After exciting fans over the last few weeks, the 2019 World Championship has now come down to the top eight teams on the planet.
After exciting fans over the last few weeks, the 2019 World Championship has now come down to the top eight teams on the planet. After a play-in and group stage, a three-round knockout will now determine which team is crowned as the best in the world, and which seven will return to their respective regions empty-handed.
Having qualified through the group stage, the final eight teams must now compete in a three-round, single-elimination bracket to ultimately determine the tournament winner. Each match will be decided by a best-of-5 series and the bracket will be played across two locations.
Firstly, the quarter-finals and semi-finals head to Madrid’s 15,000 seater Palacio Vistalegre. The 26th and 27th of October will see eight quarter-finals teams split down to four, with the semi-finals then taking place the following weekend (2nd and 3rd of November). Lastly, the final will head to Paris where the champion will be crowned in front of 20,000 fans in the AccorHotels Arena on Sunday 10th November.
With knockout matchups drawn, we now know the path that each team must take if they are to reach the final and prove themselves as the best. The remaining teams include LCK’s DAMWON Gaming, SK Telecom T1 and Griffin, LEC’s G2 Esports, Fnatic and Splyce and LPL’s FunPlus Phoenix and Invictus Gaming.
Unfortunately for North American and Taiwanese fans, Riot’s other major regions (LCS and LMS) failed to see any teams progress from the group stage.
Starting off the knockouts is a huge game between two Eastern heavyweights. Korean second seed Griffin, in the middle of huge internal issues within the organisation, go up against the tournament holders Invictus Gaming. Both came into Worlds among the favourites, and anything other than a win will be a disappointment for either side.
Despite Griffin looking stellar during the best-of-1 group stage, they have historically struggled in best-of-5 playoffs matches and the pressure may catch up with them once again. Add to this their current internal conflicts and I’ve got to give this one to Invictus.
Having unexpectedly struggled to qualify for Worlds, IG have since looked almost back to their best in recent matches. TheShy is playing as strong as ever and a good series from him and Rookie should see them through to the semi-final.
Fnatic defied all odds to progress from this year’s group of death, doing so by winning all games on their final day of matches and knocking out twice Worlds finalists RNG. Despite their momentum, however, they’ll have a tough time taking down China’s number one seed FunPlus Phoenix, whose unpredictable style should guarantee an exciting series.
FPX did not make it through the groups as comfortably as expected, dropping games to LMS’ J Team and LEC’s Splyce, however they still come into this quarter-final as favourites. Mid-laner Doinb has shown just why drafting against the side is next to impossible, playing 6 different champions in their 7 matches so far; including a Malphite mid win against GAM Esports.
With a close game expected, one that could easily go to five matches, I’m giving this one to FPX. They are the stronger team player-by-player and should have enough to see themselves through to the semi-final. That being said, it would not come as a surprise at all if Fnatic did manage an upset against the LPL side.
Entering Worlds as Europe’s third seed, Splyce were expected to struggle in the group stage but have shown great performances so far to earn their spot in the knockouts. After some slightly shaky opening games, mid-laner Humanoid has been a key part in getting through to the quarter-finals and the team will be hoping that he can help them to get even further.
On the other side of the rift is the most team that’s most decorated on the international stage; SK Telecom. Faker’s side have never finished below second place in the World Championships they have attended and they will expect this occasion to be no different. Having only dropped one game in the tournament so far, the back-to-back LCK champions will see anything less than lifting the Summoner’s Cup as a failure and should be able to take the series with relative ease.
I’m expecting this to be the most one-sided series at this stage, one that should see a comfortable 3-0 or 3-1 win for Fnatic. Splyce will hope that their Worlds dream continues and they will surely give it their all, however if they do go out at the hands of SKT then they can still hold their heads high having performed well above expectations to make it this far this season.
The last match of the knockouts is perhaps the closest one to call. Korea’s DAMWON Gaming entered the competition through the play-in stage and have looked almost unstoppable in their 15 matches so far, winning 13. Top-laner Nuguri is another who has shown his proficiency on a large pool of champions, getting wins with seven already, and has infamously utilised the Kloptomancy rune on most occasions to emphasize the skill disparity between him and his opponents.
Aiming to be the first team to complete a clean sweep season (winning both regional splits, MSI and Worlds), G2 will need to do so by taking the team that is arguably performing the strongest so far. Although players such as Wunder and Jankos have had one or two off games in the tournament’s group stage, each time they have done so their teammates have been able to step up to dominate the game and earn wins through other lanes. A team that can take over matches through any lane, many European fans had tipped G2 to become the first LEC side to take home the World Championship since Fnatic in Season 1.
Call it EU bias, but I can’t help but see G2 making it through in what will surely be an explosive series. The top-lane matchup of Wunder (who some have called the best Western player during the season) against rookie Nuguri will be a key factor in which way this one swings, while G2 will also be hoping that Caps and Perkz can continue their group stage form to see the team across the line and into the semi-finals.