The League of Legends (LoL) 2022 World Championship is right around the corner, with the first stage of the competition kicking off on Thursday (29 September) at the Play-ins in Mexico City.
Twelve teams divided into two groups will be competing with each other for a chance to advance to the Worlds 2022 Group Stage. This year, the Play-ins roster is a mix of familiar names from major regions and many fiery hopefuls from minor regions, hungry to prove their strength in this competition.
Group A includes Fnatic, Beyond Gaming, DetonationFocus Me, Evil Geniuses, LOUD, and Chief Esports Club.
Meanwhile, Group B is comprised of DRX, Royal Never Give Up, Saigon Buffalo, MAD Lions, and Istanbul Wildcats Isurus.
Only four teams will advance to the next stage of the competition. Which teams have the best chances of making it through? Here are our predictions:
Evil Geniuses (EG) have been stellar all Spring but pretty shaky in the Summer, where they lost to 100 Thieves for a spot at the LoL Championship Series (LCS) Summer Grand Finals.
Add to that the fact that superstar AD Carry Carry Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki might not be available during the first leg of the competition, how EG will fare in the Play-ins is anyone's guess.
However, EG’s substitute bot laner isn’t one to be looked down on.
Despite only having eight scrims before competing at the lower bracket finals, Muhammed Hasan "Kaori" Şentürk surprised everyone with his ferocious early-game playstyle that helped push their match versus 100 Thieves to five games.
With his synergy with the rest of the team seemingly going smoothly, along with a stronger roster that includes rookie mid laner Joseph “Jojopyun” Pyun, former World champion Jeong “Impact” Eong-yeong, and veterans Kacper “Inspired” Słoma and Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme, EG’s chances are still looking pretty good.
We would have placed Fnatic in the number one spot for group A, especially because they’re a generally strong team that ended up taking third place in the Summer playoffs.
But the fact that their bot lane duo Elias “Upset” Lipp and Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov have recently tested positive for COVID19 and might miss the first few days of the competition, and Upset admitted to LS in a stream that they have yet to scrim against other teams since ahead of the Play-ins is quite concerning.
With Fnatic in a predicament, the next strongest region in Group A is the Pacific Championship Series (PCS).
Beyond Gaming (BYG) entered the PCS playoffs in sixth place and took the second seed after a 3-2 upset against Spring champions and Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) participants PSG Talon.
However, this team’s performance has not been tested internationally yet, so there’s still a chance for other teams to come through.
Chief Esports Club
LoL Circuit Oceania (LCO) Summer Champions Chief Esports Club were undefeated in the regular split, and they only lost a single game in the playoffs.
We think the Chiefs may be a strong contender and even have the chance to upset one of the favourites in group A, but this depends on how they fare on the international stage, especially against Japanese team Detonation FocusMe.
Royal Never Give Up
Reigning 2022 MSI champions Royal Never Give Up (RNG) are pretty much a shoe-in for the first slot in Group B.
RNG have three MSI titles to their name, and while they are the LoL Pro League (LPL) fourth seed, they belong to a region with cutthroat competition.
RNG’s roster have proven to be a formidable one, defeating MSI favourites T1 in the Grand Finals, despite competing remotely while on lockdown in Shanghai last Spring.
Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao, however, said in a post-match interview after finally securing the final LPL Worlds slot that he thinks their team wasn’t as strong last Spring and that there’s a lot of work to do for them to be ready for Worlds this year.
Should they prepare well enough, they’ve got a good chance to easily take the first Group Stage spot.
DRX also belong to one of the strongest regions in LoL: the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK).
To get to Worlds, DRX defeated both KT Rolster and Liiv SANDBOX, and having star AD carry Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu will serve them well.
While we expect RNG to take first place in this group, we won't be surprised if DRX caused an upset.
This Vietnamese teams play with a speed and aggression reminiscent of the LPL, though they have traditionally been more vulnerable and exploitable on the map against more experienced regions.
At MSI, Saigon Buffalo showed their grit and determination, and we think they can be considered a serious third-place contender in Group B.
The MAD Lions were pretty strong all Summer, with the addition of Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer in the mid lane.
They ended the regular season tied with LEC powerhouse G2 Esports for first place but eventually took fourth seed after losing against Fnatic in the lower bracket finals.
This team has a good chance of snagging the third spot in Group B.
The Play-in Stage will kick off on 29 September at the Arena Esports Stadium (LLA Studio) in Artz Pedregal in Mexico City, Mexico, and will conclude on 4 October.
Which team do you think will make it to Groups?
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.