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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  • #74 LolLolLolJake

    And yet the region that finished 2nd at all-stars has to watch the bottom 2 regions send more teams than them.

  • #50 Waaargh

    Tuck359 has two points. The first being how the many teams at worlds don't represent all the best teams in the world. The second point being LCS is eschewed .

    As many have said in the thread, we (EU and NA) don't care about the 3rd or 4th best Korean team, as long as that region gets the best teams sent to worlds. Like most other, we want to have our regional heroes to root for. And we hope so bad our team can beat the Koreans... just like TPA did last time around. Of course the Korean teams are highly seeded and noone would be surprised if they won. (Go Fnatic!)


    The second point is about LCS. Yup, it matters little how you fare right now, as long as you keep to the top half during splits. Gambit Gaming didn't have to perform their best, as long as they above the red line, and as long as they did good enough to eventually enter play offs, and there proceed to go to worlds.

    At first I agreed with you here. It's too easy at LCS and there is not much at stake - for the strongest teams. Thinking it over tho, I like how the young players on teh teams doesn't have to get all psyched out during the course of an entire league season. You still have to perform good, but you don't have to get all burned out. Some of the games requires several hours of peak performance - that's more than what is expected of professional sports players who have a whole backfield of different coaches and sports psychologists ready to help them. What LCS is is also a much more formalized way of playing, compared to previous seasons where teams met in scrims and big and small tournaments. I like the LCS model better, even if there are less epic games fought over 1st place.

    LCS can be improved on, just keep in mind there are living breathing people sitting at the computers, playing.

    About the OGN and rewarding teams with a place at worlds, I don't like that, as pointed out a team only has to peak once during the year, and then they are through no matter what happens to the team afterwards. Rewarding each team that wins a period the chance to go through to worlds seems to be the better solution. For LCS it could be 1st to 3rd place of each period that gets a spot at play-offs. Again there is the small hindrance of either throwing teams out of the league and starve them of practice, or they risk earning 1st to 3rd place on both periods.

  • #47 Privilege

    I agree that some form of normalization should be implemented for the different regions Leagues. I could see an amended Circuit point system. Round robin, learning towards LCS, with points awarded for placement in each playoff with Regionals afterwards, the highest points getting byes or something. Winning the first split should be worth less points than winning subsequent splits, but still worth something.

    An international exhibition between splits would be nice, giving an immediate sense of where each region is at compared another, along with an sort of brutal second chance Wildcard tournament for one last spot(s) at Worlds. Plus it be fun.

  • #48 Nakhan

    So far, this is the best setup for S4 I've seen yet.

  • #42 JoeyMakesMagic

    LCS is not what I envisioned when they announced it.  Not being able to see the regions play each other really creates a boring competitive environment.  Watching the NA LCS was absolutely awful for the most part.  EU was entertaining due to the closeness in skill level of the teams but all I really wanted to see was the regions fight each other as well as themselves. 

    I won't be watching LCS next season unless there is some change so that I can see the different regions play each other.

  • #55 ichigo2979

    Yeah, I really enjoyed the NA Spring split, but that was mostly because of all the upsets, especially TSM and Curse; and man those finals with Good Game University! I honestly didn't watch Summer split all that much because C9 was just wrecking while everyone else was busy picking up the crumbs. TSM finished second but went 0 - 3 in the final match... No contest really.

    Plus OGN is just more fun to watch. Korean casters and their pentakills, dude. So awesome.

  • #39 EGOtyst

    The point of World's IS NOT to determine who, out of all the teams, is the best. It is not an international ladder. 

    The point it to pit the best teams from multiple regions against each other. It is for international bragging rights. 

    If you want to see the top 10 teams in the world compete, then watch OGN (or whichever league you think is best).

    I personally want to see multiple regions competing against each other. That is what World's provides. It also shows who THE BEST in the World is. Again, it is not to create a ladder/comprehensive tier list. It is to show Number One in the world, and to provide a general indicator at the strengths and weaknesses of the different global regions. 

    To try and make it anything else would be boring.

  • #49 Nakhan

    The point of World's IS to determine who, out of all the teams, is the best..... in the world.

  • #38 billyjoebobbyjackson

    Sounds like an article for the sake of an article.  This isn't congress its League of Legends. Its about the best from all over the world competing for first place. I'm sure first place is the goal of any serious competitor not representation.  So if Korea really does have the best of the best then their top team will take 1st and enjoy the spoils. I don't even remember who got second place last year. TPA however won the cup and represented their country and their region to the fullest!

