With the World Cup final a day away and the Overwatch World Cup coming later this year, we got to wondering: What would a League of Legends World Cup look like?
The result, unsurprisingly, heavily favors South Korea. But there are several countries that can give the monolith of esports a run for its money, especially in the current meta. Here's our look at 16 teams that could compete at the highest level for a world title, what their rosters would look like and what their destinies might be in a World Cup format. All participants are listed in alphabetical order -- from Australia to Vietnam.
Top laner: Brandon "Swip3rR" Holland
Jungler: Shern "Shernfire" Cherng Tai
Mid laner: Simon "Swiffer" Papamarkos
AD carry: Calvin "k1ng" Truong
Support: Jake "Rogue" Sharwood
Substitute: Stephen "Triple" Li
Substitute: Richard "Phantiks" Su
Australia, much like Japan, struggles to put forward significant international results but always has its moments of glory. Internationally, the Oceanic Premier League has never been the minor region to beat, but it consistently sours the hopes of the South American representative, Brazil, against all odds. Australia doesn't have a wealth of talent, but it does have stars to rely on come international events.
Phantiks switched to coaching in the middle of 2017, but he makes an appropriate sub for a World Cup competition considering his international experience and talent ceiling. On the main roster, Shernfire, is a bona fide superstar in the OPL and has torn up both North American and South Korean solo queue ladders. Any hopes of a strong Australian World Cup performance rests on his shoulders.
-- Xander Torres
Top laner: Felipe "Yang" Zhao
Jungler: Gabriel "Revolta"Henud
Mid laner: Ruan "Anyyy" Silva
AD carry: Leonardo "Robo" Souza
Support: Victor "Cabu" Oliveira
It already has been an odd year for Brazilian League of Legends. If you had asked before this season, a World Cup team of the entire Keyd Stars roster (Yang, Revolta, Gabriel "Tockers" Claumann, Micael "micaO" Rodrigues, and Luan "Jockster" Cardoso) would have been an easy pick. But Keyd has not looked as strong or coordinated as its raw talent and experience together would suggest.
The top side of Keyd is undeniably strong, and Revolta continues to be the region's best jungler. Robo's flexibility gives this team more options in the current meta, and IDM Gaming's two surprise breakout stars in Anyyy and Cabu give an extra punch of raw talent.
-- Emily Rand
Top laner: Darshan "Darshan" Upadhyaya
Jungler: Andy "AnDa" Hoang
Mid laner Jean-Sébastien "Tuesday" Thery
AD carry: Jason "WildTurtle" Tran
Support: Andy "Smoothie" Ta
Substitute: Johnny "Altec" Ru
Substitute: Nicholas "Ablazeolive" Antonio Abbott
Canada is an interesting mix of new talent and old. Darshan will captain the team from the top lane and hope to bring along AnDa in the jungle while the lack of strong North American mid laners will force Tuesday, Counter Logic Gaming's Academy mid laner, to make a big jump from the minor leagues to playing against the Fakers and Xiahous of the world.
When it comes to subs, there are better players from Canada than Ablazeolive at the moment, most notably someone like Cloud9's Eric "Licorice" Ritchie, but where you can count on Darshan to be a rock in the top lane, Canada will need to bring two mid laners to see who performs better in the tournament. When you're relying on youth, the option of switching back and forth between Tuesday and Ablazeolive is probably Canada's best chance.
The bottom lane should be one of the stronger points for Canada. WildTurtle and Altec are similar in skill level and both bring different styles of play, with Altec being more reserved to WildTurtle's bombastic playstyle.
-- Tyler Erzberger
Top laner: Liu "Zz1tai" Zhi-Hao
Jungler: Ming "Clearlove" Kai
Mid laner: Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-Hao
AD carry: Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao
Support: Tian "Meiko" Ye
Royal Never Give Up has been accused of hoarding top-tier talent in jest, so it should be no surprise to find three RNG players on a Chinese roster for a League of Legends World Cup.
Despite recent health issues, legacy AD carry Uzi is an automatic lock. Even though Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok is the greatest to have ever played the game, Uzi is the best in the game right now. He has eclipsed being a strong mechanical player with keeping up those mechanics while also becoming a strong teammate and in-game leader.
