For the first time since 2016, a Commonwealth of Independent States team will compete in the main event of the League of Legends World Championship following Unicorns of Love's qualifying win over Papara SuperMassive on Wednesday in the play-in stage.
Unicorns of Love and China's LGD Gaming round out the four teams who made it out of the play-in event and will compete in the group stage of the main event. On Sunday and Monday, PSG Talon and Team Liquid auto-qualified out of their play-in groups following first-place finishes. LGD defeated both Rainbow7 on Tuesday and Legacy Esports 3-0 on Wednesday, while Unicorns of Love beat out SuperMassive 3-0 after SuperMassive's 3-2 win over European squad MAD Lions on Tuesday.
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The last time a CIS team qualified for the world championship main event was in 2016, when Albus Nox Luna made it out of the international wildcard qualifier. Albus Nox famously ran through their group to place second -- defeating ROX Tigers, Counter Logic Gaming and G2 Esports -- to qualify for the quarterfinals of the event in Chicago, where they lost to H2K Gaming.
Following the end of the play-in, Riot Games drew each of the four teams into groups. LGD were forced to be in Group C given that no two teams from the same region can compete in the same group -- and with four Chinese teams present at worlds, three teams were auto-qualified into Group A, B and D. Team Liquid were put in Group A, while PSG Talon slotted into Group B and Unicorns of Love in Group D.
Liquid will face off against G2 Esports, Machi Esports and Suning; PSG Talon will play against DAMWON, JD Gaming and Rogue; LGD will compete with Fnatic, Team SoloMid and Gen.G; and Unicorns of Love will face Top Esports, DRX and FlyQuest.
The Unicorns of Love organization previously competed in the European League Championship Series before that league franchised and rebranded to the League European Championship, selecting 10 long-term partner teams in late 2018. Unicorns of Love were not chosen as a franchise partner and instead now compete in the League Continental League in Russia, with an amateur team in Germany.
The play-in stage proved to be one of the most competitive in modern League of Legends play-in and international wildcard qualifier history.
Notably, European fourth seed MAD Lions underperformed expectations, losing out to SuperMassive 3-2 on Tuesday and going home early after being favored by many to qualify for the group stage of the main event.
PSG Talon, who were forced to use substitutes throughout the play-in due to coronavirus quarantine delays for three starters, dominated their group, surprising many. South Korean jungler Kim "River" Dong-woo and mid laner Park "Tank" Dan-won will join the team for the main event, with AD carry Wong "Unified" Chun Kit returning midway through the play-in.
The group stage of the main event begins Saturday with the Group D match of the League Championship Series' FlyQuest and League Pro League's Top Esports set to kick off the day. The double round robin will be comprised of two weeks of play, running from Oct. 3 to Oct. 6 and then from Oct. 8 to Oct. 11.