LEAGUE OF LEGENDS - WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

On this page you’ll find insights and odds for the League of Legends World Championship, which is an annual event staged every year since 2011. The inaugural tournament was staged in Sweden, as part of the now very popular DreamHack festival. The globe’s best League of Legends players come together each year to compete for the Summoner’s Cup, an impressive trophy which weighs in at 32 kilos and was commissioned by the game’s tournament administrators, Riot Games.  

TROPHIES, TEAMS AND PRIZE POOL

As well as the trophy, though, the teams also compete for a prize pool which topped $6.7million in 2016. The tournament also attracts huge viewing figures, with around 43 million people in total watching the finals of the 2016 event. Many of these viewers place bets on their favourite teams and players before enjoying the biggest games. The cumulative daily unique impressions for online and TV coverage for the event reached 396 million, a staggering total. 

As interest from fans and the wider world has grown, so has interest in LoL betting, with hundreds of thousands of dollars now wagered on LoL professional leagues. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the history of the League of Legends World Championship, and examine its rise to greatness and iconic status.

SEASON 1

The story of the League of Legends World Championship began in 2011, when eight teams competed in Jönköping, Sweden, as part of the DreamHack festival. The event was decidedly low key in those early days, and it would have been hard for a novice viewer, or indeed bettor, at the tournament to tell the difference between the fans and the competitors. Fans were able to watch the action from close to the players, with many gathering around individual players’ screens. 

The tournament was more a Europe versus North America showcase event back then, rather than being truly global, as it is now. There were some interesting tactical match-ups, though, which shaped how people would bet on LoL in the years to come. As tactics had been developed independently on the game’s two servers, which were located in Europe and North America, two different approaches to the game were in evidence. The American teams relied on a double utility bottom line, while Europe preferred the marksman and support combination. 

The big winners

Eight teams competed in this inaugural event, and it was the European teams who emerged as the stronger. Fans who placed bets on these teams came away with impressive payouts, and you can do the same. Fnatic won the first World Championship, beating another European team, Against All Authority, in the final. Team SoloMid and Epik Gamer came in third and fourth place, respectively. The first prize in that inaugural tournament was $50,000, a figure that has been multiplied many times over in the seasons which followed. 

SEASON 2

The second edition of the League of Legends World Championship took place in Los Angeles, on the west coast of the USA, in California. The final was held at USC’s Galen Centre, and this was the first time that the LoL Worlds had been staged as a separate event, an important step in the tournament’s history – particularly for bettors. 

This was the first tournament in which the teams competed for the Summoner’s Cup. This huge trophy was manufactured by British company Thomas Lyte Silver, who had previously designed such iconic sports trophies as golf’s Ryder Cup and football’s FA Cup. The design reflected League of Legends, with designs featuring motifs from the game engraved in silver, brass and gold on it. 

The teams to bet on

Another important step was taken in terms of the teams who competed too, with a heavy Asian presence creating a different dynamic for the tournament. Teams from South Korea, China and the LMS region really added something new to the competition, and undoubtedly took it to a higher level, making betting on these games even more exciting than before. New levels of strategy were seen, and a ‘team first’ ethic was introduced, which prioritised objectives over kills. 

Russian team Moscow 5 had been predicted to be strong contenders, based upon their performances in the year leading up to the event, but it would be relative unknowns Taipei Assassins who would take home the new World Championship trophy. Bettors who took a chance on these outsiders were handsomely rewarded – making this a particularly great competition for placing wagers. NaJin Sword, a team from South Korea, had dominated the group stage, but Taipei Assassins turned them over in the quarter-finals. The Assassins would then beat Moscow 5 in the semis, before doing the same to highly fancied Azubu Frost in the final. Their victory helped to establish a new era for LoL professional leagues, with teams finding a new intensity and utilising novel, highly effective strategies for the first time.

SEASON 3

The year of 2013 marked another important step forward for the professional League of Legends World Championship tournament. The sport had begun to mature, as competitive LoL leagues developed in regions, providing teams with a more clearly defined qualification pathway for the World Championship. Regional identities and rivalries were established, and teams began to attract followings of fans and bettors. The World Championship final was staged at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and featured an opening ceremony at which The Crystal Method performed.

SK Telecom T1, a team from South Korea, began the tournament as strong favourites, and would go on to take the trophy home. In a measure of how the tournament was progressing, they won $1 million. The tournament also saw the emergence of Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, the mid laner for SK Telecom t1, who played a significant role in his team’s tournament victory, and established himself as a star in his own right. This is a team well worth considering for your next LoL bet.

There can only be one winner

Out of the 14 teams who competed, Cloud 9, Fnatic, Gamania Bears and Royal Club were all fancied as possible winners by eager bettors, but it was SK Telecom who swept all opposition aside in the end. In the run up to the tournament Cloud 9 had dominated their North American region, while Fnatic had won both the Spring and Summer Splits in the European LCS. Gamania Bears were the top team from the LMS region.

But that seeming strength in depth could not stop Faker and SK Telecom T1. They beat the Chinese contenders Royal Club 3-0 in the final. Their awesome form capped off a tournament which had demonstrated the growing strength in depth of teams who were now competing against each other on a regular basis in the regional LoL professional leagues. It also demonstrated just how strong the Asian region was, with teams from South Korea and China dominating.

