One of, if not the biggest esports event of the year is officially underway. The World Championships for League of Legends, or simply “Worlds” concluded its play-in stage over the weekend in Shanghai. The sole North American (LCS) team in play-ins, Team Liquid, went 3-1 and solidified their spot into the group stage. This means, that every team from the LCS, Team Liquid, Team Solo Mid, and Flyquest are all present in the tournament proper.

Slow/Steady = Wins

In the world of League, play-ins are the relegation bracket. Each region is getting a certain number of slots based on strength. China currently has the most with 4. North America has three, two in groups and on in play-ins. To be down in the play-ins is already a disadvantage, you have to possibly play up to 6 more matches, which means more time for teams to figure you out. Team Liquid received a favorable berth, seeding into group A. They avoided matches with strong teams like Taiwan’s PSG Talon and Russia’s Unicorns of Love.

Even though they dropped a game to Brazil’s INTZ Gaming, TL looked strong throughout the play-ins. They stayed true to their slower, more methodical style, and made few mistakes. In particular, they saw strong performances from veteran top laner, Eon-yeong “Impact” Jung, and rookie ADC, Edward “Tactical” Ra. Tactical, has big Berserker’s Grieves to fill as well. He received the call up from TL’s academy to replace LCS legend, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Tactical’s performance against the EU’s MAD Lions was particularly noteworthy. He dominated the mid/late game with 5 kills and 14 assists.

The Next Step

With their spot in the group stage solidified, TL now waits to see who else claws their way out. The tragic spot for them would be Group B. A collection that has Damwon Gaming, JD Gaming, and Rogue. The Korean champions, China’s runner-up, and EU’s third-place team. While Group A seems like a better option, it’s just as rife with peril. Especially with the European champion, G2 Esports awaiting there. So the luck of the draw will determine Team Liquid’s fate. The LCS has only gone as far as the semi-finals of Worlds. Cloud 9 made the penultimate match but was smashed by the UK’s Fnatic. Could one of the strangest years in our lives be the year that NA actually does it? It remains to be seen but Worlds 2020 starts, in earnest, on October 3rd.

Featured Image: LoL Esports Photos