Has Europe ever won Worlds?




09/07/2024 - 8'

Europe has only won Worlds once, in 2011 for the first season.

The European region in the League of Legends competitive ecosystem has existed since day one. In fact, it was the first to be honored on the international stage: in Season 1, it was indeed Fnatic, a team from the Old Continent, that won what was most akin to today's Worlds. However, the prestige was obviously not the same. Firstly, because there were only eight teams competing, but also because the cash prize was $50k for the winner, compared with $1 million the following year. After 2011, Europe never won the competition again.

Fnatic winning Worlds, in season 1
Fnatic winning Worlds, in season 1

But it has come close. Several European teams (playing in the LCS EU at the time) reached the Worlds final four between 2012 and 2016. Counter Logic Gaming EU in 2012, Fnatic in 2013 and again in 2015, this time alongside Origen, and finally H2K in 2016. At the 2017 Worlds, Fnatic and Misfits Gaming, the two EU representatives, crashed out in the quarter-finals. For the two years that followed, the Old Continent undoubtedly experienced its best competitive era on the international scene... But also its most painful.

Fnatic, the First Breath

Starting with Fnatic's saga, again in 2018. After winning the spring and summer segments of the LCS EU, the Black and Orange confidently headed to China for Worlds. Facing Invictus Gaming (IG) in Group D, Fnatic came out on top in this phase by triumphing over the Chinese in the tiebreak.

FNC Rekkles and IG JackeyLove back to back, at Worlds 2018
FNC Rekkles and IG JackeyLove back to back, at Worlds 2018

In the quarter-finals, the Europeans won against another LPL team, Edward Gaming (3-1), before crushing the North Americans from Cloud 9 (3-0). They were just one step away from restoring glory to Europe, and they knew well their opponents as they once again met IG in the Grand Final. But Fnatic fell short, worse, they were unrecognizable as they suffered the quickest defeat in Worlds final history. In three short rounds, the European hopes of 2018 were extinguished (0-3).

In 2019, the European prodigy Rasmus "Caps" Winther, who just grazed the Holy Grail with Fnatic, joined G2 Esports. At the top of his game, Luka "Perkz" Perković decided to role swap to AD Carry, to give Caps his place on the midlane. G2 had just reunited the Avengers, at least on a Western scale. This iteration of the Samurai would go on to become the best team Europe has, to this day, ever produced.

G2, the Best Team Europe Has Ever Produced

G2 Esports began its ascension by taking the title in the spring split of the brand new LEC, triumphing 3-0 over Origen. Caps and his team then went on to the MSI, the mid-season international tournament, where they won over the legend Lee 'Faker' Sang-hyeok and his team, T1 (3-2). The hard part was over and G2 went on to win the final with surprising ease, beating the North Americans from Team Liquid (3-0). To date, this title is Europe's last trophy on the international stage.

G2 soulève le trophée du MSI, en 2019
G2 soulève le trophée du MSI, en 2019

For G2, however, the machine was running. The Samurai went on to win the summer split of the LEC and looked set to achieve what no team has ever managed: the Golden Road (winning all the major competitions in the same year). The icing on the cake was that the 2019 Worlds were being held in Europe. G2 could therefore achieve the unimaginable and bring glory back to its region in front of its own fans... The story could not have been more beautiful.

Despite a generally successful group stage, the Samurais found themselves in trouble when they lost the tie-break to Griffin, featuring a certain Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon, who was playing in his very first competitive year. Caps and company therefore found themselves in the trickiest part of the playoffs bracket. Faced with two Korean giants, Damwon Gaming and SKT T1, who they were reunited with after the MSI, G2 established its dominance on the Land of the Morning Calm, winning both matches 3-1.

G2 Esports on stage for Worlds 2019 final
G2 Esports on stage for Worlds 2019 final

Then, in the final, came the turn of China, responsible for last year's European rout. FunPlus Phoenix, whom nobody expected to reach this level of the competition, had just defeated Invictus Gaming (3-1) and appeared to be the underdog against the European titan, playing at home. But as if the Old Continent had been struck by a curse, it was time once again for total disillusionment. G2, like Fnatic, suffered defeat in three rounds (0-3).

Is There Still Hope?

The team tried again the following year, however, and despite a further unchallenged domination of the LEC, the Samurai fell to champions Damwon Gaming in the semi-finals of Worlds 2020 (1-3). Since then, no team from the region has progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the competition. Even worse, the two teams that have made it (MAD Lions in 2021 and Rogue in 2022) have suffered crushing defeats in three rounds.

In 2023, however, G2 seemed to have rebuilt a team capable of competing with the best in the world, but in the end the Samurai didn't even manage to reach the play-offs (now known as the Knockout Stage). In 2024, the same team collapsed in fourth place at the MSI, but at least they rekindled hope by crushing an Asian team in a best-of match, something that hadn't been done since 2020.

G2 Esports managed indeed to defeat Top Esports 3-0, and as Caps told our colleagues at Korizon Esports, "I think a lot of people have given up hope. I think a lot of pro players don't believe in winning internationally. I want to give hope out there." There is still a long way to go, but as they have shown, there is still hope.

- Ethan Cohen -