Zz1tai recently stepped into Uzi's bot lane position, and his flexibility would be invaluable to a World Cup lineup, especially in this meta. The combination of EDward Gaming's jungle/support duo in Clearlove and Meiko brings more veteran experience and strong vision control, and the return of an Uzi/Meiko.
Top laner: Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg
Jungler: Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen
Mid laner: Rasmus "Caps" Winther
AD carry: Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen
Support: Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen
Welcome to the league of mid laners. Since the days of Henrik "Froggen" Hansen, Denmark has been known not only for strong League of Legends players but strong mid laners specifically. This trend continued through the Copenhagen Wolves and the rise of Bjergsen before he became the face of Team SoloMid, Jensen before he arrived in North America to play for Cloud9 and is still alive and well this day with Fnatic's Caps.
It should come as no surprise, especially in this meta, that the Danish team boasts three mid laners. Alongside Caps is Danish jungler Broxah, who has improved alongside the team to become a stronger voice on Fnatic and has better jungle/mid synergy with Caps than when both of the players debuted. This team has a lot of individual firepower not only from all three of its mechanically-skilled mid laner but from bot laner Zven, who has performed exceptionally well even in Team SoloMid's struggles this year.
Top laner: Paul "sOAZ" Boyer
Jungler: Charly "Djoko" Guillard
Mid laner: Scott "Tonerre" Ménard
AD carry: Steven "Hans Sama" Liv
Support: Hugo "Dioud" Padioleau
Substitute: Lucas "Cabochard " Simon-Meslet
Substitute: Pierre "Steeelback" Medjaldi
This team might not make the World Cup final like its soccer counterpart, but the French League of Legends team certainly has a shot at making the knockout rounds if it can mesh well together. Bringing the veteran leadership a national team needs to succeed is sOAZ, but it also has its superstar talent with Hans Sama in the bottom lane. Tonerre finished top three with his club in the most recent European Masters event, and it'll be a good showcase for how well the young player does on a team littered with talent.
Cabochard might be too good to be sitting on the pine, so don't be surprised if France throws out a lineup that has sOAZ, Cabochard and Hans all playing some sort of crazy funnel composition with Darius in the mid lane. France would be one of the better European teams going into the World Cup.
Top laner: Lennart "Smittyj" Warkus
Jungler: Maurice "Amazing" Stückenschneider
Mid laner: Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage
AD carry: Fabian "Exileh" Schubert
Support: Yannick "Pandar" Greff
Substitute: Erberk "Gilius" Demir
The EU LCS is centered in Berlin, so it is no surprise that the country is host to a multitude of national talents. German players such as PowerOfEvil and Exileh historically define the teams they play on as mid laners, while Amazing has done the same as a jungler. Germany might not have the heavy-hitting pool of a country like Denmark, but it can't be ignored.
Thanks to the current meta, Germany's lack of a prolific AD carry can be easily solved by plugging two mid laners into a single team. Exileh, in particular, has been notably proficient on bot lane picks, Ryze and Vladimir, in the past and should hold the fort down bottom. Amazing and PowerOfEvil are the core of the team, but the hot-headed Gilius is a talented and notable sub that could plug in at any time.
Top laner: Shunsuke "Evi" Murase
Jungler: Yuta "Astarore" Hiratsuka
Mid laner: Kyohei "Ceros" Yoshida
AD carry: Yuta "Yutapon" Sugiura
Support: Ryosei "Enty" Tanioka
Japan still struggles to manifest significant international results as the region finds its foothold in League of Legends. Last year, the LJL was able to take Rift Rivals, but the country also struggled again recently at the Asian Games. Japan's roster is constructed of much of the same suspects, with the entirety of its roster playing professionally before the launch of the Japanese server.
Evi consistently places high on the South Korean ladder and not only stands out as the star of this team but arguably as the best player in Japan. Meanwhile, Ceros and Yutapon are known for being extremely flexible carry players who can throw any curveball in this mix-and-match meta.
