It’s almost time to bring in the new year, and put 12 months of world-class League of Legends play behind us.
2023 is shaping up to be League of Legends’ biggest year yet. That is, according to Riot Games, who recently revealed that the game will have its “biggest budget of all time” next year - with a substantial chunk of that being dedicated to the game’s esports scene.
But before the 2023 season kicks off in earnest, we still have some time to look back on some of the best (and worst) moments from League of Legends in 2022.
And remember - we'll be keeping you up to date on all the major events of the 2023 season, so sign up for your free account before the excitement starts all over again!
The biggest Worlds of all time
The 2022 League of Legends World Championships was the biggest of all time - breaking the League of Legends esports viewership record, with a peak viewership of 5.1 million - easily surpassing the previous record of 4 million. And those numbers don’t even include the (likely substantial) viewer numbers from China, making this by far the biggest Worlds of all time.
And for good reason too. It was a heroic tournament from start to finish, filled with some incredible plays and surprise wins, with DRX ultimately claiming a stunning upset victory over T1 in the final.
DRX were never expected to win this year’s Worlds - in fact, most expected them to drop out during the quarter finals, where they went up against defending Worlds champions EDward Gaming.
But DRX defied the odds again and again, pulling off an absolute miracle run throughout the tournament. They’d been viewed as the weakest qualifying Korean teams, and were so much the underdog that they were considered lucky to even qualify, after a challenging summer season.
And yet not only did DRX make it all the way to the final - but they even managed to defeat T1, one of the strongest teams in the world, to secure their spot as the surprise Worlds 2022 champions. It was a stunning turnaround for DRX, and the perfect ending to the most exciting World Championships to date.
MAD Lions sets a more regrettable record
Spanish MAD Lions made the history books themselves this year - Though you’re not likely to hear them bragging about it anytime soon.
Their dubious new record came during the play-in stages for this year’s Worlds, where they were eliminated before ever making it to the group stage. The squad became the first European team to miss out on the group stage - and for the second year running.
It was a gutting turnout for the team, though not entirely unexpected. Expectations for MAD Lions were pretty low heading into Worlds, having failed to win a single best-of-five series all year. Still, failing to make it to even the group stages two years in a row has to feel particularly painful.
In response, MAD Lions had made some major changes to its roster, with William “UNF0RGIVEN” Nieminen, İrfan Berk “Armut” Tükek and Norman "Kaiser" Kaiser leaving the team following their disappointing performances. In their place, MAD Lions has signed former Fnatic superstar Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov, alongside Kim "Chasy" Dong-hyeon and Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság.
The 2023 season of League of Legends is about to begin - so remember to sign up for your free account!
Vietnam Championship Series make a post-pandemic comeback
While esports fared better than many during the pandemic, with the ability for games to take place online, that’s not to say that COVID-19 didn’t have an impact on the scene.
While the games could still continue, the resulting economic hardships affected sponsorship deals, with teams having less opportunities to compete - and to travel when available.
It was a tough time for us all, but the Vietnam Championship Series definitely took a real hit, with its teams having to skip three international tournaments in a row, including Worlds 2020, Mid-Season Invitational 2021 and Worlds 2021, due to pandemic restrictions.
But as the world opened up again, VCS teams were once again able to compete in international tournaments. Saigon Buffalo were the first to compete internationally again, taking part in the 2022 MSI in Busan.
Their sixth-place finish at this year’s MSI might seem disappointing, but given that VCS teams have been missing out on international tournaments for years now, it’s a promising start.
Additionally, while neither team made it very far, two VCS teams were able to make it to Worlds 2022. While the teams initially encountered some complications with their visa applications, both Saigon Buffalo and GAM Esports were able to compete in this year’s Worlds - marking the first time a VCS team had attended since 2019.
While their performances were ultimately disappointing, with Saigon Buffalo ranking 19th-20th, and GAM Esports ranked 15th-16th, it was nonetheless a welcome return to the international stage.
Australia’s League of Legends scene on the rise?
2020 marked the beginning of a rough period for the Australian League of Legends scene. In October of that year, Riot games announced that it would be closing its Sydney office and dissolving the Oceanic Pro League (OPL, thereby bringing an end to the League of Legends league for Australia and New Zealand.
Riot had clearly decided that the League of Legends scene in Australia was no longer sustainable, and teams began to compete in other regions. This, naturally, upset players and fans alike, and was a troubling sign for the state of League of Legends in Australia.
Enter ESL, who founded the League of Legends Circuit Oceania in 2021, to replace the dissolved OPL. The organisation naturally has a lot of work to do in order to rebuild Australia’s League of Legends scene, and despite some challenges on the horizon, there’s reason for optimism.
Chiefs Esports Club seems to be leading the charge, after their victory at the LCO Split 2 2022, where they defeated Pentanet.GG in the final. While they disappointed at the 2022 World Championship, ranking in 23rd - 24th, it’s going to be a long road to rebuilding the Australian league. With the pandemic restrictions lifted, 2022 has made a promising start - and we can only hope the league can overcome the challenges ahead of it in 2023.
Deft’s emotional birthday celebrations at Worlds 2022
But in many ways, his most emotional moment came before the final even kicked off. The team was interviewed on stage by Eefje “sjokz” Depoortere, after they surprised their nay-sayers by making it through to the semi finals following their upset win against EDward Gaming.
When asked “how does it feel to finally be back,” Deft immediately broke down in tears, with his teammate Hong "Pyosik" Chang-hyeon comforting him before he was able to reply.
“My goal for this Worlds was, regardless of the result, even if I cannot win it, I just wanted to get this impression that I’m making progress and getting better,” said Deft. “Throughout this five-game series, I realized that I am getting better. So, I am so happy.”
Of course, Deft had no idea at the time that his team would soon be crowned the Worlds champions - which would have made for an excellent present, as it was his birthday at the time.
Still, his birthday didn’t go uncelebrated. His team brought out a cake for him after the match, while the crowd sang “happy birthday,” in a heartwarming scene.
What were your most memorable moments from this year? With 2022 behind us, all eyes are on what is shaping up to be a fantastic 2023 season - make sure you sign up for your free account to stay close to the action!