League of Legends World Championship 2019 Betting Preview and Picks
The ninth installment of League of Legends World Championship is just around the corner and this year it’s bigger better and most of all has the potential to be the most exciting World Championship to date. The main theme of this year’s Worlds, or shall we say the biggest question that needs to be answered is whether 2019 will be the year when Europe finally raises above the Asian regions and reclaims the throne, which was taken from them in 2012, which was also the year when Asia (most notably Korea) started their international dominance. That being said, the “Western world” enters 2019 Worlds with what is possibly the strongest lineup in years, including the likes of G2, Team Liquid, Fnatic and a team we all have come to love and enjoy watching; Cloud9.
But will the star-studded lineup be enough to derail Asian regions after seven long years? That remains to be seen. Fortunately for us, there are only a couple of days separating us from day one of the group stage fixtures, which should give us the first glimpse of how the teams from the opposite parts of the world compare against each other, and ultimately answer the age-old question of which region has arrived to Berlin better prepared to claim the Summoner’s Cup.
The Worlds 2019 group stage will kick off on Saturday, October 12, with a clash between the home favourites Fnatic and the world-renown Korean juggernauts SKT T1 It goes without saying this will be an exciting fixture, which will not fail to entertain all the fans present at Vetri Music Hall, as well as tens of thousands of fans who will tune in via online streams from the comfort of their homes. After the opening fixture concludes, five more battles will take place between the elite LoL teams, who will all be eager to hit the ground running as they take on the toughest and the most challenging road of the season.
Group A: G2 Esports, Griffin, Cloud9, Hong Kong Attitude
Group B: FunPlus Phoenix, J Team, GAM Esports, Splyce
Group C: SK Telecom T1, Fnatic, Royal Never Give Up, Clutch Gaming
Group D: Team Liquid, ahq e-Sports Club, Invictus Gaming, DAMWON Gaming
The group stage will run from October 12 to October 15, 2019, starring four groups of four teams, who will compete in a double Round Robin format, with all fixtures played in a best-of-one (Bo1) series. Once the group stage concludes, the top two teams from each group will receive a ticket leading to playoffs, which will take place at Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, Spain (November 2-3). Both quarter-finals and semi-finals played in Spain will use a best-of-five series (Bo5), after which the top two teams of the tournament will fly over to Accorhotels Arena Paris, France for the Grand Finals, which will take centre stage on Sunday, November 10.
But before we get too ahead of ourselves, we first need to turn our focus on the group stage, meaning, it’s time to look over the groups and teams participating at the Worlds.
GROUP A: G2 Esports, Griffin, Cloud9, Hong Kong Attitude
A quick look at group A lineup instantly reveals which two teams are the favorites to claim the plane ticket to Spain and which two will struggle to walk away with anything. It goes without saying we are talking about G2 and Griffin as two favorites, who have both proven their worth this season and are entering Worlds 2019 as two of the biggest favorites to lift the Summoner’s Cup. Meanwhile, Cloud9 will play the role of a “scavengers” here, waiting for Griffin or G2 to make a mistake and grab the much-needed points from them, if possible. We have to address the fact that C9, while a strong team in LCS, are not on the same level as G2 and Griffin, meaning that if there won’t be any upsets, C9 will have to make peace by exiting the Worlds early.
The main theme, or shall we say the “magic” of group A is, however, that we don’t know how good G2 and Griffin will be i.e. we don’t know at what level will G2 and Griffin play in the group stage, leaving a lot of room for upsets and possibly another Cinderella story of C9.
G2 are the champions of Europe and a team that will carry the torch of the western teams. With that in mind, it goes without saying G2 will have to endure and deliver upon all the high expectations put on them to perform and raise the “Western World” above the Asian regions. Whether they are capable of doing that remains to be seen, as they come off as a team, which we don’t really know how good they are. In fact, it would be safe to say, G2 are so good, we don’t know how good they really are. In other words, G2 rarely face any real challenge in LEC, where they on several occasions looked like they are bored of the mediocre competition which fails to push them to their limits. That ultimately means we never got to know how high G2’s ceiling really is. That being said, they are a team made out of incredibly gifted individuals, who all have very high skill cap. From what we have seen from them in LEC and MSI, their gameplay is very clean and easy to read. While they tend to surprise their opponents, G2 overall use a “basic strategy” to overcome their opponents. That being said, they mastered the art of “simple strategy” to a degree that is unheard of, which makes them very scary. There is a saying that goes “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” and G2 are that man. Mixing that with their incredibly deep champion pool and unusual drafts, and we have got a team that on their best day can defeat anyone. At this point, we must add that, we believe G2 have not shown their peak performance yet, meaning that if they manage to reach that level this Worlds, they could be very fun to watch.
