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The History of League Of Legends Worlds

Zakaria Almughrabi

League of Legends is now over a decade old. Ever since 2011, the best teams from across the globe have met annually at Worlds to determine who will raise the Summoner’s Cup and be crowned the best team in the world. The journey is long and arduous, but in League, there is no greater accomplishment than hoisting that trophy at the end of the season.

League of Legends

The biggest League of Legends tournament has a rich and interesting history. (Photo courtesy Riot Games)

There have been 10 teams to earn this honor so far. Without further ado, this is the history of League of Legends World Champions.

Season One – Fnatic

Season One Worlds winners fnatic

Top – Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez

Jungle – Lauri “Cyanide” Happonen

Mid – Maciej “Shushei” Ratuszniak

Bot – Manuel “LaMiaZeaLoT” Mildenberger

Support – Peter “Mellisan” Meisrimel

League of Legends esports was still in its infancy in Season One. No infrastructure had really been established, and no meta had been defined. As such, Riot Games decided to hold the Season One World Championships at DreamHack Summer 2011 in Jönköping, Sweden.

Eight teams played through regional qualifiers to get there, three from North America, three from Europe, one from Singapore, and one from The Philippines. After barely scraping through the Group Stage with a 1-2 record, Fnatic were a long shot for the trophy. However, they were able to dispel Counter Logic Gaming 2-1, then sweep Epik Gamer. Fnatic then continued their run in the Upper Bracket Finals versus Against All Authority. Their opponents in the Grand Finals would be aAa once again, making Season One Finals an all European affair. After a three-game series, Fnatic reigned supreme and earned the title of the first-ever League of Legends World Champions. Their prize pool winnings were $50,000.

Season Two – Taipei Assassins

Season two Worlds winners Taipei Assassins

Top – Wang “Stanley” June-Tsan

Jungle – Sung “Lilballz” Kuan-Po

Mid – Wai Kin “Toyz” Lau

Bot – Chang “BeBe” Bo-Wei

Support – Chen “MiSTaKE” Hui-Chung

Season Two marked a major shift in the League of Legends landscape. Riot Games started committing to esports infrastructure and nurturing their pro scene. Additionally, the Korean server was released, allowing Korean organizations to start competing in the game. And they were good. Coming into Worlds 2012, the Korean teams were favored to win it all.

The tournament took place in Los Angeles, California and had a prize pool of $2,000,000; an insane jump from Season One. The regional first seeds from North America, Europe, China, and Taiwan went straight to playoffs after a random drawing. After the Group Stage ended, TPA found themselves against the Korean NaJin Sword squad.

Surprisingly, the Taiwanese team was unfazed, easily sweeping NaJin. After a close 2-1 against Europe’s top seeded Moscow Five, they were in the Grand Finals. There they faced Azubu Frost, the Korean first seed. Taipei Assassins were able to consistently shut down Azubu Frost. They won the match 3-1 and brought home Taiwan’s first and only World Championship.

Season Three – SK Telecom T1

Season three Worlds winners SKT T1

Top – Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong

Jungle – Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong

Mid – Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok

Bot – Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin

Support – Lee “PoohManDu” Jeong-hyeon

The third World Championship featured fourteen teams with the top seed from North America, China, Taiwan, and Korea going straight to Quarterfinals. The tournament was held in Los Angeles for a second year in a row and featured the same sized prize pool.

SKT was not the Korean first seed, as that title belonged to NaJin Black Sword. However, their skill would be made apparent in the Group Stage. SKT went 7-1, trading games with the Chinese Oh My God roster. SKT topped their group and advanced to face the Gamania Bears. After an easy 2-0 victory, SKT faced off against their Korean rivals in NaJin Black Sword.

The game was incredibly close with teams trading blow for blow. This match was also the first series to go to all five games in Worlds history. Eventually, SKT edged out NaJin to earn their spot in the Grand Finals. The match against Royal Club would be anticlimactic as SKT stomped them 3-0 to earn Korea’s first title. This win would mark the start of Korea’s reign over League of Legends.

Season Four – Samsung White

Season four Worlds winners Samsung White

Top – Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok

Jungle – Choi “DanDy” In-kyu

Mid – Heo “PawN” Won-seok

Bot – Gu “imp” Seung-bin

Support – Cho “Mata” Se-hyoung

The Season Four World Championships were significant for multiple reasons. It adopted the sixteen-team, double round robin Group Stage that is still in use today. This was also the first time Riot started to use the moniker “Worlds” as a shorthand for the tournament. Worlds 2014 took place in Seoul, South Korea and featured a $2,130,000 prize pool.

