The dust has settled in the Play-In Stage of the League of Legends 2019 World Championship. After eight days of action, four teams have earned their spot at the Main Event.
12 teams began their journey in the Play-In Stage, four of which were the third seeds from North America, Korea, Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau (LMS), and Europe along with the second seed from Vietnam. The remaining six were from the emerging regions of Latin America, Japan, Brazil, Turkey, Oceania, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Southeast Asia.
The teams were drawn into four groups and played in a best-of-one double round robin. The top two per group continued their journey at Worlds 2019 in the Knockout Stage of the Play-Ins. Here they played in a best-of-five series with the winners securing the remaining four spots in the Main Event.
Korea’s Damwon Gaming unsurprisingly tore through Group D which included Turkey’s Royal Youth and Brazil’s Flamengo eSports. The young Korean team were favored to win and they delivered via a flawless run through the Group Stage. Behind the Koreans were Royal Youth after winning the tiebreaker in the final day of the Group Stage.
Groups B and C saw the European third seed, Splyce and LMS’ third seed Hong Kong Attitude impress in the Group Stage. Despite some shaky performances, they topped their respective groups with a 3-1 record.
The Latin American super-team Isurus Gaming survived the Group B after winning their games against the Japanese team DetonatioN FocusMe. Lowkey Gaming held second in Group C inching out Southeast Asian team, MEGA.
Group A was a different story altogether with North American Clutch Gaming looking uncertain against the CIS’ Unicorns of Love but looking strong against Oceania’s MAMMOTH. Group A traded games with each other and were forced to play tiebreakers after all three teams finished with a 2-2 record. In the end, Clutch Gaming and Unicorns of Love earned the right to play in the Knockout Stage.
In the Knockout Stage, the major region teams turned on the switch and dominated their opponents. Damwon Gaming closed out the series in four games against Lowkey Esports. Clutch Gaming swept Royal Youth. Hong Kong Attitude held their ground in four games against Isurus Gaming. Splyce was pushed to the limit against Unicorns of Love in five.
While the major regions continued to the Main Event, this is the closest the competition between the emerging and major regions in the Play-Ins has been since its introduction in 2017.
The pleasant surprise came from Oceania. The region has shown improvement over the years and this year highlighted their best performance yet. MAMMOTH is the best team that we’ve seen from the region and things are looking good for Oceania if they continue with their impressive outings.
Photos: Lolesports Flickr