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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  • #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.

  • #66 DarkSideCreo

    Korea has 3 spots, but should have at least 4 maybe 5 if we want an accurate representation of the best teams.

    I thought Korea has 4 places, not 3? Since they won the All-stars. Or it doesn't work that way? I thought the way it works is that everyone has 3 slots, Korea has +1 cause they won the All-stars, and there's another slot for the challenger team?

  • #70 Tuck359

    They had 2 and got to 3 with the win

  • #73 LolLolLolJake

    Korea had 2, earned a third spot for winning all-stars. EU and NA get 3 (4 in Eu's case) because Riot felt the need to placate the section of the NA and EU playerbase that will stop watching if there's no NA and EU teams left, like in S2 Finals.

  • #77 ohGr

    Quote from LolLolLolJake »

    Korea had 2, earned a third spot for winning all-stars. EU and NA get 3 (4 in Eu's case) because Riot felt the need to placate the section of the NA and EU playerbase that will stop watching if there's no NA and EU teams left, like in S2 Finals.

    Congratulations on the "Most Ignorant Post of the Day." It has nothing to do with placating, and everything to do with region size. South Korea has a population of roughly 40M. Western Europe (not counting that it used to include Russian teams) has TEN TIMES that. North America has over 500M just between US and Canada. This gives you an idea of the player bases in those regions, which are why the newest server clusters only got to field 1 team into a tournament for the last World's placement.

    Giving S.Korea 4-5 spots with 2 or 1 for EU, NA, Latin America, and greater Asia(China/Russia) wouldn't make it "Worlds" as much "Korea & Friends."

  • #81 LolLolLolJake

    Right, nothing to do with placating. I aguess all the racist posts against asians during S2 Finals on reddit and the LoL forums was just a figment of my imagination. China has a billion people, where's their third slot, ya aspie? Riot gave NA and EU more spots in order to keep their viewers interested longer.

    Last edited by LolLolLolJake: 9/5/2013 1:18:36 PM
  • #65 Gameguy301
    The LCSs current model is not designed to cultivate talent or competition (although it is a side effect). It is designed for sustainability and growth. The scene in season 1 and 2, was a lot smaller, there was only so much money to go around an only the best teams could get their hands on that money. The only way to get good was experience but the only way to get experience was to be good enough to stick around.

    Under the LCS teams are salaried, winnings are more trivial compared to the amount if money they get for nearly participating, so long as you don't get relegated you could potentially mill around in the middle of the pack forever and earn a living regardless. This model allows more teams to participate, increasing the size of the organization and as a lucky side effect competition as well.

    More teams > More viewers > more sponsors > more money > bigger scene

    From here you can repeat as long as interest holds, eventually they will reach a tipping point, were the scene is suitably large and growth is no longer plausible and / or desirable, this is we're a fundamental shift comes suddenly number of competitors isn't as important quality is, a shift in the system to reflect that shift will occur eventually. i dont beleive we have arrived at this point yet.

    More competition > more viewers > more sponsors > more money > more talent

    the OGN is actually close to the above, what i will call phase 2, and on top of koreas strong esports culture / infrastructure is a contributing factor to why they are so far ahead.
    Last edited by Gameguy301: 9/4/2013 10:05:25 PM
  • #62 Zalfi

    The only real issue with the way the Korean teams are chosen is that teams got an automatic birth into worlds. They are having a mini tourney to decide who gets the 3rd spot, but what they should be doing is having the same tourney include KTB and Ozone. Sure the teams who finished higher get an easier shot, but they should still be able to prove now that they are a top 3 team.

    And the LCS was a decent 1st attempt at a competative scene, hopefully Riot recognizes the flaws and seeks to improve it for next year (best of twos should really be considered).

  • #60 Skymin_Flower

    Najin sword doesn't deserve to go to worlds. Like wow. The worst part is, I feel like after MakNoon left, they figured out that, well they already had 400 circuit points, so while the other teams were fighting in the top 8 of the OGN, they would just lose and get relegated to the bottom 8, and then win NLB for a free 100 points. They did this twice, and it feels really dirty. The top teams were actually trying in the OGN, and now 3 of the best teams in the entire world won't get to worlds.