Hoping to continue their dominance in front of the home crown, Samsung White earned a clean 6-0 Group Stage record. They, as well as the other two Korean teams at the event, advanced out of their groups at first seed. In Quarterfinals, SSW took down Team Solo Mid 3-1. Their next test would be against their sister team Samsung Blue.

The anticipated matchup turned out to be a quick 3-0 dismantling. The Grand Finals matchup between SSW and Star Horn Royal Club was a bit more competitive, but SHRC could only muster one game win. Samsung White went on to win their first title and Korea’s second in a row. Royal Club, now Royal Never Give Up, remains the only team to be the Worlds runner-up more than once.

Season Five – SK Telecom T1

Season Five Worlds winners SKT T1

Top – Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-hwan

Jungle – Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong

Mid – Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok

Bot – Bae “Bang” Jun-sik

Support – Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan

Sub – Lee “Easyhoon” Ji-hoon

Worlds 2015 was identical in format to the previous year. It also maintained the same prize pool. The World Championship returned to Europe for the first time since Season One. Each stage was played in a different iconic city; from Paris, to London, to Finals in Berlin.

Back from a disappointing year, SK Telecom T1 had high hopes for their revamped roster. Right away, their strength would be on display to the world. The Group Stage saw SKT go undefeated after dominating all of their opponents.  Their Quarterfinals and Semifinals matchups were against ahq e-Sports and Origin respectively. Neither team could put up a fight and both got 3-0 swept.

In the Grand Finals, SKT faced off against the KOO Tigers, making this the first of three consecutive all Korean Worlds Finals. The KOO Tigers managed to take one game off of SKT, ruining their perfect Worlds run. However, that was all they could do. SKT won the series 3-1 and became the first ever two-time World Champions.

Season Six – SK Telecom T1

Season Six Worlds winners Skt t1

Top – Lee “Duke” Ho-seong

Jungle – Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong

Mid – Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok

Bot – Bae “Bang” Jun-sik

Support – Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan

Sub – Kang “Blank” Sun-gu

The 2016 World Championship had one major change to it. For the first time since 2012, Riot Games was drastically increasing the prize pool. Now, over $5,000,000 was on the line as the prize pool ballooned with the sale of the Championship Zed and ward skins. Worlds would return to North America with stages taking place in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.

SKT fielded a nearly identical roster from the previous year. They were hungry to become the first consecutive World Champions. However, this year would prove much more difficult. After topping their group, SKT faced off against Royal Never Give Up in Quarterfinals. RNG took one game, but SKT still looked indomitable after winning 3-1.

Their Semifinals matchup would be a rematch of the previous year’s Finals against the now ROX Tigers. This match would go down in history as one of the best in League of Legends history. Big name players and even bigger plays lined both teams throughout the five games. In the end, SKT triumphed and earned a spot in Grand Finals. Another grueling series awaited them, this time against Samsung Galaxy. After five long games full of emotion, SKT proved that they were still the kings, even if they could bleed. SKT achieved their third title by winning the only five game Worlds Final ever.

Season Seven – Samsung Galaxy

Season seven Samsung Galaxy

Top – Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin

Jungle – Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong

Mid – Lee “Crown” Min-ho

Bot – Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk

Support – Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in

Sub – Kang “Haru” Min-seung

Worlds 2017 took place in China for the first time and saw Riot shake up the tournament format. In order for more minor region teams to gain international experience, 24 teams now qualified for the World Championship. The minor region and lowest seeded major region teams now have to start in the Play-Ins for a chance at making the Group Stage.

Samsung Galaxy entered Worlds 2017 as Korea’s third seed, but went straight to Groups Stage due to Korea’s dominance. Their performance reflected this, as they managed to make it out in second place with a 4-2 record. In the Quarterfinals, SSG got matched against a team that dominated them in regular season, Longzhu Gaming. Longzhu had just gone undefeated in their group and were looking like the easy favorites. It was here where Samsung turned expectations on their head.

SSG easily cleaned out Longzhu 3-0, then defeated China’s Team WE in the semifinals 3-1. The Grand Finals would be an exact rematch of the previous year against SKT. Another nail-biting Finals was surely in store, until the games actually began. SKT wasn’t playing like the juggernauts they were supposed to be. Samsung’s form was too much to handle, resulting in a 3-0 sweep. Although they had a new roster, Samsung Galaxy

Season Eight – Invictus Gaming

Season eight Worlds winners iG

Top – Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok

Jungle – Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning

Mid – Song “Rookie” Eui-jin

Bot – Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo

Support – Wang “Baolan” Liu-Yi

Sub – Lee “Duke” Ho-seong

The 2018 World Championship was identical in format to its predecessor, but the prize pool did see a sizeable increase. The 24 teams would travel to South Korea to play for $6,450,000. At that time, Korea as a region was on a five Worlds win streak and were looking to continue it at home. Invictus Gaming had other ideas.