SEASON 4

In 2014, the League of Legends World Championship headed to Korea for the first time, a symbolic event, given how strong the Korean teams were becoming. The final was staged at the Seoul World Cup stadium, in front of 40,000 excited fans. It was also watched via live streaming by thousands of people who placed a bet on their favourite team. The Korean teams were at the forefront of new developments in tactics and strategy too, with team-based tactics making a comeback after the previous year’s focus on individual outplays and mechanical skills.

Amazingly, the team who had swept all before them the previous year, SK Telecom T1, did not qualify for the finals, a real shock to many esports bettors. Instead, the Samsung Galaxy teams, Blue and White, rose to prominence. The two Samsung Galaxy teams demonstrated just how much strength Korea now possessed when it came to professional League of Legends play. Blue and White were the top two seeds from Korea. With their team emphasis on vision control, both teams were able to exert considerable map pressure on opponents. 

Consider betting on North American teams

But Korea was not the only region with strong teams in 2014. North American outfits Team SoloMid and Cloud 9 were also expected to make a strong showing at the event, and both made the quarter-finals. Both would fall to Samsung Galaxy teams at that stage of the tournament, though, with White beating Team SoloMid, and Blue triumphing over Cloud 9. The two Samsung teams would face each other in one semi-final, with White sweeping Blue aside 3-0. In the other semi, OMG took on Star Horn Royal Club, with the Royal club triumphing 3-2 over their fellow Chinese team. In the final, Korea would beat China, though, with Samsung Galaxy White winning 3-1.

But the tournament also made another step in its development, when a South American team beat one of Europe’s top sides earlier in the competition. KaBuM! Esports beat European giants Alliance in the group stage. Although the Brazilian team finished bottom of their group, their win prevented Alliance qualifying for the group stage, and it was a historic moment in professional LoL – and a seismic event for esports betting fans.

HALL OF FAME - BEST ESPORTS PLAYERS TO WAGGER ON

SEASON 5

The World Championship moved to Europe in 2015, with the tournament staged over a series of venues across the continent. The group stage was held in Paris, France, with the quarter-finals in London, UK. The semi-finals were staged in Brussels, Belgium, while the final was staged at Berlin’s Mercedes Benz Stadium in Germany. The season started with a migration of the Korean talent who had dominated the previous year’s competition, with many star players joining Chinese teams. China’s Edward Gaming had emerged as likely contenders for the throne of world champions earlier in the season, with many gamblers putting their money on the team to win - but they would lose in the quarter-finals to Fnatic. But Faker was back too, and SK Telecom enjoyed a real resurgence at this tournament. Another Korean team, ROX Tigers, also came to prominence, and would end up reaching the final, after defeating Fnatic 3-0 in the semi. 

Betting on Korean teams may be your golden ticket

Two teams from the LMS region also did well, in the shape of Flash Wolves and ahq esports Club, but were both eliminated at the quarter-final stage. Origen and Fnatic flew the flag for Europe, and both reached the semi-finals. But it was the Koreans who once again demonstrated their nation’s traditional strength in LoL, with SK Telecom T1 and KOO Tigers reaching the final. Faker was well and truly back to his best, and he steered Telecom T1 to a fine 3-1 victory over KOO in the final. By the end of 2015, the Korean star had two World Championship titles to his name, though, to complement the other domestic and regional titles he had claimed, and was truly a colossus in the world of competitive LoL – as well as being a popular choice for bettors looking to cash in on his success.

SEASON 6

In 2016, the tournament returned to the USA, with the four stages being held in San Francisco, Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles. This year also saw a return to dominance for the Korean teams, with SK Telecom T1 winning their third title, and beating Samsung Galaxy, now competing as one team, in the final. Indeed, three out of the four groups in the opening stage of the tournament were topped by Korean teams, with ROX Tigers joining their compatriots in a finishing at the head of one of the groups. The Tigers finished just ahead of Russian outfit Albus Nox Luna, who became the first team from the CIS region to reach the quarter-finals. 

Winning teams for winning bettors

Chinese team Edward Gaming also turned in a strong showing in the group stages, coming second to European outfit H2K Gaming. Samsung Galaxy topped Group D, with Royal Never Give Up coming second. The line-up for the quarter-finals was completed by American team Cloud 9, who finished second in Group B, and Group B winners SK Telecom T1, who, once again, were looking powerful.

SK Telecom T1 would triumph over ROX Tigers in one semi-final, winning 3-2. The other semi was contested between H2K Gaming, who had beaten Albus Nox Luna in their quarter-final, and Samsung Galaxy, who had ended Cloud 9’s challenge in the previous round. In the end, SK Telecom T1 beat Samsung Galaxy 3-2 in the final, cementing their reputation as the greatest LoL team in the world.

FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS TO A BEHEMOTH EVENT

The League of Legends World Championship has grown from humble beginnings to be one of the biggest esports events on the planet, with thousands of bets being placed on potential outcomes. The fact that this growth has occurred in just a few years is amazing. Attention from esports gamblers is also set to rise, and the League of Legends live betting centred on the tournament is sure to be busy and intense.