Why the Best Teams Won't be at Worlds: Is Regional Representation More Important than Overall Skill?

Season 3's World Championships start in a few short weeks, but the best teams in the world won't really be in attendance. 14 teams are selected to represent the world for Riot's end of the season championship, but we are all fooling ourselves if we think they are the overall best teams.

It's no secret to anyone who watches competitive LoL that Korea is the best region by a wide margin. It's not just how good they are, but how many teams are that good that makes Korea deserving of more slots if we truly want the best teams in the world competing. At one point it was Europe who was the best, next year it could China, but we need a way of determining how many seeds a region gets better than we do now. Regional representation is important, but there are better ways to go about selecting the overall teams. Let's take a look at the problem and how to fix it.

Korean Prominence

Only one of the following teams will be representing Korea at worlds: CJ Frost, CJ Blaze, KT Rolster B, and the reigning OGN champions SKT T1. Thinking about that fact makes me sad as a League of Legends fan because any of those 4 teams could have easily qualified in any other region. This is before we even mention the two already qualified Korean teams, Najin Black Sword and MVP Ozone. Korea has 3 spots, but should have at least 4 maybe 5 if we want an accurate representation of the best teams. One of the finalists from the most recent OGN championship that went all 5 games won't be at the championship so you know something is flawed.

Everyone has their own opinion on how good regions are in relation to each other, but avid watchers of the OGN should notice that the teams that compete there are both mechanically superior and more objective oriented than the rest of the world. It's  not that they are so much drastically better at the top as it is that they have so many teams that play at such a caliber. It's quality AND quantity. They all play well as a team and seem to not only make fewer mistakes, but punish their opponents much more harshly when openings are found than the rest of the world. With apologies to Cloud9, Koreans are playing chess while the rest of the world plays checkers. At the end of the day, the 4th or 5th best team from a region like Korea has a better shot to win it all if they get hot at the right time than teams from weaker regions.

Realistically, it isn't fair to other regions to arbitrarily take away their spots because those fans want to cheer for their own teams. Only 14 teams represent the millions and millions of LoL players around the globe and Riot has done its best to keep everyone happy. We've seen that the system they have developed has improved but as the end of the season approaches we start to see its flaws as well. For Season 4 to be the best it can possibly be, some changes need to happen. 

Regions have every right to be able to send their best to have a chance for bragging rights at the end of the year. A scenario shouldn't arise where a region gets left out completely. However, it's tough to punish a region simply because they are stronger top to bottom than the rest of the world. In a perfect scenario, all the regions would be equally skilled and this wouldn't matter, but that's not where we live. The real question is how many teams does each region deserve and how do we make those determinations. 

Problems from the LCS and Possible Solutions

The LCS was a great success this season. It brought tons of interest to the scene and even saw Blizzard set up an extremely similar league for Starcraft as a response. E-Sports is growing faster than ever, but as the season ends we know the LCS wasn't perfect. Only NA and EU follow the same rules, and the rest of regions mostly use the circuit point system from Season 2. This creates a number of problems, but most notably the spring split of the LCS in both Europe and North America meant absolutely nothing.

Najin Black Sword has had middling performances since they won OGN winter almost a year ago, but is qualifying for the championships mainly based on that performance (when Maknoon was still on the team). Had TSM lost to CLG in the summer playoffs, their 1st place performance in the spring split would have meant absolutely nothing. Fnatic didn't have an easier schedule or an easier time at all in Europe because they won in the spring. The stakes need to be raised, or the system needs to be altered to make these early season games mean the same across the regions.

The LCS also means we don't get to see the different regions play each other anymore except at the end of the season. The best part about the tournament setting of Season 2 was seeing Europe, NA, and the rest of the world fight on a regular basis for bragging rights. All-stars hardly counts because those are exhibition games by players thrown together by the fans. They are great players, but they can't make a great team in two weeks of practice.

