The League of Legends World Championship play-in stage begins Oct. 1 in Seoul, with 12 teams competing for the final four spots at the game's premier tournament. With the tournament approaching, ESPN broke down the rosters and picked the best players at each position. These difference-making stars could make or break their teams' world title dreams in South Korea.
Here are the top junglers entering this year's tournament.
1. Go "Score" Dong-bin: KT Rolster
There were many unanimous picks across the individual lists of our staff prior to the aggregate, and Go "Score" Dong-bin was the first. A myriad of talented junglers from the South Korean solo queue ladder have come and gone since Score first started for StarTale as an AD carry in March 2012. He became one of the best AD carries in the region by the end of 2013 as a member of the KT Rolster Bullets and has stuck with the KT organization ever since, an anomaly of a company man in an ever-changing competitive landscape.
In 2015, Score swapped to the jungle position to make room for AD carry No "Arrow" Dong-hyeon. Although Score struggled to adjust to his position and the new team at the start, by the end of 2016 he was one of the best junglers in the world. Currently, Score's tracking and pathing intelligence are unrivaled by any other jungler and his consistency is both impressive and enviable, especially in a role that receives the most changes from patch to patch. Score applies his AD carry skills and positioning in team fights, especially on more carry-oriented jungle champions like Kindred, but also has a strong sense of timing and re-engage that allows him to excel on champions like Gragas. In South Korea, Score is the jungler to beat even for prodigious upstarts such as Griffin's Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong.
-- Emily Rand
2. Hung "Karsa" Hau-Hsuan: Royal Never Give Up
The former Flash Wolves jungler has risen to new heights with his new band of LPL brothers, Royal Never Give Up. Despite rarely tasting international success with the Flash Wolves, Karsa already has an MSI title under his belt with RNG. Karsa's transition to the LPL was not necessarily smooth, but since the middle of spring, he has consistently performed as one of the world's best junglers. His continued focus on scuttle crab control and river control with Shi "Ming" Sen-ming is what defines him the most as a jungler. Additionally, his mechanical prowess and strong team fight awareness makes him dangerous on both carry and tank champions.
Since joining RNG, Karsa has served as the more reserved half of spicy jungler, Liu "mlxg" Shi-Yu. His level-headed play combined with his high mechanical skill makes him one of the most dangerous junglers at worlds and one of the spearheads of RNG's championship hopes.
-- Xander Torres
3. Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon: Afreeca Freecs
Since his time on MVP/Samsung Galaxy Blue in 2013, Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon has been a jungle constant. Sometimes considered one of the best in the world, sometimes considered washed up and a resource hog, Spirit's recent time with the Afreeca Freecs has been an exercise in newfound flexibility and resource distribution.
Despite the Afreeca Freecs' inconsistent play style over the past year (and even the past split into the playoff gauntlet) Spirit has learned to be a stabilizing force. He stepped up significantly this summer in the playoffs, controlling the early game in many matches while tracking his jungle opponents, stymieing their movements. His default style will always rely on power-farming and team fighting, but he has learned to share resources and coordinate with his lanes, leading to the Freecs' second-seed qualification to the world championship.
4. Jake "Xmithie" Puchero: Team Liquid
Hold on, I know what you're going to say. "Why is Jake "Xmithie" Puchero so high up? North American bias!" Before you continue, let me say one thing: Stop. Just stop. There is no bias here aside from the fact that Xmithie has been one of the most consistent players not in only North America, but the entire scene since stepping on the worlds stage for the first time in 2013 with Vulcan. Since then, he has made worlds (and finals at the Mid-Season Invitational) with Counter Logic Gaming, Immortals (as team leader), and now on Team Liquid, on paper, probably the strongest supporting cast he has ever had coming into an international event. If Team Liquid has any chance of getting through into the knockout rounds, Xmithie is going to need to play like a top-five jungler in South Korea.
-- Tyler Erzberger
5. Gao "Ning" Zen-ning: Invictus Gaming
Gao "Ning" Zen-ning is the opposite of the other LPL jungler on our list, Karsa. Ning is very talented mechanically and makes a lot of early game moments happen for Invictus Gaming, but he makes just as many happen for the other team. Ning can be reckless in his jungle invades and ganks, leaving him in no man's land more often than not. Simply put, his style either makes him look like a genius or a complete amateur to professional play. Regardless, his ability to navigate team fights in the later stages of the game as well as micro early skirmishes is still impressive. Ning's potential and contributions to iG are what propel him as a top-five jungler at the world championship this year.