Beginning in the wee hours of the morning Friday, the 2020 League of Legends World Championship (better known as “Worlds 2020”) will kick off from Shanghai, China.
One of the biggest and arguably the most popular annual esports tournament, League of Legends Worlds features the best teams who have qualified for the event from all over the world – every continent is represented except for Africa.
Have no idea what this event is or even what League of Legends is? Here’s a quick primer to get you up to speed.
What is League of Legends?
In short, League of Legends is one of the most popular video games in the world, and it has transformed into one of the most recognizable and acclaimed esports on the planet.
Belonging to the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre, the game is relatively simple on the surface, but has a ton of hidden depth.
Riot Games, the developer and publisher of League of Legends (and the organizers of the League of Legends World Championship), has put together a handy video in advance of this year’s Worlds to help beginners jump into watching immediately:
Essentially, this is a five-on-five game with each player controlling a unique “champion.” All five players work together to try to take down the opponents’ base while ensuring their own doesn’t get destroyed.
If you aren’t familiar with how the game works, the action can look quite chaotic, but the essence of the game is pretty straightforward: Destroy your opponents’ base before your opponent destroys yours.
How does the tournament work?
Though it may look vastly different, League of Legends Worlds has a lot in common with many other major international sporting events.
Most notably similar to the World Cup or Champions League in European soccer, Worlds follows a structure of multiple group stages before getting into a knockout round.
There are 22 teams that have technically qualified for Worlds 2020, but only 12 so far have earned a spot in the “main event” of the tournament. Four more spots are still up for grabs, and will be determined by the preliminary “play-in stage” that features 10 teams split into two groups.
During this play-in stage, the two teams that finish at the top of their respective groups will automatically earn a berth into the main event with the second- to fourth-place teams in each group then moving into a single-elimination mini bracket in best-of-five matches to determine the last two available spots.
Here’s a screengrab from gamepedia breaking down what the play-in stage would look like:
After the play-in stage, the 16 teams in the main event will be split into four groups with the top two teams from each group reaching the knockout stage.
Here’s a glance at the main event groups as they stand before the play-in stage, per gamepedia:
And then, lastly, the knockout stage is a self-explanatory single-elimination bracket. Matches are best-of-five affairs leading right up until a champion is crowned.
How to watch
With the event taking place in Shanghai, matches will be played in the wee hours of the morning for us here in Canada, with the first match starting live at 4:00 a.m. ET on Friday.
That doesn’t exactly lend itself well to live, destination viewing.
If you sleep relatively normal hours, however, chances are you won’t be able to tune in live. But that doesn’t mean you’ll miss any of the action.
All Worlds matches will conveniently be available to watch as video-on-demand on the official League of Legends esports site, so you never have to miss any of the action in the tournament.
Notable teams and players to watch for
Lastly, here’s a quick rundown of some teams and players you may want to keep your eye on.
Top Esports: The favourite to win it all, Top Esports, or “TES” for short, is a team that hails from the powerful Chinese domestic league LPL where they dominated largely thanks to the dynamic duo of Karsa and Knight, who might just be the two best players in the entire Worlds tournament.
G2 Esports: The best team from Europe’s LEC league, G2 is led by Caps, the team’s dynamic, hyper-aggressive mid-laner whose skill cap alone raises his team’s ceiling to legitimate championship level.
MAD Lions: Oddly enough, despite being a team that plays in Europe, MAD Lions is a team with serious Canadian connections. The club is owned by Toronto-based esports organization OverActive Media, which owns the Toronto Defiant of the Overwatch League and the Toronto Ultra of the Call of Duty League.
A young roster with a lot of talent that will only grow, MAD Lions could surprise and make it into the main event, but most aren’t expecting them to.
FlyQuest: FlyQuest boasts a pair of Canadians in Toronto native WildTurtle and Mississauga’s MasH. Both play bottom lane and are used interchangeably dependant on matchup for FlyQuest.
Team SoloMid: The North American region LCS champions, TSM features a world-class mid-laner in Bjergsen and a talented-but-mercurial bottom-lane duo of ADC DoubleLift and Canadian support player Biofrost. One of the most popular teams in North America, TSM has consistently performed well in its own region but disappointed on the world’s stage. Will this year be different?