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By Shawn Baker

LoL Worlds 2019 – Amazing until it wasn’t!

I’ve never personally been the biggest fan of League of Legends, the in-game art style doesn’t normally appeal to me, and as a lover of Dota 2, it seems like I’m supposed to just have a distaste for the game. What I do love, though, is watching the best players in the world going at it in just about any esports title.

Working with FantasyEsports.gg on their Worlds 2019 Fantasy Campaign, though, has been amazing and put me in a position that forced me to not just watch the final day of Worlds, but instead the entire tournament. In that time, I’ve grown to love what Riot does in the space and how Worlds is handled. Enjoying over a month of the best teams from around the world fighting it out for the Summoner’s Cup across multiple countries has been amazing. So amazing that I can’t wait for the new season to start.

Will FPX again dominate the LPL? Will the new European players moving to North America take the LCS up a notch? Can the LCK move back to the top position? And will G2 dominate the season to possibly stumble at the end? I can’t wait to find the answers to these questions.

However, if you’re like me and only found yourself watching the final day of Worlds over the last few years to check out the opening ceremony and see the two best teams fight it out, you’d be quick to dismiss the amazing experience Riot offers during Worlds. The final series of Worlds 2019 was disappointing! You don’t need to be a League expert to understand how dominant FPX was in their 3-0 victory over G2.

Worlds 2017 / 2018 / 2019 Finals Results from Liquipedia

The bigger problem? It’s the third year in a row that the finals have ended in a 3-0, and when the final day of Worlds consists of just the one series, it’s easy to have a bit of a foul taste in your mouth. So how do you fix it? I’m not going to pretend to be an expert when it comes to League, the amount of knowledge I’ve gained regarding the game over the last three months makes me feel comfortable talking about it, however, with 1,000s of hours watching professional Dota 2 and dozens of tournaments, I’m certainly comfortable talking about tournament structures I enjoy.

I think the month-plus of Worlds is amazing, and while I could enjoy another few weeks of it, making it longer doesn’t seem like a good idea. The Play-In stage is great and gives a chance for so many teams to make a run for the Summoner’s Cup. The separation between the first round of the group stage and the second makes for great storylines as you enter the second week and wonder if teams will turn it around or continue to show dominance. With the way Fnatic was playing, it’s safe to say that if the second round of groups were immediately after the first, they’d probably not have made it to the Playoffs.

In the end, the issue with Worlds comes in the Playoff bracket. The introduction of a double-elimination bracket which saw the third seed from each group be seeded into it could make for an extremely interesting playoff stage. This year that would’ve resulted in both Cloud9 and Liquid getting in giving fans of the LCS someone to cheer for in the final weeks.

Royal Never Give Up would’ve also made it in who could’ve made a run alongside J Team being the fourth team. A second chance for the likes of DAMWON, SK T1, IG, or Griffin could’ve also resulted in a different final match up. A scare to G2 as they get pushed to the lower bracket could’ve also painted a different picture in the finals.

Worlds 2019 Group Stage Results from Liquipedia

Adding a lower bracket to the Worlds playoff stage can increase the regional representation in the most crucial part of the tournament while giving viewers even more world-class League to watch. Adding some mid-week games would result in teams having less time to prepare for opponents, however, having the third seed make it in and the top two seeds receiving a second chance in the lower bracket should certainly make it appealing.

Viewership numbers should also continue to be extremely solid, considering the numbers that SK T1 can bring in, having them around for a bit longer is only a good thing for advertisers and Riot. When you consider the fact that The International 2018 with 18 teams ran over 10 days, Riot should be able to figure out a way to make a 12 team playoff bracket fit across three weeks.

Photo credit: lolesports on flickr

Still, we’re a while away from Worlds 2020 in China, so for now, I’ll sit patiently waiting for the next season to start.

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