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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  • #28 superxgaga

    its the same as soccer world cup  different regions has a limited number of entries, in 2002 since both japan and south korea are hosting the event those 2 gets automatic entries which is 2+1.5 of the entries asia normally get. Europe lost 1.5 entries because of that and Netherlands one of the best soccer team in the history didn't get in. it just happens

  • #27 1uk

    Stupid solution. Korea allstars - 5 Koreans, NA allstars - 5 Americans, Eu allstars - 2 Russians, 1 Spanish, 1 German, 1 Swedish.
    How EU can play on equal terms with others?
    If allstars would determine how many seeds regions have in worlds that would be unfair for EU. 
    Language barrier is to high handicap to treat AllStars that seriously.

  • #26 clutz1

    People need to calm down. S3 is what it is, flawed but interesting, and we don't even know what S4 is going to look like.

    Its highly likely that Riot will decide that Korea gets to keep the 3rd spot the "earned" at allstars permanently.  Its also likely that they may expand the format to include 2 additional teams (so they can have 4 groups of 4), and with the Oceanic and Brazilian servers being popular, those regions will also need seeds. Hopefully (and likely) S4 will be very expanded compared to S3. Also, GG.EU will not get in next year, because that is a scam. 

  • #24 winkgun

    This is the nature of this format; the World Cup uses a similar format, and some countries will qualify to play in the World Cup, and will never, ever make it out of the group stages, without a miracle draw, and another miracle to make it to the final of the knockout rounds, let alone win.

    An alternate system could be something like the UEFA Champions League, where a coefficient is calculated to determine how many teams can be represented from each league, for example:

    Spain/England/Germany can each send 4 teams, Italy/Portugal/France 3, Russia/Netherlands can send 2 teams, San Morino can send 1, Leichtenstein 0, etc.

    The larger the coefficient the "better" quality of teams, therefore those "better" leagues get more representation in the tournament.

    But before doing this, a standard formula needs to be defined that can be applied across ALL regions/leagues/teams/etc.

  • #25 Tuck359

    I was not versed enough to explain the soccer leagues but I knew they did something like this. This is a terrific point and a more fair system I believe.

  • #40 winkgun

    It is a more fair system, given the "coefficient" formula is robust and includes many different variables.  Some regions/teams will probably be offended, but the truth hurts.

    Taking away slots from weaker leagues/regions should motivate them to draw better talent and better teams to earn a higher "coefficient", so at the following year's worlds they'll get to send three teams instead of two, and so on.

  • #64 Pinewood74

    The UEFA coefficient wouldn't really work properly due to such a small sample size of games and countries.  We only have worlds to compare while UEFA has both the Champions and Europa and several layers to both of those tourneys.  It's also comparing 50+ countries and the marginal difference between each place is very small while in League with only a half dozen regions each drop in place would be drastic.  Hand picking the number of competitors from each region works much better in this scenario (Just like how the world cup works)

  • #20 EZblacktears

    Frost, Bullets and telecom are probably 3 of the 4 strongest teams at the moment. Only 1 of them will be at worlds.


    Yet our beloved friends from NA will be seen while players the kind of insec aren't there.


    While I dislike the fact that Sword and Ozone are directly qualified, I still like their idea of having earlier results mean something.

    EU/NA played 56 + 1 playoff just to wait for 1 final best of 3 playoff to decide who gets through and who doesn't.

    They have to step up the system (as you mentioned, but both in Korea as well as in LCS) and there should be direct competetion before worlds to decide who gets how many seats (All-Stars is not enough) - Yet it shouldn't be only decide by those games.


    To sum up, I agree with most of your stuff and work has to be done (and will be done).

    Last edited by EZblacktears: 9/4/2013 3:13:19 PM
  • #17 futuresight23

    Seems like NA/EU LCS and Korea are on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of how previous events matter to who goes to Worlds.  I can take issue with the idea that the Spring Split effectively didn't matter in NA and EU, but I can also take issue with Najin Sword making and getting a bye at Worlds for what they did at the beginning of the season as opposed to not being one of the top 3 Korean teams right now.  

