League of Legends Worlds: how often each region draws a Group of Death

League of Legends. Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Courtesy of Riot Games. /

With the discussion raging about how Riot Games draws the groups for its League of Legends World Championship, we examine how often each region ends up in the dreaded Group of Death at Worlds.

All the talk about how flawed the League of Legends World Championship’s group draw system boils down to the notion that randomness creates favorable and unfavorable groups. In this year’s Worlds, there were two clear “Groups of Life” (Group B and Group D) as well as two “Groups of Death” (Groups A and C). Normally, there will only be one of each or maybe just one Group of Death with three evenly-distributed, but it raises the interesting question of how often Groups of Death come up and who gets affected by them most.

On Twitter, LCS analyst MarkZ broke down how, historically, North America has been negatively affected by such draws more often than any other region. The question, though, is what actually makes a Group of Death and how often do they affect each team.

To wit, I’ll be going back through every group drawn in the main event of Worlds since Season 4 (when the four group system as we know it now was first implemented). I’ll be defining what makes a strong or weak group by looking at how strong the teams entering the group were (if they were from a minor region or if they were the #3 team from a region).

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I’ll be defining a “Group of Death” as any group that contains one or fewer wildcard, LMS, or third-seed teams or had more than one team make the semifinals of that Worlds. I’ll be defining a “Group of Life” that contains three wildcard, LMS, or third-seed teams or did not have a single team make the semifinals. We’ll denote those hard criteria in bold and the easier criteria by underlining.


In the 2014 Worlds, we had only one Group of Life and one Group of Death.

  • Group A = Samsung White, EDG, Dark Passage, AHQ
  • Group B = Star Horn Royal Club, TSM, SK Gaming, Taipei Assassins
  • Group C = Samsung Blue, OMG, Fnatic, LMQ
  • Group D = NaJin White Shield, Cloud9, Alliance, KaBuM!

So, in 2014 we had two groups that were balanced and one of each a group of life and death. Group C was the proverbial Group of Death because, although it had multiple #3 seeds (OMG and LMQ) two teams from the group made the semifinals, indicating that OMG was stronger than the typical third seed. On the other hand, Group D was the Group of Life and featured one of the biggest upsets/disappointments in Worlds history as Europe’s #1 seed Alliance failed to make it out of groups.


In the 2015 World Championship, we saw one Group of Life.

  • Group A = Flash Wolves, KOO Tigers, CLG, paiN
  • Group B = FNATIC, Cloud9, AHQ, Invictus
  • Group C = SKT, EDG, H2k, Bangkok Titans
  • Group D = KT Rolster, Origen, LGD, TSM

As you can see, this was probably the most evenly-drawn Worlds ever, with each group containing multiple wildcard/LMS or third-seed teams and having at least one representative reach the semifinals. However, because Group B had three low-quality teams in AHQ, Invictus, and C9 (two #3 seeds), it would qualify as a Group of Life.


At Worlds in 2016, there was one Group of Life, but there were two Groups of Death.

  • Group A = ROX Tigers, Albus NoX, CLG, G2
  • Group B = SKT, Cloud9, I May, Flash Wolves
  • Group C = H2K, EDG, AHQ, INTZ
  • Group D = Samsung, RNG, TSM, Splyce

Unlike 2015, in 2016 there were some uneven groups. Group B had three low-quality teams and therefore qualified as a Group of Life. On the other side, both Group A and Group C only had one wildcard team each, making them a Group of Death.


This was the year that Riot first added the play-in stage to the Worlds format. In this tournament, we had a Group of Life and a Group of Death.

  • Group A = SKT, Cloud9, AHQ, EDG
  • Group B = Longzhu, Fnatic, Gigabyte Marines, Immortals
  • Group C = RNG, Samsung, G2, 1907 Fenerbache
  • Group D = Team WE, Misfits, TSM, Flash Wolves

Because Group B did not have a team advance to the semifinals of the tournament, we’ll consider it to be a Group of Life. On the other side, Group C is a Group of Death because both RNG and Samsung advanced to the semifinals.


Finally, last year we saw two Groups of Life and one Group of Death.

  • Group A = Afreeca, G2, Flash Wolves, Phong Vu Buffalo
  • Group B = RNG, Cloud9, Vitality, Gen.G
  • Group C = KT Rolster, EDG, Liquid, MAD Team
  • Group D = Fnatic, Invictus, 100 Thieves, G-Rex

By virtue of having three low-quality teams Group A would be classified as a Group of Life. In addition, Group C would be considered a Group of Life because no team from that group made semifinals. However, Group D is considered a Group of Death because two of the teams from there made it to the semifinal round.


Over the five Worlds tournaments, we had six Groups of Life and five Groups of Death. That makes 24 unique teams in Groups of Life and 20 in Groups of Death.

The 24 teams in Groups of Life broken down by region as follows: five from Korea, five from NA, four from the LMS, four from EU, three from China, and three from wildcard regions. On the other hand, the 20 teams from Groups of Death broke down as five from EU, four from China, three from Korea, three from Korea, three from wilcard regions, and two from the LMS.

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This means that, generally, NA and Korea tend to get favorable draws, whereas EU and China tend to get tougher draws. Unlike Korea, though, NA doesn’t have the same track record of going deep into the tournament to show for these easier draws.