2016 League of Legends World Championship
|Dates||September 29–October 29|
|16 team round-robin group stage
8 team single-elimination bracket
|Venue(s)||4 (in 4 host cities)|
|Purse||$ 5,070,000 USD|
|Champion||SK Telecom T1 (3rd title)|
|MVP||Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok (SK Telecom T1)|
The 2016 League of Legends World Championship was the sixth world championship for League of Legends, a video game developed by Riot Games. It was held from September 29 – October 29, 2016, in cities across the United States. Sixteen teams qualified for the tournament based on their placement in regional circuits such as those in North America, Europe, South Korea, and China. The tournament's group stage was held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, the quarterfinals at The Chicago Theater in Chicago, and the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The final was held in front of a crowd of nearly 100,000 fans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Russian-German DJ Zedd made an exclusive song for the tournament titled "Ignite", the song became available for streaming viewing on the game's official YouTube channel.
SK Telecom T1 defended their title from the 2015 League of Legends World Championship by defeating runner-up Samsung Galaxy 3–2 in a best of five final series. With their win, SKT became the first three-time League of Legends world champion. SKT's Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok was named MVP of the tournament. The final prize pool reached $6.7 million, the largest single prize pool in League of Legends history. The final was followed by 43 million unique viewers, with a peak concurrent viewership of 14.7 million. Its success prompted the team in charge of the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics to look into including esports presentation technologies used by Riot Games if the bid is successful.
The original prize pool was $2.13 million contributed by Riot Games, with the final amount being calculated after fan contributions stopped on November 6. Riot pledged to add 25% of all revenue generated from selling Championship wards and skins – customizations for the player controlled hero character – to the prize pool. On October 28, the sale of these unique Championship skins had grown the prize pool to $5.07 million, making it the largest single prize pool in League of Legends history. The final prize pool reached $6.7 million. Riot announced that 40% of the prize pool will be awarded to the winning team and 15% to the runner up. The winning team would also receive 25% of revenue from skins created to commemorate the championship victory.
To encourage new viewers to watch, Riot Games set up a second stream specifically for new viewers, which would help explain basic game concepts that more experienced viewers on the regular stream would be familiar with.
Riot Games collaborated with Zedd, an electronic dance music disc jockey to create "Ignite", a dance music anthem for the tournament. The video referenced multiple highlights from previous League of Legends world championships. As of April 2017, it has over 26 million views on YouTube.
Teams and qualifications
Sixteen teams qualified for the tournament from regional events, which are typically divided into Spring and Summer seasons or "splits" where Championship Points used for worlds qualifications are earned based on placement. The four premier regions of China, South Korea, Europe, and North America each had three qualification spots. The winner of the 2016 Summer Split would be the region's first seed, the team with the most combined Championship Points between the Spring and Summer Splits would be the second seed, and the winner of a regional qualification tournament between the next highest four teams in terms of Championship Points would be the third seed.
The last two teams qualified from the International Wildcard Qualifiers held in São Paulo, Brazil. Eight teams representing the champions of regional leagues from Brazil, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Japan, Northern and Southern Latin America, Oceania, Southeast Asia, and Australia were present. After a round robin, the top four teams were seeded so that the first place team from groups played the fourth highest placing team, and the second place team played the third, with the winners of each match moving on to worlds.
EDward Gaming, Royal Never Give Up, and IMay qualified from the League of Legends Pro League in China. G2 Esports, H2K-Gaming, and Splyce qualified after the 2016 Summer European League of Legends Championship Series. Team SoloMid, Counter Logic Gaming, and Cloud9 qualified after the 2016 Summer North American League of Legends Championship Series. ROX Tigers, SK Telecom T1, and Samsung Galaxy qualified from the League of Legends Champions Korea event. Flash Wolves and Ahq e-Sports Club qualified from the League of Legends Master Series for the Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau region. INTZ eSports from Brazil and Albus NoX Luna from Russia qualified via international wildcard qualifications.
