For all those who know my obsession with esports, and League of Legends specifically, you know just how excited I am for this year’s World Championship to start! With this coming up, and my busy school schedule, I may disappear for the next 5-6 weeks. But in all seriousness, the World Championship of League of Legends always sports some of the most exciting and groundbreaking gameplay you’ll ever see in the game. Every year some giant gets upset, and every year Cloud9 manages to pull some B.S. move to make it to the knockout stage. So pretty much no matter what, I’m always happy.
Five days ago, the draw show for the tournament happened (very similarly to how the World Cup draw show happens), revealing who would be in each group, as well as who is in the play-in stage. And despite being slightly worried about a few of my favorite teams and their chances, I really just wanted to discuss my thoughts for each group heading in to these next few weeks.
This is not the most in-depth analysis and is mainly just surface-level predictions, based upon basic playstyles and recent performances, because I didn’t have the time to go over each individual team and their players. However, I will probably be writing about all of this a lot in the near future, where I will get more specific. I’m kind of just writing my initial thoughts and predictions.
To start this discussion, I’m just going to go with the first group in the lineup, which just happens to be the most interesting to me as well: Group A. This group features the team that many believe to be the best in the world, G2, as well as maybe a top 4 or 5 team, Griffin. Following in their footsteps is of course my favorite, Cloud9.
Cloud9’s presence has almost nothing to do with my large amount of excitement toward Group A. More importantly, I think each team has an incredibly unique and explosive playstyle, that will make for entertaining games to watch. Adding onto that are the junglers, Jankos, Tarzan, and Svenskeren, who are some of, if not the best in the tournament. And as it is my main role in the game, I feel like I’ll learn a lot just watching these series. But who do I think will make it out, and why?
I’m not quite sure if I’ll add much to the conversation over this group, but I think it can go a large number of ways, all depending on the consistency of Griffin and G2. G2 have historically been mediocre in the group stages, and Griffin has pretty much yet to perform well in any clutch scenario ever, so while in many ways, they’re miles ahead of Cloud9, I think there’s a very likely chance Cloud9 still manages to make it out. Despite not even being the most talented team in North America, Cloud9’s historic consistency has yet to be shattered, making it to Worlds every year, and only failing to make it out of the group stage once, while still managing to make it to a tiebreaker game.
These clashing histories make me very skeptical that both G2 and Griffin show up to their normal performances, blocking Cloud9. And more likely, to me, is a downfall of one of them, and therefore the uprising of my favorite team. Who will that downfall be? I think Griffin. When you look at G2, obviously they’ve been inconsistent in the past, but their 3 most recent showings on the international stage have all been fantastic, winning MSI, destroying Rift Rivals, and making it to Semifinals at last year’s World Championship. So in my eyes, they’ve more or less disproven the bad history. Meanwhile, once again Griffin failed to make it here due to playoff or gauntlet performance. Instead, they road the wave of good regular season standings, not proving anything to me. As weird as it sounds, in a group with NA, EU, and KR, I think it’s most likely EU and NA make it out on top. But Griffin could easily prove me wrong, and in a way, I hope they do.
TBA (Probs HKA): 1-5
Group B is almost the opposite of A, in that it’s pretty much set in stone from the start to most people. FPX, China’s first seed and some’s favorite for the tournament managed to dodge all other major regions for now, making them most likely to just dominate everyone. J Team and GAM on the other hand, are perhaps fighting for second. A large amount of this group is actually going to be determined by who slots into the group from play-ins, so I’m going to go over what I think will happen in each different scenario that could potentially happen.
If Splyce Join This Group
The first possible fourth team here is Splyce, the third seed from Europe. While Splyce is a pretty great team, and to many people, stronger than both J Team and GAM, this is a horrible group for them to draw into, stylistically speaking. FPX and GAM are probably two of the most aggressive early game teams this tournament currently has, and Splyce does not do well against said teams. They tend to want to scale, and win late, and teams that attack them at the beginning often disrupt this general game plan. So if Splyce make it in, I foresee them not doing fantastic, getting destroyed by FPX, as well as GAM, meaning that the Chinese and Vietnamese representatives would make it out pretty easily. I will say, J Team is a very unknown commodity right now, and I don’t quite know how to rate them. They’re coming out of Taiwan, which has been a pretty poor performing region the past few years, but they didn’t drop a game the entire season, which could mean they’ll buck the trend and surprise everyone. So keep an eye out for them, despite me thinking they won’t make it out.
If Damwon Joins
The other, nightmarish situation for this group is the prospect of Damwon, Korea’s third seed, joining. As it stands FPX will most likely walk over everyone, and not worry about a thing, but if Damwon enters, this could change dramatically. Damwon, while being new, some think is the second best team from Korea, and therefore one of the better teams in the world, certainly capable of taking down both FPX and their competition. There’s certainly a world where DW beats FPX 2-0 in the series, meaning if they drop 1 or 2 games to the other teams, they could potentially find themselves defeated in the group stage, which would be horrible for a multitude of reasons. While that probably won’t happen, it’s certainly a possibility and the reason why they definitely want to dodge the representative from Korea.
