With the Group Stage in the rearview mirror at the 2019 World Championship, perhaps one of the biggest storylines to emerge thus far has been the underperformance of the of the LMS. For the second straight year, the region’s representatives played out the tournament’s 18 game slate to the tune of a 3-15 record.
And, as if it were competing in some sort of imitation game, the LMS managed to send two teams to Worlds who went winless in the Group Stage, while the third managed to fall short of the Knockout Round with a record of 3-3. Last year, it was MAD Team, G-Rex, and Flash Wolves. This time around, it was Hong Kong Attitude, J Team, and AHQ.
It seems like it’s starting to not matter which teams the league sends to the Worlds stage, as they’re going to fall flat regardless. The “next team up” mentality has come back to bite the LMS as longtime titans of the region are falling short against the World’s best talent. And while teams from the LMS are able to dominate the Play-in Stage year after year, the second they’re faced with top-tier competition, they crumble.
And this isn’t necessarily anything new. In fact, the LMS has never posted a cumulative winning record as a region at the World Championship. Additionally, no team from the LMS has reached the Bracket Stage of Worlds since the Flash Wolves and AHQ both made it out of groups in 2015 – four years ago. The LMS has looked abysmal every year since.
In 2016, the region only sent two teams to Worlds, as the previous year’s quarterfinalists, AHQ and Flash Wolves both failed to make it out of Groups and repeat their Bracket Stage appearance. A combined record of 5-7 in 2016 went on the produce a 3-9 record from those same two teams in 2017. A year later, once a third LMS team was added into the mix, the region managed to perform even worse as two teams went 0-6 in the Group Stage.
Over the course of the past two years, the LMS has posted a record of 6-30 at the World Championship’s main event, while the region has gone 29-56 all time.
Records like these exclude the Play-in Stage under the reason that the level of competition at the Play-in level is vastly different than that of the Group Stage. Just because teams like HKA and G-Rex were able to dominate Wildcard opponents doesn’t mean they’ll have a strong showing against the best teams from major regions.
Now, as we move through the 2019 iteration of the tournament and we leave the LMS behind, it’s imperative that a serious look is taken at the region and what sort of competitive drive they bring to the table at each World Championship. It’s becoming clear that the LMS is nothing more than fodder for the teams at the top of each group as of late. The region that used to strike fear into the hearts of contenders around the world through a scrappy, gritty underdog mentality is now just a stepping stone on the road to the Bracket Phase.
And while the obvious answer to the competitive issue that the LMS poses would be to reduce the amount of seeds that the region gets at the World Championship, the fact of the matter is that the professional scene needs the LMS. What waits behind them is even more dismal. If you think the LMS is rough to watch, the Wildcard teams that the region as a whole is stomping in the Play-in Stage won’t give viewers (or competitors for that matter) a change of pace in the slightest.
The bottom line is this: if the LMS wants to be treated like a major region, they need to start playing like one.
Photo Credit: League of Legends, Riot Games, Lolesports