Fixing this is as easy as having a tournament in the middle of each split that pits at least two regions against each other like MLG Winter had with the International Exhibition. Take two teams from the home region and the top teams from their respective leagues in two other regions and pit them against each other for "region points." Region points should be weighed on these finishes with all-stars and previous world championship performances to determine how many seeds a region gets. This way wee could see Korea get 4ish seeds and still have the rest of world represented. It provides all the regions with incentive to do well because it determines how many spots they get going forward.

Riot's done a great job growing e-Sports and LoL is a great spot going into this season's finals and Season 4 beyond. Small tweaks should be made to the system, and we'd all like to see international play arise more often. Logistically, it's unrealistic to ask for truly worldwide events to happen all the time because of cost, visa issues, and so many other problems that arise but a happy medium needs to be found. IPL 5 was one of the best events LoL, and the absence of events like it hurts. Riot's building something great, and it's still  a work in progress, but it's one that has been terrific to watch unfold.

What do you think RoG'ers? Should Korea or whoever else is the dominant region of the time get more points? How should the LCS be tweaked to matter more particularly in the spring? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to stay tuned to ReignofGaming for all your LoL-related needs.

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  • #98 Dalzee

    It's called "Worlds" for a reason, not "Best Korean Team in the World". While I agree some Korean teams that failed to qualify are better than some EU/NA/China teams, there's absolutely NO reason to increase the number of spots they deserve. 

  • #94 Bodycounter

    And i thought a competition is about money. You need teams from europe and america do get popular worldwide. On top of that: 3 spots for korea doesn't seem to be that bad, does it?

  • #91 jnuu

    I agree with this article.

    In international soccer, each region does NOT get equal qualifying spots.  Nobody wants to see Jamaica play Spain.  Sorry.  The more powerful regions get more qualifying spots, and that's how it should be, for better viewing.

    Watching summer split should be a good indicator of that.  Watching Cloud 9 stomp everybody, while funny, isn't actually fun to watch.  I don't want to watch worlds to see poor play by other regions.  I want to see the best.

    The 2 current issues that  I see is how to determine the qualifying spots each year, because obviously each year the regions are in flux.  The other is that access to viewing OGN and other regions games is limited and usually the native language of the region.  I like watching the best, but it's hard to relate to the teams when I don't really know much about them, or their playing style.


  • #89 Alexfrog

    I am so sick of everyone talking about how much we suck, and how much better Korea is than the rest of the world.  (And I really hope Cloud 9 can show them up and make all those people eat their words about how Korea is infinitely better than us and no one else has a chance).

    Now you want to give them more worlds spots and give less chances for the rest of the world to stop them?  Thats a terrible, TERRIBLE idea. 

    Even if one region is the best, the entire point of these international competitions should be to give other regions a chance to beat them, give them a chance to change the perception of dominance.  As soon as all the teams in a region are out, viewership from that region of the world will drop significantly.


    Worlds should not be "we think this region is the best, therefore you get to watch a bunch of their teams play each other".  Worlds should be "Everyone puts ~3 teams in, lets see which regions teams come out on top".


    I do think we need more international competition than just once a year.  It would be nice if there was a huge international tournament every 3 months or so with teams from all regions represented.




  • #88 NeoPhobos

    I don't have the time currently to read all the comments, so I apologize if this has already been said:

    The easiest way to fix the issue about Korea (or whatever the dominant region is for that given year) is to hold a wild card tournament the week prior to Worlds. Take the top 2 teams from each region that didn't qualify, and have them prove their worth. That way, maybe we'll get to see the Singapore Sentinels at Season 4 Worlds, instead of them choking in their Regional Finals just like the past 2 seasons,  lulz

  • #87 voltorocks

    A lot of pro sports (NHL, MLB, NCAA football, to name a few big ones here in the U.S.) Have pretty uneven leagues or divisions.  This is not on accident; there are a few advantages on both sides:

    -more exciting and competetive season play: fans like to see teams play who are "playing the same game," as well as regional rivalries of the type that don't develop between teams that are wildly geographically disparate.

