Who sits on top of the mountain before the 2020 World Championship?

After many months of hard work, the best teams across each region have finally earned their place at one of the biggest esports events of the year: the 2020 League of Legends World Championship.

Over the past year, we’ve witnessed the fall of legends, the triumphant rise of new kings, and the start of new dynasties. In a similar way, we’ve also seen the rise and fall of many superstar players across the globe. And in 2020, several new faces have assumed their place among the best.

It’s always tough to judge and create a list of the top 10 players at Worlds since all of these competitors are defining members of their team—and their region as a whole. They’ll be some of the biggest factors in their team’s success and fans should watch them as the tournament rages on.

From fiery new phenoms who have taken the League community by storm to veteran stars who are ready to prove themselves once more, here are our picks for the 10 best players heading into Worlds 2020.

10) Top Esports’ JackeyLove

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JackeyLove is one of the high-risk, high-reward ADCs that the LPL has to offer. He doesn’t settle for comfort and always looks for those heroic plays. He likes to get into the fray, and while it doesn’t always pay off, he’s still encouraged by that possibility every time. Branded as one of the smartest ADCs in the LPL, JackeyLove is coming into this Worlds with a new team. 

He joined Top in the middle of the Spring Split and fit perfectly. He’s the cog that was missing from the well-oiled TES machine. He complements the team’s playstyle and is looking to add another Worlds trophy to his collection after a dominant year and impressive Mid-Season Cup performance.

9) JD Gaming’s LvMao

One of the most underrated players coming into this tournament, LvMao has been defining the support meta and dominating the best bot laners in the world this year. His short stint with world champion imp in 2019 elevated his play to another level. He’s been crucial in JD Gaming’s wins, and while his stats aren’t necessarily impressive, his gameplay is. He’s not a person who cares about KDA. He only cares about winning and is ready to sacrifice himself if the outcome of the play goes in favor of his team.

His roaming playstyle and vision control are two of the most underlooked aspects when trying to figure out who the best players in the world are. He ensures that JDG has the safest objective control by securing vision long before an objective has even spawned. He’ll try to make sure that no one from JDG is left alone in the dark and will be their beacon of light going into Worlds 2020.

8) Suning Gaming’s SofM

The 22-year-old Vietnamese jungle prodigy has been a centerpiece of Suning’s success this split. And while his stats aren’t stellar, his utility-oriented playstyle allows his teammates to shine.

Due to Vietnam’s national travel restrictions related to COVID-19, the two Vietnamese teams from the VCS couldn’t make it to Worlds 2020. Thus, SofM indirectly became Vietnam’s last hope with big shoes to fill.

While his mechanics might not be on par with other top-tier junglers at Worlds, his macro gameplay is a thing of beauty. He can take over games by exerting a lot of pressure without killing anyone on the opposing team. While other junglers might work on making aggressive plays and shutting down their opponent, SofM focuses on getting his teammates ahead.

7) Damwon Gaming’s Nuguri

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Nuguri is one of the most innovative players the LCK has to offer. His unique builds on champions quickly became meta in other regions as well. He’s known for his pocket Vladimir pick, which he’s used to carry countless games with his odd builds featuring Cull or Ancient Coin. His performance this year was spectacular and most League fans have high expectations for him. He’s one of the best top laners in the LCK, always finding unique ways to grab a victory from the jaws of defeat.

Although Nuguri has some off games where he might die a lot, he always gets back into the game with his unique playstyle. His side lane pressure is unmatched, and even if he gets collapsed on by the enemy team, Nuguri always finds a way to try to turn the fight around. But at Worlds, Nuguri may need to adapt his playstyle to other regions if he wants to replicate his LCK performance on the international stage.

6) G2 Esports’ Caps

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Caps, arguably the best player Europe has ever produced and the shining star on the most internationally successful European team, narrowly misses out on a top-five spot on our list. But that just shows the caliber of talent at this event and specifically the talent in the mid lane. 

He’s mechanically gifted in a way that few other players can replicate. Although he began his career as a hot-headed rookie notoriously unable to play side lanes, his map knowledge has drastically improved, turning him into one of the best roaming mids in the LEC.

But he’s a part of a team that has at many times this year looked incredibly shaky. Although he’s undoubtedly G2’s star player, he can’t be left completely without blame for the team’s struggles in 2020. He still shows a tendency for overaggressiveness and unfavorable trades.