Top laner: Dmitri "Smurf" Ivanov
Jungler: Danil "Diamondprox" Reshetnikov
Mid laner: Anton "Ekka" Shestakov
AD carry: Egor "VincentVega" Medvedev
Support: Edward "Edward" Abgaryan
Russia, as part of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region, proves to be a heavy hitter among minor regions in League of Legends. Albus NoX Luna dazzled in the group stage of the 2016 world championship, and the region has yet to follow up on that performance, but teams like Gambit Esports still finish among the top of play-in teams. Russia's lineup features a mix of veteran and upcoming talent, providing the experience and muscle required for a deep World Cup run.
Diamondprox and Edward are easily the most notable players on this roster for their time in Moscow 5, way back in 2012, and are the bedrock of this team's talent. Ekka and VincentVega aren't exactly greenhorns, but having reliable starters in the jungle and support positions will only augment their already impressive carry performances.
Top laner: Song "Smeb" Kyung-ho
Jungler: Go "Score" Dong-bin
Mid laner: Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok
AD carry: Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk
Support: Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in
Substitute: Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong
Substitute: Park "Viper" Do-hyeon
The heavy favorite to win the World Cup, South Korea has probably six or seven elite teams it could put together before having a squad most of the national teams could handle in a best-of-five. We're going for the same lineup South Korea chose for the Asian Games except for reuniting KT Rolster teammates Score and Smeb in the top lane, with Afreeca Freecs standout Kim "Kiin" Gi-in barely missing the cut.
Although Faker can't be moved from the mid starting position, bringing Bdd, who has been the best mid laner in South Korea for more than a year now, will give the team options depending on which superstar mid laner is in better form on the day.
Rounding out the roster, Griffin's Viper is the next big thing in the LCK, and getting him time on the World Cup team would be valuable for his future. Not only that, but with the current meta, Ruler's love of playing standard marksmen and Viper's love of playing any champion in the game give South Korea the best of both worlds on who they want to field at what time.
This team isn't losing to anyone not named China.
Top laner: Jorge "Werlyb" Casanovas Moreno-Torres
Jungler: Iván "Razork" Martín Díaz
Mid laner: Challenger player
AD carry: Samuel "Samux" Fernández Fort
Support: Alfonso "Mithy" Aguirre Rodríguez
Spain plays host to a vibrant national league, LVP Superliga, that is one of the strongest in Europe. A variety of Spanish talents cycle through the EU LCS and LVP Superliga, but the general talent pool is fairly raw. In a potential League of Legends World Cup, Spain will bank a lot more on potential than proven players.
Spain's World Cup roster features talents from the LVP Superliga and established LCS players, Samux and Mithy. Mithy is struggling stateside in the NA LCS, but along with Samux, he will have to be the main focal point for this team. Werlyb has a fair bit of EU LCS experience as well and will be an asset topside with his trademark split-push-focused play.
Top laner: Hsieh "PK" Yu-Ting
Jungler>: Hung "Karsa" Hau-Hsuan
Mid laner: Chu "FoFo" Chun-Lan
AD carry: Lu "Betty" Yu-Hung
Support: Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh
Substitute: Chen "Ziv" Yi
Substitute: Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang
Taiwan hasn't captured significant international glory since the Season 2 world championship in 2012, unless you count Flash Wolves' win at IEM Katowice 2017, but the region has continued to churn out superstar talent despite its size and infrastructure issues. Taiwan's roster features many of the same names from its recent Asian Games roster but is slightly more optimized toward a higher skill ceiling.
It might be controversial to leave Ziv out of the starting lineup, but PK is the new-age Ziv: He can flex well onto both tanks and carries with ease while soaking up jungle attention without much help. FoFo, as Taiwan's mid laner, is also somewhat controversial due to J Team's weaker performances and Maple's return to stardom, but FoFo's astronomic skill ceiling has yet to be truly elevated by a competent team.
