The 2016 League of Legends World Championship was held from September 29 to October 29 in several cities across the United States. The tournament featured 16 teams, coming from the regions of North America, Europe, Korea, Southeast Asia, and the International Wild Card. The teams were split into four groups of four and was played in a double round robin format, which meant that each team played each team in their group twice with the top two teams in each group moving on to the single-elimination bracket. The top eight teams would then play in best of five series until a champion is crowned.
Group A was a surprise in this year’s tournament. Although it was already to be expected that the Korean team, ROX Tigers, would top this group, it was the wildcard team, Albus Nox Luna, that surprised everyone watching. They finished second in the group and made history by becoming the first ever wildcard team to make it to the quarterfinals. They managed to best out the North American team, Counter Logic Gaming, and European team, G2 Esports; who both severely underperformed in their matches.
The second place team in Group B was decided on the final day. The Korean superpower, SK Telecom T1, won the group relatively easily. However, the other three teams all had 2-3 records when they played their last matches. American team, Cloud9 managed to move on, besting Chinese team, I May, and Taiwanese team, YOE Flash Wolves.
Group C was a relatively normal group with both its top two favorites moving on to the quarterfinals. European team, H2K Gaming, finished first and Chinese team, Edward Gaming, finished second.
Group D was known as the group of death in that it included the top seeds from North America, China, Korea, and a decently strong team from Europe. The Korean top seed, Samsung Galaxy won the group easily, boasting a 5-1 record. The second place spot was decided by a tiebreaker between Chinese team, Royal Never Give Up, and North American side, Team SoloMid; with the former winning.
All three Korean teams in the tournament moved on to the quarterfinals, two Chinese teams moved on, and Cloud9 and H2K Gaming became the last remaining North American and European teams left, respectively. Albus Nox Luna was the last team to make it.
The three Korean teams also lived up to the hype of Korea being the best region in the world, with each team winning their quarterfinals series easily. SKT T1 beat Royal Never Give Up 3-1, ROX Tigers also bested Edward Gaming 3-1, while Samsung Galaxy swept Cloud9 3-0. The Europeans ended the wildcard team’s dreams, destroying them 3-0.
The first series of the semifinals was a highly entertaining one, featuring SKT T1 and the ROX Tigers. Both teams fought tooth and nail, but SKT T1 ended up bringing home the victory in what was also a very exciting game five. The second series of the semifinals was a less exciting one with Samsung Galaxy easily sweeping H2K Gaming 3-0.
The finals of the 2016 World Championship turned out to also be a very exciting series between SKT T1 and Samsung Galaxy. Past finals have historically featured at least one Korean team, and this one was no different. SKT T1 started off fast, winning a tight game one, but a convincing game two. With their backs against the wall and one loss away from losing the championship, Samsung Galaxy rallied back to even up the series 2-2. The champion was to be decided in a final game five. SKT T1 managed to best out their Korean counterparts to win their third overall world championship title as well as winning over $2 million as their prize.