The LPL will be seeding directly into the group stage at Riot Games’ 2019 World Championship.
China’s third seed will automatically make it to the group stage, a group of Chinese officials have confirmed after months of speculation.
The decision comes as a result of the LPL’s outstanding performance during the 2018 competitive season.
Chinese team Royal Never Give Up claimed the trophy at the Mid-Season Invitational, and the World Championship title later went to LPL competitor Invictus Gaming. On top of those results, a Chinese team won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games and the LPL dominated the LCK and LMS at Rift Rivals.
When one region moves up, another region must move down. In this case, Korea’s top league, the LCK, is losing its long-held direct seeding status. For the first time in years, the third seed from Korea will have to work its way through the play-in stage.
2018 was a rough year for the Korean teams. At MSI, Kingzone DragonX had a mediocre showing. At Worlds, the results were even less ideal. Afreeca Freecs and KT Rolster were eliminated in the quarterfinals, with Afreeca Freecs being swept by LCS team Cloud9. Even worse was Gen.G, who became the first Korean team in the modern era to fail to make it out of groups.
The consequences of this decline have finally reached the LCK as the region keeps struggling to stay at the top. Once considered the strongest region in the world, the LCK now arguably stands in fourth place behind the LPL, LCS, and LEC.
Riot Games is yet to confirm any details about the new seeding, but it is looking like a done deal.
Over at the LCK, the teams refuse to give up. During interviews, players have seemed adamant about showing good results this year. For the Korean players, it’s now a matter of pride.
The Korean teams have one more chance to go against the Chinese squads before Worlds. At Rift Rivals, Korea’s SK Telecom T1, Griffin, Kingzone DragonX, and Damwon Gaming will face China’s Invictus Gaming, JD Gaming, FunPlus Phoenix, and Top Esports.