South Korea’s LCK is expected to lose their third direct seed in the League of Legends World Championship main group stage for the 2019 event.
The League of Legends World Championship consists of a play-in stage, followed by a main event group stage and then the playoffs.
Each of the major regions – South Korea’s LCK, China’s LPL, Europe’s LEC, North America’s LCS, and Taiwan’s LMS – are guaranteed at least two seeds directly into the main event group stage, but the third team from each is forced to begin in the play-in stage.
The only exception to this has been the LCK, who due to their international success over the years have been granted a third direct seed. For the first time, however, that is reportedly set to change in 2019.
South Korea has been the dominant force in League of Legends since its original ascent in 2013, which heralded the arrival of Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok's SK Telecom T1. It wasn’t until China’s Invictus Gaming claimed the 2018 World Championship that a non-Korean team took the title again.
In the last year, however, South Korea’s dominance has waned. At the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational, South Korea’s Kingzone DragonX fell in the final to China’s Royal Never Give Up. It was at Worlds, however, that the LCK truly came undone, with none of the three representatives even reaching the semi-finals.
For those hoping to see a swift response from South Korea to reclaim their throne, the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational was another disappointment. Favorites Invictus Gaming were dispatched by Team Liquid in the semi-finals, but SK Telecom T1 couldn’t overcome G2 Esports to reach the finals themselves and take a shot at recovering their international crown.
Now, it seems those shortcomings are set to have more tangible consequences than just the damage to the LCK’s fearsome reputation. According to a report by Osen, the LCK will not have three direct seeds into the main event of the World Championship for the first time in the current format.
Instead, the LCK’s third seed – the team that qualifies through the Regional Qualifier – will have to fight through the play-in stage, as the third seeds from every other major region have had to in the past.
It appears that China’s LPL will instead be granted status as the world’s leading region, and thus all three of their representatives will be seeded directly into the main event. Riot Games have yet to officially confirm this change, but are expected to do so soon.
Based on the results from this year’s MSI, it is expected that the Summer champions of the LPL, LCK, LCS, and LEC will all be seeded into “Pool 1” for the group stage draw, meaning they cannot face each other until the playoffs.
There are three ways for teams from the major regions to qualify for the World Championship. The summer split winners are automatically qualified, and the second spot is granted to the team with the most championship points, which are awarded for placement in the spring and summer playoffs. The third teams are determined by regional qualifiers.