The first round of the League of Legends World Championships ended on a somber note today for fans of the game's burgeoning North American region. The NA team Cloud9 lost all their games today, officially ending their and the entire region's hopes of making a real dent in the 2015 Worlds tournament. Ah well.
There was a lot of hype for the North American region this year, with Riot Games, League's publisher and manager of all of the game's major eSports event, promoting a number of come-from-behind underdog stories for the American teams that made it into the tournament series. Two players on the U.S. team Counter-Logic Gaming (CLG) were put in Riot's official eSports ranking for the top 20. Cloud9, meanwhile, came into the tournament after making it through the regional qualifiers by the skin of their teeth. Their spectacular Cinderella story continued for the first part of the round-robin group stage games that Worlds began with.
Unfortunately, neither team's success carried over to the second round of the group stage. Both teams were hammered by their competition and ended up in third place in their respective groups. Only the top two teams in each group get to advance to the quarterfinals.
There was also the third U.S. contender in Team SoloMid, I should point out, though expectations were already lower for them anyways. TSM spent all of Saturday getting trounced in their group stage games, suffering a particularly nasty defeat against the exceedingly strong European team Origen:
It was the same story for CLG the day before. They'd officially placed out of Worlds before their final group game against Brazilian Wildcard team Pain Gaming even started -- and even that last pride match ended up being pretty hard to watch:
Hopes were particularly high for C9 today given how surprising their ridiculous comeback was already. But the team wasn't able to maintain it's positive momentum. It lost all three of its games today -- twice to the Taiwanese team ahq e-Sports Club.
News of the U.S. dropping out of Worlds completely in the first round of the tournament is indeed a bummer, but it's hard to say it's surprising. Many League eSports fans were more surprised that Riot had gone ahead and put CLG in the Worlds Top 20 when, historically, North American teams haven't stood much of a chance against much stronger regions like Korea and China, where the game is far more popular and well-accepted in the mainstream of both countries' pop cultures.
Still, as many in the League scene have been saying since C9's last fateful loss barely an hour ago, it's still pretty darn impressive that the team made it into Worlds after being so far behind for much of the season. Better luck next time, America!