Power ranking the League of Legends World Championship contenders

Top Esports bot laner Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo, left. Provided by Riot Games

1. Top Esports

Top Esports is heavily-favored to win this year's world championship and has arguably the current best player in the world on their team in Zhuo "knight" Ding, but it's necessary to point out that they are, in fact, beatable. For the latter half of the summer split, TES looked vulnerable, punished for overextensions in lane or fighting at disadvantageous times. They are especially beatable if they have one of their wonkier drafts, or if a team capitalizes on some of Hung "Karsa" Hao-Hsuan's more predictable pathing or Liang "yuyanjia" Jia-Yuan's inexperience. That being said, TES is the favorite for a reason. Even when they mess up, they still have some of the best individual players who can take over games entirely on their own. TES, alongside JD Gaming, is also one of the best teamfighting teams in the world, one that knows how to coordinate well and fight around later power spikes or create advantageous skirmishes even if they mess up early. -- Emily Rand

2. DAMWON Gaming

The claim that LoL Champions Korea has become significantly more aggressive of a region is a bit over-exaggerated, yet DAMWON Gaming are one of the teams at the forefront of this narrative. They're much improved from the rookies they were at last year's world championship. Mid laner Heo "ShowMaker" Su has had a career summer split, expanding on the raw mechanics he displayed in his rookie year. His stronger understanding of matchups has given DAMWON more map control, allowing jungler Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu to be more aggressive in lane or in his opponents' jungles. Top laner Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon is still part of DAMWON's remarkable top side, but perhaps the key, similar to Yu "JackeyLove" Chen-Bo on TES, was bot laner Jang "Ghost" Yong-jun, who came onto the team mid-spring, and has been said to have not only provided more stability to the team, but has become a strong voice in team comms. Provided that Nuguri recovers quickly from his pneumothorax surgery, DAMWON should be considered a contender for the worlds title. -- Rand

3. JD Gaming

When compared to TES, JD Gaming is often seen as lacking due to a perception that they have worse players, save for jungler Seo "Kanavi" Jin-hyeok and top laner Zhang "Zoom" Xing-Ran. Yet, whatever JDG lacks in 1v1 firepower, they more than make up for with teamwork and coordination. In a vacuum, a lot of JDG's drafts may look suspect, but most of them are designed on some level to counterbalance team weaknesses, or make the most of a players' best picks. For a player like Zuo "LvMao" Ming-Hao, a talented support with an odd champion pool, JDG is the best place for him. Every team, regardless of whether they're from the LPL or any other region, has identifiable weaknesses. However, one of JDG's strengths is that they are generally self-aware and will make moves in draft or in game to ensure these opportunity areas don't cost them. This is why JDG has been so successful all year. -- Rand

4. G2 Esports

No one player in the League European Championship's been better this summer than G2 Esports mid laner and league MVP Rasmus "Caps" Winther. After a shaky regular season in both spring and summer, G2 Esports bounced back in the lower bracket of the LEC summer playoffs and then avenged their loss to Fnatic in the grand final. Along the way, Caps had banner performances and Martin "Wunder" Hansen also performed incredibly well. Compared to the world finalists G2 were in 2019, this team does look weaker -- especially as Luka "Perkz" Perković and Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski haven't had as good of a 2020 as the year before -- but their group heading to worlds looks ripe for the taking as the best team Europe has to offer. -- Jacob Wolf

5. Gen.G

Gen.G enters the world championship after preventing the greatest of all time Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok from returning for another shot at the title. Stakes here for Gen.G are high after the team went out and made the big acquisition of former SK Telecom T1 jungler Kim "Clid" Tae-min this past offseason. While their performance has not been as good as some expected -- with DAMWON and DRX both vaulting past them -- Gen.G is still a formidable team with star mid laner Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong and former world champion AD carry Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk. With a meta shift rumored to shift priority down to the bottom lane, 2020 Worlds could be the chance for Ruler to notch himself another world title. But in a group of TSM, Fnatic and presumably LGD Gaming (if they make it out of play-ins), will be a tough one for this Gen.G team. -- Wolf