As far as Griffin are concerned there is a huge question mark looming above their heads, seeing how they lost their coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho less than two weeks before Worlds 2019 kick-off. How much does cvMax really mean for a team, and how can a team perform without him is anyone’s guess, however, we can be sure it can’t have positive effects on the team and their performances. The only question that needs answering here is; how much will the departure of cvMax harm Griffin and their chances to achieve anything this Worlds? To answer that, we have to acknowledge how big of a role cvMax played in Griffin’s success story. Kim Dae-ho basically took the nobodies Griffin were and took them out of the Korean Challenger scene and qualified for LCK, which started an era of new Korean super team, nobody took much notice of at the time. And not only did Griffin reach the top tier of Korean LoL pro scene, but they also went on to finish fourth in LCK in 2018 and further improved this season, by finishing second in Championship standings.
The results cvMax achieved with Griffin on its own speak louder than words. In interviews with Griffin players as well as other LCK players, they all seemed to agree cvMax was a very important part of the team. That being said, Griffin are a team that are very consistent when it comes to defeating worse teams than them. Even on their worst day, they know how to overpower teams who lack in quality to compete with them, which is why we believe Griffin should be more than capable of defeating Cloud9 if everything goes as planned. That being said, Griffin do have their moments of weakness, which they have shown several times throughout the season. If they somehow choke and underperform, then it will be C9’s time to shine, however, counting on that to happen before we got to see Griffin on the international stage nothing more than blind hope. While we expect Griffin to outmuscle weaker teams, we are certain that at the level they play now, they will struggle against teams of equal or higher quality than them, meaning their true power will only come to show once they face the likes of G2, FunPlus Phoenix, SKT T1 and even Fnatic later on, if they happen to meet.
Last but not least, we have to turn our attention to Hong Kong Attitude, who deserve all the praise for going so far to get out of the play-in stage and advance into worlds. Their journey, however, will almost certainly end here. If they wish to finish top two, not only will they have to derail C9 who are arguably a stronger, and much more experienced team, HK Attitude will also have to find a way to defeat Griffin and G2, which is just as (un)likely as it sounds. And for that reason, we can safely assume HKA will finish at Worlds at the last place. They could maybe cause an upset and finish third, above C9, but even that is something we would not count on.
Group B: FunPlus Phoenix, J Team, GAM Esports, Splyce
There is a lot of hype surrounding this group and not necessarily because of the overall quality this group possesses, but mostly because group B will certainly produce a tight, exciting battle for the second seed between J Team, Splyce and GAM Esports, who will surely make sparks to fly in Berlin. There are a lot of people that see FunPlus Phoenix and Splyce as two favorites to win here, and while we can stand behind FunPlus emerging victorious, we have our doubts about Splyce being ranked as the undisputed favorites to claim the second seed.
Splyce will arrive at Worlds limping after their battles in Play-in, where they (unlike what most expected) struggled mightily and had to work very hard to earn their ticket for the main event. Overall, Splyce performed well (enough), but had their moments of weakness. While all team have one of those days when they underperform, it’s the fact that Splyce had to use all they had in their arsenal to advance into the group stage that makes us question if there is any oil left in their tank to take them out of groups and into the playoffs. In terms of the overall quality of the team, they are a without a doubt a very strong team, however, have to address the inflated expectations of the “third seed from EU”. On the paper, being the third seed from EU seems like a huge achievement, which in its own regard is a remarkable feat. But, there is a huge gap between Splyce and Fnatic and G2, which is why we cannot count too much on Splyce to live up to the hype put on the LEC region. The biggest reason why we can’t put Splyce even remotely close to Fnatic and G2 is their flawed draft, which was clearly seen in the Play-ins. The team seems to lack any depth in their champion pool, which will be very noticeable once they face against the world elite. They still have very gifted and talented individuals in the squad, however, it will be their flaws and overall inconsistency that will turn around and bit them here.
