Many European League of Legends fans are happy to see a familiar face in Unicorns of Love attending the 2020 World Championship. But the team could have actually missed the tournament this year, according to Riot Games’ global head of esports John Needham.
During the Worlds 2020 media preview today, Needham revealed that UOL almost couldn’t attend Worlds. But the reason for this—whether it was due to visas or some other problem—wasn’t specified.
Needham said it was “a little tough getting them there” and David Higdon, Riot’s head of global esports communications, added that Riot had “a lot of calls and meetings” in relation to the team.
In fact, Riot even flew out Gambit Esports—the LCL’s second-place team—to Shanghai in the event that UOL weren’t able to attend the tournament. As a result, Gambit have also been in quarantine in China as a possible replacement team. Now that UOL have been cleared to attend Worlds, though, Gambit will most likely be traveling back to Europe.
Getting all the teams to Shanghai was apparently a tough task for Riot this year. PSG Talon, for example, will be heading into the Worlds 2020 play-in stage with a handful of substitutes in their lineup due to visa issues.
Meanwhile, the Unicorns of Love had another great season in the LCL. This past summer, they went undefeated in the regular season and only dropped one game during the 2020 LCL Summer Split playoffs against Gambit. They’re the strongest team in the region by far and many people consider them a dark horse that can surprise some top organizations at Worlds,
With three returning players from last year’s Worlds and arguably a better bottom lane than its previous iteration, UOL have a good chance to make it out of the play-in stage and advance to group play. But their strength will be tested by the fourth seeds from the LEC and LPL, MAD Lions and LGD Gaming. If UOL can prove that they have what it takes to beat these two teams, they could cement themselves as one of the best minor region squads at Worlds 2020.
Many League fans remember the match between TSM and UOL in 2015 at IEM San Jose. UOL were sent to the tournament thanks to receiving fan votes and they delivered. They pulled off a jungle Twisted Fate and a stunning Syndra performance to take down TSM, who were one of the favorites to win the tournament. Even though they lost in the finals to North American representatives Cloud9, fans and members of the community likely still remember how PowerOfEvil, a freshly-qualified rookie, destroyed NA’s golden mid laner, Bjergsen.