Now to everyone’s favorite group, Group C; perhaps one of the most stacked groups of all time. Featuring the second seed from both China and Europe, as well as the first seed from Korea, this group could pretty much go any way possible and not be a surprise. That being said, I do think it’s most likely SKT that will be heading out of this group in first, simply due to Faker’s experience, but that could certainly be disrupted. Similarly to Group A, I think that the fourth team most likely doesn’t have a chance to get out, but because the fourth team is most likely going to be Clutch Gaming (based on them being the play-in favorites, and other statistical stuff), they do have a huge chance to decide who does leave this group (Vedius compared them to Vitality from last year).
If I looked at this group in a vacuum, I’d say that most likely SKT and RNG would make it out, because they’ve got the star power to do so, and while I still think SKT is most likely going to leave the group, with the addition of Clutch, and the sheer nature of LPL teams, I think it’s probably going to be Fnatic instead of RNG. Here’s why.
As I said, Clutch has been compared to Vitality from last year’s championship, who forced RNG to go 3-3, and therefore play a tiebreaker to even make it out of the group stage. RNG likes to play around Uzi, a strategy they’ve literally emulated for like 6 years, and while they do perform well in the fight-heavy style of China, they don’t perform well in the skirmish-heavy style of regions like EU. Vitality proved this last year, running Ekko mid, and basically destroying them on either one or two occasions, I can’t remember. That being said, Clutch plays as close to an EU team as an NA team I’ve ever seen, being even more aggressive and carry-heavy than Cloud9 has been in the past. You could say that if RNG play heavily around the bottom lane, and slow everything down, they can win late, but there are two things preventing this from happening: the outstanding teamfighting drafts from Clutch, and the God-like performance from CG ADC, Cody Sun. Cody Sun had something ridiculous like a 20 K/D/A score in the playoffs and gauntlet, heading into Worlds this year, and even if Uzi is the greatest ADC of all time, I don’t know if he’ll be able to walk over this new, near-perfect performance from the NA bot laner.
Fnatic, on the other hand, is more comfortable running into the chaos of a Clutch Gaming, as they deal with G2 several times a year, being from the same region. Nothing shouts chaos more than G2, and Fnatic play them about as well as anyone does, telling me Clutch is probably not the biggest threat to them, at least as much as they are to RNG.
SKT should win this pretty heavily, in my opinion, simply due to their consistent domination this year. Sadly, I think they’re the best team in the tournament, and despite losing to G2 earlier this year, are back with a vengeance. I would most likely prefer them over anyone in the tournament, so despite being in the best group by far, I think they’ve got the first place on lock, albeit not by much.
Another fun group with an NA team comes in the form of Group D. Sadly for AHQ, they have almost no chance in the eyes of anyone, and I happen to agree with that sentiment, so it’s really a battle between iG; China’s third seed; TL; NA’s first seed, and whoever enters in fourth; either Splyce or Damwon most likely. Once again this is incredibly dependent on the final entrant into the group, so I’ll split it up into two parts determined by that.
If Splyce Enters the Fray
Strangely enough, if I was Splyce, I’d be praying for this group, for a multitude of reasons. First, TL will not push you around early like GAM or FPX will. Second, the LMS team in this group is substantially worse than the LMS team in Group B, or at least that’s what the regular season would tell you. And third, I think Splyce could potentially stall out games against iG, depending on the draft. In an environment with Splyce, I see TL as the clear favorite, being able to smash AHQ 2-0, potentially being able to 2-0 previous opponent iG, or at least going even, and then having a bit of a battle with Splyce, but probably coming out on top as well. I do think iG would also be happy with this group, but in a world where TL has no other competition besides iG, they’re not going to get first, as their wild inconsistencies will most likely cause iG to lose at least a game from the other teams, and therefore be in a disadvantageous state against TL themselves. For reasons you’ll hear in a second, I think it’s actually best for iG to get Damwon in their group instead.
On the other hand for TL, I don’t know if they get out with Damwon in their group. For one, I think DW is way more proactive and will have their jungler dominate Xmithie, and for two, their mid laner is honestly stronger than Jensen, telling me that they won’t be able to win there either. Finally, with the Fiora buffs on the Worlds patch, I think DW’s top laner, who is known for his Fiora play, will either grab that as a permaban against him, or win almost every game he gets it, because she looks to be incredibly strong. In the assumption that TL loses to DW twice, I think it’s incredibly likely that iG can pounce on them, and take them down. If they break even with DW, which I think they can, and they break even with TL, they’re in the driver’s seat and can nab an easy 4-2, to make it out of groups.
Final Team Predictions Going Into Knockout Stages:
1 Seeds: G2, FPX, SKT, DW
2 Seeds: C9, GAM, FNC, iG
1 Seeds: G2, DW, SKT, TL
2 Seeds: C9, FPX, FNC, SPY
For my love of the West in League, I pray that Damwon makes it into Group B, and allows all Western teams except Clutch to go on (according to my predictions), but we’ll see what happens. There’s a world where some random emerging region breaks into groups ahead of Damwon. Thanks for listening to me ramble about League, and expect to see much more of this in the near future.