The group stage draw was held on September 10, 2016. Each group would have one team from pool 1, which comprised the number one seeds from South Korea, China, Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau, and North America; one team from pool 3, which comprised the two international wild cards and the number three seeds from Europe and North America; and two teams from pool 2, which comprised all the other teams.
|Albus NoX Luna||Commonwealth of
Independent States (LCL)
International Wildcard spot (IWCQ)
|ahq e-Sports Club||Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau
|Cloud9||North America (NA LCS)||
|Counter Logic Gaming||North America (NA LCS)||
|EDward Gaming||China (LPL)||
|Flash Wolves||Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau
|G2 Esports||Europe (EU LCS)||
|H2K-Gaming||Europe (EU LCS)||
|I May||China (LPL)||
|INTZ e-Sports||Brazil (CBLoL)
International Wildcard spot (IWCQ)
|ROX Tigers||South Korea (LCK)||
|Royal Never Give Up||China (LPL)||
|Samsung Galaxy||South Korea (LCK)||
|SK Telecom T1||South Korea (LCK)||
|Splyce||Europe (EU LCS)||
|Team SoloMid||North America (NA LCS)||
*Tong "Koro1" Yang replaced Chen "Mouse" Yu-Hao after the latter retired from the tournament due to a private issue.
Four venues in four cities were selected for the tournament.
|San Francisco, California||Chicago, Illinois||New York City, New York||Los Angeles, California|
|Bill Graham Civic Auditorium||Chicago Theatre||Madison Square Garden||Staples Center|
|Sep 29 – Oct 9||Oct 13 – Oct 16||Oct 21 – Oct 22||Oct 29|
|Capacity: 7,000||Capacity: 3,800||Capacity: 18,200||Capacity: 18,188|
The group stage was held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California. The group stage was played in a best of one double round-robin format, where each team played every other team in their group twice, with the top two teams from each of the four groups advancing to the knockout stage.
The Cinderella story of the tournament was the run of Albus NoX Luna, the CIS champions who became the first wildcard team to make it to the quarterfinals in the history of the League of Legends World Championship. European first seed G2 Esports underperformed in this group, while ROX Tigers, the first seed from Korea, won the group as expected, but had to do so by defeating Albus NoX Luna in a tiebreaker game.
|2||Albus NoX Luna||1–1||~||2–0||1–1||4||3||1|
|3||Counter Logic Gaming||1–1||0–2||~||2–0||3||3||0|
Group B's deciding matches all occurred on the last day, when all teams except for the Korean first seed SK Telecom T1 had 2–3 records. In the end, it was Cloud9, the sole North American team to move on, that moved on after exploiting the inconsistent play of the Chinese and Taiwanese teams. I May was also hurt when one of its players was suspended for one match on the last day and fined $2000 for abusive behavior in online games. During Cloud 9's match against Flash Wolves, Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi killed 690 minions, which set a new record for this statistic at worlds.
|1||SK Telecom T1||~||2–0||2–0||1–1||5||1||4|
Group C was the only group without a Korean team seeded first. Its two qualifiers were both considered championship favorites, since H2K-Gaming was a strong European team and EDward Gaming was a strong Chinese team. Despite a 1–2 showing in the first week, H2K managed to make the quarterfinals at the top of its group by winning four straight matches, including a tiebreaker against EDward Gaming, to become the only European team to move on.
|3||ahq e-Sports Club||1–1||0–2||~||2–0||3||3||0|
Group D was considered to be the group of death because it had three top Korean, Chinese, and North American teams, and a strong European team. Samsung Galaxy, would convincingly win the group with help from the strong play of Kang "Ambition" Chang-yong. Royal Never Give Up defeated the North American champions TSM to even their records at 3–3 and win the head-to-head tiebreaker to move on to the quarterfinals.
|2||Royal Never Give Up||0–2||~||2–0||1–1||3||3||0|
|3||Team Solo Mid||1–1||0–2||~||2–0||3||3||0|
Quarterfinals and semi-finals
The quarterfinals were held at the Chicago Theatre, starting on October 13. Teams were seeded against each other based on their performance in the group stage, and played a best-of-five, single-elimination bracket.
All three of the Korean teams, SK Telecom T1, ROX Tigers, and Samsung Galaxy, advanced to the quarterfinals from the group stage. Two Chinese teams, EDward Gaming and Royal Never Give Up, advanced by finishing second in their groups. Cloud9 and H2k-Gaming were respectively the only North American and European teams to advance out of groups. The last team to make it to the quarterfinals was Albus NoX Luna, a Russian wildcard team that finished second in its group.
