The South Korean League of Legends team Griffin have finally qualified for Worlds! Griffin pulled this feat off after securing a first-place finish with a 2-0 victory over Hanwha Life Esports on the final day of the regular season. With that, they have amassed enough Championship Point to automatically claim the second LCK seed for the 2019 League of Legends World Championship.
Will Griffin be able to prove their worth at this international competition?
The Longest Journey
Griffin’s international debut is long overdue. They broke into the LCK in the middle of 2018 and immediately made a name for themselves as one of the best teams of the Summer Split. Their creative drafts and relentless aggression were already enough to put most South Korean lineups on the back foot, but it’s their overwhelming individual talent that really pushed Griffin into a league of their own. Many predicted them to put on a show at Worlds 2018, and some even went as far as to preemptively call them the tournament favorites.
Yet, inexplicably, Griffin crumbled. The 2018 LCK Summer Split finals saw the newly-established powerhouse suffer a 3-2 at the hand of the veteran KT Rolster lineup and fall inches short of qualifying for Worlds. Granted, Griffin could still run it back in the Regional Finals, but another 3-2 loss, this time to Gen.G, put an end to their World Championship ambitions.
A similar narrative unfolded in the 2019 Spring Split. Once again, Griffin had a dominant showing in the regular season and – once again – they fell apart in the finals and missed their chance to play at the MSI 2019. And the first rumors of Griffin constantly choking in playoffs turned up on League of Legends message boards.
The organization finally made a breakthrough in summer. The competition was fierce, but Griffin still claimed yet another first-place finish in the regular season and secured a bye to the LCK finals. Surprisingly enough, Griffin’s best results came when they subbed out their captain – Choi “Sword” Sung-won – for an up-and-coming top laner Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon, and it will be up to them to prove they made the right choice at the 2019 League of Legends World Championship.
The Playoffs Challenge
It’s fair to say that Griffin have what it takes to make a splash at Worlds 2019. Their playstyle is sharper than ever, and their players seem set on turning their bad luck around and testing themselves against international competition. However, Worlds 2019 is still a distant future for Griffin.
Their next challenge—one they’ve failed time and time again—lies in the LCK playoffs. Of course, falling short of an LCK title isn’t a death sentence when you’ve already qualified for the most prestigious tournament in League of Legends. Yet the reputation of playoffs chokers still haunts Griffin. And breaking their domestic losing streak might be the first step towards building up enough confidence for a great performance at Worlds.
Image courtesy of Riot Games Korea.