For the first time ever, every Chinese team made it out of the Group Stage. Invictus Gaming lost a tiebreaker to Fnatic for first seed, meaning they would have to play Korea’s top seeded KT Rolster in the quarterfinals. The match featured the best macro team in the tournament face off against IG’s mechanical prowess. After the fifth game, IG pulled off the 3-2 upset.

No team from here on out would come close to touching Invictus. G2 Esports was easily rolled past in Semifinals and Fnatic might as well have not shown up to Grand Finals. Both matches ended 3-0, solidifying IG as the undisputed best team in the World. This achievement marked the first Chinese World Championship victory.

Season Nine – FunPlus Phoenix

Season nine FPX

Top – Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem

Jungle – Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang

Mid – Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang

Bot – Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiang

Support – Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song

Sub – Chang “Xinyi” Ping

The 2019 World Championship took place in Europe with stops in Berlin, Madrid, and Paris. The exact prize pool amount and Worlds skins haven’t been solidified yet, but it started at a base of $2,225,000 and will likely live up to expectations. This Worlds was interesting because for the first time, all four major regions had a realistic shot at the title.

As China’s first seed, FunPlus Phoenix was expected to dominate the Group Stage. After a slow first week, FPX barely managed to escape their easy group. Their confidence could have been shaken, but FPX were quick to recover. The Quarterfinals against Fnatic were clean and controlled, ending in a 3-1 win.

In the Semifinals, FPX found themselves against the defending champions Invictus Gaming. This regional clash had Grand Finals vibes, as both teams brought China’s aggressive style into the spotlight. The chaotic match went to four games, in which FPX’s draft and team fighting reigned supreme. The true Grand Finals against G2 Esports was touted as a battle for regional supremacy after Korea’s falling off. In the end, FPX demolished the European squad 3-0, earning a second consecutive Worlds title for China.

Season 10 – DAMWON Gaming

worlds 2020 damwon gaming

Top – Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon

Jungle – Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu

Mid – Heo “ShowMaker” Su

Bot – Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun

Support – Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee

League of Legend’s tenth competitive season was an interesting one for a number of reasons. The global COVID pandemic caused multiple regional leagues around the world to be delayed and even see games canceled. When it came time for Worlds, travel restrictions had still not been fully lifted. Due to Vietnam as a region not being able to attend, there were only 22 teams at the event overall. The tournament was held in China, but ended up being restricted to Shanghai only with no live audience until Grand Finals.

The base prize pool of $2,225,000 was the same as last year, but extra money was paid out to the missing VCS teams and the backup Gambit Esports squad in case they were needed. Despite the strange proceedings, there were still many expectations for teams to uphold. China was on a back-to-back Worlds winning streak, although both Invictus Gaming and FunPlus Phoenix had failed to qualify. The region’s hopes now rested on JD Gaming, Top Esports, and Suning who all advanced to Quarterfinals.

However, there was a massive threat to the home region looming in the distance. DAMWON Gaming were Korea’s first seed coming into Worlds 2020 and one of the tournament favorites. After earning a 5-1 record in their group, DAMWON’s first knockout match was against DRX. They easily swept their regional rivals before coming up against Europe’s hope in G2. Although the teams looked more even, G2 couldn’t stand up to the juggernauts that were DAMWON.

The Grand Finals were between DAMWON and Suning. While Suning weren’t China’s favorite coming into Worlds, their tournament form was the best of any of the LPL teams. If someone was going to claim the Summoners’ Cup in front of the home crowd, it would be them. Unfortunately, Suning was no match for DAMWON. A decisive 3-1 result resulted in DAMWON taking the trophy back to Korea.

Season 11 – To Be Determined

The global COVID pandemic has unfortunately still not let up a year later. As such, Worlds 2021’s five city Chinese tour had to be canceled. The tournament was then moved from China to Reykjavík, Iceland and will take place all in one arena. Once again, Vietnam is not able to attend, resulting in a 22 team tournament. It’s hard to tell which teams have the best chance at hoisting the eleventh Summoners’ Cup. One thing is for sure though, they will fight with everything they’ve got for a chance to claim the most prestigious title in League of Legends.

Zakaria Almughrabi

Zakaria Almughrabi

Zakaria is a former professional TF2 player turned caster and analyst. He has had a passion for gaming and esports for years and hopes to use his skills and experience to convey why gaming is so great. His specialty games are League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros, and PUBG.

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