Top laner: Berke "Thaldrin" Demir
Jungler: Furkan "Stomaged" Güngör
Mid laner: Koray "Naru" Bıçak
AD carry: Berkay "Zeitnot" Aşıkuzun
Support: Mustafa Kemal "Dumbledoge" Gökseloğlu
This Turkish team will look incredibly familiar. It's one player away from being a 2016 SuperMassive reunion, adding Zeitnot, who is now on SuperMassive but then was on Dark Passage.
Most international fans will know Dumbledoge, not only for his flashy plays at the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational with Beşiktaş e-Sports Club but also for his impassioned plea to international audiences at the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational to take wild-card teams seriously. Alongside Dumbledoge, every member of this team is an International Wildcard veteran before changes to the tournament system for minor regions last year.
Thaldrin has led three different teams to two Mid-Season Invitationals and one world championship. His leadership was invaluable for the hybrid lineup of 1907 Fenerbahçe. Naru has maintained a starting mid lane position due to his skill despite many teams in the region using one of their roster import slots to bring in a European or South Korean player.
Top laner: Barney "Alphari" Morris
Jungler: Nubar "Maxlore" Sarafian
Mid laner: Marc "Caedrel" Robert Lamon
AD carry: Matthew "Deádly" Smith
Support: Raymond "kaSing" Tsang
Substitute: Jordan "Shikari" Pointon
Substitute: Alexander "Candyfloss" Cartwright
Is it coming home?
The United Kingdom has a roster that can definitely make waves in the World Cup if everything aligns just right. The team's strong point will come through the tandem of Alphari and Maxlore, who have proven themselves as of the best top-jungle partnerships in all of Europe over the past two years.
Caedrel, while currently a jungler, was an EU LCS starting mid laner only last split, and with a lack of strong mid laners coming from the U.K, Caedrel will be asked to flex back into the role that he just walked away from. In the bottom lane, kaSing will do his best to raise up a young AD from the Challenger scene and hopefully let the upper-half of the map do the damage for the United Kingdom squad. Semifinals or above might be too difficult for this roster, but making a run toward the quarterfinals isn't entirely out of the question.
Top laner: Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell
Jungler: Jake "Xmithie" Puchero
Mid laner: Eugene "Pobelter" Park
AD carry: Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng
Support: Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black
Substitute: - Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett
Substitute: Tanner "Damonte"' Damonte
Most of this roster is pretty set in stone for the United States. Reuniting "Rush Hour" as the team's heart and soul in the bottom lane is a no-brainer and will give the Americans one of the better duos in the World Cup. Though Xmithie was born and raised in the Philippines, he has lived in the United States for the past decade, so if we're going by how soccer players can sometimes declare for their nations, it feels as if he would declare for the U.S. team. If not, Dardoch represents another great option for the Americans who could keep the team in contention for an underdog semifinal run.
For the second sub, Damonte might seem like a reach, but it's all about the future potential of America. There are better American players than Damonte, but the country needs to develop more mid laners, and Damonte is one of the most intriguing American-born mids since Pobelter himself. Damonte probably won't see any starting time off the bench, but the experience would be worth it in the long run.
Top laner: Trần "Archie" Minh Nhựt
Jungler: Lê "SofM" Quang Duy
Mid laner : Võ "Naul" Thành Luân
AD carry: Đỗ "Levi" Duy Khánh
Support: Nguyễn "Palette" Hải Trung
Before Patch 8.11, certain Vietnamese teams were already playing a style that favored individual player champion pools over champion pools assigned to specific roles like AD carry or mid. At the most recent League of Legends World Championship, Vietnam's GIGABYTE Marines ran what was effectively a funnel composition around Levi's Nocturne. The Marines' playstyle revolved heavily around the flexibility of Archie, whose veteran status and experience make him an automatic pick for the Vietnamese World Cup team.
Also in the lineup are Vietnam's two highest-profile junglers in SofM and Levi. Both are flexible in terms of champion pool, although the team could run into a few issues regarding which player they want to give the majority of resources. You might remember both mid laner Naul and support Palette from 2017's Young Generation (now rebranded as Phong Vũ Buffalo). They are both highly skilled and will further help the team's versatility.
This is truly a team that could swap around nearly every player into a different position based on what type of team composition they would want to run, which would certainly confound many of Vietnam's opponents.