LPL's history at the League of Legends World Championship

Jungler Ming "Clearlove" Kai is getting EDward Gaming back on track. Riot Games

The Chinese League of Legends Pro League (LPL) has traditionally been the second best region in League of Legends, often only falling short of South Korea and typically dominating Western and Taiwanese teams. China, as a region, is known to play an aggressive style and enjoys teamfighting. However, more than aggression, Chinese teams have a history of being proactive and using fights to achieve objective goals rather than mindlessly clobbering the opponent in hopes of getting something done.

It is with this mindset that China has traditionally found success at Worlds, having a representative in each bracket stage since 2012. This included two consecutive World finals appearances in 2013 and 2014.

Season 2 (2012)

  • World Elite: 5th-8th

  • Invictus Gaming: 5th-8th

China's first World Championship had most people in the dark about the teams. Apart from World Elite's (WE) sixth place flounder at IGN ProLeague Face Off: San Francisco Showdown and respectable top-8 finish at Azubu The Champions Summer 2012, there weren't many eyes on Chinese teams. The team certainly stumbled internationally a bit at IPL and Champions, but once Jungler Ming "Clearlove" Kai and Support Feng "Fzzf" Zhuo-Jun joined the roster to supplement AD Carry Gao "Weixiao" Xue-Cheng, things started to get cooking. Invictus Gaming (iG) was certainly strong in its own right as well, with solo laners Liu "PDD" Mou and Liu "Zzitai" Zhi-Hao being exceptional carries for the team, fueling their aggressive style.

Generally, Chinese teams had some advantages when it came to teamfighting and wave management, especially in the case of World Elite. It was questionable if WE's skill would translate over against Western teams this time around, but things were looking good with a new roster intact. However, it's important to note that Chinese patches were delayed compared to the west. This inhibited the Chinese teams' ability to practice and was a factor going into Worlds.

World Elite and iG represented China quite well at their first World Championship, as iG was only unable to defeat Azubu Frost in groups, and World Elite controversially may have lost a series due to technical difficulties. Both teams were nestled in top-8, but World Elite could have placed even higher if not for the aforementioned technical difficulties. Nevertheless, World Elite and iG showed some fight and two top-8 teams was just the beginning of China's international success.

Season 3 (2013)

  • Royal Club: 2nd

  • Oh My God: 5th-8th

China came into the Season 3 World Championship as a serious threat yet again, generally on the heels of South Korea in the international pecking order. Royal Club and Oh My God came in as the representatives for the LPL, with Oh My God looking to be the best team in China for most of the year and Royal Club rising up later in the split.

Coming into the tournament, many expected the typical "Chinese aggression" from the two teams as OMG became well-known for tower diving and forcing teamfights when it could. Royal Club didn't necessarily fall under that category, but the team that upset WE was definitely known for its mechanical monster at AD carry, Jian "Uzi" Zhi-Hao. Meanwhile, OMG was a more all-around threat with Gao "Gogoing" Di-Ping, Yu "Cool" Jia-Jun and Yin "LoveLin" Le all being terrifying in their own right.

China's world performance at Season 3 was strong and if it were not for the bracket, both teams very well may have had a shot at top 4. OMG matched SKT in groups as both teams dropped a game while Royal eagerly sat in the quarterfinal for its opponent. It turned out to be a match of the fellow countrymen, and though OMG was the perceived stronger team, Royal notched its second straight win and advanced to the semifinals for China. Eventually, Royal would crash with EU's Fnatic and pulled out a 3-1 victory, earning itself a date with SK Telecom T1 in the finals. Unfortunately, it was really no contest as the South Korean juggernaut crushed Royal 3-0.

Season 4 (2014)

  • Star Horn Royal Club: 2nd

  • Oh My God: 4th

  • EDward Gaming: 5th-8th

      A year past and it's still pretty clear that LPL is the second best region in the world, as the elite continue to only fall to the South Korean elite. The buzz going around internationally was that EDward Gaming was very much in contention for the title, being the fusion of World Elite players, Clearlove and Fzzf, and newer players Ceng "U" Long and Tong "Koro1" Yang. All that was centered around the man that carried Peng "Aluka" Zhen-Ming and Positive Energy to an LPL title, the elite AD carry Zhu "NaMei" Jia-Wen.

      OMG and SHRC were a little more lukewarm in terms of expectations, as both had clear synergy issues during the regular season. However, both still packed the same punch in terms of talent, with OMG still sporting its star players from the years past and Royal Club still having the eccentric AD, Uzi. LPL performed admirably yet again as all teams were able to make it out of the group stages, but EDG in particular looked shaky, having to go into a tiebreaker game against Taiwanese underdog, ahq e-Sports Club.

      NaMei, largely considered as the best AD carry in the world, was also not clearly in his best form. It wasn't terribly surprising that EDG lost to Royal Club in quarters, but in the scope of the year, was a shocker. China unfortunately had another team kill as Royal Club faced OMG -- who had just thrashed Najin Shield 3-0 in its own quarterfinal matchup -- in the semifinals. Royal Club pulled out yet crazy upset over OMG and was the first organization to make it to two straight World Championship finals. Unfortunately, the final was very similar to last year; Samsung White was perhaps an even more formidable foe than SKT. Royal did win a game, but it wasn't the most serious of wins, as Samsung White was known for habitually trolling when it knew it was the superior team. One measly win was still far from what the LPL wanted that year.

      Season 5 (2015)

      • EDward Gaming: 5th-8th

      • LGD Gaming: 9th-11th

      • Invictus Gaming: 14th-16th

      After a few years of playing second fiddle, this was really the year that LPL had a shot to surpass its regional neighbor, South Korea. After a large portion of South Korea's star players made its way to China following the end of Season 4, the already talented Chinese lineups became even more heavily bolstered. While language was clearly a problem at first, over time LGD and EDG proved to become teams that could easily rival the South Korean squads for the title, rather than just an "if." Invictus Gaming was more of a wildcard, the team that found enough synergy for one patch to get into the tournament, with mid laner Song "Rookie" Eui-jin being particularly fantastic.

      LGD was largely seen as favorites to take the whole tournament. Its all-star roster, save for weak-link jungler Zhu "TBQ" Yong-Quan, and stellar domestic performance in the LPL Summer playoffs had analysts raving about the team. EDG had just won the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) before summer and actually beat SKT in a best of 5, building a strong comp against Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok's undefeated LeBlanc to close it out. Clearlove had even risen to be one of the best, if not, the best jungler in the world.

      However, all the expectations eventually crashed down on the LPL. After years of strong performances internationally, LGD and iG found themselves completely unable to return to their qualifying form and drowned in groups where Western teams actually finished ahead of them. EDG managed to make it out, but it was clearly ailing as well, not putting up the strongest of performances with Shek "AmazingJ" Wai Ho in top lane. The end was sad as EDG even had chances to defeat Fnatic, but were ultimately outclassed by the European squad and its second straight exit in worlds quarterfinals. After years of consistency, it was shocking to see the LPL crash so hard, but it's always possible at tournaments, especially in League of Legends when meta changes always happen before the World Championship.