This year’s rendition of the international League of Legends tournaments Worlds is probably the most exciting one that we’ve had in years. Although we’re still quite early on in the tournament, the group stages have never been more eventful and exciting as they have been this year. There are a few reasons why Worlds is so enjoyable right now and why you should definitely watch the quarterfinals that start on Saturday.
The Gap Is Closing(?)
For the first time in a really long time, the gap between Western teams and Asian teams seems to be relatively small. In previous years “the gap is closing” would be used as a meme to indicate that the skill difference between Asian and Western teams is still enormous. However, this year it’s an actual legitimate claim. Besides KT Rolster, there is currently no team in the quarterfinals that has not suffered a defeat from a Western team which is something that was quite unlikely in previous years.
If the gap has really closed though is something that we will find out during the quarterfinals as Asian teams have traditionally bested Western teams in best of fives. However, this year RNG was beaten twice by a Western team, IG was beaten twice by Fnatic and even G2 has taken down strong teams like the Afreeca Freecs and the Flash Wolves. It definitely looks like the power difference is relatively minor this year whereas in previous years these would just be small upsets.
— lolesports (@lolesports) October 10, 2018
Worlds has a very diverse meta this year which results in a lot of unique picks, interesting matchups, and explosive games. Of course, we see some OP champions sticking out like Aatrox and Urgot who are currently dominating the top lane but for most roles, there’s a wide variety of viable champions available. This is way better than the Worlds meta last years where Ardent Censor was way too strong and team comps were almost solely drafted around that single item.
The meta that we are currently seeing is also very forgiving to teams that draft champions that are currently not the OP picks. We have seen Vitality make great use of Ekko and Cloud9 thrive with a Zilean. Teams are even permabanning Heimerdinger against G2 which is a champion that is definitely not meta right now but can still perform as well as stronger picks. Sure, sometimes we see a few of the same champions multiple times in a row but there’s definitely a lot of variety as well.
EU and NA have (mostly) buried the hatchet
There has been a rivalry between EU and NA practically since the start of League of Legends. From the very first tournaments onwards regions were comparing themselves to each other to determine which region was the stronger one. While some rivalries are friendly, this one was certainly not. It’s not surprising to see the regions completely trashing each other every time that they play on the international stage, however, things are different this year.
The first few days of Worlds we saw what we normally saw, the region performing better trash talking the region performing worse. However, Vitality and Cloud9 united the West for the first time. Instead of Twitch chat spamming anti-EU or anti-NA memes, they were spamming EU<3NA. This was because both Vitality and Cloud9 impressed on the international stage by upsetting RNG. Although in the end, it was Cloud9 that managed to make it out of groups and not Vitality, the fans didn’t start hating on each other but instead agreed that both Vitality and Cloud9 played their hearts out.
These are of course only some of the reasons why Worlds 2018 stands out amongst previous Worlds tournaments. It’s also hard to say whether this will remain the case or whether Asia will just completely stomp the West during the quarterfinals and take all our fun away. At the very least this was the best Worlds group stages that we’ve had in years and even that makes this Worlds unforgettable so far.