6. Fnatic

Europe's longest-standing pro team returns to the world championship with a near identical lineup from 2019, except for a key switch in jungler to Oskar "Selfmade" Boderek. With his signing, Fnatic's identity has changed this season. This is very much a team that plays around his and Martin "Rekkles" Larsson's ability to carry, with the flipside of that being that Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau and Tim "Nemesis" Lipovšek have to be stable -- which has been an issue in some of the bigger games for this team. Fnatic's veteran experience has gotten them through some of the more important moments of the season, like a winners finals win over G2 Esports, but that's been inconsistent, too. -- Wolf

7. Suning

Suning kicked off the summer split with a fairly awful showing against LNG Esports, despite a 2-0 victory. Then, Suning appeared to be a team that was almost entirely passive early, waiting for opponents to make mid or late-game mistakes and capitalizing on them. As the season continued, they evolved into a team with unmistakable talent, especially rookies Chen "Bin" Ze-Bin and Tang "huanfeng" Huan-Feng, but were rarely truly coordinated. This led to a lot of near-losses, but the team continued ability to win off opponents' mistakes. After hitting their stride in the playoffs and regional finals, Suning is a much more coordinated team with strong teamfighting. They're still the most "standard" team China is sending to worlds this year alongside LGD Gaming, and won't necessarily make the proactive plays expected from an LPL team. Led by jungler Lê "SofM" Quang Duy, who will aggressively counterjungle, Suning is a team that could make a deep run with continued adjustments from game to game. -- Rand

8. DRX

DRX is a difficult team to rank, for a few reasons. For starters, on an individual level, this team has three of the League Champions Korea's best players this season: mid laner Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon, AD carry Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu and support Ryu "Keria" Min-seok. Chovy has been one of the best mid laners in South Korea, while Deft showed the brilliance that made him so highly regarded on Samsung and EDward Gaming teams of the past. Meanwhile, Keria has had the best season of any rookie by far. DRX's playoff performance, however, was underwhelming. Deft reportedly has a back injury, while Keria was a shadow of his regular season performance. Chovy carried DRX through the playoffs with a team that looked completely lost. Worlds will be a big test for DRX as they face off against Top Esports. -- Wolf

9. Rogue

It's been an impressive year from Rogue. The lackluster team in 2019 bounced back as players like Emil "Larssen" Larsson, Kacper "Inspired" Słoma and Oskar "VandeR" Bogdan have all had individually fantastic years. Rogue is a team that, like MAD Lions, struggled at winning in the big moments, but the talent is there, and Rogue was the best team in the summer regular season with the majority of their players looking ready to compete at the highest level. They head into worlds with an incredibly difficult group, though -- tasked to face JD Gaming and DAMWON Gaming, two of the best teams in the world, and potentially even the likes of Team Liquid depending on the play-in stage. -- Wolf

10. LGD Gaming

While inconsistent for most of the split, this LGD Gaming lineup is formidable on paper, and like Suning (despite losing to them twice), looked better in their playoff and regional finals matches than during the season. LGD play through mid lane with jungler Han "Peanut" Wang-ho and mid laner Su "xiye" Han-Wei, who carried them through some of their worse performances during the season. Come playoffs, LGD showed up with stronger drafts and better performances from everyone on the team, particularly top laner Xie "Langx" Zhen-Ying. LGD could end up being a dangerous team at worlds if they continue to improve on their coordination and carry any momentum they had from the regional finals into the play-in. -- Rand

11. TSM

After playing in the first seven world championships, TSM finally return to the dance for the first time in three years. Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng left Team Liquid before the start of summer split to reunite with his bot lane partner Vincent "Biofrost" Wang and mid laner Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg. The team overcame the odds in summer, finishing fourth with a 12-6 record. Bjergsen shined throughout the postseason, after going through periods of self-doubt, particularly in spring. Top laner Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik and jungler Mingyi "Spica" Lu were terrific in big moments, consistently making this TSM team a threat. If LGD Gaming qualify out of play-ins, they will join Group C with TSM, Gen.G and Fnatic, which would create quite the traffic jam and an interesting best-of-one matchup. TSM might not be favorites on many people's fantasy brackets, but shouldn't be fully counted out either. -- Ocal

