It happens every year around this time and runs throughout the entirety of October. The League of Legends World Championship is many players favorite time of year. There are always huge performances, meta shifts, and announcements about the upcoming season to be had, and this year is no different.
To start off, Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends, always makes a World’s Anthem. They hire a singer and their band to create a song that will played before and after every game of the World Championships. To put this into perspective, there are well over 100 games played at this tournament every year. To be able to use a song this much in under a month, it has to be good. However, this year, Riot upped their Anthem making game, hiring one of the most famous singers globally, Lil Nas X. He is known for singing across genres making songs that mix rap, pop and even country. For Worlds, he created a pop/rap mixture called Star Walking (This is the non-explicit version). Without giving too much away, it really captures the competitive spirit of Worlds with its chorus and is worth listening to.
With the music ready, the competition is well under way in the Worlds Play-ins. It is taking place in Mexico City, Mexico and teams from around the globe have gathered to try their hand at making it to the group stage that will be in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Two of the teams that make it to New York will as make it to the finals which will move to the west coast and be played in San Francisco’s Chase Center. The stakes could not be higher for every player.
Currently in the play-ins, 10 teams take turns taking the stage to play one game at a time. Only 4 teams can make it out of the play-ins and into the best of 5 games that await in New York. While their tournament lives are on the line, each team will play a total of 6 best of 1 games to earn their spot. Any records that tie (ex. Two teams go 4 – 2 and are tied for 2nd place) will play a best of 5 series after all the best of 1 games are over and the team that wins that will be awarded 2nd place and make it into the group stage.
The play-ins can be a bit confusing with 20 teams all duking it out in a short 2-week timespan, but they are perhaps the most important games of the whole Worlds Tournament because they set the meta and precedent for characters that will be picked and banned. For example, the character Maokai was not picked at all in any regions throughout the entirety of 2022, but in this tournament, he is being picked across 3 roles, Top, Jungle and Support, and has been picked in over 50% of the games that have been played thus far. This is known as the ‘Worlds Meta.’ It is partially due to how Riot Games have nerfed and buffed the characters for Worlds, but it also has to do with the utility that a character brings to the game.
Sticking with Maokai, he is a character that is incredibly powerful for the underdog team in any given game. This is because Maokai has 3 abilities that provide hard cc, either rooting or knocking back the enemy, and has a long-ranged ability called Sapling Toss that effectively provides vision of the enemy team if they get close to the tossed sapling. With all these utilities available on a single character, it allows a team that may not be as skilled as the other to close some of the gap.
Understanding the Worlds Meta is important outside of the context of Worlds too. The Worlds Meta often shapes how and what players will play in your ranked and normal games. Having that understanding of what, how, and why a certain character in the game is good can help you win your games and improve as a player. If you have not tuned into Worlds yet, it is worth it.