In just a few short hours, the 2019 League of Legends World Championship Quarterfinals will kick off at Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, Spain. The very first matchup of the Worlds 2019 Knockout Stage will feature Griffin, the #2 seed from South Korea's LCK, and Invictus Gaming, the #3 seed from China's LPL and the defending World Champion.
Top Lane — Choi "Sword" Sung-won
Jungle — Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong
Mid Lane — Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon
Bot Lane — Park "Viper" Do-hyeon
Support — Son "Lehends" Si-woo
Substitute [Top Lane] — Choi "Doran" Hyeon-joon
Substitute [Support] — Jeong "Kabbie" Sang-hyeon
Coach — Byun "Chaos" Young-sub
Top Lane — Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok
Jungle — Gao "Ning" Zhen-Ning
Mid Lane — Song "Rookie" Eui-jin
Bot Lane — Yu "Jackeylove" Wen-Bo
Support — Wang "Baolan" Liu-Yi
Substitute [Top Lane] — Lee "Duke" Ho-seong
Substitute [Jungle] — Lu "Leyan" Jue
Coach — Won "Mafa" Sang-yeon
How We Got Here
Griffin qualified for the 2019 World Championship as the #2 seed from LCK after losing to SK Telecom T1 in the 2019 LCK Summer Finals. In their first games since being swept by SKT in that Finals series, Griffin looked shaky. Despite finishing its first round robin 2-1, its form was not inspiring and its loss to G2 was in dominant, one-sided fashion.
Griffin returned to form in the second round robin, beating all 3 other teams in Group A and then beating G2 a second time for a tiebreaker to secure the group's 1st seed.
Invictus Gaming also had a second week surge, albeit a bit smaller than Griffin's, with its second 2-1 in the round robin looking far more convincing than the first. However, due to its two losses to DAMWON Gaming, IG would have to settle for the 2nd seed out of Group D.
Just as was done in the second round robin, IG will start Ning over Leyan, the latter of whom joined the team earlier this year and since his LPL debut, has gotten most of the starting time.
Matchup to Watch: Top Lane
The most pivotal matchup in the series is between Sword and TheShy. Doran may make an appearance, but has yet to play at Worlds 2019 despite playing for the majority of the 2019 LCK Summer Split.
Sword has played well at Worlds thus far, but overall, he is the weak point on Griffin. His carry play is not always up to snuff when compared to his tanks, and a player on the individual level of TheShy may be able to exploit that if given the opportunity. Ning did a much better job of setting up TheShy for success in Group D than Leyan was able to, so expect plenty of action on the top side of Summoner's Rift.
The Bottom Line
Griffin had a strong performance in the Group Stage, and on paper, come into the match against Invictus Gaming as the better team. Chovy and Tarzan are indisputably top 3 in the world in each of their respective positions, and Viper and Lehends' dynamic duo synergy is seldom matched by their opponents.
However, Invictus Gaming is the defending World Champion. This is a weaker version of the team from a calendar year ago, but it was also the 2nd seed out of a group last year heading into the Worlds 2018 Knockout Stage. As proven just last week in the Group Stage, Griffin is a bit shaky on a new stage or setting. Not only will this be Griffin's first international best-of-five, it's current winrate in best-of-five series domestically of 25% leaves a lot to be desired.
Make no mistake: Griffin is the more talented team on the rift come noon in Madrid. However, the experience that the players on IG possess individually, as well as the entire team one year removed from a World Championship, should allow the LPL side to keep its composure. Griffin, on the other hand, will underwhelm despite coming quicker out of the gate than IG, and collapse in on itself under the pressure of a new frontier.