Come September 23rd, the best League of Legends (“LoL”) players on the planet will descend on Wuhan, China, for the start of the 2017 LOL World Championships. LoL, a multiplayer online battle arena game inspired by Defense of the Ancients (a mod for Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne), is one of the most-played eSports games on the planet, and it routinely ranks first in viewership on streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch.tv.
The World Championships will bring together teams from different parts of the globe to compete in a month-long tournament hoping to get their piece of the $5-million prize pool. In total, 24 teams are invited; 12 of those have to navigate an initial “Play-In” stage, while the other 12 advance directly to the “Group Stage.” Here’s the full breakdown of the tournament format per LoL’s esportswiki:
In previous years, regions like China, North America, Europe, and LMS (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau) were granted three spots each in (what amounts to) the Group Stage. However, this year, the third seed from each of those regions will have to navigate the new Play-In Stage against teams from smaller regions.
While all 24 qualifying teams will come to China with grand ambitions, the ones that aren’t from South Korea should temper their expectations of becoming the LoL World Champion. Since 2011 when the tournament first started, South Korean teams have dominated the Worlds, reaching five out of the six finals and winning four of them. The last two finals have both been exclusively Korean affairs. SK Telecom T1 has been the most dominant, winning three championships including the last two (2013, 2015, 2016).
Does anyone outside of South Korea have a chance? Sure. Upsets happen. Back in 2012, the Taipei Assassins pulled a shocker when they took out South Korea’s Azubu Frost in spectacular fashion. But since that time things have been rather predictable.
As we enter the 2017 tournament, SK Telecom T1 is atop the worldwide standings, to no one’s surprise. The hopes of American fans are pinned on Team SoloMid, who currently sit second in the standings and are looking to become the first champ from the US. What are the odds they take home the trophy? Pretty long. The odds for the 2017 LoL World Championship favorites are below.
Odds a non-South Korean team wins the 2017 LoL World Championship: 10/1
Odds SK Telecom T1 is eliminated in the Group Stage of the 2017 LoL World Championship: 50/1
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