It's time, folks.
Worlds isn't on its way -- it's here, and we have you covered all month-long with interviews, features and video live on the ground from South Korea for the 2018 League of Legends World Championship.
But before we can talk about who could possibly be battling it out in the grand finals at the Incheon Munhak Stadium on Nov. 3, it all starts at the group stage. Twenty-four teams will attempt to make it to the all-important bracket stage and the best-of-five format -- but only eight will make it to the main event portion of the tournament.
Here are some of our very own superlatives following the draw for Play-Ins and the group stage.
The match of the group stage: Royal Never Give Up vs. Gen.G Esports
Forget everything else. This is going to be must-see viewing for anyone who even has a slight interest in the World Championship. On one side, we have RNG, possibly the greatest Chinese team in the game's history, coming into the tournament as the favorite to win it all (having already captured both domestic splits and the Mid-Season Invitational). Who do we have in the other corner? Oh, just the defending world champion with the same exact six-man roster who took home the Summoner's Cup in China last year.
This match has all the storylines one could need. Gen.G won the title on RNG's soil last year at the Bird's Nest in Beijing in front of 50,000 fans -- and now Royal can get its revenge by winning China's first World Championship title in South Korea. Jian "Uzi" Zihao is the undisputed best player in the world, coming hot off the heels of his MVP performance at MSI. And his opponent, Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk, just so happens to be the reigning Worlds MVP that Uzi bested at the most-recent Asian Games final.
Both teams were gold. Both teams know how to win, and neither will be happy with anything but a first-place finish. This is the third straight year these teams have been drawn into the same group stage.
Oh, and the best news of all? Since RNG and Gen. G are in the same group, that means the rivals can't meet again until Nov. 3 in Incheon for the grand final. Bring it on.
The must-see Wild Card player: Kyohei "Ceros" Yoshida
Is Ceros the best player of all the Wild Card regions? No.
Is Ceros even the best player on his team? No, that would be Japanese superstar Shunsuke "Evi" Murase.
Will Ceros be the most talked about player in the first week of the tournament? Almost definitively.
It has taken him five years, but the golden boy of Japan's League of Legends scene has finally made the World Championship, and everything from here -- a win, a close match even with a team like Cloud9 -- is icing on the cake.
So why is Ceros so special? It's because there is no one like him at the event, thanks to China's Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang barely missing the cut. Ceros will play anything. His favorite champion to play in the mid lane right now? Heimerdinger. He doesn't even like taking the grenade upgrade ultimate. He likes the big turret. Because it does more damage.
The matchup between Ceros and C9's Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen will probably be the only match of the entire tournament where Zilean is a highly-contested pick between both teams. Ceros is an oddball, and although his mechanical skill might not be up to par with the other mid laners at the tournament (he is stuck in Diamond IV on the South Korean server after playing over 1,700 games this year), his unique playstyle and wacky champion pool could be the catalyst to an upset or two.
Wild Card team with the best chance of making the group stage: SuperMassive
SuperMassive isn't fancy. This team isn't going to shock you with wayward picks or insane strategies for the most part, but it knows what it's good at, and the team knows how to play together after being together for over a year at this point. Lee "GBM" Chang-seok has bounced around regions over his career, but he's found a home in Turkey, where he's certified himself as the ace of the league, recently winning the MVP award in his team's victory over Royal Bandits in the TCL final.
While SuperMassive isn't going to floor you like some other teams in the Play-Ins -- like Ascension Gaming with its all-out aggressive style or Detonation FocusMe who has a player like Ceros playing talisman in the middle with his zany champions -- GBM does have a few tricks up the sleeve. He has been regarded as one of the best Xerath players in the world since he starred for the Jin Air Green Wings back in 2015, and he's kept that title to this day, playing it in his most recent match that clinched the title for SuperMassive (he went 10/0/8 in the win).
Wild Card team who needs this the most: Dire Wolves
Oceania needs this. I'm not saying the Dire Wolves need to make the group stage or the sky is falling, because that's probably not realistic with clubs like Cloud9, Edward Gaming and Fnatic in the Play-Ins. I do think the Dire Wolves need to make it to the best-of-five Play-In stage, though, as one of the top two teams in its group.
Infinity Esports, the fellow Wild Card team Dire Wolves is playing in the opening Play-In group, is beatable. Dire Wolves isn't overmatched in that head-to-head, and it certainly can beat the team from Costa Rica.
Oceania has never found success on the international stage, and with a minnow of a server compared to even some of the Wild Card regions like Brazil, it needs something to feel good about going into the 2019 year.
Let's not get this twisted. I'm only saying these things because I think the current iteration of the Dire Wolves is probably the best the team has ever sent to an international competition, and the Oceania faithful should be expecting this team to make it to the best-of-five Play-In stage.
If not this year, I don't know if it'll ever happen for Oceania.