League of Legends, the popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game, is heading to its world championship this fall. The event drew more viewers than the World Series (Baseball) and the Stanley Cup (Hockey) last year.
Cloud9 beat Immortals in the League of Legends North American Regional Qualifiers Sept. 5 with three wins, one loss. Now, with C9 entering the World Championship Sept. 29, we know the lineup for the tournament that will run through Oct.29.
Representing North America, we have Team Solo Mid who won the summer split 17:1, a long standing fan favorite that — through numerous roster changes — has been around since 2011. TSM had a rough start to the season going 9:9 in the spring split which put them in 6th place. While TSM picked up toward the end of the season, the team has a history of making it to worlds only to be removed in the first match of the month.
TSM’s current roster includes American born Kevin “Haunterz” Yarnell in the top lane. Haunterz mostly plays the bruiser, Irelia, and went 8:0 this season with the mage champion, Swain. Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen of Sweden plays in the jungle, typically bringing Rek’Sai and Gragas to his games with a less clear best champion at 13:2 with Rek’Sai. Svenskeren’s fellow countryman Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg is team captain and mid laner who specializes in using Azir and Zilean with a very impressive 8:1 and 7:0 match history respectively. Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, long time United States favorite and ex-Counter Logic Gaming player, plays Marksman in the bottom lane. Doublelift has some of the best mechanics of all of the pro-players and is supported by the Canadian Vincent “Biofrost” Wang an impressive new player who competed for the first time during TSM’s dominante summer split.
With all that said, it seems TSM is in the best place it has ever been going into this year’s world championship, and they seem to be looking up after several years of slowly slipping from the public consciousness.
Also representing NA we have the ever present Canadian team, Counter Logic Gaming. CLG thus far had a much better early season than TSM, placing 2nd in the spring round robin with a 13:5 win to loss ratio. They were also the team in North America to qualify for worlds by gaining the most points over the season, as well they took 1st in the spring split with a 3:2 win ratio in the final round.
CLG is represented by American Darshan Upadhyaha in the top lane. Darshan has been drafting a large variety of champions this season, while his best champion is Jax at a score of 6:1. Jake “Xmithie” Puchero of the Philippines like many of CLG’s players this year is fairly new to the pro-scene and has a wide variety of Jungle champions, though he favors tanks. Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun, South Korea, plays mid bringing high skill level mages and again shows a wide variety of champions. Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes, the most inexperienced member of the team plays bottom lane marksman but is supported by the legendary Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black. Aphromoo has participated in every season of League of Legends on the professional level and is often thought of as one of the best supports in the world.
CLG’s best asset is flexibility. While TSM seems to focus on a very small pool of champions it will be harder to predict CLG going into worlds as they all have a very even split between the different champions. Expect their games to be volatile and differ greatly from match to match.
The final NA team, as mentioned previously is Cloud9. C9 performed favorably over TSM at several tournaments and came in second in the summer split. That loss however, put them in a difficult situation where they had to compete in the regional qualifiers against the near perfect win record by Immortals. Though unexpected by some, C9 beat IMT 3:1, finishing the last game with a large lead.
C9 brings Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong of South Korea with Shen and Trundle into the top lane.with a 7:5 win loss ratio with both champions. William “Meteos” Hartman Plays an impressive Gragas and Rek’Sai, both with an 11:5 record. Nicolaj Jensen plays mid-lane with one of the most varied lineups of the 2016 season. Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi is joined by Canadian Andy “Smoothie” Tu in the bottom lane. The duo is known for playing Ashe and Bard respectively in the lane and though Smoothie had a rocky as well as late start in this season he is now 6:1 on Bard.
All said, NA will be competing on their home turf (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York) in this year’s finals. However, while this year’s lineup has a lot of potential, it is important to remember that no North American team has ever won the World Championship.
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or the Utah Statesman Website for updates on the championship. We will also begin to do coverage of the Collegiate tournament Utah State University’s eSports varsity team will be participating in this November.