The 2019 League of Legends World Championship kicks off Wednesday in Berlin with the play-in stage, and culminates Nov, 10 at AccorHotels Arena in Paris. The tournament is the pinnacle of the competitive League of Legends season that began in January and features a prize pool of at least $2.2 million. For the third consecutive year, the format remains the same, with 24 teams over 13 different regions throughout the world qualifying for the event. Teams are seeded either into the play-in event or directly into the group stage based on a few factors.
The 2019 League of Legends World Championship will feature a prize pool of at least $2.2 million combined with an additional secondary funding generated via sales from specific fan purchased in-game items during the course of the tournament. A similar model to each of the past three world championships, this prize pool will aim to eclipse last year's record-setting figure of $6.5 million.
League of Legends currently holds three of the top 10 largest prize pools in esports history dominated by DotA 2's premier tournament The International.
This year's tournament will be hosted by three different cities across Europe, starting in Berlin at the LEC Studio and the Verti Music Hall for the play-in and group stages, respectively.
The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played at the Palacio Vistalegre (15,000 capacity) in Madrid, an arena that was formerly home to European club basketball teams CB Estudiantes and Real Madrid.
The finals will be played at AccorHotels Arena (20,300 capacity) in Paris; tickets for the event sold out in 10 minutes. The cheapest finals ticket that can be found on StubHub was $545 as of Tuesday. According to Pollstar, AccorHotels Arena had the fifth-most ticket sales across the world in 2018.
The LCK region in South Korea has historically dominated the world championship, winning five straight Summoner's Cups from 2013-2017 before failing to make the final last season. That dominance has mainly come in the form of SK Telecom T1 (SKT) who won three of the five titles in that span. Notably, SKT was absent from the tournament entirely last year, failing to qualify for just the second time in its team history. This year, SKT is back with its star midlaner, Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, and are the betting favorite to win the tournament outright at 9-2, according to Bet365.
Meanwhile, G2 Esports is coming into worlds with a major international trophy under its belt, winning the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational in May. They are looking to join SKT as the only two teams to complete the international double, winning both MSI and worlds in a calendar year. G2 looks to avenge a semifinal loss to last year's eventual champion Invictus Gaming. They feature a greatly improved roster with the additions of midlaner Rasmus "Caps" Winther and support Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle.
Chinese teams make up three of the top six betting favorites with region as a whole coming in at 12-5 to lift the Summoner's Cup. China is led by last year's world champion Invictus Gaming (7-1), Royal Never Give Up (9-1), with three straight knockout stage appearances, and upstart FunPlus Phoenix (11-2) making their first international appearance.
Draw & Format
The worlds draw show was on Monday, Sept. 23 and determined the groups teams would be competing in for both the play-in stage and the group stage proper. In the play-in stage, teams will play a double round-robin within their groups, and the top two teams will advance to the play-in knockout stage. Each first-place finisher will then be drawn against each second-place finisher to compete in a best-of-five match. The winner of each of these four matches will advance to the group stage and be slotted into pre-drawn groups.
The four play-in stage winners will be joined by 12 qualified teams to create four groups of four. Again, the teams will play a double round-robin within their groups with the top two from each group advancing to the knockout stage. The remaining teams are drawn into a single elimination bracket where all matches are best of five.
The groups were drawn as follows:
Clutch Gaming (Region: LCS | Worlds Appearance: First)
Despite being 35-16 against teams from emerging regions (leagues outside of the five major regions which include LCK, LPL, LEC, LCS, and LMS), North American teams are just 4-7 against Russian teams all time.
Unicorns of Love (LCL | Worlds Appearance: First)
Qualified for worlds in their first season since joining the Russian LCL after being declined a spot in the rebranded European LEC.
MAMMOTH (OPL | Worlds Appearance: First)
MAMMOTH entirely revamped its roster heading into 2019 and now feature midlaner Stephen "Triple" Li and ADC Calvin "k1ng" Truong from last year's Oceania worlds qualifier, Dire Wolves.
Splyce (LEC | Worlds Appearance: Second)
Splyce's two games against Detonation FocusMe will be the first time a European team has ever faced a Japanese team in competitive League of Legends. Meanwhile, Europe is 5-1 against Latin American teams.
Isurus Gaming (LLA | Worlds Appearance: First)
While this is its first worlds appearance, Isurus Gaming is no stranger to the international stage, qualifying for the play-in stage of the Mid-Season Invitational two of the past three years. Isurus managed wins against 1907 Fenerbache (Turkey) and Bombers (Oceania).