    I guess an alternate suggestion to the "region point" idea would be to just give each region just 2 seeds (plus 1 for winning All-stars) and leave any left over spots at Worlds to be decided the way the international wild card was in tournament fashion.  Invite the best teams from each region that didn't make Worlds from each region and have them fight it out to decide who gets the remaining spots for Worlds.


  • #22 Tuck359

    This is a great idea and one I had mulled over too. Logistically speaking for Riot it's a nightmare to organize things like that but it's what would make for the best representation of skill

  • #16 siegebot

    Do you realize Roti will lose half of viewers if NA and EU won't be represented, they are making a show, not real sport. Also i can bet you NA teams will have the easiest matchups in groups cause Riot can't let them lose.

  • #18 Rewenger

    Wha. Riot can make them lose and will "make" them lose. Aside from Cloud9, other 2 teams will be utterly massacred by the rest of the world.

  • #23 Novexx1

    sigh.. another fanboy

  • #30 skippersd

    Or just realistic? Face it, TSM pulled off a miracle, but the LCS standings show, NA has 2 top teams, and one will not be at worlds. Also, odds are C9 will get defeated as well, since they playstyle forces them to try to beat the koreaians at their own game.

  • #71 Rewenger

    Not at all; I'm not american - I've just watched NA regionals. Only C9 is capable of playing on EU teams level, not even korean. I'd really like to believe that NA or EU will be capable of defeating korean, but grim difference in mechanic skills is undeniable.

  • #36 TheHawkbat

    You really think most of the viewers come from NA and EU? At allstars, it was something less than 30%.

    Look at the numbers in Korean TV, Korean OGN stream, Mars TV, Garena streams, Afreeca, fengyunzhibo etc.

    If some EU/NA people would stop watching, it would hit total viewer numbers little.

  • #15 Murftastic

       The problem with the article is that the author seems to think that the purpose of the World Championships is to determine who the best 5 teams in the world are, and in what order.  If that were true, then sure, you probably would need to invite more Koreans.

       But of course, no one really cares who's 4th or 5th best in the world.   All we care about is who's #1.  And the 4th and 5th best Korean teams are, obviously, not the best teams in the world.

       The Super Bowl doesn't always match the best teams in the NFL.  Instead, it matches the best team in the AFC versus the best team in the NFC.  Similarly, the World Series matches the best AL and NL teams, even in years where one of the two circuits was much better than the other.  While that probably does hurt the quality of the game some years, it does at least guarantee that fans in both leagues have someone to root for/against.

        All that really matters about Worlds is 1) the BEST team from every region is there, and 2) fans from every major region will have a home team to root for.  Riot knows what they're doing.

    Last edited by Murftastic: 9/4/2013 2:54:33 PM
  • #21 Tuck359

    The point of the article is to get the best collection of talent in the world playoffs. The finals doesn't always pit the best 2 teams against each other, but the best teams are at least in the hunt.

    In the NFL a 5 or 6 seed in the playoffs (a wild card team) has won the Super bowl several times over the last few years. That's the point I'm making. The third best team in Europe and North America or another region has a much smaller chance of winning it all than a Korean 4th seed.

    Hopefully that explains my point better

  • #93 Thaddeusmike

    I might agree that World's should have the best possible collection of talent if there were other international tournaments, but until there are it has to provide more or less equal representation to the various regions.

  • #14 Pikohchu

    I agree.

    If we want a chance at NA winning the championships (LOLOLOL DID I JUST SAY THAT?), we need to send the team that can play the best against the rest of the world, not just win enough games against other NA teams. The best way would be to analyze the skills of each team and see which team has what it takes to take on the rest of the world *cough Korea cough*.

    Then again....IMO that team would be C9 and they have a good chance of winning that spot anyways.

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