Melany M. September 29, 2019
The 2019 League of Legends World Championship is right around the corner. 24 teams from all over the world are gathering in Europe for the most important event of the year for competitive League of Legends.
This year is full of narratives about struggles and overcoming obstacles. Every team has something different to prove at the tournament, from first-timers to the domestic giants.
Over 100 players will attend the event and this list narrowed it down to the top ten. Here are the best players in the world, the ones that make the difference and are changing the game one match at a time.
1. Kim "Clid" Tae-min, SK Telecom T1
In a team full of stars, Kim “Clid” Tae-min shines the brightest. Clid joined the new and improved SK Telecom T1 as a fairly unknown Korean jungler from the LPL. In less than a year, everyone knew about Clid and he is without a doubt the best player at Worlds 2019.
On the rift, Clid is the king of the jungle. He understands his place as the catalyst, and he creates the opportunities so his teammates can shine. Clid gives resources to the top lane, a largely ignored lane, and teams up with mid lane Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok to terrorize the map.
At the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational, Clid was underperforming. The jungler couldn’t show his best game and the result took a toll on the team that started the LCK Summer season with a five-game losing streak. In the end, due to Clid’s improvement and the team’s resilience, SKT earned its eighth LCK title.
Off the rift, Clid is playful, constantly bickering with Kim "Khan" Dong-ha and often praising the stoic Lee "Effort" Sang-ho. Despite having an immense amount of pressure on them and with all eyes following their every move, SKT and Clid are playing freely.
In the G2 Esports era, people are writing off the Korean teams. Underestimating Clid and SKT is a massive mistake that the teams at Worlds can’t afford.
2. Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski, G2 Esports
Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski is the loudest and most chaotic member of G2. The jungler is constantly yelling and showing his emotions for everyone to see. He openly hates on Rasmus “Caps” Winther for having too much fun when he’s on Sejuani duty.
Jankos has the toughest job in G2, in that he needs to win the games from the jungle. Even when his laners are winning the one-versus-one, the game is not over until Jankos takes over the map. His impact soon became G2’s biggest vulnerability because if the enemy team effectively shuts down Jankos, the team starts to crumble.
His outstanding performance didn’t go unnoticed during the summer season, as it earned him a well-deserved LEC Summer MVP title.
G2 is considered the favorite to take the title at Worlds and it all depends on Jankos. It won’t be easy for the Polish wonder boy, as the tournament will gather the best junglers of the world and everyone knows that better jungler wins.
3. Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang, FunPlus Phoenix
No matter what team he is in, Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang is always the first player to jump off the chair and celebrate loudly after a win. When luck is not on his favor, Doinb takes it to heart and expresses his emotions openly. He has been grinding for five years, always one game away from glory, falling short when it matters the most. This year, Doinb finally gets his chance at Worlds.
Doinb sets the tone for FunPlus Phoenix, so naturally the team revolves around him. Make no mistake, Doinb is not a greedy player that hoards the resources and must have a jungler around him at all times. Doinb is more than willing to give up his own farm and priority in lane if the team can find an advantage somewhere else.
Out of all of the top teams at Worlds, FunPlus has by far the easiest group. The only way FunPlus will be challenged is if DAMWON Gaming were to join Group B. GAM Esports, the Vietnamese squad, might bring some unexpected strategies to the rift. But if there’s one player ready to go off-meta, it’s Doinb.
4. Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, SK Telecom T1
Faker is the GOAT of League of Legends. Faker has earned three World Championship titles, two MSI titles, and eight LCK trophies. No other player in the world has a bigger trophy case than Faker. Yet the most impressive part of Faker's resume is not his titles but his ability to stay at the top of his game through the years.
2018 was not an easy year for Faker and SKT, as for the first time since his debut Faker watch Worlds from home. Many believed that the unkillable demon king was defeated at last, that it was time for him to get a big check from an LCS team and called it a day.
Faker re-signed with SKT and the organization built an entirely new roster around him. Even though the team was created to meet Faker’s need, for the first time in years, Faker had teammates that could get the job done without him.
SKT is no longer "the Faker show," and that made the mid laner stronger. In the videos posted by SKT, Faker is at ease, joking with his teammates, and is even a little bit cocky. This is the superior version of Faker and he’s ready to take his fourth World Championship title.
5. Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao, Royal Never Give Up
2018 was supposed to be the year of Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao and RNG. The bottom laner won back to back domestic titles and MSI, and he headed to Worlds as the favorite to win it all. In the end, it would be another Chinese taking the title as Uzi was left on the outside looking in.
True to their name, Uzi and company are not giving up. With all of the hype around G2 and the European teams, people stopped as much paying attention to RNG. The team is still fighting to stay at the top of the ladder and they’re heading to Worlds in good form.
As expected, the team revolves entirely around Uzi. Every coin available goes to his pockets, and now more than ever RNG is the Uzi show. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly something that could be exploited in the current meta where the game is decided mostly by the solo lanes.