Detonation FocusMe (LJL | Worlds Appearance: Second)
Detonation FocusMe and Isurus Gaming have met once before, with Detonation FocusMe coming out on top in a 2016 Wild Card Invitational group stage match.
Hong Kong Attitude (LMS | Worlds Appearance: Second)
In 2017, Hong Kong Attitude failed to finish first in its play-in group, losing a tiebreaker game to 1907 Fenerbache. It was rewarded with a play-in knockout draw against Fnatic (LEC) who promptly swept HKA.
Lowkey Esports (VCS | Worlds Appearance: First)
Despite Vietnam having 15 victories over teams from major regions, they have surprisingly struggled against the LMS with only one win in eight attempts. Lowkey will look to reverse that fortune with two matches against Hong Kong Attitude.
MEGA (SEA | Worlds Appearance: First)
MEGA will be looking to claim Southeast Asia's first win at worlds since Xan defeated Team SoloMid (LCS) in the 2011 group stage.
DAMWON Gaming (LCK | Worlds Appearance: First)
This will be the first year that South Korea will be sending a team to the play-in stage of worlds as the automatic bid was snatched away by China. Fortunately, South Koreans teams are a whopping 30-1 against teams from emerging regions.
Royal Youth (TCL | | Worlds Appearance: First)
Turkish TCL and Brazilian CBLoL teams are a perfectly even 10-10 against each other in international play.
Flamengo Esports (CBLOL | Worlds Appearance: First)
With a victory over DAMWON, Flamengo Esports are looking to make the Brazilian CBLoL the second emerging region to obtain a victory over each of the five major regions.
You can watch the play-ins on ESPN+.
Wednesday, 7 a.m. ET
Thursday, 7 a.m. ET
Friday, 6 a.m. ET
Saturday, 6 a.m. ET
Monday, 7 a.m. ET
Tuesday, 7 a.m. ET
G2 Esports (LEC | Worlds Appearance: Fourth)
G2 Esports are looking to follow up a victory at the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational. However, they first will have to combat a historical struggle with group stages at international events where they are 19-30.
Griffin (LCK | Worlds Appearance: First)
After three straight splits finishing either first or second and three straight playoff appearances finishing runner-up, Griffin finally qualified for a major international event.
Cloud9 (LCS | Worlds Appearance: Seventh)
Cloud9 has five worlds quarterfinal appearances, most of any team. It also joins Royal Never Give Up as the only two teams that have made it out of group stage each of the last three years. Cloud9's odds to win worlds went from 50-1 to 150-1, according to Bet365, after being drawn into Group A with Griffin and G2 Esports.
Fourth group member TBD.
FunPlus Phoenix (LPL | Worlds Appearance: First)
FunPlus Phoenix will look to take care of business in it its first international appearance. The LPL is 28-4 against the LMS and 8-1 against the VCS in international play.
J Team (LMS | Worlds Appearance: First)
Support Chih-Chiang "Koala" Lin makes his second straight worlds appearance after moving from G-Rex to J Team in early 2019. He will look to improve upon his 0-6 performance from last year.
GAM Esports (VCS | Worlds Appearance: Second)
Formerly known as the GIGABYTE Marines, GAM Esports enters Group B with the most international experience, posting major upsets over Fnatic (Europe) and Immortals (North America) in the 2017 worlds group stage.
Fourth group member TBD.
SK Telecom T1 (LCK | Worlds Appearance: Fifth)
SK Telecom T1 will be looking for its fourth world championship in five tries. SKT is 10-5 against Royal Never Give Up and 4-2 against Fnatic in international play.
Fnatic (LEC | Worlds Appearance: Seventh)
Fnatic is now tied with Cloud9 (LCS) and Team SoloMid (LCS) in its seventh world championship appearance. 2014 was the only year in which Fnatic failed to advance out of its group, which was also the only year in which Fnatic was drawn into a group with both a Chinese and a South Korean team.
Royal Never Give Up (LPL | Worlds Appearance: Fourth)
Royal Never Give Up has never failed to advance out of a world championship group stage.
Fourth group member TBD.
Team Liquid (LCK | Worlds Appearance: Second)
Team Liquid's ADC Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng has made four straight worlds appearances. He's never advanced out of the group stage at worlds.
ahq eSports (LMS | Worlds Appearance: Fifth)
ahq have advanced from its group just once in its four appearances. That group also included Invictus Gaming.
Invictus Gaming (LPL | Worlds Appearance: Fourth)
The reigning World Champions have been slotted into what is widely considered a fairly tame group. However, iG is 3-3 against Team Liquid and 1-1 against ahq eSports in international play.
Fourth group member TBD.