  • #58 ichigo2979

    CJ(Azubu) Frost was 2nd. And the idea that "if you're the best then you'll get first 100%" doesn't hold true. There are circumstances: matchups, player health, jet lag, crowds, bugs, cheating, the state of the game, straight-up luck, etc, etc.
    Not saying that TPA didn't deserve 1st last season, just saying that even the most consistently good teams (who are the real "best" imo) can just have a bad tourney. If that tourney happens to be World Finals, it doesn't mean they don't deserve recognition.

  • #35 TheHawkbat

    I think the major point that Riot is missing is that the Asian teams are not just the best, they also got the largest playerbase behind them. More than 70% of all league players are from Asia. The truth is: League is a game mostly played by Asians.

    It just happens that due to the language barrier and the different companies that provide league in these regions (Tencent/Garena), these players are even less visible to Riot than the EU players. The majority of the playerbase doesn't know who Saintvicious or Scarra are and doesn't care because they are bad. The majority of the playerbase is very upset by the fact that they got the same number of teams at worlds than the small scenes in the West. The majority of the playerbase lives in Asia yet the finals are held somewhere in LA.

  • #41 Nakhan

    Yet Riot makes its money from US/EU, not from some other planet... like Asia.

  • #57 ichigo2979

    hue. someone's from 'Murica.

    Last edited by ichigo2979: 9/4/2013 7:41:26 PM
  • #63 Pinewood74

    Where do you get this 70% number?  I don't know the distribution of the player base but at Season 2 Worlds there was 8.2 million viewers of which only 2.4 million were from China and Korea, leaving 5.8 million from the rest of the world, I can't imagine too many of those were from SEA or Riot would have thrown that number in separately as well.  So, the viewer base has a larger percentage in NA/EU and don't want to alienate the viewers by not including more teams from those regions.

  • #34 gdogbrock

    Most sporting events work the same way when it comes to global events. 

    Worlds is a chance for the best teams of each region to compete for regional dominance.

    Worlds is NOT a chance for the best teams in the world to compete.  That means regions need to pick who they think will best represent them. 

    The former just happens to generally imply the latter.  Look at the Olympics.  Everyone country gets a shot, but the medals are clearly skewed.  Just because certain countries don't bring home any golds doesn't mean that their competitors are not world caliber competitors.  No one looks at the guy that came in last place and call them a joke.  They're still putting up very competitive scores.

    Plus giving an already competitive for gold region more spots only skews their chances more.  It's a self fulfilling prophecy.

    If you think Korea is the top region in the world then their top teams shouldn't have any problem getting top spots.

    --- As a caveat I would say I'd like to see all regions sending more teams in the future, and having a longer more brutal playoff period.

  • #37 churahm

    After reading the article and your post, I agree with you. Although it might be clear to most that there are many Korean teams better than the top EU/NA teams, the rules were made like this.

    If people want to watch Korean only league of legends, I suggest they just watch OGN streams or stuff like that, or else what's really the point of a world championship if the teams roster is biased towards one nation only.

  • #46 t0ku

    While I agree with you I also agree with 1 aspect of the main article.  The spring split of LCS was almost meaningless other then to possibly knock out a few teams due to relegation.

    The 2 systems are interesting.  In LCS you can do poorly up to the last few weeks and as long as you do not end up in 7th or 8th still have a shot at the top 3 spots and worlds.  This makes for some exciting possibilities but means everything up to superweek can be a bit meaningless.  The consistently best team can be knocked out completely or the absolute worst team can suddenly find themselves in 1st.

    OGN on the other hand,  as long as you do well all season long can mean some teams don't even have a chance regardless of how they play at the end of the season.  If a team has a poor start and gets drastically better they may still be screwed due to not having enough circuit points.

    I would also love to see more international competitions throughout the year.  Seasons can get stale in some regions and it would be fun not to mention worthwhile to pit teams from different regions against each other to get a feel for where they stand.

    Last edited by t0ku: 9/4/2013 5:20:05 PM
  • #33 QUEXANA

    I think that there should be an open bracket where teams from different regions could fight it out for a few "wildcard" spots into the World's finals.

    I think the regional system is overall a good system, with this one downfall.  However, if you allowed the best non-qualifying teams a shot to enter worlds from an open bracket tournament, it would allow teams like CJ Frost the opportunity to play for a chance to get into the World Finals.  At the same time, from the fan's perspective, who wouldn't want to see a match between KT Rolster B and EG?  Or between CLG and SKT T1

  • #32 TheSoloTop

    Consider the Olympics. Limited number of slots per country (region). One country may dominate with the best athletes in a particular sport, but only the top few from those are allowed to go. If you want to watch Korean teams vs Korean teams, watch OGN, etc. But Worlds is about all of the regions sending their best teams, not just one region getting all of the slots.

  • #29 WhisperingSilence

    I wrote an extremely similar article and posted it to reddit. Got no upvotes lol.

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