League of Legends has become, in recent years, one of the most recognised e-sports of all time: with 11.5 million players actively playing each month, beating its common rival DOTA 2 (which has a measly 500,000). It comes as no surprise therefore that the World Championship 2015, or ‘Worlds’ for short, was one of the highest anticipated tournaments in the e-sports community, with over 32 million fans watching the finals in the Mercedes-Benz stadium in Berlin, over the medium of Twitch.tv, through which live coverage was broadcast of the entire event.
Worlds is unique in the sense that there is no other point that international teams will play against each other, mainly due to PING issues of playing online, and LAN tournaments being so costly to set up when teams have to travel half a world to be there. Regional qualifiers were set up beforehand, where teams competed in order to represent their region, with resultant names such as Fnatic, H2k, Origen, Koo, SKT T1, KT, C9, CLG, TSM (to name a few) qualifying and competing, making 16 total teams; 4 groups of 4. The group stages consisted of two round-robins, where everyone plays each other in their group twice in a best of 1 format; followed by an 8 team single elimination bracket, where games were in a best of 5 format.
The group stages took place in Paris, from October 1st to October the 11th, and resulted in the crushing of NA’s hopes and dreams. With all three of their teams not even leaving group stages (proving once again that EU>NA), and the three South Korean teams destroying their respective groups (with SKT T1 not losing a single match), the knockout stages looked to be very heavily Asian dominated, with EU hopes and dreams resting with Fnatic and Origen.
“The group stages took place in Paris, from October 1st to October the 11th, and resulted in the crushing of NA’s hopes and dreams”
With the quarter finals occurring in the Wembley Arena in London, the EU teams were looking exceptionally strong, with Fnatic demolishing EDward Gaming 3-0, and Origen taking out Flash wolves 3-1. Respectively, SKT-T1 demolished AHQ 3-0, and KOO beat KT 3-1, leading to a completely South Korea and EU dominated semi-finals. At this stage, it seemed to be a very close competition: Fnatic were playing on form, Origen were looking strong, and, for the first time since Fnatic winning in 2011, it looked as if EU actually stood a chance of challenging the Koreans for the number 1 spot (which Korea had held for 2 years running). However, hopes were short lived, with the utter annihilation of both teams 3-0 at the Brussels Expo, in Belgium. Fnatic, which historically has had one of the largest followings of all the EU teams, did not seem flexible enough to keep up with the Koreans, and ultimately could not adapt their strategy enough in order to even challenge the relatively unknown KOO tigers.
“Faker, renowned for his technical ability in the middle lane, was awarded 3 trophies for his efforts”
With an all Korean final in Berlin, it came as no shock when SKT took the title for the second time since 2013; with Bae ‘Bengi’ Seong-Ung and Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-Hyeok being the only two players to have lifted the World Championship Trophy twice in their career. Faker, renowned for his technical ability in the middle lane, was awarded 3 trophies for his efforts: Best League of Legends player 2015, Korea e-sports player of the year 2015, and most popular player 2015, making him the most highly valued player in the League of Legends community. As a competitive player myself, it is truly beautiful watching the Faker in his element, with mind boggling levels of skill demonstrated against the highest skill players.
Coincidentally, he is the only player to have tumbled on stage at a World Championship tournament. Long live King of mid lane, SKT T1 Faker. RIP NA hopes and dreams.