League of Legends: NA vs. Wildcards, the Brutal Truth

by James Bates

LCS NA tickets 800x315
(Photo: lolesports)

If I was to ask you what the worst region in the League of Legend world is, you'd probably tell me that such a question was a simple one. Obviously, the answer is that the Wildcard "region" which is made up of all the teams outside the NA LCS, EU LCS, LCK, LPL, and LMS is the weakest region of them all. After all, they routinely get smashed in international competition time and time again, and it's hard to think of any relevant Wildcard team outside of SuperMassive, Albus Nox Luna, KaBum, and now, apparently, the Gigabyte Marines.

Well, if you tally up the overall win/loss record of the regions relative to each other, you find that the last year tells a very different story. North America's win rate against Wildcard teams, as it turns out, is much weaker than most players would probably predict. Since last year's Mid-Season Invitational, there have been three clashes between North America and Wildcard teams, and the results haven't been altogether favorable for North America.

At least year's Mid-Season Invitational, which saw Counter Logic Gaming somehow fight their way to the finals before getting utterly obliterated by SK Telecom T1 as vengeance for the upset that CLG hit them with earlier in the tournament, North America still had a mixed win rate against the Wildcard region. CLG actually went 1-1 against SuperMassive, the TCL's representative in the tournament, and this is just the beginning of NA's wildcard woes.

World 2016 failed to improve the record for North America, as Counter Logic Gaming would again prove vulnerable to the bizarre tactics that the Wildcard regions often employ. In this case, the team in question is Albus Nox Luna, who took both games that the two met in thanks to some overweening aggression and the now-legendary support Brand pick. Albus Nox Luna ended up advancing to the quarterfinals, where they were swiftly slaughtered by H2k, while North America's sole representative in the elimination stages, Cloud9, were just as swiftly slaughtered by Samsung.

That brings us to today and the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational. Team Solomid is, at the moment, sitting on a 3-3 record against the Gigabyte Marines, and the two still have one more clash to go before the end. The overwhelming aggression and coordination that the Marines bring to the table has, so far, proven to be a very effective weapon against the more slow-paced Team SoloMid, and solid money is on the Gigabyte Marines to take the next meeting between the two teams, as well. Furthermore, if that happens, then it will almost certainly mean that Team SoloMid would be forced to surrender their pool 1 seed at Worlds to the Wildcard region, which would be an even greater embarrassment than when G2 was forced to surrender Europe's seed to the LMS last year.

If you tally all that up, you come up with a record of 4-6 for North America against Wildcard teams over the course of the last year. Still think that the Wildcard regions are the weakest in the world? 

By James Bates

A wanna-be novelist turned coach turned journalist, James is living proof that you never know where you'll end up. He's in love with narrative-heavy games, which he proves by spending his days writing about a game with less lore than Doom. His greatest regret in life is not having his name in the credits of Life is Strange, and it's galvanized him to truly pursue developing games that don't begin in packed taverns and use D20s.