When esports players usually head to the big stage, they’re there for one thing only: to bring home the trophy. In most situations, they’re there to work hard for the organisation that hired them. But there are some tournaments that help shake the playing calendar up a bit and allow players to don their country’s colours.
The Overwatch World Cup is a prime example of that, and with Rainbow Six Siege also getting a World Cup in 2021, and esports recently being confirmed as an event for the 2022 Asian Games, country-based esports competitions are on the rise. So that got us thinking – why on earth has the planet’s most widely watched esport, League of Legends, not taken country-based competition seriously yet? Who wouldn’t want to watch a League of Legends World Cup to see which nation could assemble the best LoL squad?
The closest fans get to seeing some spicy rosters go head to head is All-Star, and while the event is a good bit of fun, we reckon it could be replaced, or at the very least merged, with something much bigger.
So, instead of letting this live rent-free in our heads, we decided to explore who would win a League of Legends World Cup if one was played this offseason.
How would a League of Legends World Cup work?
If Riot Games were to host a World Cup, it would be far more elaborate than the format we’re about to suggest. There’d be qualifiers, and play-ins, and world rankings, and all that jazz, in which smaller nations may bag themselves a top spot.
However, we’ve decided to keep things simple. We brainstormed 20 nations who could assemble a top-tier competitive LoL team, and then whittled them down to ten – the same number as the most recent Overwatch Cup in 2019 – by considering which impressive rosters would most likely to be invited if it was an invitational event.
We also tried to pick at least one viable team from each continent where LoL is played at the highest level. After much deliberation, here are the ten nations we’ve chosen to compete in our hypothetical LoL World Cup:
- South Korea
Honourable mentions go out to the likes of Sweden, Brazil, Vietnam, and more, but these were the ten we went with. Feel free to roast us if we missed your home country.
We’re using the Overwatch World Cup as a template here, as it’s a quick and simple format. But as we mentioned earlier, if Riot were to host a World Cup, it would probably be much more complex than this.
In ours though, the ten teams are randomly drawn into two groups of five. There, each team will play the others in their group in best-of-three series. Teams are ranked in their groups based on how many series they win. If two or more teams have the same record at the end of the group stage, the ranking will be decided by whoever wins their head-to-head matchup.
The top team from each group then heads straight to the semi-finals, while the second and third seeds progress to the quarter-finals. Group A’s second-placed team then plays Group B’s third-placed team in the quarters, and vice-versa.
The winner of each quarter-final then moves on to face one of the group winners in the semis, and the winners of the semis head to the finals. The losers of the semis duke it out in a series to establish third place. We’d also have all the knockout stage matches as best of fives.
The group draw
With all ten teams in the pot, here’s how our randomised draw turned out:
- Argentina, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Germany
- USA, Poland, Taiwan, Denmark, China
There are some stacked groups there right? But which players will be representing these ten nations? Well we came up with what we think are the ultimate rosters for each nation, selected by their recent form and the game’s current meta.
Remember, these rosters are picked by us mere hacks, and not by whichever professional coach would be in charge of each national squad. We’ve also steered away from picking more than three players from a single organisation, so that South Korea, for example, couldn’t just field the entire DAMWON team that was victorious at Worlds this year.
|Top Lane||Acce (Free Agent)|
|Mid Lane||TopLop (Pixel Esports Club)|
|Bot Lane||WhiteLotus (Infinity Esports)|
With Emmanuel ‘Acce’ Juárez, Brandon ‘Josedeodo’ Villegas, and Facundo ‘Shadow’ Cuello representing three-fifths of the Rainbow7 side we saw at Worlds this year, the region clearly has some quality to boast. Josedeodo has even found a home in North America, having now joined FlyQuest for 2021.
|Top Lane||Fudge (Cloud9)|
|Jungle||Babip (TSM Academy)|
|Mid Lane||Ryoma (100 Thieves Academy)|
|Bot Lane||FBI (100 Thieves)|
With residency rules changing to allow former OCE players to play in North America without taking up an import slot, LCS sides are already digging into the Australian talent pool. Cloud9, for example, has promoted Ibrahim ‘Fudge’ Allami as its starting toplaner.
