Another League of Legends Worlds Championship is in the books, as Europe played host to the greatest teams from around the globe over the last month. Excitement, heartbreak and many more memorable moments were made, while new players put themselves out there and old faces returned to show the rookies how it’s done.
The tournament offered endless highlights and thrilling games, but these are the moments we’ll all remember.
FunPlus Phoenix won Worlds on the first attempt
Starting at the top, the LPL’s FunPlus Phoenix are unquestionably the best team in the world as they picked apart G2 Esports during an impressive display in this year’s Worlds final. The LPL has now lifted the Summoner’s Cup in the last two seasons; the game has entered a new era in which China has replaced South Korea as the dominant region.
Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang had almost retired before this season, but decided to stay around for FPX and his decision was justified. The midlaner redefined the role with off-meta picks and his aggressive roaming style which always set his opponents behind.
A big proponent in making those roams work was jungler Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang, who was awarded the MVP award during the finals thanks to his relentless ganks. The lethal combination was in full display during the final as Martin “Wunder” Hansen was trapped under his turret in the opening game. Tian amazed the crowd with his creative Lee Sin plays as did support Liu "Crisp" Qing-Song as he landed game-changing Thresh hooks over and over again.
FPX are now immortal, their legend will never die much like Lin "Lwx" Wei-Xiang in the final. Nobody knows what the future holds for the team, but nothing can take away from their incredible performance in the tournament.
Fnatic make a miracle run again
With much of the spotlight on G2, Fnatic came into Worlds this year with a chip on their shoulder following their run to the finals last year. The world-class team had a point to prove, but were facing an uphill battle with legendary teams SK Telecom T1 and Royal Never Give Up in their group.
It was a challenge that appeared to be a little too much for the players, who all suffered in the first week. The organisation has a history of making incredible comebacks in the second half of Groups, but this seemed too tall a task for even them – especially as they started the second set of games with a messy, mistake-ridden game against the LCS’s Clutch Gaming.
However, somehow the European team did it. Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek managed to get the better of Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok with his pocket pick of Veigar before the team all stepped up to take down Royal Never Give Up in convincing fashion to reach the quarterfinals. While Fnatic didn’t go further than that, in reflection, their loss to FPX doesn’t seem like such a failure.
Faker returns to the Worlds stage
Worlds 2018 was a bitter one for LCK fans and undoubtedly even worse for Faker who had to watch the Korean teams have their collectively worst performance at Worlds ever.
The greatest of all time returned to the big stage this year and though the tournament ended in sorrow for the iconic midlaner, we saw a glimpse of what makes Faker such a special player – especially during the Group Stages. He proved he’s LoL’s very own Houdini, pulling off miraculous escapes time and time again. The Unkillable Demon King moniker has never been more appropriate.
Two LCK titles and two international semifinals made for an excellent season from SKT but that will never be enough for Faker. It’s the Summoner’s Cup or bust for him next year – good luck to anyone standing in his way.
G2 reach the finals
While it was certainly a bitter ending, G2 deserve a lot of credit for how they performed this year. Realistically, they only lost one best-of-five series all year – and that was to the newly-crowned best team in the world.
The organisation earned two LEC titles, Europe’s first ever MSI title and reached the Worlds final for the first time ever, and did so while playing their own unique style. The 2019 iteration of G2 will go down in history as one of the region’s strongest ever teams and this likely isn’t the end of their story, either.
In his first year of playing ADC, Luka “Perkz” Perković reached two international finals and held a 100 percent win record on Xayah throughout Worlds. Meanwhile, Rasmus “Caps” Winther ensured Perkz’s decision was justified with a stunning display against SKT in G2’s memorable semifinal victory.
The fact the players, who were hurting more than most, were still able to smile after the final tells you everything you need to know about the resilience of this group. This won’t be the last we see of them.
Korea’s youngsters make the world take notice
With the LPL holding onto the crown as the strongest region in the world, all eyes will be on the LCK’s next generation of talent. Especially after the young players of Griffin and DAMWON had very strong showings at their first World Championship.
DAMWON’s Heo "ShowMaker" Su and Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon had particularly high expectations on their shoulders and did not disappoint – the latter even changed the meta with many players adopting Kleptomancy in the top lane.
Meanwhile, Griffin also had a strong showing as support Son "Lehends" Si-woo managed to remain in the top five most assists (125) for the tournament despite being knocked out in the quarterfinals. On top of that, Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong was one of the more impressive junglers at the tournament, and ADC Park "Viper" Do-hyeon picked up a penta kill on the big stage. The future is bright for Korea: the LCK will return next season with a vengeance.
Splyce exceed expectations
Splyce looked like a strong side during the LEC Summer Split but fell off towards the end of the season, and after struggling to get past Unicorns of Love during the Worlds Play-Ins, many didn’t give the team much hope before the Main Stage of the tournament began.
Yet, the players did themselves proud, taking games off some of the strongest teams in the world including SKT and eventual champions FPX. Reaching the quarterfinals in itself was an impressive feat and all five players will undoubtedly be stronger for the experience.