp the meta within Group C. Play-Ins saw Twisted Fate present in 35 percent of games, banned nine times and picked six.
Karma is the more obvious champion linking these teams together. If you check out the best Karma players globally this summer, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson and Xiaohu pop up. But it doesn’t stop there. Karma is a most-banned champion by SKT, and a most banned against RNG. Faker, Lee “Effort” Sang-ho, Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong, Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, Nemesis, Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming, Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Tanner “Damonte” Damonte have all played at least one Karma game this summer.
Granted, Karma has a 63.5 percent presence globally in the back half of the year. But during Play-Ins she only had 11.6 percent presence. For Group C teams Karma is a flex pick that can go top, mid, support or even bottom lane. This could be another case of Fnatic skewing the meta if the other teams cannot counter. Instead, she will become much more pick-or-ban since so many players are comfortable playing her.
Group D – Taliyah, Camille
Most analysts agree that DAMWON, Team Liquid and Invictus Gaming will be competing for the two quarterfinals spots out of Group D. And considering three of the four teams are located in Asia, Eastern preferences will probably grow to dominate the group identity. Therefore, DAMWON and IG will probably dictate the meta slightly more than TL and AHQ.
Taliyah and Camille are popular picks for these two teams (not to mention IG have a World Champion skin for Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning’s Camille). Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon and Heo “ShowMaker” Su played several Camille games top and mid during the second half of the year, carrying 80 and 75 percent win rates, respectively. DAMWON also draft Taliyah for jungler Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu, a pick they successfully showed in Play-Ins already.
Song “Rookie” Eui-jin has not played Camille mid, but he has played a few Taliyah games. Meanwhile, Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok and Ning each have a pair of Camille games. AHQ’s Chen “Ziv” Yi won both of his Camille games this summer, with a 22 KDA to boot. And their jungler, Chen “Alex” Yu-Ming, drafted Taliyah once. Team Liquid is the only team in Group D with zero games on either champion.
Play-In stage presence for Taliyah (14 percent) and Camille (21 percent) show that Worlds teams already have an interest in these champions. Taking all of this into account, Group D might place more priority on these two than the other Main Event groups. It will be interesting to see if Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, Jake Kevin “Xmithie” Puchero and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen will bring Taliyah and Camille into their pools.
All statistics from Games of Legends
Follow The Game Haus for more sports and esports coverage.
“From Our Haus to Yours”