    -exciting and meaningful playoff/pre-playoff play: for the underdog divisions, this is their chance to break away and prove themselves without feeling like the championship will be a completely lost cause.  For the upper divisions, it's a time to test themselves against the big dogs in their region to see who deserves to be the favorite going in.

    -Diverse regional interest in the championships, with a lot of unknowns: Having the divisions (mostly) separate during the season makes for exiting championship games; even heavily favored teams seem like they have a chance to be toppled if the teams have never faced before; and they might!  This system intentionally give underdogs and edge and encourages upsets: not only does it make for more exciting play, it also forces the best teams to prove that they have what it takes to adapt.


    TL;DR: giving unevenly skilled regional divisions the same shot in a league-wide championship is a proven formula for exciting play and fostering a diverse fanbase.

    Last edited by voltorocks: 9/5/2013 10:29:41 AM
  • #90 LolLolLolJake

    If the LCS followed the NCAA FBS style of deciding champions, C9 would be told "Sorry, you're not established enough, here's a 5th place trophy", and only dig, clg, tsm, and crs would have the chance to go to worlds every season.

  • #86 Haruman

    I'm glad you mention (briefly) Blizzard's version of the LCS, because that is a perfect example of how to damage your competitive scene then grow it. WCS America is essential Korea's B region with a few standout players from the Americas (for example, Scarlett). The moment the last "foreigner" is out of the tournament, viewership of that tournament dropped significantly. 

    I feel in the case where one region greatly out represents others in Worlds would significantly hurt the growth of the scene as viewers of other regions would stop caring once their region's team(s) is out. 

    I do feel though we need more off season international tournaments when regional tournaments aren't in progress.

  • #85 Eph289

    You know what? This is probably the first RoG article that I've flat-out said "This blows" about.

    Blizzard did the very same crap that Tuck is suggesting with Starcraft, allowing Korean players to participate in other regions without playing the whole season in that region. Guess what? Korean players went and dominated the other regions. A whole two foreigners went to WCS Season 2 Finals, and it friggin sucked. Now you're trying to suggest that Riot should emulate that dumpster fire? WTF.

    All I can say is that I hope this idea gets killed, buried, and never resurrected again. I'm more-or-less ambivalent on the rest of your points, but the idea that "let's reward strong regions" is a load of total crap that sucked when Blizzard did it and would suck harder if Riot did it. Screw that with a rusty fork. Your idea says "Hey, let's take the strongest region and give them even GREATER chances of winning." Yeah, because that makes sense.

    For a long time, Russia/the Soviet Union was one of the strongest teams internationally when it came to gymnastics. Now it's the US and the Chinese. Did the IOC decide that because people want to see the highest quality gymnasts that they should give more slots to Russia/the US/China for the Olympics? No! Because that's friggin stupid.

    Last edited by Eph289: 9/5/2013 10:14:10 AM
  • #92 Tuck359

    You do realize I never once said Korean only teams should be allowed to compete in other regions right? That was a never thing I even hinted at. My point was to only to give the actual Korean scene a chance by virtue of entrance to a wild card tournament or simply more slots (earned by winning international competitions and gaining "region points").

    I respect your opinion that you want to see the different regions compete, but my point was that not all regions are created equally. Each region should send teams, but how many they send and how they are sent should be addressed. If we want the season championship to be the best collection of talent it needs to have teams that are capable of winning it all involved.

    Each region should send a team or two, but the best teams need to be there as well in my opinion like in soccer's world cup or the champions league as others have pointed out. We can agree to disagree on our view of the end of the season championship though as you like to view it as more of an Olympics setting, thanks for the comment.

    Last edited by Tuck359: 9/5/2013 3:25:34 PM
  • #97 Shroomster

    I'm not sure Koreans participating in other regions is even suggested or mentioned in the article, so I don't know why did you kick up all this fuss...?

    Even so, your point with Korean in other regions is nothing new in Olympics. A lot of countries cherry pick talents from other nations. What's the difference if a Korean or foreigner win it anyway? It's not like the Koreans cheated. They still had to play the game and win! They win cuz of how they play not because they are Korean!

