Each of the 24 participating teams drew their starting groups for what is arguably the biggest single event on the esports calendar. This year marks the debut of the new 24-team format, with 12 teams already qualified for the main group stage while 12 others must play their way through preliminary groups.
Cloud9, Fnatic headline play-in stage
The two most popular Western teams in the play-in stage should have a clear path forward. North America’s Cloud9, fresh off a series victory over Counter Logic Gaming that sent them to the World Championship, will face Brazil’s Team One Esports and Australia’s Dire Wolves. While both regions have produced capable players and teams, neither Team One nor Dire Wolves are currently considered real challengers to top-tier teams.
Europe’s Fnatic will have to deal with Vietnam’s Young Generation and South American side Kaos Latin Gamers. Like Cloud9, Fnatic shouldn’t expect much trouble from their initial competition, though the team will have to be careful not to overlook these eager opponents.
The toughest play-in group looks to be Group A, where China’s Team WE will face down Gambit Gaming and Lyon Gaming. Gambit’s roster wreaked havoc at last year’s World Championship and will be looking to do so again. Meanwhile, Lyon Gaming have consistently proved themselves to be the class of the Latin America North region.
Four teams will emerge from the play-in stage to join 12 teams in the main event, where groups have already been drawn, minus the four eventual qualifiers.
G2 gets the TSM treatment
G2 Esports comes into the World Championship as the clear top team in Europe but with major question marks internationally. Those questions will prove difficult to answer given the teams G2 has drawn: Korea’s Samsung Galaxy and China’s Royal Never Give Up.
Fans were quick to notice this is the exact same difficult draw given to TSM last year. This year, TSM will square up against Flash Wolves and Misfits. By no means is this an easy road, but the lack of a real contender or any Korean opposition in the group has made TSM a clear favorite to advance to the playoff round.
In another notable pairing, SK Telecom T1 and Edward Gaming find themselves in the same group. The League of Legends World Championship begins Sept. 23 in Wuhan, China.