After an unusually long offseason, the 2023 professional League of Legends regular season is here. Most teams around the globe will enter the new year with a brand new look, complete with different rosters and lineups that will ultimately compete for a chance at hoisting the Summoner’s Cup in Korea later this year.
Considering most teams made sweeping changes to their roster, the top teams from 2022, including the defending World Champions DRX, fell down our list (or were even excluded altogether). Our preseason power rankings are based completely off of on-paper strength, as no official games have been played yet so far in 2023. A combination of what we’ve seen already from these teams and the strength of the rosters they’ve assembled this offseason determined where they were placed on our list.
This offseason, many eastern teams even blew up their rosters, opening the door for strong-enough western contenders to sneak through and make some noise at the back end of the power rankings.
In our 2022 rankings, only one western team had cracked our top 10 prior to the beginning of the year. This season though, three teams from the LEC and LCS are represented alongside their eastern counterparts. While you should still expect the LCK and LPL to make up the majority of preseason contenders, don’t sleep on the potential that western teams hold, especially following a massive restructuring this past offseason.
With the 2023 professional League season beginning this weekend, here’s how the global scene stacks up at the beginning of the year.
|4)||Hanwha Life Esports||LCK|
|6)||Royal Never Give Up||LPL|
10) Evil Geniuses
Although Evil Geniuses—and the LCS as a whole—suffered a massive blow with the sudden departure of Danny, the 2022 LCS Spring Champions have reloaded their arsenal with proven veteran stars for the new year in Ssumday and FBI. With the core of Inspired, Jojopyun, and Vulcan still bringing that familiar cocky personality on and off the Rift, they are poised to break into the winner’s circle again this season.
We’re noticeably higher on Fnatic this year than in years past, and that’s largely due to the fact that they’ve brought back their franchise player. Each time Rekkles dons the orange and black, magical things happen. Now, in his third return to the team, he’s joining three fifths of a squad that nearly made it out of groups at Worlds last year. Rekkles carried Fnatic to the top eight at Worlds in five straight appearances. We’re nearly positive that the team that came so close to being a sincere international contender just three months ago will be a menace on the global stage now that its most dependable piece has returned.
Last season, KOI (formerly known as Rogue) were the only western team to advance out of the group stage at Worlds. They were the eighth-best team in the world to close out 2022, and they’re staying put heading into 2023. By only making one roster move (replacing Odoamne with Szygenda in the top lane), KOI remains poised to be one of the strongest contenders out of the LEC moving into the coming season.
7) Weibo Gaming
Once upon a time, Xiaohu and TheShy were top lane juggernauts and eternal rivals, constantly colliding in a fierce battle for control in the LPL. But fast forward to 2023, and suddenly these two superstars are now placed beside each other as brothers in arms for a completely new team. Even though TheShy and Karsa haven’t seen the same highs as once before, they are still icons of the game playing alongside one of the best mid laners in the league and a defending MSI champ. If this trio can find its form and learn to work with each other, Weibo could be a sneaky contender for the LPL trophy.
6) Royal Never Give Up
Although RNG may have lost two franchise players in Xiaohu and Ming this offseason, the team still sits near the top of the international ladder. The topside combination of Breathe and Wei is still one of the best in the world, while GALA and Angel make for a formidable pairing of carries that any team would love to have in its starting lineup. While they might not be a shoe-in for an LPL title (or a three-peat at MSI), RNG have enough proven talent on their lineup to make them a reasonably solid pick to compete for an international championship this season.
5) Top Esports
Top Esports has not looked perfect in recent years, coming up short of international expectations at Worlds in two of the last three seasons. In an effort to remedy their failures at the game’s premier tournament, Top brought in a Worlds-winning mid laner in Rookie to help right the ship in 2023. With a proven core of veterans in Tian and Jackeylove rounding out a Summoner’s-Cup-contending roster, Top remains a perennial threat on both the domestic and international stages.
4) Hanwha Life Esports
After the departure of Chovy in 2021, Hanwha Life Esports’ trajectory went from a top LCK challenger and Worlds hopeful to the bottom of the barrel in a single year. But after swiping up some of the best players from DRX’s Cinderella Worlds roster, new life has been injected into the organization once again. Viper, Zeka, and Kingen will be a formidable three-headed monster that even the best teams in the league will need to fear once the season begins.
3) Dplus KIA
Questionable rebrand aside, Dplus KIA is still one of the strongest teams that the world has to offer, thanks to the acquisition of the 2022 World Championship’s main character, Deft. The 26-year-old veteran has finally captured his elusive Summoner’s Cup, but clearly he hungers for more as he joins the deadliest mid-jungle duo in the world on a quest for domination. The bar might be sky-high, but Canyon and ShowMaker have felt the bright lights of glory before and are poised to bask in its warmth again.
2) JD Gaming
If you’re looking for a classic superteam to root for in 2023, look no further than JD Gaming’s hyper-charged lineup featuring some of the most mechanically talented players in the game today. 369, Kanavi, Knight, and Ruler are all top stars in their role in the LPL, and are favorites to win the LPL championship and challenge the rest of the world at international tournaments across the year.
As the rest of the world imploded their 2022 lineups, T1’s roster completely remained together following a season in which they came just one game away from winning an international tournament. In a different universe, T1 wins both MSI and Worlds in 2022. In this universe, though, the team that has its entire core of players still together—including an ageless Faker and the ever-budding duo of Gumayusi and Keria—can easily stride to international victories. It wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest to see T1 make noticeable tweaks down the line (we’re talking late October/early November) that allow them to hoist the Summoner’s Cup at the end of this year.
The domestic season start dates for major pro League regions around the world are as follows:
LPL: Jan. 14
LCK: Jan. 18
LEC: Jan. 21
LCS: Jan. 26