    Even worse, NaJin Sword gets a first round bye at worlds for coming first. So we can't even watch them lose in the group stage.

  • #61 Pinewood74

    Najin Sword still had to beat all the other teams that were not top 4 to get those "free 100 points."  It's not Najin Sword's fault that 5th place (1st in NLB) gets the same as 4th place or that OGN rewards performances from more than half a year ago the same as right now.  Blame the system, don't hate on the team.

  • #76 Skymin_Flower

    My bad, got the numbers wrong. But I still think that their success with MakNoon earlier in the year should not lead to them going to worlds, especially getting the first round bye, when they have proven they don't deserve anything higher than 5th on the Korean ladder without him.

  • #59 ninbushido

    I really like this idea. LCS has been good and all but I still think circuit points are better, though the circuit point system should still be modified a bit. I agree, the spring split results meant NOTHING...Cloud 9 didn't even qualify as Quantic Gaming back then, TSM also won that split, but Cloud 9 goes on an amazing streak this split and goes into finals, and meanwhile TSM would have been denied a spot in world's for losing a single game.

  • #56 FatsXL

    Part of the problem is there isn't a lot of continuity for these teams. A roster can change drastically in the 7-9 months from the start of a season to the worlds which affects the style a team plays and how it performs. I like having a build up to Worlds but at the same time we all want to see the most consistently strongest teams compete, not ones that had some star players 4-5 months ago and are riding on that performance from back then to give them a berth (such as Najin Black Sword).

    I think there should be more emphasis on these splits being one-offs with the play-off winners earning circuit points , the teams with the highest points have priority seeding/byes in the qualifying tournament for Worlds which would be separate from the split play-offs. Also there should be more international tournaments, more in the style of how seasons 1 and 2 were, and these would also award circuit points.

    These circuit points could determine the distribution of World Championship slots for each region based on their overall total. For example say Korea consistently wins the international exhibitions/tournaments and has 3+ teams consistency placing top 5, then their region as a whole would have more circuit points than say North America and would have 3 or 4 spots at Worlds, compared to Europe & NA which might have only 2 each.

    This type of system is better because it rewards the best teams at the moment without screwing over the ones that have proven themselves consistently good over the long term, but doesn't guarantee the latter are going to worlds, it simply gives them a leg up during the qualifying tournament. Also more international tournaments = more fun times. I was really sad they moved away from them in season 3.

    Last edited by FatsXL: 9/4/2013 7:45:49 PM
  • #54 Bloodwrath2

    I was watching KT Bullets vs CJ Frost and my jaw literally dropped how they manage to escape situations with slivers of health. I was like "C9 doesn't stand a chance..."

    Worst part is the caster considered that a sloppy game by Korean standards. 

  • #52 Gameguy301
    Watch OGN they say...I wish I could but they stream at the crack of dawn, and if your not paying a subscription that means no high quality and no vods. (They keep tight control over there) So it's either get no sleep, or pony up the cash.

    Had to watch the summer finals in a 240p upload of a 360p stream, with Russian voice overs. I couldn't see a damn thing and of course coukd understand what was beinf said beside what I already knew. The big green blob which I assume was zac is incredibly OP.
  • #53 NightOfWallachia

    Quote from Gameguy301 »

    Watch OGN they say...I wish I could but they stream at the crack of dawn, and if your not paying a subscription that means no high quality and no vods. (They keep tight control over there) So it's either get no sleep, or pony up the cash.

    Had to watch the summer finals in a 240p upload of a 360p stream, with Russian voice overs. I couldn't see a damn thing and of course coukd understand what was beinf said beside what I already knew. The big green blob which I assume was zac is incredibly OP.

    The videos are usually uploaded on to youtube like a week after.

  • #51 aTsai

    I completely agree with the fact that the Koreans are by far superior to the American teams atm. However, I think the reason Korea doesn't get more slots is because since it's worlds, other countries might not like the idea that Korea has a statistically higher chance of getting first place. If LCS wasn't regional, it would probably be more fair if Korea got more slots cause they would've regularly played against teams from other countries. I know in other sports, there are usually more international competition going on to see who's the best worldwide. Just my opinions though. :)

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