Worlds is coming! On Friday, September 25th, MAD Lions will play INTZ in the opening match of the 2020 League of Legends World Championship.
The first stage of the play-ins, where both groups play a round robin with the rest of the teams in their group, will last from Friday to Monday. The third and fourth place team games are on Tuesday, and the winners of those games will play the second seed of the other group on Wednesday. It’s an intense schedule, which could be difficult, especially for less experienced teams.
Saturday will be the most intensive day with seven games scheduled. This is presumably so Sunday and Monday can have just four games and allow for potential tiebreakers. With a broadcast taking place in three different countries, according to Riot, there is some concern about technology issues.
Many fans were upset at the announcement last week that the LPL’s English casters will not be participating in Worlds. Since Worlds is in China this year, and the LPL teams have won two World Championships in a row, it seems odd that Riot has made this decision and hasn’t provided a reason why.
Travel woes have also plagued teams. PSG Talon will be playing with three substitutes in the play-ins, and LCL’s Unicorns of Love were barely able to attend, according to a tweet on Sept. 12. Since they need to quarantine for two weeks, the team seemingly must’ve made it into quarantine on around the 11th or 12th, since they do not play day one, which means they really made it at the last possible moment.
The meta at Worlds will also be interesting to see. Since teams have had limited time to play before play-ins, it’s very possible the meta might still be extremely fluid. One of the more interesting parts of Worlds is that every year it tends to form its own meta in a combination of each region’s contributions.
The Group Stage will begin on Oct. 3, including the 12 teams who qualified directly to the event and the four who qualify from the play-ins stage. This means that the teams who qualify from the Tuesday matches will have only about three days off before they’re playing more best-of-ones.
While the play-ins can be good experience for less-experienced teams, they force teams to play a lot of games in a short length of time. Especially with the stress of this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic and Worlds being in a bubble, it wouldn’t be surprising to see good teams crash and burn.
On the other hand, it could also provide a chance for lesser-known teams to show their resilience. They have less pressure on them; if Team Liquid or MAD struggles day one, it could damage their mental game. A team like PSG Talon can’t really do worse than expected because they have three substitutes. A team like Rainbow7, who aren’t supposed to do anything, can’t do worse than that. That can be liberating for major region teams because it alleviates the pressure to win.
For a long time in 2020, it didn’t seem like this week would ever come. The idea of Worlds seemed impossible. And yet, so far, Riot Games seems to be managing and in four days, we’ll see the results of work done by so many people behind the scenes that found a way to make this event happen. Now, the teams just have to make this as memorable as the situation that brought us to this point.