Esports League of Legends

LPL: Hopefuls of Worlds 2018

This is part 3 of a mini-series of articles that will take a look at some teams with a shot to represent their region at Worlds this year for the 4 major regions (NA, EU, China, Korea).

 

If there was a year for China to win it all, this would be the year. After a dominant performance at MSI and Rift Rivals, most fans now see China as the favorites to win it all. However, the LPL has quite a few teams fighting for a chance to finally dethrone the LCK on the biggest stage of them all. Which teams will represent them? Let’s take a look at four possible teams.

Royal Never Give Up

Courtesy of: LoL Esports Flickr

The new Kings of China has been on a dominant run both internationally and domestically. With first place finishes at the last four tournaments, RNG may be the favorites to win LPL Summer and Worlds. Now that world-class ADC Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao has returned, they look better than ever.

RNG has proven to have great judgement for substituting other positions as well. In the jungle, RNG is using the tandem of Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan and Liu “Mlxg” Shi-Yu much like SKT in the past. Karsa usually starts the matches up allowing Mlxg to come in with information on how the enemy jungler is playing. Aside from that, both jungler are world-class sepreately, which makes this combo even more dangerous. In the top lane, RNG has been running with Yan “Letme” Jun-Ze and Liu “Zz1tai” Zhi-Hao. The team opts to use Letme for more Tank-oriented play while Zz1tai has been used for carry oriented play. However, due to Riot rules regarding subs at international tournaments, RNG usually brings Zz1tai along with their two junglers.

While RNG has a lot of freedom in player usage in those roles, two positions have stayed the same. In mid lane, RNG has one of the best Chinese players with mid laner in Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao who has always been another huge second carry for the teams behind Uzi. Then in support, Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming  has always been there to get Uzi to that point of taking over the game.

With their victory in LPL Spring and RNG looking absolutely amazing with the return of Uzi, the team can start looking ahead to Worlds with the goal of completely dethroning the Koreans ahead of them. But will they be able to pull through when it matters most?

Invictus Gaming

Courtesy of: IG Weibo

Going into LPL Spring, IG looked like the favorites to win the whole thing. But with the sudden news that starting top laner Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok would not be playing and substitute top laner Lee “Duke” Ho-seong would kill their chances. This is mostly due to Duke’s playstyle simply not meshing well with the team which has caused them issues in the past.

While the top lane situation has affected them a lot, the team itself is still revolved around two key players in the mid laner Song “Rookie” Eui-jin  and ADC Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo. Rookie has looked like one of the best mid laners in the world, absolutely dominating his mid lane opponents in China. Meanwhile, JackeyLove has only lived up to the hype that followed him from age 15 to now as the future of world-class Chinese ADCs. The two players have been one of the best duo carry threats in the world this season and will be a huge factor for IG’s chances of making Worlds.

Behind TheShy, Rookie and JackeyLove, IG has a solid supporting cast of jungler Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning and Support Wang “Baolan” Liu-Yi. Two players that have provided exactly what the team needed whether it was frontline tanking or more backline peeling. The two player complete and complement the aggressive play style of IG.

Despite how strong IG has looked throughout the season, they have a tough road ahead due to the unfortunate results of LPL Spring. If the team wants to make Worlds, they need to either win LPL Summer or the gauntlet will await them. While not impossible, IG has always been known for choking when it matters most. Whether they change their fate this time around will rely on their great team play.

Rogue Warriors

Courtesy of: Rogue Warrior Twitter

As a new team in the scene, Rogue Warriors has already shown some solid results with a third place finish at LPL Spring. While the team doesn’t have a huge go-to carry like RNG or IG, they’re still just as capable of winning LPL Summer.

The key player for Rogue Warriors’ success is their mid laner Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang. While Doinb is not always the one that carries them to victory, he’s usually one of the players that needs to play well as one of the key playmakers of the team. Aside from him, the team relies on top laner Chen “Mouse” Yu-Hao and ADC Han “Smlz” Jin to be carries as well. These two players are relied on to be carries, especially when Doinb is put on supportive champs like Orianna.

Like IG, the rest of the team provides whatever else the team needs in their compositions. In this case, it’s through jungler Sung “Flawless” Yeon-jun and support Liu “Killua” Dan-Yang. While they’re not the greatest players in their respective roles, their ability to work perfectly within their roles on the team allows them to appear much better than their stats may show at times.

Despite this, Rogue Warriors will still be unlikely to make Worlds, unless the team has an incredible performance from here on out, teams like EDG and IG will likely finish ahead of them. However, there always seems to be an underdog team that makes Worlds in China every season, and this season it could very well be Rogue Warriors. Will Doinb lead this team and complete the underdog story, though? While unlikely, they shouldn’t be counted out.

EDward Gaming

Courtesy of: LoL Esports Flickr

The old kings of China have had an interesting run so far this season. With a second place finish in LPL Spring, EDG has a pretty good shot at the second seed for Worlds. Coming into LPL Summer, however, the team has looked a lot weaker. As a result, some doubt regarding their shot at Worlds this season has surfaced. However, if the team’s history has shown anything, it’s that this team shouldn’t be counted out until the end.

This time around the team is led by world-class support player Tian “Meiko” Ye who has been the key source of setting up plays for the team. Meanwhile, the team relies on the carry prowess of mid laner Lee “Scout” Ye-chan and prodigy ADC Hu “iBoy” Xian-Zhao. Meanwhile, they can rely on top laner Jeon “Ray” Ji-won to be a potential carry when needed as well.

The only real question for this team is the jungle position. While Chen “Haro” Wen-Lin has been the starting jungler for a majority of the season, the recent poor results has forced EDG to bring in legendary jungler Ming “Clearlove” Kai  back from the bench to start. The results have not changed, which has raised questions about which jungler EDG will run with for the rest of the season. The other lanes may be some of the best in the region, but their clear weakness in the jungle may cause concerns for them in the future.

Despite this, you should never count out EDG when it comes to qualifying for Worlds. The team has always managed to clutch it out when it matters most. This year is likely no different, while the competition get better and better, EDG remains the same clutch team that they’ve always been.

Predictions

In China, the first two seeds are quite clearly based on the teams’ performances. With that said, the last seed is still very much up for grabs. It’ll be a battle for these teams, but at the end of the day, only three teams will be able to represent LPL at Worlds.

Taking the first seed will likely be RNG. As a team, they’ve simply looked unstoppable, especially with Uzi returning to the lineup. While some teams will give them a run for the title, it’s still very likely that Uzi will get his second domestic title and continue his quest of dethroning Korea as the best in the world.

Then taking the second team will likely be EDG. While they won’t end LPL Summer second, their results from LPL Spring will carry them to the second seed as long as they have a solid performance in the playoffs. However, they’ll need to figure out their situation in the jungle come time for Worlds, otherwise there’s a solid chance the team drops out in group stages.

Then taking the last seed will likely end up being IG. Their unfortunate results during LPL Spring admittedly leaves them in a tough spot. However, with the return of TheShy to the lineup, IG looks like one of the best teams in China once again. While the road ahead will be tough, there is very little doubt that IG will make it to Worlds and likely go on a great run there.

This will be a big year for the Chinese region. This is their best chance to finally win Worlds and dethrone Korea. Whether they succeed or not will depend on their play more than anything else. No matter what, we’re in for an exciting Worlds 2018!

To watch the LPL, visit watch.na.lolesports.com. For more information on the Split, teams, standings, and players, visit www.lolesports.com. Recaps of former weeks and other LoL content can be found at https://thegamehaus.com/league-of-legends/.

Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr.

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