There is nothing that is left to say, which has not already been said about FunPlus Phoenix. Despite lacking any real international experience, they are the undisputed favorites to win the group, and there are no reasons to believe otherwise. Adding to that, they landed in group B with Splyce, GAM and J Team, which is a dream come true for FPX, seeing how they will have an excellent opportunity to get into a winning rhythm before they face some of the stronger teams in playoffs. Best-of-one (Bo1) series could result in them suffering an upset defeat, however, when it comes to winning the group and advancing into playoffs, there is no universe that would see FPX failing to achieve that.
As far as J Team and GAM Esports are concerned, they are two teams that are a huge mystery to many, which could work in their favor and most likely will, to some degree. They have some very talented players on the roster, who should do some damage in this group. While they are both ranked below Splyce in terms of their chances to qualify from the group, they do have a huge advantage over the EU squad. Both J Team and GAM had a chance to follow the Play-in stage, where they could track all the flaws Splyce have. Most notable of which, as mentioned above is their shallow champions pool. If J Team and GAM can take advantage of that, they will be in our eyes the two contenders for number two seed.
Group C: SK Telecom T1, Fnatic, Royal Never Give Up, Clutch Gaming
It’s would be easy to mark group C as the “group of death” and we would not dare to say it is anything but that. Featuring some of the strongest teams present at the Worlds, this will be the group that will separate men from boys. Unfortunately, the stacked lineup also means one of the favorites will be sent packing. Will it be RNG, Fnatic or maybe even SKT T1 is anyone’s guess, however, we have our own thought on how this one will end, or at least how it will most likely end.
SKT T1 are the favorites to triumph in group C and we can’t argue with that logic. The reason being that they are simply better compared to Fnatic, RNG and Clutch Gaming. Their star-studded roster can not only take them out of the group stage, but it should not come off as a surprise if Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and his team go on and win their fourth title this year. That being said, we don’t see them finishing the group stage with a perfect score and there are two reasons why we believe so. And those two reasons are Fnatic and RNG.
Fnatic are ranked below both SKT T1 and RNG to come out of this group, which in our eyes severely underestimates them, and we believe we have the right answer as to why is that. G2, their arch-rivals in LEC are widely regarded as a very strong favorite for the title, due to their LEC dominance and an incredible run at MSI 2019. While Fnatic finished below G2 in their domestic league, Fnatic are not given enough credit for their ability to push G2 to their limits. We have to acknowledge Fnatic looked fairly equally matched with G2 seen several times throughout the season. And while Fnatic usually falls short against G2, they are still up there in terms of quality and ability to compete at the same level as G2. Another thing that will work in Fnatic’s favor here, and possibly the biggest advantage they will have above SKT T1, is that they have a lot of experience in playing best-of-one (Bo1) series, whereas SKT T1 lack in that department. At this point it’s worth noting we are not suggesting Fnatic are a stronger team compared to the Korean powerhouse, that being said, we believe they can upset Faker and his crew. Fnatic have a lot of interesting and unique strategies in their arsenal as it’s the case with G2 as well, which will serve as a curveball they will throw at SKT T1 and RNG. The question is, however, how will the Asian giants react to that, and will they even have an answer prepared. All in all, we believe Fnatic are more than ready to not leave a mark here, but possibly even give SKT T1 run for their money.
We did not talk much about RNG up to now, because we believe they should be ranked below both SKT T1 and Fnatic. While a well-established team who has always and will always be regarded as one of the strongest LoL teams out there, we don’t see them having an easy time in group C. Clutch Gaming should not cause them many problems, but to be fair, Clutch should be a walkover for all three teams, as they are in our eyes here for the sole purpose to collect the wooden spoon and head back home. We have to mention, however, there is a chance RNG could make something happen here.
