The 2020 World Championship is just a short time away, and with all of the participating teams decided, it’s time to talk about the best players heading into the event.
All eyes are on the major regions and the teams coming from them. This year, the LPL may have the most promising teams in the scene. But they're not alone. These are teams that have been making waves in each region and are now ready to claim the spotlight at Worlds.
This list includes arguably the best player in each role, taking into consideration their regular season performance and overall impact on their teams.
Top Lane: Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon, DAMWON Gaming
Top lane is sometimes considered a low-impact role in the game. These players live on an island and stay there until it’s time to fight. In recent times, we’ve seen a change to that idea with the rise of top laners that can single-handedly carry a team to victory. The best example is former world champion Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok of Invictus Gaming. Other teams, like LCS’ Team SoloMid, have deviated to a style centered around enabling the top lane, in TSM's case featuring Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik.
Out of the top laners attending Worlds, Nuguri stands out from the bunch and for good reason. In the final match of the 2020 LCK Summer Split, Nuguri on Ornn managed to zone out three opponents around the river. That one play by Nuguri allowed DAMWON to take a dragon, the match, and a title.
Nuguri continued to make game-winning plays thorought that finals series as DAMWON claimed its first ever LCK title. Nuguri is a difference maker for his team, whether by dominating the laning phase or by playing every team fight to perfection. In the summer, Nuguri had the biggest gold difference at 15 minutes with +1,053 gold. The player closest to him was DAMWON’s jungler Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu with +895.
In 2019, Kleptomancy was Nuguri’s favorite rune and he sang its praises every chance he got. Klepto was removed from the game in season 10, but that hasn’t stopped Nuguri from taking all the gold in the game.
Nuguri recently went through an emergency surgery and is in recovery. The top laner will travel to Shanghai on September 18 to join the rest of his team. DAMWON will need its star top laner to be at his best if it hopes to make a deep run at Worlds.
Jungle: Seo "Kanavi" Jin-hyeok, JD Gaming
Kanavi made headlines in 2019 for being in the middle of a messy dispute between JD Gaming and Griffin. The Korean organization forced him to sign an unfavorable contract for five years, potentially affecting his future as a pro player. When details of the deal surfaced, the LCK and every other major league had to take a step back and rethink the way contracts were drawn. Despite the inconvenience, Kanavi went on to JD Gaming and led the team to a successful 2020.
JD Gaming took the 2020 LPL Spring Split title and finished summer in second place. These accolades are in large part due to Kanavi and his performance in the jungle. Kanavi is regarded as the best jungler in the LPL, and that's not a title to scoff at considering the quality junglers playing in the league.
With Kanavi and JD Gaming, things don’t always work out exactly as planned. On this roster, it’s not the jungler serving and enabling the laner, but rather the other way around. The team works to protect and enable Kanavi, giving him whatever he needs. Kanavi’s performance in the jungle is second to none and the opposing team will struggle to keep track of him. If the better jungle always wins, them JD Gaming is guaranteed to make it far in the competition.
Mid lane: Zhuo "knight" Ding, Top Esports
Everyone who follows the LPL knows who Knight is, the terror in the mid lane that has been dominating the league for the last couple of splits. International fans are not as familiar with Knight and his prowess in the mid lane because Knight had yet to make it to Worlds. 2019 seemed to be the year of Knight and Top Esports, but that dream was cut short.
TES and Knight wouldn’t let another year go by without an international showing. In 2020, the mid laner is ready to showcase his talent in front of the biggest audience of the year. The summer split champion and MVP of the season has been playing in the LPL since 2017. Knight’s career has been short, but he’s now a reference point for mid laners around the world.
Think of the best mid laner in the world, and everything they can do. Then know that Knight can likely do it better. Knight can roam, play in lane, be a supportive mid laner, or act as a carry. With a deep champion pool and great mechanical skills, Knight is a versatile player who could take over the 2020 World Championship.
ADC: Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo, Top Esports
The addition of former world champion JackeyLove turned things around for Top Esports. What started as a solid roster evolved into an unstoppable force. Because of JackeyLove’s signing, TES achieved first place in the regular season and won the title for summer.
In 2018, when JackeyLove won Worlds with IG, he was considered a bit of an unknown. JackeyLove’s inexperience showed on stage and he made mistakes often. The following year, JackeyLove was a different player. It was almost like winning Worlds pushed him to become a mature and reliable player for his team. JackeyLove joined TES with veteran status, ready to be the carry the team needed.
On a mechanical level, JackeyLove is one of the best ADC players in the world. Usually, an ADC is happy to just stay behind their teammates and shoot from a safe distance. JackeyLove is not like that, as he will jump headfirst into the action and won’t hesitate to flash forward to secure a kill. That type of aggression is refreshing for viewers and surprising for opponents. JackeyLove and Knight are definitely one of the duos to watch for in the event.
Support: Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in, Team Liquid
Team Liquid is not afraid to spend whatever amount of money is necessary to assemble a dream team roster. Split after split, the team goes on a spending spree getting the best players available on the market. Liquid continues to perform domestically as a result, and has qualified for Worlds three years in a row. One of the key pieces behind the team’s success is CoreJJ.
CoreJJ needs no introduction. The 2017 world champion joined Liquid looking for a fresh perspective on the game. So far with Liquid, CoreJJ has two LCS titles, one Mid-Season Invitational finals appearance, and two trips to Worlds.
When CoreJJ joined Team Liquid, the team’s dynamic changed for the better. Because CoreJJ is a roaming support, the team can find better opportunities on the map and play a more aggressive style. Liquid has not been the type of team that forces skirmishes, but with CoreJJ and jungler Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen in the lineup, the team is looking to change that. That aggression from the team comes from the support-jungle duo and how they move together around the map. There are many outstanding supports attending Worlds, but none of them has had the same influence on his team’s performance as has CoreJJ.
The League of Legends 2020 World Championship starts on September 25.