  • #82 zBlackBoxz

    I'm a little disappointed that Tuck didn't even acknowledge how difficult it would be to have these region matches. If the matches are played online, then either one side or the other will suffer from game-crippling lag for trying to play cross-region. If these region matches are played over LAN, then there will be a lot of flying involved - which would negatively impact one or both teams. 

    With that said, I would still like to see something like what Tuck is suggesting. It would certainly change the monotony we get from seeing teams from the same region butt heads over and over again.

  • #78 Meheroe

    What you are trying to achieve by sending more Korean teams to world's would ruin the reason they even host them. You're talking like it would be better to just give the prizes to Korea. Each region should get equal oppurtunities.

  • #75 thecrays

    I am really looking forward to the finals. For S4, i hope every region will use the same system because the ciruit point system is always so strange^^.

  • #72 VaeTV



    I agree with you about the no sense for seeding teams after playoff. You spoke about Fnatic but we can speak about the useless performance of ATN, they were first during 6 weeks then second during 2 weeks ( Creaton don't break your hand again plz) then it's last week and they are almost out of playoff ( they gone in after a tie breaker match). Following up this logic, maybe Riot doesn't care about BO1 match and rate only a performance team during a Bo3.

  • #84 Thaddeusmike

    No, what we can conclude is that Alternate didn't do particularly well in Bo1 matches over the full course of the season.

  • #69 merluza00

    I followed LCS during its first 2 or 3 months, but it became a bit stale watching the same 8 or 9 teams playing against each other week after week during 6 months. I caught up again recently with the introduction of C9, roster changes on CRS, TSM, CLG and GG and I'm glad that the S3 finals are close, as the scene is starting to get repetitive again. 

    The limited pool of competitively viable champs doesn't help at all on this issue. Even though there are always some odd champs showing up like ziggs, zilean, urgot or yorick, most of the time there is a pool of 25-30 champs that is used over and over and over during 3 or 4 patches.


    edit: grammar

    Last edited by merluza00: 9/4/2013 11:40:10 PM
  • #68 jetflash

    Another problem is that the LCS best of 1 or 3 draft formats are considerably weaker in determining the stronger team. Adjustments and pick mind games are more visible in the OGN format of 4 draft and 5th game blind pick.

  • #67 outofinspiration

    I admit I didn't follow competitve scene during season 2 until Worlds. Back then, I thought teams (always the same famous teams) were qualified because of magic (some "random" tournament I didn't know about). I liked the LCS because it offered a weekly competition to me and I was able to follow teams' evolution. Right now, I know almost nothing about Korean scene yet.

    LCS spring split... I feel it was only for the purpose of the split's playoffs. First of all, new teams might get in. Second, spring playoffs are different. 30 (approx) weeks might be boring at the end (or maybe not). Besides that, where money prizes given?

    Actually, one thing that annoyed me in S2 Worlds and summer split is the playoffs system. Byes and losers' brackets... dammit, is it so hard making regular groups with 2^n teams qualfying fro the playoffs? I think they improved it this time. And summer split... 6 teams out 8 in the playsoffs? 


    On the main topic, you don't have to be the very best like no one ever was, you only have to be better than your opponent when you play. Should you qualify to worlds when you are not the best in your region? Should you be punished for not doing that great lately?

    Let me give an exemple: a football team (hi from Europe!) has a 20 points lead 6 matches before the league ends. It doesn't matter if they lose these 6 matches, they already are the national champions and will be in the next Champions' League. If you only take a 6-week span, it may be unfair, but you have to look the whole 30-something weeks. So, same problems appear in other sports. A different point system is the one used in ATP/WTA, not sure if it could be adopted.



  • #79 Thaddeusmike

    6 out of 8 teams in the playoffs is a high percent, but given 3 teams from each region in World's it makes sense to have the extra round. Basically, when you have a playoff in an 8 team league, you have to choose between qualifying being too easy and the stakes not being high enough.

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