The League of Legends World Championship 2016 will feature a number of surprising teams following the qualification process.
With the North American and South Korean leagues well-established and dominant, the surprises come from Europe, China, Brazil and Russia. With the chance of winning a top prize of $1,000,000 and a shot at immortal glory on the line, players dug deep and fought for their chance to compete.
Here is a breakdown of the more surprising outfits that have qualified for the competition.
Both H2k-Gaming and Splyce of the EU LCS were successful in their bid to reach the finals.
Splyce, a team less than one year old, overcame an 8th place finish in the Spring EU LCS to finish second in the Summer Season and earn a berth in the World Qualifying playoffs. Their nine win Summer Season saw them have a mixed start, but they came good with an impressive late-season surge. In the playoffs, they earned a total of 90 points, finishing as runners-up to earn qualification.
H2k-Gaming endured a see-saw Summer Season as they finished fourth, nine points clear of relegation. Their seven win season was not enough to earn fourth place outright, but a tiebreaker match against Fnatic assured their place in the playoffs. Here they amassed 70 points, earning the final EU LCS spot at Worlds.
No Southeast Asia?
The collapse of the Southeast Asian league in late 2014 has allowed for the rise of the LMS of Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong. The 2016 Worlds will see both Flash Wolves and ahq e-Sports Club look to overcome disappointing performances last year when both got knocked out at the quarter-final stage.
Perhaps the most shocking team to have qualified based on where they were last year is Royal Never Give Up from the LPL of China. Born out of the relegation of their sister team, Star Horn Royal Club, they endured a rough 2015 and were forced to play in the 2016 Promotion Tournament. However, during the 2016 Spring Season, they defeated the heavy favourites EDward Gaming and were invited to the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational, where they exited at the semi-final stage. The Summer Season saw them finish second, securing a narrow 3-2 victory over IMay to reach the Finals, enabling them to qualify for Worlds without having to go through a third-place match.
IMay are another team that have performed surprisingly well given that they are a newly formed outfit. Finishing third in the LPL, they earned the final qualifying spot from China by defeating Team WE 3-1 in the bronze medal match.
The Russian Question
The International Wildcards are always a bit of a surprise and this year both INTZ e-Sports and Albus NoX Luna will compete at Worlds.
Albus NoX Luna are indeed a wildcard and quite a surprise. Having been formed earlier this year, they dominated the Russian LCL league. With a limited history of competing in League of Legends, not much is expected of them, but they really could surprise some of the more established outfits due to being so unknown.
The Ultimate Surprise
The second international wildcard team, INTZ e-Sports, are the greatest surprise at the 2016 Worlds. Why? It is very simple; very little is known about them too. A Brazilian team, they have dominated Brazilian and South American competition, but their international form outside of wildcard competitions is non-existent and rankings wise, they are the 16th team out of 16 at the World Championships.
In some ways, it can be said that almost every team is a surprise qualifier for the 2016 World Championships. League of Legends is a highly competitive sport, and victory often comes by narrow margins. From across the world, surprise teams have either cruised or stumbled their way to the United States for the 2016 League of Legends World Championship. Whether it’s possible that this year one of these surprise qualifiers will make a run at the championship game and defy recent history waits to be seen.