Worlds 2020 Play-in Team Preview: The LPL’s LGD Gaming

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

We look at the LGD Gaming, their path to Worlds 2020, and how they might fare in the play-in stage.

Our preview of all the teams that will be featured at the Worlds 2020 play-in stage wraps up all the teams in Group B. We’re taking a look at the fourth-seed out of China’s LPL, LGD Gaming, and their prospects of making it to the group stage (spoiler: it’s pretty good).

LGD has been to Worlds before once, in 2015, with a team that included legendary names like Flame and Imp, but also included meme-able names like GODV and Pyl. The team has obviously changed a lot since that last Worlds appearance, but they are a team of mostly veterans eager for a chance to finally capture glory at Worlds 2020.

The Season

LGD actually started the 2020 season on a down note, winning only five series out of 16 and missing the spring playoffs entirely. As a result, before the Summer Split, LGD shed three of their starting players to create a whole new roster for a push towards Worlds 2020.

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The roster shakeup paid off dividends, as LGD went 10-6 in the Summer Split, earning themselves the 6th seed entering the LPL Playoffs. After beating a surprisingly strong Team WE 3-1 in the first round, LGD shocked the world by defeating 2018 World Champions Invictus Gaming in a clean 3-0 sweep. Unfortunately, LGD ran into a monster of the LPL in JD Gaming, who ran over LGD in a 3-1 series win. They then proceeded to fall to Suning 3-0 in the consolation match, sending LGD into the Gauntlet.

In the first qualification match, which would determine the LPL’s third seed at Worlds 2020, LGD again fell to Suning in three straight games. However, they still had one more chance to advance to Worlds with another matchup against Invictus. It was nearly the same story as the playoffs, with LGD winning the series 3-1 and snatching a trip to Worlds from the clutches of the former World Champions.

The Roster

Top Lane – Xie “Langx” Zhen-Ying

While Langx is one of the top-ten top laners attending Worlds 2020, he is clearly the weakest of the pack attending from the LPL. This will actually be his second-straight Worlds appearance, as he attended Worlds 2019 with RNG Esports on a loaded team that included Uzi, Karsa, and Xiaohu, but failed to make it out of the group stage. His champion pool is fairly limited, with Ornn and Renekton making up the most of his games in 2020, and although he’s the best top laner in his group, his task will get much harder should LGD advance into the group stage.

Jungle – Han “Peanut” Wang-ho

A legendary jungler famous for his role on that 2016 ROX Tigers team that nearly made the World Finals, Peanut will be making his third appearance at the tournament (he also attended in 2017 with SKT and lost in the World Finals to Samsung Galaxy. Since then, Peanut has had a bit of a decline in his play, bouncing from team to team without much success (though he was a member of the 2018 Kingzone DragonX team that won LCK Spring, but then collapsed and missed Worlds in the summer).

Peanut has seen a renaissance in his play in 2020, with the meta shifting back to his favored carry-jungler style. His most-played champions include Lee Sin, Graves, and Kindred amnd his outstanding play was one of the biggest reasons LGD is at Worlds 2020.

Mid – Su “xiye” Han-Wei

A veteran mid laner, xiye is making his second Worlds appearance since appearing as a member of Team WE in 2017. Xiye was one of those players LGD acquired before the Summer Split to help gear up for a Worlds run, coming over from playing on Dominus Esports in spring, and he has not disappointed. He’s certainly known for his roaming, supportive playstyle to help his jungler, with Twisted Fate as his most-picked champion, but he’s also a very strong Sylas player as well.

ADC – Ha “Kramer” Jong-hun

The long-time Afreeca Freecs AD Carry moved over to the LPL in 2018 and has finally brought him back to Worlds for the first time since 2018 (he also attended Worlds 2015 with Flash Wolves). Even the old dog has learned some new tricks, though, as Kramer did pick up new releases Senna and Aphelios successfully in 2020. He does still lean on old reliable like Ezreal and Ashe, the two most-played champions in his career.

Support – Ling “Mark” Xu

Arguably LGD’s biggest mid-season pickup, Mark is one of the few “green” players on this roster in only his second LPL season. This will be his first Worlds trip of his career, so he should be eager to prove his top-five support ranking. Mark has been a fantastic roaming support, playing mostly engage tanks like Nautilus and Leona, but he is willing to abandon his ADC and roam to make plays happen across the map.

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90/50/10 Predictions

90% odds that…LGD makes it out of the play-in stage. I might have said 100% if I could, but 90% at least leaves the possibility that something wacky could happen.

50% odds that…They make it out of the group stage as well. Because the LPL is sending four teams, LGD has to be sent into the only group (Group C) that does not already have a Chinese representative. That means their likely group stage opponents are Fnatic, Gen.G, and TSM. That is a winnable group for LGD Gaming.

10% odds that…LGD Gaming makes it to the World Finals. I don’t think LGD is one of the top two, or even four, teams in the World, but there is the chance if they heat up at the right time and get a favorable draw in the knock-out rounds, that they could sneak into the Finals…and finish second.