The League of Legends World Championship 2023 is over, and with it, the glory of esports for the year. But don’t think for a second that it won’t come back. It will. Always bigger. Always Grander. Legends never die.
If you’ve never seen or heard anything about the League of Legends World Championship, then let me tell you one thing – it’s the biggest international event in the whole of esports! How big is it, you ask? Well, you’ll be surprised to know that the viewership of Worlds (our nickname for the World Championship) surpasses that of many “regular” sports, despite the fact that LoL is only a 10-year old video game!
Just for an example, the Finals of LoL Worlds 2018 were watched by a record-breaking 99.6 million unique viewers around the globe. If you aren’t quite certain how many people that is exactly, then I’ll remind you that the Super Bowl in 2019 (one of the greatest events in American sports) was watched by an audience of 98.2 million in numbers. And if that doesn’t hint at the scale of the League of Legends World Championship, then take a look at this!
The Ultimate Novice Guide to League of Legends World Championship
What is League of Legends?
Well, if you’ve never watched the League of Legends World Championship, then you probably have no idea about League of Legends, either? No worries, it goes something like this.
League of Legends happens on a map we call Summoner’s Rift. Every game of Summoner’s Rift is a battle between ten people, divided into two teams of five players. The players are called Summoners because they “summon” their favorite champions before even the game begins. And the champions are powerful characters that the players can govern inside the game.
Now, champions can be of different types, roles, and styles, but the important thing to remember is that each player gets to choose only one champion per game. In conclusion, there are ten unique champions in every match.
The map of Summoner’s Rift houses two bases, one blue and one red, for the two opposing teams. And inside those bases lies the Nexus – a crystallized structure and the goal for the two teams. But the Nexus is protected by Turrets from the three surrounding lanes – top, mid, and bot – and to reach it, you must destroy them all!
Additionally, four players from each team are scattered throughout these lanes to protect their Turrets and Nexus. One player goes top, one player goes in the middle, and two players go in the bot lane. However, the fifth player roams the jungle, the area between these three lanes, and assists whoever needs help. And this is the basic framework of League of Legends!
Easy, right? Well, hundreds of different things like runes, items, and team compositions can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of every game. But, to watch and follow the League of Legends World Championship, this is all you need – a 5v5 battle for the Nexus on three separate lanes. Definitely easy!
And What is the World Championship?
The League of Legends World Championship is an annual international tournament where the best teams from around the globe compete to lift the Summoner’s Cup. The event happens around September-October each year, and it’s usually a month-long journey full of surprises. And Worlds 2023 took place in Shanghai, China, in a newly built stadium specifically fitted to host it.
Now, if it is an international World tournament, then there are participants from every country, right?
Well, no. In League of Legends and in gaming generally, the teams that compete aren’t forced to be national teams. Instead, they’re esports organizations funded to have the best players available, no matter where they’re from. That way, an American team can have all Europeans or all Korean players in its squad, as long as they’re successful.
On top of that, LoL isn’t a country-only competition during the rest of the year. There are a few major leagues that cover the biggest continents. For example, the LCS (League Championship Series) is a North American league, the LEC (League of Legends European Championship) is a European league, the LCK (League of Legends Champions Korea) is a South Korean league, and the LPL (League of Legends Pro League) is the Chinese best league. There are many other smaller leagues throughout the globe, which also get a chance at participating at Worlds and are called “wildcards regions”, but these four are the main ones.
So, the LCS, LEC, LCK, and LPL compete domestically from January to August and have their own separate championships. However, the first three or four teams from each major region finally meet with each other at Worlds in September. And combined with the “wildcard regions” teams, the League of Legends World Championship becomes one of the most interesting and most intense events in the whole of sports!
Now, this international tournament has changed a few formats since its beginning. Still, the one that we stick to for many years, including Worlds 2023, is this one:
It all starts with the Play-in stage, where the “wildcard regions” and the fourth seeds from the major regions are matched in two groups of five teams. And from a total of ten teams, only four make it out and join the established groups in the next stage.