Meanwhile, Leo ‘Babip’ Romer has been snapped up by TSM’s academy team. Mitchell ‘Destiny’ Shaw has also crossed the pond from the LEC’s Astralis to Immortals. While this group may lack experience right now, the future of Australian LoL certainly looks promising.
|Top Lane||Licorice (FlyQuest)|
|Jungle||Hard (Golden Guardians Academy)|
|Mid Lane||Ablazeolive (Golden Guardians)|
|Bot Lane||WildTurtle (Counter Logic Gaming)|
Canada’s roster, like team USA, features some of the LCS’ top players in Eric ‘Licorice’ Ritchie and Philippe ‘Vulcan’ Laflamme. League veteran Jason ‘WildTurtle’ Tran occupies the bot lane spot, providing an experienced presence in the carry role. Former Golden Guardians academy jungler Anthony ‘Hard’ Barkhovtsev also comes with previous LCS experience at Echo Fox. Meanwhile, Hard’s academy teammate, Nicholas ‘Ablazeolive’ Abbott, has made the step up to the Golden Guardian’s main roster this season, finally getting his shot at LCS glory after spending the last few years in the academy system.
A great mix of young and old in this team.
|Top Lane||Nuguri (FunPlus Phoenix)|
|Jungle||Canyon (DAMWON Gaming)|
|Mid Lane||Showmaker (DAMWON Gaming)|
|Bot Lane||Ruler (Gen.G)|
|Support||BeryL (DAMWON Gaming)|
South Korea’s World Cup team has been the most difficult to pick, and we’re sure there’ll be some light discussion in the comments either way. First up is FunPlus Phoenix’s new marquee signing, Jang ‘Nuguri’ Ha-gwon. The jungle and mid lane are subsequently bolstered by former DAMWON Gaming teammates Kim ‘Canyon’ Geon-bu and Heo ‘ShowMaker’ Su.
Gen.G’s Park ‘Ruler’ Jae-hyuk is our pick for the nation’s best botlaner due to his monstrous output and unmatched ability to play every style of carry. Cho ‘BeryL’ Geon-hee slots in as Ruler’s lane partner (at least until he starts roaming). This is an absolutely terrifying roster.
|Top Lane||Broken Blade (Schalke 04)|
|Jungle||Gilius (Schalke 04)|
|Mid Lane||Abbedagge (Schalke 04)|
|Bot Lane||Upset (Fnatic)|
|Support||Kaiser (MAD Lions)|
Germany’s roster has some solid talent to work with. With EU returnee Sergen ‘Broken Blade’ Çelik slotting into Schalke’s starting lineup, what better time is there for the toplaner to build some pre-LEC synergy with teammates Erberk ‘Gilius’ Demir and Felix ‘Abbedagge’ Braun?
Elias ‘Upset’ Lipp may now be at Fnatic, but he too spent time competing alongside Abbedagge for the German club, and is regarded as one of Europe’s finest botlaners. Norman ‘Kaiser’ Kaiser is a natural choice in the support role after having a great season with MAD Lions.
|Top Lane||FakeGod (Dignitas)|
|Mid Lane||Damonte (100 Thieves)|
|Bot Lane||Tactical (Team Liquid)|
Team USA features an all-LCS lineup, sporting some of the region’s most promising talent in Aaron ‘FakeGod’ Lee and Edward ‘Tactical’ Ra, the latter of which was crowned the LCS’ Rookie of the Year in 2020.
Robert ‘Blaber’ Huang remains one of the region’s top junglers, cementing his spot in the team. After nearly a decade of LCS play, Zaqueri ‘aphromoo’ Black remains a stalwart support. Tanner ‘Damonte’ Damonte completes the squad.
|Top Lane||Agresivoo (Misfits)|
|Mid Lane||Czekolad (Excel)|
|Bot Lane||Woolite (Misfits Premier)|
Poland’s national team features a real mixture of seasoned veterans and upcoming talent. The old H2K duo of Marcin ‘Jankos’ Jankowski and Oskar ‘Vander’ Bogdan would undoubtedly offer experience, quality, and stability to the team’s spine.
Paweł ‘Czekolad’ Szczepanik and Paweł ‘Woolite’ Pruski already have experience playing together during their time on Rogue’s academy team. Meanwhile, having recently been promoted to Misfits Gaming’s main roster, Tobiasz ‘Agresivoo’ Ciba is one to watch.
|Top Lane||Hanabi (PSG Talon)|
|Jungle||Karsa (Top Esports)|
|Mid Lane||FoFo (Bilibili Gaming)|
|Bot Lane||Betty (Royal Never Give Up)|
Seasoned Flash Wolves fans may see some familiar faces in the Taiwanese World Cup side, with Hung ‘Karsa’ Hao-Hsuan, Lu ‘Betty’ Yu-Hung, and Hu ‘SwordArt’ Shuo-Chieh all competing in the LPL last season. They weren’t alone, however, with Chu ‘FoFo’ Chun-Lan also spending the past year in China. Although fellow former Flash Wolf Su ‘Hanabi’ Chia-Hsiang remained in the PCS with PSG Talon, he would also feature alongside Karsa and SwordArt on this year’s Worlds stage.
