We already know the superstars going to San Francisco in two weeks' time to compete at the 2016 World Championships: Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, Song "Smeb" Kyung-ho and Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg. But which top talents aren't going to Worlds? Let's take a look at 15 players who -- in an alternate reality -- could be making noise at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium during the group stages on Sept. 29.
Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho
We start with one of the best of those missing from the stage. Ssumday made the World Championships last year with KT Rolster before dropping in the quarterfinals to top lane rival Smeb and ROX Tigers. This year, everything appeared to be lined up for a return trip back to Worlds with KT upsetting archnemesis SK Telecom T1 to make the domestic summer finals. Following a close 3-2 loss against the Tigers, KT was upset by Samsung Galaxy (historically, KT had had a 19-game win streak against it). Ssumday had been one of the best players in Korea the entire year, yet, in the final weeks of the season, his form slipped at the worst time possible.
Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon
Immortals didn't make Worlds, losing to Cloud9 in the finals of the North American Regional Qualifier, but that was to no fault of Huni's. After getting dissected by C9's Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong in the domestic semifinals, he rebounded with a rejuvenated performance in the rematch by keeping up with the C9 top laner. Huni's overall year wasn't nearly as successful as his rookie campaign on Fnatic, but that falloff is still not enough to keep him off this list, since a majority of the other best top laners made it into the World Championships.
Lucas "Cabochard " Simon-Meslet
Unlike our other two top laners, Cabochard wasn't close to making the World Championships. Team Vitality followed up an optimistic inaugural season by fielding a weakened lineup in the summer and barely finishing in seventh place to avoid relegations. Regardless, Cabochard is one of the best individual talents Europe has to offer in the top lane, and it's another year he'll miss Worlds stuck on a team that imploded in the summer split. Next year will be his third year as a professional, and the third time may just be the charm for the French top laner.
Go "Score" Dong-bin
Score should be at the World Championships. He's arguably the best jungler in the world and a top five player pound-for-pound. Ssumday stumbled at the finish line; Score, on the other hand, did everything in his power to drag the KT Rolster organization to Worlds. He's a general on the field and his years of experience has made him one of the smartest players on Summoner's Rift as well. You can talk about the two-hitpoint Baron he failed to secure against ROX Tigers (that could have guaranteed KT a spot at Worlds), but that'd be a disservice to how well he's played throughout the entire year. While KT fluctuated in form across the two splits, Score was solid as could be.
Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin
The former MVP of the North American LCS comes next. Similar to Ssumday's situation on KT, Reignover had a dry spell to end the season, but it's hard to keep him off the list of top international players not making the World Championships. As the man who kept Immortals running on track for 98 percent of the season, there are few junglers in the world currently who can confidently say they're all-around stronger than the South Korean import. After making the semifinals of Worlds last season, not even touching ground this year will be a disappointment for Reignover.
Choi "Dandy" In-kyu
All right, Team WE's Xiang "Condi" Ren-Jie should probably be here, yet, seeing Dandy makes me reminisce of the 2014 World Championships when no one in the jungle could even get close to his Rengar play. All five members of the Summoner's Cup-winning Samsung White team went to China after the 2014 win, but only Dandy has yet to win a domestic title since transferring to Vici Gaming. He had a brief stint in the top lane before thankfully being switched back to his comfort position of jungle, and VG failed to make it through the Chinese Regional for a second year in a row to miss Worlds. All the other members of Samsung White, counting this year, have made it back to Worlds except for Dandy.
Can we please get this man back to the World Championships next year, Vici Gaming?
Chu "FoFo" Chun-Lan
Out of all the rookies possibly making their debut at Worlds this year, I was most excited to see FoFo. He was the newfound ace of the rebranded J Team -- formerly Taipei Assassins -- and was going toe-to-toe with Flash Wolves' Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang. When J Team were leading the pack in the summer season of the LMS, it seemed like we'd get to see FoFo play against the best mid laners the world has to offer. Those dreams went down the drain when J Team faltered at the end of the season, completely crumbling when it was time to decide which teams from Taiwan would go to Worlds. FoFo and J Team didn't even get to the finals of the Taiwan Regional, losing to Machi 17 in a massive upset in the semifinals.