RNG is in the group of death with SKT and Fnatic. Whoever gets out of this group has a big chance of making it all the way to finals.
6. Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu, DAMWON Gaming
DAMWON came out of nowhere to take over the LCK. The team consists mostly of rookies that have never played outside of Korea before. Ahead of the 2019 season, DAMWON signed former Invictus Gaming head coach Kim "Kim" Jeong-soo. Adding coach Kim took DAMWON to the next level and they became a very real threat for other teams.
The community is constantly praising top laner Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon and that recognition is well-deserved. However, the real hero of DAMWON is none other than LCK Summer MVP jungler Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu.
Canyon just celebrated the anniversary of his big stage debut and he’s already considered one of the top junglers in the LCK. He’s all over the map, enabling Nuguri, protecting the bottom lane, and putting mid laner Heo "ShowMaker" Su ahead of the enemy.
Canyon is young and he’s still learning by playing against the best. Without a doubt, Canyon is one of the most promising rookies in the LCK right now. DAMWON will face its first international test at Worlds, as Korea’s third seed they must go through play-ins. If they qualify to the main event, it will then be time for Canyon to shine and put his name in the conversation for the best jungler in the world.
7. Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok, Invictus Gaming
Invictus Gaming became the first Chinese team to win a World Championship in 2018. At the time, people believed it was the start of a new legacy, a new and crazy era in League of Legends. IG was the savior that was promised, the one team to take it all from the more poised and disciplined Korean teams.
What people ignored was the Worlds curse. It dictates that any team that wins the tournament will struggle the following year. 2019 has been a rollercoaster for Invictus Gaming and top laner Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok has been at the forefront throughout that struggle.
Top laners are not typically the stars of the teams, as they survive on an island until they must join the rest of the team and fight. That is, unless you’re TheShy, and then you must put the weight of the team in your shoulders. TheShy is the type of player that always makes a difference.
TheShy is consistent, and while he may not carry every game or make the best decisions every time, he’s the one holding on until the end. IG and TheShy have a rough journey ahead and must take it one day at a time if they want to defend the World Championship title.
8. Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in, Team Liquid
In a bottom duo, the support takes, well, the supportive role. It’s never about them, but about their partner who will ultimately carry the team to victory. But when it comes to Team Liquid, it’s impossible not to talk about Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in first.
CoreJJ’s move to North America wasn’t surprising. After winning the World Championship in 2017, Samsung Galaxy changed hands and names until they became Gen.G. The team couldn’t get back on track, and Gen.G fell to the bottom of the standings in the LCK. It was time for a change, so CoreJJ left his partner of years for the trash-talking bottom laner with the bowl cut.
Bringing a second World Champion into the mix took Team Liquid to new heights. The team earned back to back LCS titles and made it all the way to the MSI finals. CoreJJ is the reason behind all of this, as he understands the game on a different level and he elevates the play of his teammates.
Even if the enemies shut down jungler Jake “Xmithie”Puchero, CoreJJ is still there to get the team back on track. At Worlds, Team Liquid must have a good result or else they will become another one-trick domestic champion.
9. Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo, Invictus Gaming
Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo has come a long way since he won the World Championship. In the beginning, he was the reckless young kid on Invictus, but now he has stepped up and carried the team through the regional qualifier.
JackeyLove was forced to grow up quickly. The team struggled in the mid lane and the jungle, and they even made roster changes in an attempt to stabilize the team. Through all of this, JackeyLove has been consistent and assertive.
JackeyLove will turn 19 next November and he already proved that he’s a player of international caliber. He has won his first Worlds title and a domestic title. Now he must prove that it wasn’t beginner's luck and that he is in fact one of the best bottom laners in the world.
Invictus will face its international arch-nemesis Team Liquid in the group stage. Right now it’s between the two of them, but whoever joins from play-ins could throw the group off balance. Invictus has more to lose than the rest of the teams at the event and JackeyLove must be the man to guide the team through these trying times.
10. Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle, G2 Esports
Support players are the unsung heroes of the team. Just like CoreJJ on Team Liquid, Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle plays a fundamental part in G2’s success. Considered one of the best supports in Europe’s history, Mikyx is the type of player that can steal the spotlight from his teammates.
Mikyx can pressure his enemies, play passively, or roam through the map to wreak havoc. He is the type of player that you can’t ignore, and his contribution to the team makes the difference. G2 without Mikyx wouldn’t be the same. One could go as far as to say that Luka "Perkz" Perković’s transition to the bottom lane wouldn’t have been as smooth if he had any other support by his side.
Mikyx had to overcome a wrist injury that almost kept him from playing at MSI. He took time off to recover and came back stronger than ever. At Worlds, Mikyx and Jankos are the players to watch for G2.
The 2019 League of Legends World Championship kicks off on October 2.