As such, the Taiwanese national team is fueled by renewed camaraderie, as well as collective experience in one of the world’s best leagues.
|Top Lane||Wunder (G2)|
|Jungle||Santorin (Team Liquid)|
|Mid Lane||Caps (G2)|
|Bot Lane||Zven (Cloud9)|
|Support||Doss (Free Agent)|
It should come as no surprise that Denmark’s World Cup team is this strong, with the Nordic region as a whole churning out top quality talent over the years.
The inclusion of G2 Esports superstars Rasmus ‘Caps’ Winther and Martin ‘Wunder’ Hansen here is a given, while Lucas ‘Santorin’ Larsen has quietly been putting out top-level performances in the LCS for some time now.
|Top Lane||369 (Top Esports)|
|Jungle||Weiwei (Victory Five)|
|Mid Lane||Knight (Top Esports)|
|Bot Lane||JackeyLove (Top Esports)|
|Support||LvMao (JD Gaming)|
Another tricky roster to choose, but China’s fearsome World Cup team features Top Esports’ solo laners Bai ‘369’ Jia-Hao and Zhuo ‘knight’ Ding, as well as botlaner Yu ‘JackeyLove’ Wen-Bo.
Wei ‘Weiwei’ Bo-Han’s inclusion is merited by his impressive performances with the super exciting Victory Five – including a 2-1 victory over a then-undefeated TES – throughout the LPL Summer Split. Zuo ‘LvMao’ Ming-Hao gets the nod for the support role despite JD Gaming’s disappointing Worlds defeat to Suning.
The Group Stage
Now you know the teams, the groups, and the rosters. So in this scenario, who would win a League of Legends World Cup if it was played during this offseason?
It’s hard to see a world in which South Korea doesn’t conquer this group with the talent it has available. We all agreed that the German team would be able to overcome everyone but South Korea and clinch second place. The battle for third was hotly debated, and was a genuinely tough call, but we went for the more experienced Canadians to grab a quarter-final spot.
Sorry to any American readers, but after discussing the group games, we just couldn’t see the current roster making much of a dent. Instead, the powerhouse of China takes top spot in our minds, while Denmark’s talented squad and a strong Taiwanese team would make the quarter-finals.
Denmark vs Canada
The Canadians would put up a plucky fight, but having two of the world’s strongest players in their positions – Caps in mid and Wunder top – would be too much for them to handle. The Danes go through.
Germany vs Taiwan
We’ve got Taiwan down as the winners in this one. Although the German roster is brimming with talent, SwordArt and Karsa, who both excelled at Worlds this year, would likely make the difference if the two nations were to butt heads on the Rift.
South Korea vs Denmark
What a fixture this would be. G2 stars Caps and Wunder would have a shot at redemption after four of the players in the South Korean roster knocked them out of Worlds this year.
However, we reckon South Korea will be too strong in this one thanks largely to its superior jungler and support – who would undoubtedly influence the map much more than their equivalents on the opposing side. As such, we have them down to progress to the final.
China vs Taiwan
Another incredible fixture here that would see so many of the LPL heavyweights go up against each other. This is a surprisingly close one to call, but we think the Chinese will have the edge here – although it’s one that we’d love to see go the distance.
3rd Place Match
Any World Cup needs a bronze medalist, and while we’d love to see Caps and co. taking third, we think the Taiwanese team takes this one to make it an all-Asian top three at the League of Legends World Cup.
South Korea vs China
Riot, please just make this happen. With two unreal squads from the two biggest nations in League of Legends, this matchup would be some spectacle.
While it’s a tough call to make, we think South Korea would come out on top over the Chinese due to the team’s positional prowess and the calibre of its players. Still, we think it’d probably be a five-game epic – the natural end to what would be such an incredible event.
We know a lot of you will have different opinions – please, feel free to roast us and give us your predictions – but if you’ve read this far then it highlights one thing: you’re interested and invested in the idea of a LoL World Cup.
If you’re telling us that this tournament wouldn’t be an epic replacement or addition to the All-Star event that keeps us entertained in the offseason, then you’re straight up lying.
Come on Riot, make it happen.
Written by Aaron Down and Jamie Hore.