The 2023 edition of the League of Legends World Championship enters the Knockout Stage.
The first ever World’s Swiss stage comes to a close and as the dust settles, what remains of the sixteen teams that set out to survive it, might surprise some people. Despite a disastrous history at Worlds, North America not only breaks free from the group stage this year but does so as Europe fails to progress and with one less representing team no less. NRG have shown that the path to success is not necessarily on the shoulders of other region’s legends, or through false-prodigal rookies. Niship “Dhokla” Doshi and Cristian “Palafox” Palafox have shown that grit and hard work can go a long way, something modern American esports doesn’t always encompass.
China sends all four representatives to the Worlds Knockout Stage, no mean feat and an unusual one given the regions tendency to peak in the earlier half of the year with MSI, but not an unexpected one, given the tremendous power of the region the past couple of years. JDG’s biggest threat still remains a domestic one, though they continue to be the favourites to win it all.
Something must be said for the fourth seeds that progress to the Knockout Stage, especially the likes of Weibo Gaming. Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok appears to be on form and Weibo’s path to victory could be through NRG, BLG and JDG, a path they can definitely navigate to repeat the feat of last year’s DRX.
Silver Stakes - League of Legends World Championship 2023
During the Swiss Stage and knockout rounds of Worlds, Pinnacle will be running the Silver Stakes Esports competition. There will be four rounds, where your bets on pre-game and live matches of Worlds 2023 will generate points towards the Silver Stakes leaderboards. Winning any of these rounds will grant the winner $1,000. There will also be a much larger leaderboard that you can collect points for across the four rounds. The winner of this leaderboard will earn a $25,000 bet on the final match of Worlds!
- Find more information here: Silver Stakes
The Knockout Stage kicks off with an MSI rematch. One that looked irredeemably one sided as Zeng “Yagao” Qi and co sent Korea’s GenG home with a clean sweep. While BLG’s form waned slightly during summer and hasn’t been quite as formidable thus far at Worlds, they creeped through Swiss stage with a 3-2 record. They are still certainly a threat, but it’s also perfect grounds for revenge. Kim "Peyz" Su-hwan is no longer competing in his first international event and the young rookie, or “Mini-Ruler” as he’s become known, seems more fired up than ever to deepen a Worlds run that is already impressive.
However, whilst 3-0 in the Swiss Stage, GenG did only pass through one Eastern team - T1. Their other victims were the only wildcard team in the Swiss Stage and an LEC team. GenG have a challenge on their hand as they face a Chinese team, on home soil - a factor that has proved a difficult for Korean teams in the past. Despite the home advantage, do a weakened BLG have what it takes to take down a ramping up GenG? Either way my money is on a close series, one that goes the distance. That being said, an all-Chinese semi-final could be on the cards!
- Read: Worlds MVP Preview
A recreation of NRG’s only defeat in the Swiss Stage, except in the form of a best of five series this time around. At every rung on the ladder NRG have been doubted. From overcoming Cloud9 in the Summer LCS Finals to taking down an EU team at Worlds. Yet here they stand, the last bastion of the Western hopes, begging for you to doubt them again. So far, the faithful have been rewarded, and the last time “TheShy” stood between NA and progression in a playoff series, we had our first ever all Western international final.
As Weibo progress further and further beyond people’s expectations, Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao continues to fight the stigma that he can only perform in Spring. Weibo have found themselves in the quarter finals as the fourth seed. Not only that, but with what many are calling a gift of a draw. Not only do they face the only Western team in playoffs, but they have beaten them once in this tournament already. Wang “Light” Guang-Yu needs but to recreate his Kai’sa performance and there’s a very real chance Weibo can be amongst the top four teams in the world. Can they crush the West’s final hope? Or will it just be another ‘what if?’ for “TheShy”?
It wouldn’t be KT Rolster if they got a good draw. Gwak “BDD” Bo-seong has always had the talent, he’s just never been a closer. Every match of their Swiss Stage pitted them against an Eastern team, making their 3-2 record as deceptive as GenG’s, but for the opposite reason. The crux of the matter is that the two teams that have proved too much for them to overcome were LNG and BLG. Two Chinese representatives and two teams whose number JDG have held all year long. Against T1 or GenG, KT have looked competitive ; against Weibo or NRG, you would favour them ; but in true KT fashion they have drawn the JDG tournament favourites. Can they pull off one of the biggest upsets of all time?
JDG. The Favourite. The one to beat. Undefeated in the Swiss Stage. BDS, BLG, LNG. A king to be crowned in Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk, a team on a golden road for whom destiny seems to be all but calling for. No team has done it. Not since G2 fell three games from the finish has a team been so close to the perfect year. KT should be but a speedbump on the way to a real challenge in the Semi-final, but the weight of expectation, an away crowd and history’s desire to re-occur stands in their way. Will Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok maintain composure after a few shaky Swiss-stage games, or will the pressure force them to crumble? It seems unlikely.
After a rocky start at Worlds 2023, with a shaky game against Team Liquid, T1 have re-solidified and proven they’re here to play. Reaching the final once more was bittersweet last year for a T1 and a Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok who were expected to win it all. With silver medal after silver medal, the longevity of this team has been surprising but it’s clear that it’s all coming to an end one way or another. Changes are on the horizon, will this, their last effort be enough to present them with the success that’s been eluding them the past two years. With disappointment at MSI, T1 fell to BLG in a manner that didn’t even present the matchup as close. However, during the Swiss stage T1 showed they had learnt from the past, that they weren’t going to fall in the same fashion, and they overcame BLG in a clean sweep. Chen “Gala” Wei has been in incredible form so far this Worlds, whilst Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong has been quiet in comparison. Toted most of last year as the best Botlane in the world, he needs, together with Ryu “Keria” Min-seok, to dig up that form one last time if we are to see them stand in the semi-finals.
LNG’s series against JDG in the Swiss Stage was closer than most expected, and it delivered by going all the way in the 2-0 bracket. Here they fight for a chance at a rematch, and all that stands in the way is “Faker”. What sort of challenge would it be otherwise? While not at the forefront of discussion, this team has quietly become almost a dark horse in the tournament, if only for how much they’ve been undervalued as a contender. “Gala” is in world class form, perhaps the only man in his role who has a chance to contend with “Ruler’s” form this year. It’s all there for the taking, but can a disappointing year turn into one of the greatest semi-finals upsets of all time? It has to be one step at a time for Lee "Scout" Ye-chan and co. All remains to be seen.