Song "Fly" Yong-jun
Oh look, another KT Rolster player. It's almost like this team really should be at Worlds. Fly was a liability for KT when he first debuted in the starting five at the start of 2016, and turned into a strength by the end of it. His awkward champion pool worked to KT's advantage against the likes of SK Telecom T1, and Fly's individual play vastly improved from opening day. Unfortunately, like the rest of KT, he'll have to watch from the sidelines as the World Championships begin, still hunting for his first trip to the grandest stage in League of Legends.
Song "Rookie" Eui-jin
Rookie, mechanically, is one of the top players in the world. He's a fantastic individual talent, and it's a shame he is wasted on an Invictus Gaming squad that took the entire summer to finally find a semblance of a starting five that worked. It got so bad during the split that Rookie played at AD for a while before the team settled on a starter. On a good team, Rookie could contend for the title of best player in the world. On Invictus Gaming -- at least this iteration -- he's a piece of gold in a sea of copper.
Gu "Imp" Seung-bin
It's crazy how much a year can change a view on a player. Last year before the World Championships, Imp was in the conversation alongside Cho "Mata" Se-hyeong for being the second-best player in the game's history behind Faker. Imp, if he could win a second Summoner's Cup with LGD Gaming, would have even possibly surpassed Faker in the eyes of some. None of that happened, however. LGD burned to the ground at 2015 Worlds, and Imp somewhat sleepwalked through a chaotic year on LGD where the lineup changed more than the expensive T-shirts he owns. Still, Imp, individually, is a great player like Dandy and Rookie, and Worlds will be missing his amazing play and even better trash talk.
No "Arrow" Dong-hyeon
Our fourth KT Rolster member, Arrow deserves his spot in this list of top players missing Worlds. As with Fly, Arrow improved leaps and bounds this year, and became more than merely the "cleanup man" of the Rolster team. His Jhin play in the final few weeks of the season was masterful, and his play on the long-ranged sniper almost got KT Rolster to the summer championship and a Pool 1 seed at Worlds.
Jin "Mystic" Sung-jun
It's been a strange few years for Mystic. He started out in the Jin Air organization in Korea before moving to China with Team WE. He played alongside Lee "Spirit" Da-yun as the "other Korean" on the squad before the aforementioned jungler left in controversy. Since Spirit's exit and the addition of fellow Korean support Yoon "Zero" Kyung-sup, Mystic has gotten more spotlight on a talented WE starting five.
Yoon "Zero" Kyung-sup
Speaking of Zero, here he is on the list. The former Summoner's Cup finalist, it's disappointing we won't see him on the world's stage for a second straight year. Team WE were one game -- one teamfight -- from getting to the World Championships, holding a 7k gold lead over I May and breaking into their base; ultimately, they couldn't convert, getting flanked and wiped from the map.
Adrian "Adrian" Ma
Adrian was the star in Immortals' 3-2 win over Counter Logic Gaming in the third-place match in Toronto, Canada, a few weeks ago, but he couldn't nail down a first trip to Worlds with a loss to C9 in the NA Regional Final. Out of the five Immortals players, Adrian is the only one who still hasn't had the chance to prove himself at Worlds.
Ha "Hachani" Seung-chan
I never thought I'd include Hachani in an article with "top players," but here we are. The once heavily scrutinized support was a star for the team down the stretch, and he proved himself worthy as a player who could have held his own on the international stage if given the chance. All five KT Rolster players were featured in this piece. That should tell you something of the talent that is being left at home to watch.
In 2012, the top team on the sidelines was Azubu Blaze. In 2013, it was the KT Bullets. In 2014, it was SK Telecom T1. This year, it was KT Rolster, a South Korean team. Had it qualified, it could have won it all depending on the circumstances and draw of the bracket.