12. FlyQuest

The team was consistently good all year on the rift, with back-to-back LCS playoff finals appearances. FlyQuest did have its challenges - including sending veteran Jason "Wildturtle" Tran to the Academy squad to work on some holes in his game. But he returned stronger and the team benefitted. The veteran-infused roster also includes support Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun, midlaner Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage, jungler Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen and top laner Colin "Solo" Earnest. FlyQuest certainly received the toughest Worlds groups assignment of the LCS teams, entering a group that includes Top Esports and DRX. They have consistently flown under the radar in the LCS, succeeding while other storylines and teams dominated the headlines, but it will be a tall task to make it out of Group D. -- Arda Ocal

13. MAD Lions

This season's been a wild one for the mostly-rookie squad of MAD Lions. Expectations were non-existent at the beginning of the year, but with a solid spring and a first-round playoff win over G2 Esports, that hype ballooned going into the summer. MAD Lions had a banner summer regular season, finishing second behind just Rogue, but then failing to convert that success into playoff success when it mattered. Jungler Zhiqiang "Shad0w" Zhao and support Norman "Kaiser" Kaiser have quickly established themselves among the best in their roles in Europe. Marek "Humanoid" Brázda deserves a lot of praise, too. Individually and on paper, MAD Lions are potentially the best team in their play-in group, but the biggest question will be whether they can handle the pressure of worlds. -- Wolf

14. Team Liquid

TL made an impressive turnaround from spring to summer. After four back-to-back split victories, the team failed to make the playoffs in spring, with former bot laner Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng publicly expressing his frustrations over spring split's lack of importance. Since then, rookie Edward "Tactical" Ra received his first full split assignment at AD carry, the team hired longtime respected caster Joshua "Jatt" Leesman as head coach and suddenly, Team Liquid were atop the regular season tables again, finishing 15-3 in summer split. Two tough Game 5 losses to FlyQuest and TSM land them in the play-ins, but all signs point to them being a large threat to make groups. Team Liquid swept the summer award hardware, including Jatt and co. earning coaching staff of the split, support Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in earning MVP and Tactical garnering Rookie of the Year honors. -- Wolf

15. Machi

In an ultra-competitive Asian-Pacific region, Machi peaked at the right time, usurping regular season winners J-Team in the playoffs before ultimately taking home the domestic title by beating PSG Talon in the final. At the center of Machi's exciting run to the Pacific crown was mid laner Chen "M1ssion" Hsiao-Hsien, who is one of the best players in the region and a player who shouldn't shy away from the nerves of worlds. He's played previously in two world championships, most recently in 2019 as a part of Hong Kong Attitude, and exited the group stages without picking up a single win. This time around, has a strong AD carry Chiu "Bruce" Chih-Chun and a chance to rewrite the wasted opportunities of previous years. With PSG's visa issues and lack of a cohesive roster, Machi is the best chance the newly restructured Asian-Pacific region has at worlds in 2020. -- Tyler Erzberger

16. Unicorns of Love

Are you ready to love again? The most dominant non-major region team during their domestic year, Unicorns of Love travel over from Russia with a swagger behind them. In 2019, the Unicorns were a single game away from making the main event, losing to Europe's Splyce in a nail-biting five-game series. Splyce would then go on to make it through the group stages and give T1 a run for its money in the quarterfinals. Though the bottom lane has shifted for the CIS champions, the topside of the map remains the same, and the team's ace mid laner Lev "Nomanz" Yakshin is ready to take the next step after getting so close in 2019. The Unicorns might be the bloodiest team entering the world championship -- their domestic matches averaging over a kill-per-minute. They're not the cleanest team, but once they gain an advantage, their teamfighting and individual mechanical talent rocket them across the finish line. -- Erzberger

17. SuperMassive

The reigning Turkish Championship League (TCL) winners have some familiar faces on the lineup -- most notably Lee "KaKAO" Byung-kwon, who joined SuperMassive in June 2020 after stints with KT Rolster and competing at Worlds 2015 with Invictus Gaming. KaKAO helped the squad win its first TCL crown since 2018 (and land fifth overall). Changes have been made to the roster to strengthen lanes, including Support No "SnowFlower" Hoi-jong being brought back from KT Rolster to bolster the bot lane once again, reuniting with the team's longtime AD carry Berkay "Zeitnot" Aşıkuzun; this bot lane pair was a large part of SuperMassive's dominant 2018 campaign. Lee "GBM" Chang-seok is coaching the team after a long career at mid lane, which included time with NRG, Vitality and eUnited. Looking at this play-in group, it seems plausible that Supermassive can fight for a top-three spot and the right to make the group stage. When asked about his team's chances, Supermassive GM Ulas Gulkirpik said, "If we [play well that day], there isn't a play-in team we could not bring down." -- Ocal

