Thirteen of the 14 teams from the major regions in League of Legends have qualified for the World Championship. The final slot, Korea’s third seed, will be decided early Wednesday morning, when Gen. G takes on T1 in the last round of the LCK Gauntlet Tournament. These 13 teams include a number of different playstyles, champion picks and levels of success, but one thing seems is by many of the teams from the major regions: most of them have incredibly dominant mid laners.
In Korea, it’s Showmaker and Chovy. In North America, it was Bjergsen dominating. In Europe, Caps carried G2 on his back to Worlds and Rogue’s midlaner Larssen was very good as well. In China, Top Esports midlaner Knight might be the best player in the LPL, and fellow LPL team LGD also has a midlaner, Xiye, who finished in the top five of the MVP race.
At the moment, the meta certainly seems to favor teams who carry mid laners. Fnatic struggled as Caps ruined Nemesis’s day in the LEC finals, and Bjergsen’s domination in their series against TL on his Zilean pick was key to TSM’s eventual victory. In the LCK, Chovy battled against Damwon’s Showmaker in the final, a series that Chovy and DRX would lose 0-3. Despite the loss, Chovy was without a doubt the best-performing member of his team.
Heading to the World Championships next month, it certainly seems that mid laners are going to be the difference for their teams. The meta favors it currently; picks like Orianna, LeBlanc, Syndra and Zoe are all prominent in pro-play for a reason right now. A good midlaner can, as Caps has shown repeatedly this split, make the difference between success and failure in a game.
What is perhaps even more exciting than the idea of a true mid laner focused meta at Worlds is the fact that some of these great mids are going to have to play each other. G2, Top Esports, TSM, and Damwon can’t face each other since they’re all in one pool, but that means that every other team will face one of these teams in the Group Stage. For the mid laners who are historically less dominant, there is going to be a terrifying mountain to climb on the search for a successful Worlds run.
Worlds is going to be different this year for many reasons. There won’t be the usual tour around the hosting continent. Instead, the entire tournament is taking place in one place. In addition, Vietnam will not be sending any teams, as their country has restrictions in place due to COVID that mean that the teams would be unable to re-enter the country after the tournament was over. The Play-In Stage will now have two groups of five teams and play a single round robin instead of four groups of three with a double round robin, which is a large change. Since each team effectively plays a best-of-one, upsets are much more possible; a team who loses a game they should have won against a team they should have beaten has no way to make up for that loss.
Underdog teams will be looking to challenge the favorites, both in the play-ins and in the group stage. In this year of chaos and difficulty for every team, it seems easy to believe that there will be chaos on the Worlds stage, too. But looking at Knight, Caps, Chovy and Showmaker, the true question might be whether it’s possible for any underdog team to keep up with the star mid laners on the world stage.