The Top 5 Wildcard team runs at international tournaments

by theScore Staff Oct 9 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

Though the Group Stage for the 2017 World Championship is still young, we've already seen some crazy action including the Gigabyte Marines pulling a classic Wildcard team upset over Fnatic.

As such, we've decided to highlight some of the best Wildcard teams throughout the history of international League of Legends.

From ANZ to INTZ, here are our picks.

5. INTZ e-Sports

INTZ e-Sports only won one game in Group C of the 2016 World Championship, but it was a doozie. Up until they met INTZ in their first match at Worlds, EDward Gaming were undefeated in series across the summer split.

However, after a bitter 42-minute battle that saw a 19-12 kill line, INTZ prevailed over the Chinese titans. Jungler Gabriel "Revolta" Henud Cresci led the way for INTZ, helping toplaner Felipe "Yang" Zhao harrass EDG's Yu-hao “Mouse” Chen while also proving a worthy rival to Ming "ClearLove" Kai. Though it was their only win of the tournament, it was one to remember.

4. KaBum! e-Sports

In 2014, KaBum! e-Sports blew up Worlds. Sure they only racked up one win, but it happened to be an impossible one over Alliance. Back in the day, the Swedish org's LoL team was almost as good as their Dota 2 roster, as they won the 2014 EU LCS summer playoffs after taking first in the regular season. Simply put, with the likes of Henrik "Froggen" Hansen and Erik "Tabzz" van Helvert, Alliance came into Worlds as a heavy favorite to make it out groups.

However, the European roster got their collective nose bloodied by the unlikely Brazilians who refused to leave the tournament without making their mark. After a vicious 39 minute bout that saw an even number of kills, but strong macro dominance and smart ban strategy from KaBum!, Alliance ended up getting knocked out of the tournament, allowing C9 to go up against NaJin White Shield in the tiebreaker.

3. paiN Gaming

At first glance, getting knocked out of Worlds and finishing last in your group would be a major disappointment. However, it was a major success for paiN Gaming at Worlds 2015.

Though they went 2-4 in Group A, those two wins were unprecedented for a Wildcard team at the time, especially seeing as they were both against the LMS' Flash Wolves, a team that would go on to Top 4 in back-back MSIs in 2016 and 2017. Combine that with some very narrow losses, and you have a watershed moment in the history of Wildcard region development.

2. GIGABYTE Marines

Though 2017 marks the GIGABYTE Marines' first appearance at Worlds, who could forget their amazing MSI 2017 run. Right off the bat, GAM proved they deserved a seat at the big boy's table when they nearly swept TSM in the bracket stage of the Group Stage before they NA team rallied and pulled off a reverse-sweep.

When the two teams met again in the group stage, GAM beat TSM handily on Day 1 with an even kill line, but stronger objective pressure resulting in a 10k gold surplus. Their second outing wasn't nearly as close with TSM beating them 15 kills to 7 in about a half-hour.

Now at Worlds, the Marines have reinforced their maverick status with a surprise win over Fnatic after bringing out strats straight out of 2016, including lane swaps.

Sadly, the strategy didn't work against Longzhu...

1. Albus NoX Luna

The first Wildcard team to ever make it to the quarterfinals at Worlds, the LCL's Albus NoX Luna stunned audiences by surviving a group they shared with the ROX Tigers, G2 Esports and Counter Logic Gaming at the 2016 World championship.

Rather, they thrived with a 4-2 record against the more well-known teams, even getting a win against the Tigers after a 66 minute slug-fest that saw them pull out a win even though they had a 4-kill deficit.

Though the team was bought out by M19 in January, we will always remember that epic comeback against the Tigers as well as Kirill "Likkrit" Malofeyev's inspiring speech.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.