The group stage consists of four groups, each with four teams. Again, only the two top teams from every group qualify for the Quarterfinals. The four winning teams move to the Semi-finals, and ultimately to the Finals, where there could be only one winner!
The matches during the Play-in and the Group stage are “Best of 1s”, meaning that the teams play only one match of League of Legends and score a point if they win. However, in the Knockout Stage, every clash is measured in “Best of 5s”. One team needs to get three wins in five separate matches over the opposing team to claim victory!
And for the players who compete in the World Championship, it is a month of struggles and hardships and glory and enjoyment if they’re the winners!
Bits of History
As you could imagine, a lot has changed for the League of Legends World Championship throughout the years. The game’s nature is that it constantly changes (as frequently as two weeks), and strategies that once have been strong might not be strong now. So, teams, players, and organizations have come and gone, each with their own footprint in the history of League of Legends.
The season 1 World Championship was the smallest tournament compared to its successors. It was held in Jönköping, Sweden, and only 8 teams had the chance to participate in it. And those 8 teams were mostly from Europe and North America because LoL was still a new game and wasn’t available in the rest of the world. Today’s mechanics like warding, laning, or even itemization weren’t really a thing during that time, and the gameplay was a lot more primitive. However, out of these 8 squads, the European Fnatic proved to be the best team and won the very first Worlds!
The next year, League of Legends grew even bigger. It spread to Asia, and the World Championship now had 12 participants. Also, people learned how to play the game a bit better, so the competition became harder too. And the European glory from the previous year would die too as the new team from Taiwan, Taipei Assassins, lifted the Summoner’s Cup in Los Angeles, California. The winners were gifted with a larger sum of $1,000,000, and it was a mark that the LoL Esports was moving somewhere.
When the time came for the season 3 World Championship, things were totally different. League of Legends was in its prime, with tremendous global success and player base. The tournament was hosted again in Los Angeles, California, but this time at Staples Center. Needless to say, the arena was full of fans, cheering for their favorite teams. This was the first moment in history that a video game event had such a massive audience. It was the birth of a new era for gaming and for esports.
Fans may remember this Worlds as the Worlds of Faker – the South Korean mid laner of the team SKT Telecom T1. SKT went on to win the whole tournament with such dominating gameplay that everyone was in awe of the new LoL region – Korea. But all eyes were on Faker, who in his debut year managed to not only win the hardest tournament but to revolutionize the whole game with his skill and intelligence, leaving everyone speechless. To this day, Faker is the most popular name in the world of esports!
By the time the season 4 World Championship rolled, everyone respected Korea. And rightfully so. The event took place there, and it was the tournament of perhaps the most veteran players in attendance from every region. However, Samsung White, the fresh Korean team, took the victory over everybody else, crowning themselves on home soil.
But this only inspired Faker and SKT Telecom T1 even more. They had a dream of becoming the best esports team in history, and they meant to achieve it. In both 2015 and 2016, they won the World Championship through hard work, talent, and dedication, becoming the first team that has won Worlds three times. Their legacy is the heaviest because the higher you climb, the harder you fall.
In 2017, during the season 7 World Championship, there were only two teams that the fans spoke of – the winners from yesteryear, SKT Telecom T1, and the winners from 2015, Samsung Galaxy. The whole tournament was a month-long story of the two teams beating every other region and meeting in the Finals. There, after a heart-breaking Best of 5 series, SKT lost to Samsung, leaving Faker in tears and the world in confusion. The kings were finally down.
But, as in every sport, legends come and go. And more importantly, the legends have to fall in order for new legends to rise. This only proved right at the season 8 World Championship, where the Korean dynasty was finally ended. This tournament was the first time the European and the North American regions came to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th spots internationally. And they would’ve won too if there weren’t the new revolutionaries – Invictus Gaming from China. IG slaughtered Worlds 2023 and set the LPL region over all others.
