Tom Bramwell, December 19, 2016

The best League of Legends matches of 2016

Summoner's Rift is blanketed in snow (and an annoying new soundtrack), and players around the world are waking up to stockings full of unwanted Galio skin discounts, but rather than switching off the game for Christmas, why not sit back and watch some of the best League of Legends matches of 2016 in our festive roundup?

Immortals' perfect game against Team Impulse

We start all the way back in January with one of the shortest matches we've ever seen, as Immortals crushed Team Impulse in a perfect game that lasted just 18 minutes. This victory set the tone for Immortals' first split in the NA LCS, as the newly formed team bullied every opponent, but despite a 17-1 record and a similarly impressive summer, consecutive playoff failures meant Immortals failed to make it to Worlds, and everyone left except Pobelter. If you only watch one of their 2016 line-up's games, then, make it this one. It won't take long.

Dignitas vs Renegades clown fiesta

This match might be a classic, but I have no idea because I've never watched the whole thing - instead I just watch an amazing sequence of play between 3:40 and 4:40 that will go down in NA LCS history. The excitement begins as Dignitas misjudge an attempt to take the bottom tower, then continues as two members of Renegades decide to go after Rift Herald. The outcome possibly offers some clues as to why Renegades and Dignitas both finished in the bottom three this spring and why, when you start to type "Dignitas vs Renegades" into YouTube's autocomplete, Google's famous algorithm suggests you meant "clown fiesta".

SKT's perfect game against RNG

The Mid-Season Invitational was the Chinese teams' (latest) opportunity to show they could stand up to the big boys of League of Legends. Playing in Shanghai, they had strong line-ups and homecourt advantage. And to be fair, they will hardly be remembered as the epic fail at this tournament, which also saw Europe's G2 Esports crater so hard they busted the region's entire Worlds seeding. But losing in a perfect game on home soil when you have two imported world champions in your line-up is tough, as Royal Never Give Up can attest.

CLG's amazing comeback against RNG at MSI

Not to pick on RNG, who only lost two games in the group stage at MSI and went out to a very strong SKT, but they were also subject to one of the best comebacks in international League of Legends in 2016 as CLG rebounded from a 17k gold deficit after 34 minutes to beat their at-the-time undefeated hosts. The manner of their victory, which came as part of a run to the tournament final, proved too much for Kobe on the casting desk, who ascended to a sort of screeching nirvana as CLG stormed the Nexus. I don't know about you, but I love it when casters lose their composure. GG Kobe!

Vitality vs G2 Esports EU LCS base race

We've had perfect games and comebacks, so how about a base race? European teams obviously have a rich history squabbling over the Nexus, from xPeke's endlessly referenced Kassadin backdoor to Fnatic and Unicorns of Love in 2015. And while a lot else has changed, Vitality and G2 Esports were evidently keen to show that regional commitment to this fine traditional remains strong, as they stormed back and forth at the end of this fairly innocuous mid-season EU LCS match. This one is particularly enjoyable for the losing ADC's facecam as one Nexus finally does fall. Chin up, eh?

ANX beat ROX Tigers in the biggest Worlds upset ever

When INTZ e-Sports beat EDward Gaming at Worlds, I quickly wrote an article for another website suggesting it might be the biggest ever Worlds upset. I should have known better! Enter Albus NoX Luna, the CIS wildcard team nobody expected to do anything in a group featuring G2 Esports, CLG, and Korean tournament favorites ROX Tigers. Instead they made an unlikely run to the knockout stage, driven by charismatic support player Likkrit, who also gave us some of the best quotes of the tournament. "Being an underdog doesn't mean being a loser," as he put it, and as ROX Tigers could attest after they lost to ANX in an astonishing 66-minute slugfest that went down as one of the games of the tournament.

ROX Tigers' Miss Fortune support in Worlds semifinal against SKT

We've had some fantastic individual games, but if you're looking for an incredible series, then you should start with SK Telecom T1 vs ROX Tigers in the Worlds 2016 semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Game 1 was a tense affair that SKT won after Faker did Faker things, but game 2 saw GorillA bring out an eye-catching Miss Fortune support pick and PraY deliver the skillshot of the tournament as he nailed Duke crossmap with an Ashe arrow. The series yoyo-ed from there, delivering on the seemingly ridiculous hype beforehand, before ROX bowed out and, a few weeks later, said goodbye to their whole roster.

SKT vs Samsung Galaxy in the Worlds 2016 final

Where else to end this list but with the longest, best grand final in League of Legends World Championship history? SKT were heavy favorites going into this series against Samsung - some commentators had described their win over ROX Tigers as the real final - but their opponents were the team of Ambition in more than just name. Game 3 is probably the pick of the bunch as Samsung arrested SKT's momentum with an absurd 71-minute win that was also the first game SKT had lost in the whole tournament. In a World Championship tournament already full of fantastic stories and memorable moments, this series had it all.

xPeke Garen mid against Faker at All-Star 2016

Actually, this is where else to end this list. All-Star 2016 was bananas from the get-go - you can pick any match to watch and have a fun time - but how can we not include xPeke playing Garen mid into Faker at All-Star 2016? And getting a double kill onto Faker and Bengi within the first five minutes? Garen nerfs incoming for 2017 yo. Happy holidays.

Tom Bramwell

Tom is a British writer who used to work for Eurogamer and Riot Games. Increasingly obsessed with esports.