Worlds 2023: Breaking down the eight playoff teams

by Brian Bencomo

The Swiss stage of the League of Legends World Championship is over, and the playoff stage is next. Starting Thursday, Nov. 2, the eight teams left standing will face off in a single elimination bracket, with all matches being best-of-five.

Championship favorites like JD Gaming and Gen.G have made it through, and contenders like T1 and LNG Esports are among the final eight too. As usual, at least one Western (North American or European) team made it through, but it’s NRG -- not the team many expected to reach this stage. For the first time ever, all four Chinese teams have advanced to the playoffs, while three Korean teams remain, who are all looking to lift the Summoner’s Cup on home soil.

To get you ready for the playoffs, here’s a breakdown on how all eight teams got here and what to expect from them going forward.

Note: All stats courtesy of Oracles Elixir.


Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

After a perfect Swiss stage, Gen.G look like legit contenders to lift the Summoner’s Cup. Gen.G got through the Swiss stage with a 3-0 record, with wins over GAM, T1 and a 2-0 over G2. They lived up to their billing as the No. 1 seed from Korea and looked dominant. Gen.G’s players can all be found atop the KDA leaderboard for the Swiss stage. Sure, they only played four games while some other teams played eight or nine, but it’s a testament to how strong they were in those four.

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Rookie AD carry Kim "Peyz" Su-hwan finished the stage with a 15.7 KDA, best among all players. He had one fewer kill (22) than teammate Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon (23), across the team’s four games, and support Yoo "Delight" Hwan-joong wracked up a whopping 53 assists.

Gen.G will face Bilibili Gaming in the quarterfinals. BLG don’t look as strong as they did at the Mid-Season Invitational when they beat Gen.G 3-0, however, they won’t be pushovers. If Gen.G beat BLG, then their road to the final really opens up with an extremely favorable semifinal matchup against either Weibo Gaming or NRG.

JD Gaming

Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

JDG are looking to finish off a perfect season in following up their two LPL titles and MSI victory by winning Worlds. JDG took a strong first step toward completing this Golden Road with a 3-0 Swiss stage record. They beat Team BDS, Bilibili Gaming and LNG Esports 2-1 along the way. They might not have had a perfect record like Gen.G in the Swiss stage, but they arguably had a tougher path as they faced fellow Chinese teams BLG and LNG. LNG pushed them to five games in the LPL summer final a couple months ago.

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By finishing 3-0 in the Swiss stage, JDG secured one of the top two seeds in the playoffs and ensured that they are opposite Gen.G in the bracket. They’ll face KT Rolster in the quarterfinals, a team they should beat. If they advance to the semifinals, they’ll face a significantly tougher matchup against either LNG or T1, which would be a rematch of the semifinal they lost at Worlds last year.

LNG Esports

Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

Outside of JDG and Gen.G, LNG appear to be another championship contender. Ahead of their initial matchup against Europe’s Fnatic, LNG mid laner Lee "Scout" Ye-chan was asked about Fnatic’s confidence going in, and he said calmly with a smile, "Let's be honest ... NA and EU teams have always felt confident, in every single [Worlds]. I don't have any thoughts on their confidence." LNG proceeded to stomp Fnatic, and Scout finished with a K/D/A of 11/0/7. LNG beat Cloud9, another Western team, next. Then, LNG lost to Worlds favorite JDG, but they did take a game from them. That loss didn’t faze them though, because LNG beat Korean third seed KT Rolster 2-1 to move on to the playoffs.

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Their quarterfinal matchup against T1 should be a spicy one. Not only should this be one of the more competitive quarterfinal matchups, but there’s history here between Scout and T1 and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. In 2015, Scout was vying to be SKT’s mid laner, but he left in 2016 for EDward Gaming because, of course, SKT had found their franchise mid laner in Faker. When he was on EDG, Scout faced off against Faker three times at Worlds but always in the group stage. This will be the first time the two will face off in a best-of-five playoff series.


Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

Believe it or not, NRG are the only Western team to reach the quarterfinals at Worlds this year. In their first year back in the LCS, NRG won the league this summer, qualified for Worlds and are now the first North American team other than Cloud9 to reach this stage of the Worlds competition since 2014. It’s truly been a remarkable year for the organization and a testament to the patience NRG had when they bought CLG and allowed the coaching staff to remain in place and continue their plan of cultivating North American talent.

Read more: Worlds 2023: Teams, schedule, format and biggest storylines

Critics will say NRG didn’t beat any Eastern teams to reach the quarters; they beat fellow NA squad Team Liquid and EU teams MAD Lions and G2 (2-0). However, G2 were considered by most to be the Western team that would advance to the next round, and NRG beat them convincingly. Top laner Niship "Dhokla" Doshi and jungler Juan Arturo "Contractz" Garcia both went deathless in the first game against G2, with K/D/As of 6/0/8 and 8/0/9, respectively. Dhokla remained deathless in the second game with a K/D/A of 5/0/9, and Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun accumulated an impressive 31 assists across both games of the series.