And this was only doubled the next time around. In 2019, the League of Legends World Championship was held in Europe, but that wasn’t a problem for the Chinese team FunPlusPhoenix. They also had a star mid laner named Doinb, who carried FPX to the throne with innovative playstyles in the role despite being seen as an underdog. FPX beat the European G2 Esports 3-0 in the Finals and took the crown with them in Shanghai, China, for Worlds 2023!
Welcome to the League of Legends World Championship 2023!
Due to obvious reasons concerning the COVID-19 pandemics, the League of Legends World Championship 2023 had quite a few difficulties to overcome. Things like 2 weeks of quarantine for every player and an empty stadium without a live audience were things that needed to be done so the event could happen. And despite everything, Worlds 2023 happened in all its glory!
The event started on the 25 of September, with an opening match of MAD Lions from Europe versus the Brazilian INTZ. The Play-ins had a “10 team single round-robin” format, so there wasn’t much space for mistakes. This proved favorable for some and unfortunate for others.
The clear favorites here were Team Liquid from the NA LCS region, along with LGD Gaming from the LPL. Liquid managed to crush every “wildcard” opponent and qualify for the Group stage with ease. At the same time, LGD struggled along the way yet managed to get there.
The two other teams who joined them in the groups were Unicorns of Love and PSG Talon. Unicorns were the new LCL champions from Russia, and at Worlds 2023, they showed one of the most interesting gameplay. Their unpredictable style and confusing team compositions brought them enough victory to go further.
However, PSG had to replace their two most important players, mid and jungle, due to the pandemics. But despite that, they played incredibly well for a newly changed roster and secured a spot in the groups.
The rest of the “wildcard” participants weren’t so lucky, but they still fought hard. Many of them were rookie squads who came to learn first, then to win the second. We give notable mentions to Rainbow7, SuperMassive, and Legacy Esports.
The Group stage had its fair share of intriguing storylines to follow, heroic performances, and drama. The sixteen best teams in the world were divided into four groups, and it was a real hell to make it out.
In Group A, the battle was against Suning, G2 Esports, Team Liquid, and Machi Esports. G2 were the ones that fans had expected to finish in the first seed, yet it was Suning who swept everybody else on the last day and claimed the first spot. Team Liquid started off poorly and didn’t deliver as people predicted to. Their dominance in the Play-in stage was cut short as they ended up on the third spot with a 3-3 score before they headed home. Machi Esports didn’t quite “find” their style and ended up last in the group, while G2 Esports claimed the second seed to the Quarterfinals.
Group B was the only group where the predictions were 100% correct. DAMWON Gaming from Korea were untouchable in every game that they played. And every victory they secured was without even breaking a sweat. They finished first, with the Chinese team JD Gaming right behind them. Rogue and PSG Talon couldn’t match the power of these two teams and were soon eliminated.
And Group C was the fan-favorite group! It was four teams with four unique stories that had a fair chance of winning the entire event. TSM were the North American Champions, Fnatic the season 1 World Championship winners who looked stronger than ever, Gen.G, who toppled over SKT Telecom T1 in the LCK for a spot at Worlds, and LGD the promising squad from the LPL.
But LGD failed to deliver internationally, while TSM had the most disappointing performances overall with 0-6 score and no victories to go home with. This left Fnatic from Europe and Gen.G from Korea to live and fight another day.
But Group D had only one favorite – Top Esports! Top was the most impressive team during the entire year of 2023. They had a record-breaking win rate in the regular season and managed to successfully translate that into the groups. They finished first with a 5-1 score. The Korean DRX was the second-best team in Group D, while the American FlyQuest and the Russian Unicorns of Love were the group’s runners up.
The 2023 Quarterfinals were pretty crazy. Starting with the Fnatic vs. Top Esports matchup, everyone doubted that Fnatic can repeat the 2011 history because Top Esports looked damn unstoppable. However, Fnatic took a 2-0 lead in the first two games and was ready to close the series. But Top Esports, the best Chinese team in 2023, did the first reverse sweep in the history of Worlds and stood victorious with a 2-3 score. The European fans were left in shock.