18. Rainbow7

Remember the name Brandon Joel "Josedeodo" Villegas. Rainbow7 had lagged behind All Knights all year long in the Latin America region, and it appeared that would continue with the Mexican organization down 0-2 in the domestic final, but with their backs firmly against the wall ready to go home, the team's star jungler Josedeodo decided he didn't feel like ending his campaign just yet. Behind excellent teamfighting and Josedeodo's individual heroics on Lillia and Graves, R7 reverse-swept their rival and punched a ticket to Shanghai. Although R7 play one of the slower-paced and styles heading in the world championship, they're one of the better teamfighting teams in the play-ins, with players like Josedeodo and Facundo "Shadow" Cuello ready to make the big outplay if needed. Last year, all the talk in the play-in stage surrounded Can "Closer" Çelik and his ascent as a non-major region star jungler. 2020? This could be Josedeodo's time to shine. -- Erzberger

19. PSG Talon

Uh... Is there any chance that they can call in reinforcements Neymar or Kylian Mbappé? PSG Talon was lined up to be one of the favorites to make it through the play-in stage and compete for a knockout round spot at the main event, but visa issues have completely hamstrung the team, with starters Kim "River" Dong-woo and Park "Tank" Dan-won both ruled out for the entirety of the play-ins, along with starting AD carry Wong "Unified" Chun Ki also expected to miss a few of PSG's opening games. The situation is so disastrous that Chen "Dee" Chun-Dee, coach of fellow Asian-Pacific representative Machi Esports, has been designated as a stand-in until Unified can play for PSG in Shanghai. Overall, this team is in disarray, and although there are still some scary individual pieces on the PSG roster, the lack of chemistry and awkwardness of the situation pushes them near the bottom of our rankings. -- Erzberger

20. INTZ

The last time INTZ attended a world championship, they were arguably the best team that Brazil has ever sent to an international event in context, and upset EDward Gaming in their first match. This INTZ team, and Brazilian League of Legends as a whole, has changed significantly since then (shout-out to bot laner Micael "micaO" Rodrigues, though, the lone holdover from that 2016 team on this 2020 squad). Their story is one of perseverance, as they came up from nearly being relegated after an unsuccessful Split 1 to being crowned champions against PaiN Gaming in Split 2. INTZ and jungler Diogo "Shini" Rogê frequently play through mid laner Bruno "Envy" Farias, but top laner Rodrigo "Tay" Panisa is also a player to watch. -- Rand

21. Legacy Esports

For Oceania's representatives, it's all about gaining respect and accomplishing what no other team has ever done from their region: Make it to the world championship main event. Since its inclusion into the overall world championship circuit, Oceania has never seen one of its teams make it to the top 16, and they're often one of the first teams on the plane back home. This year, though, it could all be different, with Legacy bringing forth a capable team mixed with experienced and youthful talent that aims to make the impossible a reality. In terms of players to watch out for, starting AD carry Quin "Raes" Korebrits continues the long line of promising Oceanic marksmen and Kim "Topoon" Ji-hoon is a rock in the top lane who can stand up to anyone he's thrown against in the play-in stage. -- Erzberger

22. V3 Esports

We have new faces coming out of Japan for the first time in a while, as V3 Esports dethroned long-reigning champions DetonatioN FocusMe in a close 3-2 domestic final victory. When you start trying to analyze V3 Esports, it begins and ends with their South Korean jungler Lee "Bugi" Seong-yeop. Formerly on the Flash Wolves team that made it to the main event of the 2019 Mid Season-Invitational, Bugi has taken over the Japanese region since signing with V3 in the most recent offseason, leading all players in the summer split with 75 kills in 14 games. V3 will go as far as Bugi can carry them, and in a meta that favors carry junglers, Japan's champions might be a dark horse to steal victories away against more established teams in the play-in stage. -- Erzberger