Three teams from the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) circuit and one from the European League of Legends Championship Series (EULCS) made it to the semi-finals. H2K-Gaming ended the wildcard run of Albus NoX by sweeping them 3–0 in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, the three Korean teams ended the runs of EDward Gaming and Royal Never Give Up, the last two Chinese teams, and the run of Cloud 9, the last North American team.
The semi-finals were held at Madison Square Garden in New York over two days. SK Telecom T1 won a five-game series against the ROX Tigers, who had won the 2015 Summer League of Legends Championship Korea season and were favorites to win this event. Many commentators called this matchup the true World Finals. In the other semi-finals, Samsung Galaxy swept H2k-Gaming, the last European team in the tournament, 3–0 to advance to the finals.
The final lasted six hours and was played in front of a crowd of nearly 20,000 fans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. A projection of the minimap which showed each team's map control was shown on the floor of the arena between the two teams. Most of the players for Samsung Galaxy (SSG) had never played in the finals before, while most members of SK Telecom (SKT) were returning members of the 2015 championship team. It was the first finals series in a League of Legends world championship to go the full five games.
The first match of the best of five series lasted 40 minutes and was won by SK Telecom, who were able to attack Samsung Galaxy's undefended base after winning a big "all-in" battle between the two teams. The second match was also won by SKT, who were able to continuously build up an insurmountable advantage after winning a battle in the mid-game, ending the game after 31 minutes.
After losing the first two games, Samsung Galaxy won a long third game against SK Telecom. SKT dominated the early stages of the game and built up a lead in both kills and gold. The turning point in this game was a fight over Baron, an important in-game objective, where Samsung Galaxy was able to kill half of SK Telecom's team and destroy two of their turrets afterwards. After winning a similar engagement over Baron later in the game, Samsung Galaxy was then able to quickly destroy five of SKT's defensive towers and win the game. This third game was the second-longest in competitive League of Legends history, at 71 minutes and 20 seconds.
Samsung Galaxy then won the fourth game, also after winning a key fight over Baron. Despite losing two inhibitor buildings in their base, SKT was able to stall SSG with defensive play until the 42-minute mark, after which SSG took three Dragons – another in game objective – uncontested and gained buffs that allowed them to win the game. In the final game, SK Telecom played a more cautious gameplay style, which was effective against Samsung Galaxy's riskier play. SKT was able to grab two Baron kills and two Elder Dragon kills en route to winning the final game.
SK Telecom's team shared a $2 million prize purse between its members. The championship victory was SKT's third in four years, and a successful defense of their 2015 title. SKT also became the first team to win three world championships. ESPN's Timothy Lee called the finals "an instant classic". SKT's Lee Sang-hyeok, who uses the handle "Faker", was named as the tournament MVP. It was Faker's first Worlds MVP. Faker's performance on the map's middle lane broke the previous 208 kills record at Worlds by the third map of the finals, and he ended up with 217 kills.
- Competition table
|October 14 – Chicago Theatre|
|SK Telecom T1||3|
|October 21 – Madison Square Garden|
|Royal Never Give Up||1|
|SK Telecom T1||3|
|October 15 – Chicago Theatre|
|October 29 – Staples Center|
|SK Telecom T1||3|
|October 16 – Chicago Theatre|
|October 22 – Madison Square Garden|
|Albus NoX Luna||0|
|October 13 – Chicago Theatre|
|1st||SK Telecom T1||$2,680,000|
|Royal Never Give Up||$268,000|
|Albus NoX Luna||$268,000|
|9–11th||Counter Logic Gaming||$150,750|
|ahq e-Sports Club||$150,750|
Viewership numbers were higher than those for the 2015 League of Legends World Championship. 43 million unique viewers saw the finals and peak concurrent viewership for the finals was 14.7 million; 370 million hours of esports were streamed over the course of the entire world championship. The final prize pool, which included fan contributions via purchase of in-game items, was worth $6.7 million. The total cumulative daily unique impressions (the amount of unique viewers that tuned in every day via online and television channels) reached 396 million.
LA 2024, which is overseeing the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, was inspired by the success of this edition of the League of Legends World Championship to plan and include esports in the Olympics games if they win the bid. Casey Wasserman, the chairman of LA 2024, suggested using technology used in certain segments of the League of Legends World Championship such as augmented reality and virtual reality to make the Olympic more accessible to a younger demographic.
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