Worlds 2017 is finally here! With dozens of players from teams all over the world, it’s hard to know who to keep an eye out for. With eSports fans’ busy schedules, most people may only have time to watch one region, so we’ve created this handy guide to help you get up to speed with some of the most exciting players at this year’s World Championship as they try to capture the coveted Summoner’s Cup.
Contractz / Jungle / Cloud9
It’s been a good first year for Contactz. He spent most of 2016 as Cloud9’s top prospect for the future, and as such, he played in the Challenger Series with veteran C9 players from years’ past. When Cloud9’s Challenger squad won a spot in the NA LCS and became FlyQuest, Cloud9 retained only Contractz and he later joined the main Cloud9 roster, replacing long-time jungler Meteos.
From the first game of the season, Contractz has shown remarkable mechanical skill and a knack for getting his laners ahead early. With a diverse champion pool that includes marksmen, tanks, and assassins, Contractz can be relied on to play any role that his team needs. The only test left is to see how he’ll fare on the international stage.
Maple / Mid / Flash Wolves
Though he doesn’t have the most difficult competition in the LMS, Maple has consistently performed in international events. He has been able to get the best of premiere mid-laners like Faker and Bjergsen in head-to-head competition. His dominance on champions like Leblanc and Syndra has helped propel his teams to international success.
Flash Wolves continues, however, to fall just short of their goal, never making it to the World Semifinals. If Flash Wolves hopes to make it to the promised land, Maple will need to carry them there. Is he up for the challenge, or are his best performances behind him?
Uzi / ADC / Royal Never Give Up
Uzi isn’t as highly regarded as he once was, but he’s still one of the most feared ADC players on Earth. Uzi excels on mechanically intense champions like Vayne and Caitlyn, but has played basically every marksman under the sun as the meta ebbs and flows. Uzi can almost always be relied on to solo carry a game. His many heroic performances have given birth to the phrase “1v9”, which demonstrates just how often he does this with less than stellar teams.
After breaking out in 2013 and taking Star Horn Royal Club to back-to-back World Championship Finals, he has seen a bit of a career down-turn. But Uzi is now once again on a powerhouse team worthy of his excellence and is ready to prove he’s the top ADC in the world.
Levi / Jungle/ Gigabyte Marines
At the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational, Levi was the most surprising player. He made the relatively fringe champion Kha’Zix look overpowered as he picked enemies apart throughout the entire tournament. His stellar play actually led the Gigabyte Marines to a very close 3-2 series against TSM and wins against several international squads — remarkable at the time. Their performance was so great, and so surprising, that the Marines secured a spot in the World Championship Group Stage for the GPL winner.
As Gigabyte Marines were able to win the GPL relatively easily yet again, Levi looks to be ready for another round of upsets at this Worlds. If you are a jungler looking for inspiration with a never-die attitude, Levi is your guy.
Bjergsen / Mid / Team Solo Mid
Bjergsen’s dominance in North America cannot be understated: he has won the NA LCS MVP award four times in his eight splits in the league. He’s capable of making mechanical outplays over anyone in the world, with a seemingly endless champion pool. It is largely his leadership and individual skill that has carried TSM to winning 6 of the 10 LCS splits so far and turned him into an international superstar.
TSM’s hopes for Worlds rests heavily on Bjergsen’s shoulders. But for all his skill and accolades, he has yet to truly have a successful international showing, never making it past the Quarterfinals and frequently falling short of Groups. For TSM to be successful, Bjergsen has to do more than just hold his own on the international stage — he needs to thrive and dominate.
Ziv / Top / ahq eSports Club
After winning multiple MVP awards in the LMS, Ziv is often cited as the best player in the region. But Ziv has had a down year in 2016 and his team is at a bit of a crossroads. Ziv thrived in the top lane-focused metagame of Worlds 2015, dominating with fighters and tanks alike. But in 2017 Ziv has struggled along with ahq esports, falling further behind Taiwan’s dominant Flash Wolves. With the team changing mid-laners from the long-time player Westdoor to Chawy, ahq looks to Ziv now more than ever before to carry the squad. Is he up to the challenge?
Flame / Top / Immortals
From dominance to irrelevance, and everything in between, Flame has seen the full spectrum in professional League of Legends. From his days in Korea as part of CJ Entus Blaze, Flame was touted as the best top laner in the world for years. He was so dominant that LCK commentators coined the phrase “The Flame Horizon” — meaning a player who reached 100 CS more than their respective lane opponent.
Unfortunately in 2015, when Korean League organizations had to eliminate sister teams, Flame surprisingly found himself on the outside looking in. He went to China to play in the LPL for LGD Gaming and was usually on the bench. After two frustrating years, Flame found new life in the NA LCS where he was one of the most dominant top-laners in the league and helped lead Immortals to their first Worlds appearance.
Jensen / Mid / Cloud9
Everything was against Jensen having a successful pro career. He was infamously banned for life from League of Legends for participating in drop-hacking and extreme toxicity in 2012. Players and fans thought that would be the end of him. But Riot Games proved their generosity and reversed his ban decision because Jensen genuinely reformed over time. Not only has his career been rejuvenated, but he’s thrived.
Jensen has consistently been second only to Bjergsen in the NA LCS, and this season he actually surpassed him, being named best mid-laner in the league over Bjergsen. His consistent mechanical and intelligent play on a diverse set of champions has helped lead Cloud9 to their fifth straight Worlds appearance. After shining on the Worlds’ stage in years past, Jensen has the chance to prove that he can help elevate his team to new heights yet again.
Clearlove / Jungle / Edward Gaming
Clearlove has been a Worlds staple since 2012 and at times has been one of the best junglers in the World. But Clearlove has struggled over the last year, and EDG has disappointed on the international stage since 2014. EDG still depends on Clearlove’s vision control and map control to guide them through the early and mid game, and on a more human level, they depend on his leadership and experience to guide them through unfamiliar situations.
Clearlove has another chance to finally make it to the Semifinals of Worlds — but he doesn’t have much time left. This may be his best chance to perform above expectations.
Xiaohu / Mid / Royal Never Give Up
In 2016, Xiaohu quickly emerged as an elite mid-laner, surprising many. As one of the few mids who could go toe-to-toe with Faker, Xiaohu proved he was an international super star. But the bitter defeat of losing to SKT fueled his desire to return to Worlds again. An intelligent and mechanical player, Xiaohu has returned to Worlds with an even stronger Royal Never Give Up squad. In 2017, they hope to best their performance from last year and bring the Summoner’s Cup to mainland China for the first time.
Be sure to tune in to the 2017 League of Legends World Championship Group Stage to watch these and many other players battle in cities across China for over $1-million in prize money and the coveted Summoner’s Cup.
Check out Part 2, in which we’ll discuss the next 10 players you need to watch out for at Worlds 2017.
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