Starting off, we don’t trust Xie “Langx” Zhen-Ying and his ability to impress, seeing how he is arguably the biggest weak point of RNG heading into Worlds. That being said, they do have Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan on their roster, who is an exceptional jungler and should be the main focus of RNG’s opponents. Then there is also the threat of Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao, who needs no special introduction. With Uzi on the roster, RNG have immense bottom lane strength, however, we have to keep in mind, meta does not favour ADC’s as much as top laners, meaning that if Langx disappoints, Uzi will have a hard time carrying the team, especially if Kim “Khan” Dong-ha from SKT T1 gets too far ahead. To keep up with the topic of SKT T1 versus RNG clash, we have to go back and mention Karsa, who has caused a lot of problems to the Korean giants years ago while he played for Flash Wolves. And while we talk about Flash Wolves, who were a huge nuisance to SKT T1, RNG have Chou “Steak” Lu-Hsi as their main coach, who, as you might have guessed, was the coach at the mentioned Flash Wolves squad. This leads us to the question, can RNG defeat SKT T1? Maybe, but not likely.
Group D: Team Liquid, ahq e-Sports Club, Invictus Gaming, DAMWON Gaming
Group D might be one of the most unpredictable groups, yet one of the most predictable. It may not make much sense at first, but let us elaborate.
Invictus Gaming are ranked the top favorite to finish top of the group, which is something that can happen. And not only that, IG could easily destroy everyone and come out with a perfect 6-0 score. That being said, IG can also fall apart very quickly. They come off as a perfect example of a team that has incredibly gifted and outlandishly good players on their roster, who if they can get all the cogs spinning in the right direction, turn their team into a machine that can overrun everyone. On the other side, they can also fall apart and underperform in the blink of an eye (MSI 2019). The biggest factor which will work towards or against IG’s success story is Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok. In this top-lane heavy meta, most teams’ success will come down to how hard can their top laners carry and how well can their junglers help make that happen. Here we have to answer the question: Can TheShy carry IG to victory? And the answer is rather simple. Yes, he can, but he also has a tendency to “run it down” when he is the only player on his team who is doing well. It seems like TheShy does not like to have all the pressure on him to carry his team, meaning that in terms of IG’s success, it will be a domino effect, where the whole team has to perform at least decently for TheShy to step up and help them win.
The second-favorites to claim the spot in playoffs are DAMWON Gaming, who come off as a team with immense talent and potential. However, they at the same time come off as a team that is playing at only half strength, which makes us wonder if they will ever reach their ceiling and full potential.
Looking back at their season performances and Play-in stage, we were not too impressed with Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon and Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee who leave a lot to be desired. They tend to be very prone to dying in the lane, be it against junglers or against the enemy bottom lane, which could be a huge problem when facing IG as well as Team Liquid. Despite the “weak” bottom lane, we still believe DAMWON are a team no one should sleep on. While they had their own flaws in the Play-ins and we can go on to point out many flaws they have shown throughout the season as well, we can’t get rid of the feeling DAMWON are a lion waiting to wake up and tear everyone apart.
Team Liquid are the third favorites to come out of group C which is more than fair. They are well above ahq e-Sports Club in terms of quality, yet they will have a hard time facing both DAMWON and IG.
There are some arguments to be made TL did destroy IG at the MSI, however, we believe that match was the prime example how IG looks like when they fall flat, which, to be fair, is something that can happen again here. Yet it’s very unlikely it will. The biggest problem we have with Team Liquid is their top lane. As previously mentioned, Worlds 2019 will be played in a very top-lane heavy meta, and there are some serious concerns whether Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong can stack up to the likes of TheShy and Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon from DAMWON. Many people rank Impact very highly, which is fair as far as LCS is concerned, but we can easily imagine he will struggle to keep up the tempo against the world’s best top laners. That is, if IG and DAMWON don’t drop the ball, which again is something we can’t exclude.
This group has questions all over it, mostly because both IG and DAMWON can be very unpredictable. That unpredictability reaches a degree, where they can either destroy everyone or crumble to dust and lose against anyone. All things considered, if there will be no upset matches, the Asian outfits should come out ahead. But as we have mentioned, if all the stars align, and everything falls into place for the North American champions, TL could muster up something.
|G2 to win group A||1.83 Bet365|
|GAM to qualify from group B||3.00 Bet365|
|Fnatic to qualify from group C||1.83 Bet365|
|DAMWON to win group D||2.20 Bet365|
|Cloud9 to qualify from group A||4.00 Bet365|
|Fnatic to win group C||3.50 Bet365|
|Team Liquid to qualify from group D||2.25 Bet365|
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