LoL Worlds 2022: Who’s hot and who’s not before group stage

EG Worlds 2022Ingrid Muhlenbrock/Riot Games

The group stage of the 2022 World Championship is about to kick off in New York City. Here’s a primer on every region at the event — which players are red hot right now, and which could struggle at the event?

With Play-Ins coming to a majestic — and unexpected (what’s going on with MAD Lions?) — close, the main event of Worlds 2022 will kick off later on Friday with the group stage. 

There will be six regions, 16 teams, and over 80 players in this year’s group stage. All will be fighting for regional, organizational, and personal pride — but there are only two spots available in November 5’s final.

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Here’s how every region is shaping up ahead of the group stage kick-off on October 7 — who’s hot, who’s not, and which teams are looking like the strongest contenders to qualify from their group. 

Who’s hot:

Gen.G’s carry players

Gen.G Chovy RulerRiot Games Korea
Chovy and Ruler are the undeniable stars of one of the best teams in the world right now, and they’ve been living up to expectations all split long.

Worlds has been pretty LPL-dominated ever since Invictus Gaming’s win back in 2018. Only one non-LPL team has won Worlds in the past four years — but Gen.G have a pretty high chance of becoming the second. 

Every one of their players is arguably best-in-role in the LCK, and they have possibly the easiest group at the tournament. Their only real challenge (unless we see a significant downturn in performance from the regular season) will be RNG, who are just coming off a series where they dropped a surprise game to LJL representatives Detonation FocusMe. 

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Specifically, keep an eye out for their bot lane. Son ‘Lehends’ Si-woo is the mad scientist to level-headed veteran Park ‘Ruler’ Jae-hyuk, and the pairing are the unstoppable force that propelled Gen.G to their first-ever LCK title. In particular, Ruler has never looked better than he does right now. Pixel-perfect positioning and veteran decision-making put him in prime position to be the perfect primary carry for Gen.G.

But you can’t talk about Gen.G without talking about Jeon ‘Chovy’ Ji-hoon. The highest DPM player in the LCK playoffs, the KDA king of the LCK, the best Ahri player in Korea – there are a thousand titles you could give Chovy. All you need to know is this: he’s in top form, and he’s out for blood.

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If you want a safe bet for a potential finalist, then your money should be on Gen.G. 

Evil Geniuses

EG Worlds 2022Ingrid Muhlenbrock/Riot Games
EG are coming off a hot Play-Ins streak and have the potential to throw a spanner in the works for their group mates.

Off the bat, let’s be realistic — Evil Geniuses probably aren’t going to be your 2022 World Champions. But winning Worlds is not the only metric of international success. 

Despite over 80% of fan pick’ems going in favor of MAD Lions, Evil Geniuses pulled off a 3-0 win in spectacular fashion. Joseph ‘Jojopyun’ Joonpyun is looking better than ever, and substitute Mohammad Hasan ‘Kaori’ Şentürk is performing in a way almost nobody could have predicted. 

He had a difficult task coming into this team and making it work in the footsteps of one of the most exciting professional players North America has ever produced. But despite community misgivings, EG haven’t looked any weaker without Kyle ‘Danny’ Sakamaki at the helm.  

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They’re probably not going to win Worlds, but the chances of them putting up one of NA’s best international performances in a while are rising by the minute. They made it to the MSI semi-finals earlier this year – and although the increased competition of Worlds means it’s unlikely they’ll get a repeat of that placement, there’s a very strong chance they get the quarter-finals. 

JD Gaming top laner Bai ‘369’ Jia-Hao 

JDG 369Twitter @JDGaming
A high-variance player who still manages to be one of the best in their role – it’s none other than 369.

Move over, Nuguri – there’s a new king of the top lane in town. 

369, top lane savant and occasional inter, is not only one of the best players in the world right now, he’s also by far one of the most entertaining to watch. In fact, his high-variance playstyle has become so well-renowned that fans have invented a Twitch chat spam specifically to rank his engages. 

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A good play gets a 9, an okay play gets a 6, and an… interesting play gets a 3. It’s honestly just proof of how good he is that he can roll so many threes and still be one of the best tops in the world. Top lane has also seen the highest level of champion diversity so far at Worlds, and here’s hoping that 369 will be able to take full advantage of that. 

Who’s not:

G2 Esports Sergen ‘BrokenBlade’ Çelik

G2 BrokenBladeMichal Konkol/Riot Games
BrokenBlade is going to be up against the toughest top lane competition at Worlds 2022, and he’ll struggle to withstand the pressure

Criticizing G2 Esports right now does sort of feel like kicking someone while they’re down. But hey, that’s how the cookie crumbles, and G2’s 0-3 LEC finals loss to Rogue does not inspire confidence in their performance internationally. And considering the recent turbulence in the organization, the players could be forgiven for not being able to perform at their absolute best. 

But metal fortitude aside, I do have some genuine concerns for G2. They’ve got a really difficult group, probably the hardest of the tournament, and there’s a real chance that they don’t make it out. What let them down most in their series versus Rogue was their decision-making as a team, and they will get run around the map by teams like JD Gaming and DWG KIA if they don’t get a game plan together. 

Specifically, I’m worried for BrokenBlade. He’ll be facing off against one hell of a top lane pool in Group B: former world champions Jang ‘Nuguri’ Ha-gwon (DWK) and Jeong ‘Impact’ Eon-young (EG), and JDG’s 369, who is arguably one of the best players in the world right now. BrokenBlade is good, but he’s not the kind of player who can hold out in a rough matchup. If he loses, he’ll lose hard. 

100 Thieves mid laner Felix ‘Abbedagge’ Braun

Abbedagge tilting head while playing League of Legends for 100 Thieves in LCS 2022Tina Jo for Riot Games
Abbedagge’s going to be a very small fish in a very big pond in Group D.

It feels almost unfair to call Abbedagge the pain point for 100 Thieves in this group. It’s not necessarily that he’s a bad or underperforming player — he’s been a perfectly serviceable mid laner for 100 Thieves throughout 2022.

However, serviceable isn’t going to cut it when your lane opponents are Chovy and Li ‘Xiaohu’ Yuan-hao. Both are perfect examples of complete opposite ends of the spectrum. One is the ultimate hyper-carry and the other is an ultra-supportive roaming mid. But both are deadly in their own unique way, and Abbedagge isn’t quite enough of either archetype to be able to keep up.

Group D will likely be decided by the mid lane. And unfortunately for 100 Thieves, Abbedagge just can’t keep up with the best.

EDG top laner Li ‘Flandre’ Xuanjun

EDG Flandre at the Worlds 2021 finalRiot Games
Flandre’s arguably the only true weak link in an otherwise on-form Edward Gaming.

I know, I know. Seeing the reigning world champion on a list of players to be concerned about at Worlds 2022 seems a little concerning.

But even in EDG’s 2021 Worlds run, Flandre was a weak link. And that has not changed in 2022. He’s rarely EDG’s win condition, but there were multiple instances of him almost jeapordizing victories for them throughout Summer.

His champion pool is also an issue. He played only one Aatrox game in the Summer playoffs, which ended in a loss, and his Gnar is not exactly anything to write home about. He favors champions like Renekton, Gragas, and Gangplank, none of which are seeing any prevalence in the top lane at Worlds.

EDG will likely be fine in their group. But if they’re not, there’s a very high chance that you’ll be able to follow their woes right back to the source in Flandre.