This is it. All roads have led to this historic moment, as 2015 League of Legends World Championship Finals will be descending upon us this weekend. And what a championship it's been so far!
As fans of the most popular game in the world begin to descend upon Berlin's Mercedes-Benz Arena, or carve out comfortable spots to take in the glory from their own homes, let's take the stillness of this moment as a perfect time to have a recap of the excitement and controversy that rocked this year's Worlds.
Let's start at the beginning:
Paris, October 1-4 and 8-11
The round robin styled group stage split the teams into groups of four, and pit them against each other over 2-legs. Marked in bold are this year's finalists.
- Counter Logic Gaming (NA LCS)
- Flash Wolves (TWN LMS)
KOO Tigers (KR LCK)
- paIN Gaming (BRA IW)
- ahq e-Sports Club (TWN LMS)
- Cloud9 (NA LCS)
- Fnatic (EUR LCS)
- Invictus Gaming (CHN LPL)
- Edward Gaming (CHN LPL)
SKTelecom T1 (KR LCK)
- H2K (EUR LCS)
- Bangkok Titans (THA IW)
- LGD Gaming (CHN LPL)
- KT Rolster (KR LCK)
- Team SoloMid (NA LCS)
- Origen (EUR LCS)
And here's how the final standings looked after the dust settled on the group stage:
What Went Down?
In a match-up between Taiwan's Flash Wolves and Europe's Origen, Origen's top laner SoaZ pulled off what is, for me at least, one of the best plays in the tournament. He managed to drag his team back from the brink of defeat with a stunning pentakill, and rek the Wolves' chances of nabbing victory.
About 30 minutes into the game, with Flash Wolves holding a healthy lead over their opponents, with 5 kills to their name, Origen made the move to take on Baron, the big, purple dragon that upon defeat grants the victors huge boosts to their performance.
The Wolves attempted a stealthy attack on their preoccupied opponents, but their efforts were firmly put to rest by the basketball hoop-wielding brawler Darius, in a move of mind-blowing skill.
Unsurprisingly buoyed by SoaZ's heroics, Origen went on to win the bout 3-1.
America, The Brave
Where teams from North America have never really fared well at previous Worlds against regions where LoL is considerably more established, the heroic group stage exploits of Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) and Cloud9 were enough to stir the hopes of fans in the US longing for a run in the tournament.
With early wins against both Flash Wolves and Brazilian wildcards paiN Gaming, CLG were looking good for a spot in the knockout stage. As were Cloud9 who managed to bag 3 wins when they dispatched ahq e-Sports, Invictus Gaming and Fnatic.
But the return fixtures would prove to be the Americans' downfall as they both went on to embark on losing streaks, and had to suffer the sting of their chance of promotion slipping from their grasp.
SKT Are Kinda Terrifying...
Of course having a legend like Faker watching your back would be enough to spur any team to greatness, but Korea's SKTelecom T1 literally made the impossible look like child's play as they waltzed through the group round, emerging victorious with no losses.
Then they went on to have flawless victories in both the quarters and semi-finals against ahq e-Sports and Origen respectively. Now they're readying themselves for battle against fellow countrymen KOO Tigers in the finals.
That's One Expensive Bird
Controversy struck Worlds at the end of the group stage when Cloud9's Hai “Hai” Du Lam gave Fnatic's Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten a middle finger salute post game, and was fined over €500 for the act.
The gesture came during a post-match interview where Febiven laid down some serious smacktalk regarding Cloud9's chances in their up and coming bout, whilst C9 were busy setting up in earshot behind them.
In conversation with the post-match interviewer, Febiven said "I think ahq is going to win, because C9’s playstyle is really predictable and they’re drafting in a similar way every game so I think they are definitely counterable and ahq is the better team."
Hai, overhearing the harsh claim flipped the bird and was caught on the livestream doing so, and was later fined $556 because according to section 9.1.3 of the World Championship ruleset:
A Team Member may not take any action or perform any gesture directed at an opposing Team Member, or incite any other individual(s) to do the same, which is insulting, mocking, disruptive, or antagonistic.
Hai was adamant the salute was a light hearted gesture:
But still the fine was upheld, and C9 went on to lose the game and subsequently every other game in the rest of their tournament.
Where To Watch
If you're in Berlin and heading to the Mercedes-Benz Arena, I'm guessing you're already pretty wise on the arrangements. But if you're going to be watching the Worlds 2015 finals from the comfort of a sofa, you'd better hit up these sites:
- LoL eSports on Azubu
- LoL eSports homepage
- Riot Games' Twitch channel
- Riot Games' LoL eSports YouTube channel
Coverage will begin at 12:00pm (UTC+1), which is 8:00am EDT. But if you're not down for having to slip out of bed at the crack of dawn, Riot will be streaming a re-run of the final a few hours after the live streams ends.
So, the final question remains: where will you be when SKTelecom T1 take on KOO TIgers?