Riot Games have unveiled a full schedule for the 2020 League of Legends World Championships today, giving eSports fans a more in-depth insight of what to anticipate in the coming weeks. Although anything can – and usually does – happen on the international stage, we will take a quick look at the Play-In groups and give our thoughts about what we can expect when the action begins on Friday, September 25.

2020 LoL Worlds Play-in Stage Format

The culminating event of the 10th iteration of LoL Seasons will kick off on Friday with the Play-In stage fixtures, where we will see ten LoL teams hailing from ten regions duke it out for one of four tickets leading to the main event.

While the initial plan was for the Play-In stage to feature 12 teams, travel restrictions prevented Vietnam Championship Series (VCS) teams from traveling to Shanghai. In response, Riot Games made substantial adjustments to the format to accommodate having fewer teams participating.

The ten remaining teams were split into two groups of five, where each group will play a single-round robin cycle. The first-placed teams from each group will advance into the group stage, while the last-place teams will get eliminated.

Teams finishing in third and fourth place will then face off in a best-of-five (Bo5) series with the winner advancing to a Bo5 series against the second-seeded team from the opposing group. The winner of that fixture will receive a ticket for the LoL Worlds main event, while the loser will get eliminated from the competition.

Western teams set for success in Group A

Group A
INTZ (BR)
Legacy Esports (OCE)
MAD Lions (EU)
Papara SuperMassive (TR)
Team Liquid (NA)

The 2020 LoL Worlds Play-In Group A is comprised of Brazillian INTZ, Turkish Papara SuperMassive, Australian Legacy Esports, everyone’s favorite European youngsters MAD Lions, and the four-time North American champions Team Liquid. Looking at the field, three teams could make it out alive.

Favored to claim the top seed are MAD Lions. MAD Lions have been making serious noise in the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) and even looked like the strongest European roster for most of the split. However, the team ran out of steam in the latter stages and finished in fourth. MAD Lions still field some of the most talented players from their region, but there are some concerns with their lack of experience competing at an international stage.

The battle for the second seed will likely come down to Team Liquid and Papara SuperMassive. The League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) has gained a stigma of being by far the weakest out of the four major regions. Still, there is no denying LCS is still overall stronger than any of the minor regions, including the Turkish Championship League (TCL).

After a shaky season and somewhat uninspiring results throughout the spring split, Team Liquid will have a lot to prove in Shanghai. Although anything can happen at Worlds, they’re the favorites over Papara SuperMassive, Legacy Esports, and INTZ.

Final seeding prediction:
1 MAD Lions
2 Team Liquid
3 Papara SuperMassive
4 INTZ
5 Legacy Esports

LGD Gaming, Unicorns All but Guaranteed Promotion from Group B

Group B
LGD Gaming (CN)
PSG Talon (PCS)
Rainbow7 (LAT)
Unicorns of Love (CIS)
V3 Esports (JP)

Even though we can never know for sure what will happen on the Summoner’s Rift, it’s fair to say that Group B has two clear favorites to finish on top and three teams that will struggle to make much noise.

LGD Gaming is justifiably the most feared LoL roster in the Play-In stage and should breeze to the top spot in their qualifier group. Han “Peanut” Wang-ho and company looked very strong through the LPL 2020 Summer. Even though they failed to claim the LPL crown, finishing as the fourth-strongest Chinese team is still a tall order.

Looking to spoil LGD’s plans will be Unicorns of Love, who are beside their Chinese counterparts as the main favorites to make it out alive. The Unicorns hail from League of Legends Continental League (LCL), widely regarded as the strongest minor region. However, a lot will have to go right for the Russians to derail LGD.

While it’s not fair to discount the three underdogs in Rainbow7, PSG Talon, and V3 Esports, there is no hiding the fact they’re a level or two behind LGD and UoL. It’s worth noting, however, that the minor region teams have taken more than a few surprise games off favored teams in previous seasons. We don’t expect that to change this year.

Last year we saw the League of Legends Japan League (LJL) team J Team take a game off the eventual champions FunPlus Phoenix, so there is definitely room for upsets.

Final seeding prediction:
1 LGD Gaming
2 Unicorns of Love
3 PSG Talon*
4 Rainbow 7
5 V3 Esports

* PSG Talon have announced their jungler Kim “River” Dong-woo and mid-laner Park “Tank” Dan-won were not able to travel to China in time to participate in the Play-In stage, while ADC Wong “Unified” Chun Kit is said to miss a portion of games due to visa complications.

As revealed by the Hong Kongese team, they will play their games with two AHQ eSports Club players in jungler Hsiao “Kongyue” Jen-Tso and mid-laner Chen “Uniboy” Chang-Chu, who will replace River and Tank respectively. Meanwhile, ADC Chen “Dee” Chun-Dee will take over for Unified.

Play-In Teams Seeding into Main Event Groups

After the conclusion of the 2020 LoL Worlds Play-In stage on Wednesday, September 30, the top four teams will be seeded into one of the four groups in the main event. It’s still unclear which team will fall where, but there is a rule that states two teams from the same league cannot play in the same Worlds group, giving us a better insight into how the final groups will look.

Group A
G2 Esports
Machi Esports
Suning
TBD (any team besides LGD Gaming and MAD Lions)

Group B
DAMWON Gaming
JD Gaming
Rogue
TBD (any team besides MAD Lions and LGD Gaming)

Group C
Fnatic
Gen.G
Team SoloMid
TBD (any team besides Team Liquid and MAD Lions)

Group D
DRX
FlyQuest
Top Esports
TBD (any team besides LGD Gaming and Team Liquid)

The 2020 League of Legends World Championship will begin on Friday, September 20, at 16:00 local time (CST) with a Group A fixture between MAD Lions and INTZ. All fixtures will be live-streamed on Twitch and League of Legends’ official website.