Favorite teams to challenge the World Champions title during Worlds 2022.
Worlds 2022 Groups haven’t been kind to the Western teams. Coming into the tournament, the LPL and LCK were already looking strong but a somewhat strong Week 1 had given at least the EU fans some hope. Still, at the end of Groups, we are left with seven Eastern teams with only Rogue managing to break through with their 3-0 start. All four LCK teams attending Worlds 2022 have managed to qualify for the Knockout Stage, while the only LPL team that stumbled in the Groups was Top Esports.
This was a big surprise as TES was not only the LPL 2nd seed, but they were one top three tournament favorites along with JDG and Gen.G. Their level of play during the LPL’s Summer Playoffs was a big reason why the Chinese representatives were regarded scarier compared to the LCK teams. But with teams like T1 and DWG looking in much better form, the winds seem to be shifting.
LPL teams have also been suffering from multiple cases of COVID amongst them. Multiple RNG members had to play from isolation during their Week 2 games and they were notably looking ill in their player cameras. The majority of EDG members also tested positive during the Groups, and the latest case ahead of the Quarterfinals so far has been the JDG mid laner Yagao. All things considered, this year is looking like the perfect opportunity for LCK to put a stop to the LPL domination on the international stage.
We regret to inform you that Yagao has tested positive during the routine test. Thankfully, Yagao’s health is stable and is undergoing rehabilitation.
JDG is working with officials to carefully adhere to all protocols and we shall do our utmost to prioritize their well-being. pic.twitter.com/tu2ry2bnM0
— JD Gaming (@JDGaming) October 18, 2022
During the Week 1 of the Worlds Group Stage, Rogue legitimately looked like one of the best teams in the tournament. They continued to play with a strategy very similar to their Summer Playoffs run in Malmø, playing towards the bottom side of the map with junglers that can gank early and drafting bot lanes with pressure, with a mid lane who mainly plays control mages and Odoamne as the weakside player he always is.
This strategy worked like a charm in their first four games. We saw Odoamne terrorize the Rift on Maokai and Comp run teams off the map on Lucian and Kalista. But once they had to play DRX and TES a second time, we’ve seen Rogue lag behind as they had trouble adjusting between games while Eastern teams had no trouble finding counter-picks. There are some big issues Rogue can have in drafts. While he is a great player, Larssen can struggle when not on control mages and Comp/Trymbi didn’t play a lot of engage or scaling this year. These issues can give them big disadvantages in multiple-game series.
Overall, there is no doubt Rogue is a strong team. They looked like the only Western team that had a chance of competing, in a year when the rest of them had a combined 6-24 record. But the field is tough in the Knockout Stages, and as a luck of the draw, they have to go through JDG. Is it possible? Sure, it always is. Is it probable? Not likely.
If you’ve asked 100 Korean fans which team they would send as the 4th seed before the Summer Playoffs, a big majority would’ve guessed Liiv SANDBOX. But DRX not only surprised the fans with their performance at the Regional Qualifiers, but they also bested the LPL 4th seed RNG in Play-Ins and LPL 2nd seed TES in the Groups.
During the LCK Summer 2022, the obvious star of the team has been the veteran ADC, Deft. He and BeryL have been playing well and showed multiple different looks, even an Ashe/Heimer lane. But the main carry of the team at the moment, and arguably the most impressive player in the entire tournament, so far has been Zeka in the mid lane. Zeka had a good year in LCK and was one of the better laning mids in the region. But ever since Worlds 2022 started his play leveled up considerably. The Sylas/Akali meta has been the perfect fit for him, as these are some of his most played champions this last year, and he was absolutely dominating on them.
Of course, League of Legends games are about the team as a whole, and this is where DRX has some disadvantages. While he having a good tournament, Kingen has only been a serviceable top laner in LCK and he might struggle against players with more carry potential. Pyosik also had his fair share of problems. We’ve seen DRX rotate between him and Juhan as recently as in their first group game against Rogue. Even though Pyosik had a good tournament after that, there are always some question marks.
6. EDward Gaming
EDG is still the reigning World Champions, so it feels wrong to place them sixth despite them being the 3rd seed from LPL. Just like in 2021, they finished their group 2nd, with a 4-2 record, behind T1. They have a tough road ahead with four out of five players testing positive and all showing some degree of symptoms. Right now it looks like EDG will play on October 24, so at the very least they will have some to rest and recuperate.
If healthy though, this team is really scary, they’ve shown it last year. While not having his best tournament, Scout is one of the best mid laners ever to play this game and has the potential to step it up at any moment. Jiejie has found a lot of success on ganking junglers, but he may still need to show more on picks like Graves. Flandre is also a stable enough top laner and he even pulled out a couple of Fiora games. Of course, he might struggle to do that against more capable tops, but EDG’s side of the bracket doesn’t have the biggest carry top laners in the tournament.
But the biggest expectations on the team are focused in the bot lane. Coming into Worlds 2022, most saw Viper as the best ADC in the event. So far, we’ve not seen that. He’s been playing well but we also saw him and Meiko struggle against Gumayusi/Keria duo in both games. One good news for Viper/Meiko is that Aphelios is looking like the strongest ADC that is getting through bans and with Meiko already playing four Thresh games, they can always go back to this tried and true combo.