Now NRG will get a rematch with China’s Weibo Gaming, who beat them in the first round of the Swiss stage. Of all the matchups NRG could have drawn, this is likely the best possible encounter. It won’t be easy, but don’t count NRG out!


Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

T1 started the Swiss stage a bit shaky but appear to have found better form since then. They narrowly beat North American third seed Team Liquid in the first round when TL jungler Hong "Pyosik" Chang-hyeon appeared to have found the form he was in when DRX beat T1 in the Worlds final last year. T1 followed up this game by stomping Cloud9 but then losing to their LCK rivals Gen.G. However, they looked strong in beating Bilibili Gaming (2-0) to advance to the playoffs. Lee "Gumayusi" Min-hyeong carried the team with an 11/0/3 performance on Jinx in the second game of their series against BLG. It’s encouraging for T1 that they beat BLG, a team that they lost to at the Mid-Season Invitational earlier this year. However, they haven’t been able to beat Gen.G since MSI.

Read more: A legendary career: Faker's results at Worlds and MSI

Lucky for T1, they won’t have to face Gen.G until perhaps the final if they both make it that far. However, T1 will have a tough road to get there. First, they will have to face LNG Esports, who have looked like a championship contender. Plus, LNG mid laner Lee "Scout" Ye-chan might be extra motivated to beat his lane counterpart Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, who ultimately won the mid lane job at SK Telecom T1 way back in 2016. T1 and Faker have always made at least the semis at Worlds. If that holds true this year, they’ll likely have to face JD Gaming, a team they lost to at MSI and one of the favorites to win the tournament.

KT Rolster

Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

Luck has most definitely not been on KT Rolster’s side as they drew nothing but Eastern teams throughout the Swiss stage. Sure, they avoided playing JD Gaming, Gen.G and T1, but they faced every other team from China and Korea, including Dplus KIA twice. KT Rolster lost their initial matchup to Bilibili Gaming, but then bounced back with wins over Dplus KIA and Weibo Gaming. After losing a series against LNG Esports, they won their rematch with Dplus to advance to the quarters.

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KT’s AD carry Kim "Aiming" Ha-ram had a great performance in that second series against Dplus as he went 15/1/13 across both games. In fact, Aiming, who is making his Worlds debut this year, was spectacular throughout the Swiss stage; his 54 kills across eight games were not only the most overall but also the most on a per-game basis.

In line with how unlucky they’ve been, KT Rolster will get one of the toughest matchups in the quarters. They will face JD Gaming, who went 3-0 in the Swiss stage and have looked dominant all year in their quest to finish off a perfect season.

Weibo Gaming

Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

Weibo got off to a strong start in the Swiss stage by beating NRG convincingly. However, they lost their next two matches to put them on the brink of elimination. The Chinese team bounced back though with wins over MAD Lions (2-0) and Fnatic (2-1) to advance. Of the seven Eastern teams that advanced to the playoffs, Weibo definitely appear to be the most vulnerable. They only beat Western teams to advance, and didn’t look dominant in either of their best-of-threes against MAD Lions and Fnatic.

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That said, they did look dominant against NRG, who will be their quarterfinals opponent. Of course, NRG look a lot stronger now. Ahead of their Swiss matchup, Weibo mid laner Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-Hao actually praised NRG’s mid laner Cristian "Palafox" Palafox after facing him in scrims, calling him a “genius.” We’ll see if the genius NRG mid laner and the NA squad can keep things close or perhaps even get the win this time. Weibo vs. NRG should be one of the closest quarterfinals matchups.

Bilibili Gaming

Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

Bilibili Gaming’s 2-1 win over G2 gave China four teams in the Worlds quarterfinals for the first time ever. BLG’s journey through the Swiss stage began with a victory over Korea’s KT Rolster followed by a loss to fellow Chinese team JD Gaming and then a win over Europe’s Fnatic. In the fourth round, BLG lost to T1 (1-2), but bounced back against G2 to advance. BLG played about as expected, beating a lower-seeded Korean team and both European teams they faced, losing to JDG and then losing to T1 in a game that some would consider more of a toss-up going in.

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BLG top laner Chen "Bin" Ze-Bin stood out as a strong laner throughout the Swiss stage as he had the best gold and XP difference at 10 minutes. He really shined in the team’s deciding series against G2. Bin went 17/3/10 across the three games, which accounted for more than half of the 33 kills he accrued during the Swiss stage.

Next, BLG will face Gen.G, a team that has looked the strongest at Worlds but also a team that BLG beat 3-0 at MSI earlier in the year. After reaching the MSI final, this should be a good test for BLG to see if they have what it takes to make it back to an international final.

Lead photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

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