For fans of professional League of Legends, Gamescon 2013 has been marked on the calendar all year as a must watch event. Finally, after dozens of grueling matches, Gamescon will determine who represents Europe at the Season Three World Championships. What many people may not take note of is the fact that Gamescon will also be sending one International Wildcard team to the Championships.
What is the International Wildcard Tournament?
Most of the major global regions are represented by professional, Riot sponsored, LoL Leagues such as the LCS in Europe and OGN in Korea. Other major regions such as Turkey, Brazil, Latin America, Oceania and the CIS countries do not have any such professional leagues. Instead, after winning their regional championships, teams from these regions must travel to Gamescon to try and win the single Wildcard berth into the World Championships.
What is the format for the tournament?
A best of one round robin will be played starting at 03:00 EDT on August 21. This round robin will be used to determine which four teams advance to the semi finals, which will be played on the 22nd. The finals will be occurring on the 23rd.
Who is participating and what can we expect from them?
paiN Gaming: paiN will be representing Brazil at the Wildcard Tournament. paiN has existed as a professional team for two years, finishing 3rd in last season’s Brazilian Championships. They mostly play in Brazilian events but have participating at some IEM (Intel Extreme Masters) events including the recent IEM World Championships. Unfortunately, their showings at these events, which included top teams from Korea and Europe, were not particularly strong.
Official showings aside, this team does have some solid international experience playing against other top teams. Look for this experience to give them an edge against some of the less experienced Wildcard teams.
GamingGear.eu: GamingGear is representing the CIS countries. After a strong showing at the EMS Spring 2013 tournament, the team struggled at Dreamhack Summer 2013. Both times this team faced challenger level (just below pro) teams from Europe.
This team looked very solid coming out of the televised CIS regionals. If they can channel the form they showed at EMS Spring 2013 then they may be able to turn some heads.
Lyon Gaming: This team is the winner of the 2013 Latin American Regionals. Lyon was built to incorporate some of the top talent in the Latin American region, and it definitely showed in the regionals.Still a fairly new team, Lyon has not participated in any notable international competitions.
There is no doubting that Lyon has some very talented players, but their lack of international experience could hurt them. Look for them to try and take advantage of other teams that may not have taken the time to learn about Lyon’s style of play.
Dark Passage: Dark Passage emerged as the winner of the Turkish Championship. Based close to Europe, this team frequently participates against high level European talent. They are currently a challenger team on the EU West server and finished second at Dreamhack Summer 2013, a tournament at which they took multiple games off of the Copenhagen Wolves (a former EU LCS team).
Not only does Dark Passage have a great deal of international experience, they have actually exhibited quite a bit of success against mainstream talent from Europe. At Dreamhack, for example, they handily defeated a team that crushed GamingGear.eu at that same tournament. Their past experience and success has to make this team the favorite to win the Wildcard Tournament.
Team Immunity: This team is as new as the Oceanic Championship that they captured. Many of the players on this team have experienced respectable individual success on the North American and Oceanic servers.
Another un-scouted team with very minimal international experience. Immunity will be in tough against the more experienced teams.
Why should you watch this tournament?
Your average North American and European LoL fan is very familiar with the style of LoL played in NA, EU and even Korea, but they have little experience with the game outside of these regions. This tournament has the potential to display a clash of play styles the likes of which will not be seen until the World Championships themselves. Just because these teams are not part of the more established pro scenes does not mean they are not capable of playing some amazing matches, especially when a trip to the World Championships is on the line.
Based on the minimal information available, most of which was results, I believe that Dark Passage has a good shot at winning this tournament. Either way there will be some excellent quality LoL to be watched. If you would like a slightly more detailed breakdown of each team check out this Riot produced article here.
Who knows, maybe this will be our first good look at the future World Champion. Remember, very few people had ever seen the Taipei Assassins before they captured the Championship. The International Wildcard Tournament is definitely worth tuning in to.