5. Royal Never Give Up
RNG came into Worlds 2022 as the strongest team to play in Play-Ins, considered a contender even as a 4th seed, but they stumbled against DRX. The Main Event was much better for them. We’ve seen GALA play out of his mind in Week 1 Groups, the best ADC in the tournament no doubt. At least he looked like it until Ruler decided he wasn’t, but he also was sick with COVID in Week 2. It is hard to say how he will feel in their Quarterfinals games, but considering he and Ming are essential for this team to win, especially in a meta where Ming can shine, it will be important. Because they might not find too much carry potential in their other lanes.
Wei is a player that can play those carries. He is known for his Viego and he’s been great on Graves this Worlds. But he is also prone to having quiet games once in a while. Xiaohu is also not a carry, even though he is one of the best mid laners in the world. He is always behind in gold and XP because of his constant roams and his champion pool. His Lissandra has been dominant but permabanned, and his Azir is not very good. He was good on Akali and Sylas, but these picks might not have enough setup for him to play his usual style. RNG can always play through Breathe in normal conditions, as he is the quintessential carry guy. But the question is, will he be able to do that against Zeus?
4. DWG KIA
Doesn’t matter what their form looks like. DK always shows up at Worlds. 2022 Summer wasn’t the best Split for DK, with both Canyon and ShowMaker slumping, deokdam and Kellin not playing to the level they wanted, and Nuguri coming in and out of the roster as he split time with Burdol.
But maybe the 2020 World Champions have finally stabilized. Nuguri is not back to his 2020 level when he was the best top laner in the World, but he is still a force to be reckoned with if he is on his day. Kellin and deokdam stepped up massively in Group B, albeit they didn’t have the best competition in the bot lane department, aside from Hope/Missing. Still, we saw DK play through bot lane and get deokdam ahead, and we saw deokdam be able to carry games with this lead, an aspect of the game they were struggling to do this year in LCK.
But maybe the most exciting part for the Korean fans are the mid/jungle duo of this team. ShowMaker played three LeBlanc games this Worlds and had 32 KDA. He has been winning every lane and he’s been making plays around the map. Not to mention this is the perfect meta for DK to play to their 2v2 strength. The 2022 jungle meta before Worlds started has been very supportive, which wasn’t the best for Canyon. But now, Graves is looking like the premier jungler, and who better to have on your team than Canyon for it?
3. JD Gaming
LPL 1st seed and probably the biggest favorite to win coming into the tournament. Despite their first-place finish in Group B, opinions seemed to sour on JDG after their games. While they won six of their seven games, including a tiebreaker, they had to rely a lot on their late game teamfighting as they had a tendency to fall behind, even against a weaker EG.
Make no mistake, JDG is still one of the best teams at Worlds 2022, but they were expected to be much better. Both Yagao and Hope haven’t been that great in lane, not managing to get enough leads to snowball games. Kanavi also wasn’t finding the leads he was able to in the LPL, neither by farming nor with his ganks.
Still, two good news. 369 has been rolling mostly 9s, he only had one bad Kennen game. But he showed what he can do during the tiebreaker game as he absolutely put his team on his back. And the second good news is that we saw in that game against DK, there is no amount of gold lead teams can be comfortable that JDG won’t able to force their way back into the game. Just hoping they won’t have to do it much.
Chovy finally won LCK, and it’s time to show everyone he can do it on the international stage as well. Gen.G also got somewhat lucky with their bracket draw. Three LCK teams on their side, with only EDG representing LPL. Considering they dominated Korea in Summer, this should be a walk in the park for them.
The four games Ruler played this Sunday should be enough to scare any team. After a dreadful Senna game to start the tournament, Ruler has not looked back yet and he is statistics are out of this world. Currently, he has an average lead of—at 15 minutes—19 CS, 500 XP and 1200 gold over his lane opponents. The only thing they haven’t shown as a bot lane duo is an engage support pick from Lehends, but we already know Lehends is a very flexible player. And it’s not like they are lacking carries in other parts of the map. Chovy so far is leading the event at CS/M among all players while still putting up insane damage and roaming more than he usually does.
All this, with a very stable top side. Peanut had probably his best split ever, and he is continuing it into this event as well while showing a large champion pool. Doran is probably the most stereotypical weakside player. He surprised us with a couple of Camille games, but other than that he will mainly be on tanks or bruisers and just look for teamfights.
Another year, another Worlds Group Stage and Faker once again finished first. After their undefeated Spring, many T1 fans turned their eyes to the Worlds trophy. But after the MSI loss and the Summer slump, there were some doubts bubbling up. Did Faker lose a step? Was Gumayusi overrated? Well, apparently not.
Group A was full of great ADCs. Viper, Upset and even the up-and-coming Berserker. People were wondering how would Gumayusi would look after a mediocre Summer Split. What we got was a Guma so dominant, he only died in one game. Along with Keria, they showed both early game dominance and late game carries, and it will for sure give a lot more options to T1 going forward, options they didn’t really have in Summer.
Mid/jungle duo of Oner and Faker has been fine. They haven’t been the strongest part of the team, but they don’t have to be. They are mainly the facilitators for the carries. Which then brings us to Zeus. The young prodigy has been impressing people ever since he debuted in LCK, and he is playing like the best top laner in the tournament. It is very hard to match him in any kind of matchup, and he is sure to give his team a way to win any series they will play.
Image credit: Riot Games