5) Gen.G’s Ruler

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Ruler is one of only two AD carries to make this list—and he’s in the top five for good reason. One of the more experienced attendees of this year’s World Championship, Ruler has retained an unthinkably high level of performance throughout the entirety of his four-year career. In a meta state dominated by mid laners and junglers, he’s one of the few ADCs in the world who can still be considered a true “carry.” His laning stats are unlike anyone else in the LCK, or even the world, and his strong synergy and playmaking ability alongside support Life mean that he’s able to generate laning leads from seemingly out of thin air. 

Part of what makes Ruler so special is his ability to remain relevant in one of the weaker roles in the game right now. The ADC role has become mostly relegated to supportive picks and it’s nearly impossible to solo carry a game on Senna or Ashe. So much of Ruler’s carry potential is dependent on the draft, but time and time again, he’s stepped up for Gen.G when it’s truly mattered. Capable of playing almost any champion thrown his way, Ruler is the archetype for the true bot lane carry.

4) Damwon Gaming’s ShowMaker

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Considered by many to be the second coming of Faker, ShowMaker is one of the most exciting talents to come out of the LCK in the past few years. Sitting front and center on the LCK’s most successful Summer Split team, he looked almost unstoppable this split. His style isn’t what’s traditionally expected of such a highly-valued mid laner, however. He’s much more reminiscent of 2019 world champion DoinB in his roaming style as opposed to the mechanically gifted laning gods traditionally found in the LCK. 

While his opponents are trying to beat him in lane, ShowMaker is trying to leave it, pushing in waves and making early roams to support jungler Canyon. With the importance of the mid and jungle two-vs-two in global professional play, his willingness to lose lanes gracefully to win objective fights is almost unparalleled. It’s also something that will be important for Damwon at Worlds with ShowMaker’s squad touted as Korea’s first potential Worlds finalist in two years.

3) DRX’s Chovy

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Since his first appearance in 2019, many Western fans have been excited to see one of Korea’s fiery, young superstars in Chovy back in action at Worlds—and this past summer was the Chovy show for DRX.

With rookies in the jungle and support positions, Chovy had to break out his backpack for this roster. Even Deft, who’s always been a legend in the bottom lane, didn’t have an eye-popping season to speak for. Meanwhile, Chovy dominated his opponents in lane and had the second-highest team damage share of any LCK mid laner, according to Oracle’s Elixir. He’s had to deal with deadly combos like ShowMaker and Canyon, but he was still able to come out with advantages for himself and he still had the ability to make a difference in the ensuing teamfights.

2) Top Esports’ Karsa

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Whenever Top Esports is talked about, many people immediately discuss Knight or JackeyLove—and rightfully so. But it’d be remiss to look over the team’s veteran jungler, Karsa, since he’s been almost equally as important to their success over the summer.

While he hasn’t been as flashy as his LPL counterparts, Karsa has settled in as the backbone of this powerhouse roster. His willingness to play a more supportive style of jungling has allowed the rest of his team to shine. He had the lowest team gold share of any jungler in his league, according to Oracle’s Elixir.

In fact, his most-played champion of the 2020 Summer Split was Trundle, which reflects his ability to sacrifice for the sake of his team. He had the seventh-most assists in the LPL, and at Worlds, he’ll need to help Top’s younger players settle their nerves at a tournament that he knows all too well.

1) Top Esports’ Knight

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Top Esports’ phenom in the mid lane has secured the top spot on our list for 2020. This past season, Knight put on a masterclass in his role among some of the best in the world. He played 18 champions across the 2020 Summer Split, led the league with 211 kills, according to League stats site Oracle’s Elixir, and he still managed to sport an impressive 7.2 KDA in a bloodthirsty region like the LPL.

The only uncertainty is how he’ll perform in his first international appearance. China’s pool of mid laners is strong, but Korea and Europe’s mid laners come with plenty of experience on the big stage—a factor that could add more pressure onto the budding superstar’s shoulders.

Many fans and analysts have placed a ton of hype on Knight and his team as a whole. Will he and the rest of Top live up to the expectations that the global League esports community has built up for them? We’ll get the answers to all our questions when the 2020 World Championship begins on Friday, Sept. 25.

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