Worlds 2020 Group Stage Preview

With the conclusion of the 2020 World Championship’s play-ins, the strongest sides on the planet now come together to battle it out across a 16 team group stage.

Lee "Couple Sodi Pops" Jones
Freelance Esports Writer
2nd Oct, 20·☕️☕️ 9 min read

With the conclusion of the 2020 World Championship’s play-ins, the strongest sides on the planet now come together to battle it out across a 16 team group stage. Half of the teams will progress onto the knockout matches, while the other half will be left devastated by an early exit from the tournament.

Competition Information

As the entirety of Worlds is set to be played in the city, the group stage will continue to be held in Shanghai where 16 sides split into 4 groups.

lol shanghai

Each group will play out a double round-robin and the top two from each will move on to the knockout stage. The groups begin on Saturday 3rd October and conclude on Sunday 11th, with matches being played every day except for Wednesday 7th.

China’s LPL is the most represented region, just about heading into groups with four teams after final seed LGD struggled to a joint last-place finish in their play-in group only to then qualify through back-to-back 3-0 series wins.

Two LPL teams who surprisingly failed to make the cut were the two previous World Champions FunPlus Phoenix and Invictus Gaming. Both faltered in China’s regional qualification tournament and must wait until at least next year for another shot at retaining their title.

Elsewhere in the groups Korea, North America and Europe all have three representatives while Southeast Asia have two and Russia have one.

The Current Season

With China’s recent dominance, it’s no surprise that their teams are heavily tipped to make deep runs in the tournament. Following their play-in struggles, LGD is mostly written off, however TOP, Suning and JD Gaming will all see anything but a Worlds victory as a failure.

The same could also be said for most Korean sides, coming from the region who were historically on top but has faltered in the last few years. Nonetheless, Summer LCK champions DAMWON Gaming looked the best team in Korea by quite some margin (easily beating DRX 3-0 in the final) and is expected to be the biggest contender with the Chinese organisations.

lol cup

After losing last year’s final 3-0 to FPX, Europe’s G2 are another team looking at getting their eyes on the trophy and would be the first from their region to do so since Fnatic’s (contested) season one victory.

Group A

G2 EsportsLECEurope1
Machi EsportsPCSSoutheast Asia3
Team LiquidLCSNorth America4

Group B

DAMWON GamingLCKKorea1
JD GamingLPLChina2
PSG EsportsPCSSoutheast Asia4

Group C

Team SoloMidLCSNorth America1
LGD GamingLPLChina4

Group D

Top EsportsLPLChina1
FlyQuestLCSNorth America3
Unicorns of LoveLCLRussia4

Sodi Pops’ Pick

Group A - G2 Esports and Suning

g2 worlds

2019 was almost a perfect year for G2 esports, including back-to-back LEC titles and a dominant Mid-Season Invitational win (the first for a European side). However, the year ended in misery as they lost 3-0 to FPX in the World Championship final and the unchanged lineup are yet to look back to their best so far in 2020. Despite this, their tenacity has seen them win another two LEC splits and earn their place as a first seed in the group stage of Worlds, where they are heavily expected to make it out of one of what is one of the easier groups on paper.

Most likely to make a push for qualification alongside G2 is China’s Suning. They were consistently the third strongest team in the LPL, beating LGD 3-0 in the third-place playoff match and beating them again by the same scoreline to win the regional finals. Coming up against the likes of Team Liquid and Machi Esports should, in theory, be more comfortable opposition and see them through to the knockouts.

Team Liquid and Machi Esports will both fancy themselves with a chance of qualification given G2’s inconsistent form as well as the clear gap between Suning and China’s top two sides in Summer. TL have had a change in fortunes since Doublelift’s departure to TSM and there will be plenty of eyes on his replacement Tactical who has never played on this stage before.

Group B - DAMWON Gaming and JD Gaming

damwon worlds

Korea’s first seed DAMWON Gaming finished the Summer split in explosive form, beating runners up DRX in a 3-0 series after finishing the regular season in first place. The first time LCK champions won an astounding 37 matches out of 42 throughout the split and will be favourites to carry this level of performance onto the World stage.

JD Gaming, China’s second seed, finished an agonizing LPL final series against Top Esports with a 3-2 loss, ending their hopes at retaining the title after winning the Spring split earlier this year. Led by LPL Spring MVP Kanavi in the jungle, the team will see themselves on par with their first seeded peers and will expect to secure the third World Championship in a row for their region.

LEC’s Rogue had looked the best side in Europe for much of Summer, however their dip in form heading into playoffs (coupled with a G2 and Fnatic resurgence) saw them fail to back up their regular season first place with as much as a finals appearance. Questions could be asked as to their ability to replicate their best showing on the Worlds stage, an issue seemingly prevalent for MAD Lions who crashed out in play-ins after also qualifying with a rookie-led team.

Outsides PSG Talon made it through the play-ins unexpectedly after having to sub out 3/5 of their roster due to VISA issues, and it now remains to be seen whether the return of their starters will see them step up further for the group stage or whether their substitutes may have been giving them a lift.

Group C - Gen.G and Fnatic

geng worlds

Despite finishing the LCK split in second place, Gen.G’s roster that includes jungler Clid and mid laner BDD could be argued as the best on-paper in their region. However, it was not good enough to topple a dominant DAMWON. Since the organisation’s World Championship win in 2017 (known then as Samsung Galaxy), only ADC Ruler remains, while the rest of the roster will be looking for their first taste of success at an international level.

2018 finalists Fnatic will look to strengthen on their late Summer form which saw jungler Selfmade carry the side through playoffs and into a second-place LEC finish. Questions had been raised of mid laner Nemesis and support Hylissang throughout the split, however both showed steady improvement and the former will have the added motivation of substitute MagiFelix heading to the tournament (known for his prolific solo queue ability and a key part of Fnatic’s academy side).

Team SoloMid return to Worlds for the first time since 2017 and could arguably not have found themselves a harder group. Despite entering as the first seed after winning the LCS in Summer, they will struggle to make it into the knockouts (especially considering the fourth seed is an LPL side). LGD Gaming had looked weak through play-ins, however their back-to-back 3-0 victories over Rainbow7 and Legacy Esports will give them more confidence heading into the group stage.

Group D - Top Esports and DRX

top esports worlds

Having won the LPL Summer split, Top Esports will understandably enter the World Championship as favourites and are fully expected to top their group. ADC JackeyLove won the tournament with Invictus Gaming in 2018 and looks to be one of the best in his position heading into the group stage, while mid laner knight makes his first Worlds appearance after being awarded the LPL MVP for Summer.

LCK runners up DRX (formerly Longzhu Gaming) have not qualified for Worlds since 2017 and have now done so with a new-look roster led by former Griffin coach cvMax. Superstar mid laner Chovy, who moved from Griffin with both cvMax and top laner Doran, will look to help carry the side through the tournament as well as veteran ADC Deft. The latter has qualified for the World Championship for the fifth occasion but has never before managed better than a semi-final finish before.

FlyQuest defied expectations once again in North America’s LCS to earn their second runner up medal in consecutive splits, however they will struggle to continue defying expectations against competition that is objectively superior to what they are used to. Unicorns of Love qualify for the group stage for the first time after failing to do so while still in the LEC, however they are unlikely to get much further in a group with two clear favourites to progress in Top and DRX.


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