Rising from the east: The Asian leagues primer | LoL Esports
Rising from the east: The Asian leagues primer
With seven teams from four nations, the Asian teams at the World Championships make up half of the participants. While some countries have a long and storied history when it comes to esports, others are from regions where the League of Legends scene is still budding and Worlds presents an opportunity to make a big splash on the grandest stage of the year.
Since the olden days of StarCraft: Brood War, Korea has been the first mecca of esports. While the Korean LoL servers didn't open until December 2011, many trailblazers of the Korean scene, such as MakNooN, MadLife, Ryu, and RapidStar, had all played on the NA servers since the game's inception. OnGameNet (OGN) The Champions is the most prestigious league in Korea.
16 teams brawl through four groups of four in a best of two, round robin format. The top two teams from each group advance to the bracket stage starting with the quarterfinals, where all matches are best of five through the finals. Series that are tied 2-2 head into a dramatic blind pick finale. Not only are teams motivated to win the biggest league in their region, the top four teams in OGN also obtain Circuit Points (400 for No. 1, 200 for No. 2, 150 for No. 3, and 100 for No. 4). These Circuit Points are what determines a team's ability to qualify into the World Championships.
However, as if OGN wasn't enough, Korea has an established second tier league called NiceGameTV LoL Battle (NLB). Not only does the NLB provide another 12 teams the opportunity to compete at a professional level, teams can also obtain Circuit Points, albeit on a much smaller scale. The winning team of a NLB season not only scores 100 Circuit Points but they also get a seed into the next season of OGN The Champions.
At the Season 2 World Championships, fans from across the globe got acquainted with World Elite and Invictus Gaming. However in Season 3, the Chinese scene was turned asunder and two new teams rose to the occasion. The No. 1 seeded team Royal Club Huang Zu, is a fairly new team on paper but they are led by the veteran experience of two beta players, Wh1t3zZ and MikakoTabe. No. 2 seeded team OMG, not only finished first in the regular season, but they're also rumored to have a winning scrimmage record against a number of Korean teams.
China's premiere league, Tencent LoL Pro League (LPL), has more similarities to LCS than OGN. With an eight team pool each season, the top six teams advance to the next season of LPL and the top two teams receive a seed in China's World Championship Qualifier. However, what makes LPL more cutthroat than LCS is the fact that there is no relegation opportunity. The bottom two teams of the LPL season completely drop out. Instead, the top two teams from the Tencent Games Arena Grand Prix (TGA) are promoted into the next season of LPL. Four teams, the top two of each LPL split, compete in the final double elimination qualifier where only two teams are awarded a berth to Worlds.
Heralding from leagues of their own respective regions, both Mineski and Gamania Bears were the underdogs in their qualifiers. Although knocked out by the No. 1 team in the Philippine Qualifier Exile, Mineski advanced to the SEA World Qualifier when Exile was unable to attend. In its Cinderella story, Mineski used their last second opportunity to upset the Singapore Sentinels for the Worlds seed. This became the Sentinels second time of falling short during the qualifier round for Worlds. Gamania Bears had a similar story in the Taiwan Qualifier where they took the Taipei Snipers by surprise. Mineski and Gamania Bears have the rare opportunity to represent the Garena leagues of South East Asia.