LoL Worlds vs Dota TI: Which is the true ruler of esports events?

The final of League of Legends' World Championships is almost upon us and Sunday's showdown between G2 and FunPlux Phoenix will almost certainly be the most-watched esports event of the year.

It falls 11 weeks after the conclusion of The International 9 - Dota 2's showpiece event - which this year boasted an unprecedented prize pool of more than $34m.

But esports events should not be judged on cold metrics such as viewing figures and money alone. What makes them so magical to fans is an array of factors, shaped over years and honed through previous events.

Through Worlds and TI, LoL fans and Dota fans enjoy the pinnacle of esports events - arguably only CS:GO Majors come anywhere near close - but, when all is said and done, which is the true ruler?

Luckbox tasked League of Legends journalist Jack Stewart and Dota 2 writer Riley to argue the case for their beloved games.

LoL Worlds 2019 final: Make your predictions, play for real cash and watch live


Worlds - unique, fresh and unpredictable

The League of Legend World Championships is a month-long esports and entertainment extravaganza that spans multiple cities and is watched by millions around the world. In LoL’s esports ecosystem, there are very few international tournaments, which makes Worlds feel special every year.

Other than at MSI (which serves as an appetiser months before the main course) teams at the World Championship do not have much experience of playing each other. That way, every match feels unique, fresh and unpredictable. There's always the potential for upsets, especially in the group stages with brutal best-of-ones.


The opening stage of the tournament can be extremely difficult and often eliminates big teams such as Royal Never Give Up this year. Worlds groups always provides a lot of drama over the first two weeks with each group playing the second half of its games in one day before possibly leading into tiebreakers.

This year, Europe's Fnatic went on a sensational run and beat SKT and the aforementioned RNG, two of the game's most prestigious teams, back to back to miraculously make it into the knockout Stages.

Go big or go home

Worlds is created with the viewer in mind, the sheer entertainment for fans is overwhelming. You can argue that a lack of a loser bracket is unfair but when do you see sports teams or stars get a second chance? Just like the FIFA World Cup, LoL Worlds is single-elimination, so if you want to be the best, you have to turn up for every series.

It's an experience that no other tournament can match

There is no room for mistakes and that's how it should be. If you're actually a title contender then you can take down any team on any occasion. The smallest moment can change the course of history and knowing that, every second of play has viewers hooked.

Regional rivalries

Those high stakes make for incredible games and exciting storylines, especially with the regional rivalries. Everyone has had a vendetta against Korean teams who dominated the Worlds stage for five years - making LCK teams the final boss.


A few years ago, the idea of a European team making the final was near-unthinkable yet that's exactly what has happened the last two years. Regions have started bringing their own personal play-styles instead of copying others and it has worked wonders.

More than the game

And to compliment the exciting action in-game, Worlds is a spectacle outside of it. Every year, Riot's phenomenal music department teams up with world-class acts to create a Worlds song which will define the tone for the year.

On top of that, a new yearly tradition has emerged of Riot creating virtual bands in-game who perform in the final with the voices of other musical superstars.


The K-pop band K/DA debuted last year and the music video of their first song POP/STARS has 278 million views on YouTube. Plus, the final opening ceremonies are always incredible and full of surprises, Riot even earned an Emmy for their AR dragon from a couple of years ago.

Worlds is the most exciting esports tournament to watch which is why is repeatedly breaks viewing figures. It's an experience that no other tournament can match.


The everlasting magic of The International

Saying The International is great is a slight understatement, but it is just so great. As a tournament alone, TI has produced many of esports' greatest storylines —the greatest runs, the most unbelievable comebacks, the most unprecedented upsets, the most triumphant redemptions — which sure, other esports have their fair share of, but there's more to it than that.


There's a reason every single iteration of TI manages to stand out from the crowd (other than its ginormous prizepool): the everlasting TI magic.

Every one has managed to recreate the same classical TI magic feeling - yet every one of them always feel like something totally different to anything esports has ever seen and the way that it folds out have never been short of both unprecedented and incomprehensible.

A chance for redemption

The main reason TI seamlessly creates these moments is due to the fact that, as gruelling as the tournament is, it is not completely unforgiving. With a tournament of such length and scale, errors are bound to be made, but TI offers them as an opportunity to fuel them into something greater, by offering chances and redemptions.


The choice to opt for a long, double-elimination playoffs instead of a traditional, single-elimination playoffs that many high-profile tournaments (such as Worlds) prefer is the groundwork for this.

Although it's true that it means the playoffs aren't focused immediately to the pinnacles of action, it levels the opportunity for every team, from every range of the spectrum.

Standing tall on the big stage

Whether you're a complete unknown or a three-time TI finalist, none of that matters — as TI is always focused on equalising the two.

While in most tournaments, smaller teams are ought to be washed out early on in the group stages, TI opens the main stage for them to get a shot at immortalising themselves on one of the biggest stage in esports, and this is the force that breaks out the hidden gems - the likes of Wings, TNC, OG, and pushes them to play the very best Dota out of their damn minds.

But chance isn't something that only the underdogs needs. The bigger the elephant, the greater the pressure that is upon them. Let's talk Liquid, undoubtedly one of the best lineups to ever grace the game.

Twice have they been in the Grand Finals of TI, yet, on each occasion, they would have been nowhere near any of those finals if it were not for these second chances.

If it weren't for a shot in redemption, they would have kicked the bucket early on, or would not have made it past groups in the first place (looking at you, Liquid LoL).

But with the second chance that is given to them, what would have been one of the biggest chokes of the year is transformed into some of the greatest redemption runs in esports history.

Pure, soul-sapping esports

This does not necessarily mean that the stakes of TI is lower. On the contrary, as for these "greatest teams", these chances add to the steam why anything short of the Aegis wouldn't be enough, and sometimes this steam breaks them. What results is a truly equalising force that levels the fields of competition at TI.

Combined with the momentum created from two straight weeks of relentless Dota, what is born is a tournament with the capacity to break every one of the players to their very core.

What results is players drenching out their soul, a tournament that brings the spirit of players and fans to the verge of cracking open. What results is pure, unadulterated sports, and from it was created something truly so great.

Your shout: Do you agree with Jack and Riley? Let us know on Twitter and Discord

Pictures: LoLEsports / Flickr and Valve / Dota 2 / Twitter