The second matchup was against the underdog Suning and JD Gaming. Here Suning were the ones who were considered underdogs, yet they toppled over JD Gaming with a clean 3-1 victory. Their performances were so impressive that people around the world started supporting them.
G2 Esports vs. Gen.G was one of the easiest Quarterfinals to watch. G2 won with a 3-0 score and made a quick work of Gen.G, who struggled to fight back and answer G2’s aggressive playstyle around the map. In all three matches, G2 were the ones who dictated the tempo of the game, while Gen.G couldn’t quite follow.
But, DAMWON Gaming went even further. They annihilated DRX with one of the fastest and most assuring 3-0 victories in history. DAMWON’s control over Summoner’s Rift is something that everyone noticed, and the situation looked scary for teams that needed to meet them in the Semi-finals.
And in the Semi-finals, the teams that faced each other were Top Esports vs. Suning and G2 Esports vs. DAMWON Gaming.
Now, in the Chinese LPL, Top Esports have destroyed Suning 3-0 only a couple of months back before the World Championship. Yes, Suning had an impressive underdog run and came to the Semi-finals, but this was it. Top was supposed to delete them from the competition with ease. That’s what everyone expected.
But, not only did Suning win 3-1 against their regional champions, they did so in style. Most accurately, in Style of Me, or SofM. SofM was Suning’s jungler player who captured everyone’s attention with his unique playstyle, champion picks, and item builds. And when it was all clear that Suning are this year’s finalists, everyone thought that they just might do it.
On the other side, G2 fell short in front of DAMWON Gaming, the only team known to not make any mistakes. G2 fought hard and even took one game of DWG, but it wasn’t enough. DAMWON was simply too dominating, too strong, too clean. They won three matches by playing their own game, at their own pace, and on their own terms.
Moving into the Finals, everyone was scared for Suning. It was because no one could find a single piece that wasn’t in place in DAMWON’s gameplay. From team compositions to in-game strategies to the execution of their plans – everything that DWG did was flawless.
Game 1 started exactly that way. The Korean team struck first with great overall control, leading the series with 1-0. But in Game 2, Suning played their chaotic style with such a passion that they managed to win the game. Their top laner, Bin, was a ridiculously strong point for the team, and he achieved the first pentakill in Worlds Finals.
Game 3 was the most intense game of all. Almost 40 minutes of toe-to-toe battle resulted in DAMWON’s victory. Multiple times Suning were close to finishing the game, but they just didn’t find the correct way to do so. Combined with a few individual mistakes on their side, they lost again 2-1 to DWG.
And Game 4 was just grim. Because the previous game was so hard and Suning lost it just by inches, their spirits were somehow crushed. They didn’t play as well as at the start, which only let DAMWON pressure them harder. All of DWG’s players stepped up and finished the series with 3-1, becoming the League of Legends season 10 World Champions in 2023!
The Next World Championship and 2023 for League of Legends
DAMWON Gaming are the first Korean team that won the World Championship after two years. Before that, thanks to SKT and Samsung, LCK was considered the best region. This was changed with the rise of Invictus Gaming and FunPlus Phoenix in 2018 and 2019 when the Chinese LPL became the strongest league. Now, DAMWON took over the dynasty and brought the glory back to Korea.
But that’s not the ending point. As we mentioned, League of Legends is an ever-changing game with no shortage of talent, skill, and passion. The players and the teams are more than ever ready and dedicated to creating history. And with sponsors like Mercedes Benz, Spotify, Oppo, Red Bull, and Mastercard, League of Legends is just beginning!
So, what will happen at the next Worlds? Will there be a new SKT Telecom T1 or a new Faker? Or an underdog team will rise up and beat all odds? No one knows. And that’s the beauty of it! The League of Legends World Championship is something special in its heart. Make sure to be a part of it!