While the Play-In team still needs to be added, LoL Worlds 2019 Group B is perhaps the most open group in League of Legends World Championship history.
LPL champions FunPlus Phoenix will be the clear favourites as one of the strongest teams in the tournament on paper. Meanwhile, LMS champions J Team and VCS champions GAM Esports are both unpredictable and neither appear to be title contenders. This group could provide an excellent opportunity for whichever Play-In team joins in but with the nature of Worlds, you can never quite predict what is going to happen.
The top team from China, the region of reigning World Champions Invictus Gaming, FunPlus Phoenix is heading into its first Worlds as an organisation. It will also be the first Worlds appearance for mid-laner Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang. The Korean has been highly rated for a number of years and was tipped to be a star by legendary mid-laner Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok. So after waiting so many years for a trophy, it was little surprise that Doinb burst into tears once his team were crowned LPL champions.
The FunPlus Phoenix superstar is a rather unique player who doesn't limit himself to the meta with Pantheon, Skarner and Riven being just a few of the off-meta picks he has brought into the mid-lane. His unpredictability and sheer talent will certainly wow fans but everyone in FunPlus' squad is an immense player. Keep an eye out for support Liu "Crisp" Qing-Song who is sure to make a name for himself at this tournament.
China's LPL is a very difficult and competitive league yet FPX were fairly dominant. Their team-play and ability to find openings is extraordinary and will serve them well throughout the tournament. With the calibre of their opponents, don't be surprised if FPX make it through the Group Stages undefeated.
In previous years, the LMS was a league that struck fear into the hearts of their international opponents. Flash Wolves especially would always, at the very least, cause a few upsets and had an uncanny ability to take down Korean teams who were dominating the international scene.
Yet, the teams hailing from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau are not at the same calibre they used to be following Flash Wolves' rapid decline. Taking their place as the LMS champions is J Team, an esports organisation owned by Taiwanese entertainment phenomenon Jay Chou. The pop star/actor purchased former World Champions Taipei Assassins and will finally get to see his rebranded team take to the Worlds stage.
J Team are known for being very good teamfighters and certainly have the talent to cause a few upsets. Though, they will be thankful for a such an easy draw compared to the other teams around them. J Team will be hoping to give LMS fans something to celebrate and couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to do just that.
Thanks to the heroics of GAM Esports (formerly Gigabyte Marines) in previous tournaments, Vietnam as a region has been bumped up in the standings meaning the VCS champions automatically qualify for the Group Stages of Worlds.
GAM crushed their domestic opposition, finishing the VCS Summer Split with an impressive 11-3 record before cruising through the Playoffs by going on an undefeated streak past Lowkey Esports and Team Flash.
Vietnamese teams have surprised top teams in previous appearances at the tournament. Jungler Đỗ "Levi" Duy Khánh, who has now returned to the organisation following an unsuccessful stint in North America, made a name for himself when he lead his team to victory against Fnatic with an outrageous performance on Nocturne. The scene of Nocturne ulting a level three Karma just five-minutes into the game is a moment that a lot of fans, especially those of Fnatic, won't forget anytime soon.
That game, GAM demonstrated a fascinating strategy that was well ahead of its time. Just half a year later and the term funnelling was created, a strategy in which a team would put as many resources into one player as possible, just as the Vietnamese team had for Levi that time.
GAM will be aggressive, unpredictable and most importantly, fun to watch. Vietnam as a region is only going stronger and this could be the occassion we see a VCS team reach the Knockout Stages of Worlds for the first time.
The seemingly strongest two Play-In teams could both slot into Group B and both would have a very real chance of escaping it. Korean's Damwon Gaming are absolutely lethal when they are at their terrifying best. Meanwhile, Europe's Splyce have had a few very strong performances throughout the year and will not be afraid of taking on the likes of J Team in a late-game teamfight.