chicago-theatre
Photo by Goldstar

With the 2016 World Championship Quarter-finals starting tomorrow, some members of SplitPush’s team gave their predictions for this week’s matches, which will be taking place at the Chicago Theatre, in Chicago, Illinois.

Guilherme Arten-Meyer:

SSG 3-1 C9

After a great week 2, Samsung arrive as huge favorites against Cloud9. Superior in pretty much every aspect of the game, the Koreans shouldn’t have in theory any problem against the North American side, but they do have an important weakness: their Champion pool.

If C9 draft intelligently, and take away some power picks – like Crown’s Viktor -, they may be able to take a game off Samsung, but ultimately, I think it won’t be enough, and North America’s final hope should die with Cloud9.

SKT 3-0 RNG

It should be a replay of the 2016 MSI Semi-finals: SK Telecom T1’s much superior macro play will play a vital role against the LPL side, who, despite a solid week 1, looked completely lost in their games against Splyce and Samsung Galaxy, barely managing to qualify to the playoffs.

This naturally raised questions about Royal’s consistency as well, and given how good SKT look at Worlds – the strongest they have been since Spring – I don’t think that the reigning World Champions will have many problems to send the Chinese team home.

ROX 3-1 EDG

Don’t dare to cross them off: despite dropping games to Counter Logic Gaming and Albus NoX Luna, the ROX Tigers are still one of the biggest favorites to win the World Championship.

Against EDG, I expect them to come out with a relatively comfortable win, taking into consideration the huge mismatch in the top lane, with Smeb facing off Koro1, who haven’t played an official game since April, and ROX’s overall superior macro play. Deft and Meiko in the bot lane however, can create problems for the reigning Korean Champions, who may drop a game on Saturday.

H2K 3-1 NoX

Albus NoX Luna’s magical journey will end in Chicago, I’m afraid. H2K-Gaming arrive to this match following a perfect week 2, where the team managed to fix many of the problems demonstrated in the first three games. Besides, on an individual level, the likes of FORG1VEN and Jankos are proving why they are considered by many the best European players at their positions.

But, despite thinking that H2K are the favorites, NoX have the power to surprise the EU LCS side, and are able to even win one or two games, but ultimately, NoX’s lack of BO5 experience against world class opposition may prove to be too big of a challenge. Besides, I don’t how much practice Likkrit will be able to get, considering he was diagnosed with chickenpox last weekend.

likkrit

Alin Puia:

SSG 3-2 C9

SSG looked amazing in their week 2 of games but a fair part of it is also due to their opposition not playing at their maximum potential. While C9 barely qualified I think they are a different beast in a Bo5 environment and have a chance to upset the third Korean seed.

SKT 3-1 RNG

Most likely it will come down as a repeat of the MSI performance. Without a doubt RNG is stronger, since replacing wuxx for Uzi but I don’t think it will matter. It could be a closer series but the mid to late decision making for SKT Is miles ahead.

ROX 3-1 EDG

The match-up will go down in how well can EDG contain the (now) Koro1-Smeb match-up. Featured match-up will be between jungler Clearlove and Peanut have a lot to show especially after both teams were 1 game away from being eliminated. EDG has the strongest macro play out of all Chinese teams at the tournament and can match the Korean mid-game. An important thing to mention is that EDG found most of their recent success with Scout not Pawn and he did only play 2 games this group stage. RoX can also pull Cry out of the shadows.

H2K 3-0 NoX

NoX is the best wildcard team ever but their road will most likely end in the quarterfinal, far further than people predicted them. H2K need to give them the proper respect and I think they will tackle the games properly.

faker

Carlos Alvarez:

SSG 3-0 C9           

Coming out of the group stages, Samsung Galaxy emerges alongside the ever-dominant Korean powerhouse SKT as the only team to drop a single game, maintaining their composure in an otherwise turbulent and volatile tournament. They contrast quite starkly with North American hopefuls Cloud 9, who have weathered a series of crushing defeats and shaky victories through their tenure at worlds 2016. With a solid draft phase, strong individual lanes and notoriously coordinated late-game team-fighting, Samsung Galaxy is poised to defeat C9 in a dominating fashion as they progress to the later stages of the tournament.

There are glimmers of hope for C9, though, as Samsung’s only defeat was a crushing, humiliating blow dealt by TSM which ended with an unprecedented 18-1 scoreline. If C9 can force and exploit the same draft and early lane phase mistakes, they can potentially turn the tides in their favor.

SKT 3-2 RNG

Perhaps because of a relatively dominant group stage from SKT, the team has gone largely untested and unchallenged. Despite some hiccups against Flash Wolves and I May, the Korean squad has shown that it could still deal punishing blows even while playing at arguably substandard levels. SKT have relied heavily on Bang and Faker to carry while RNG is recognized as a team packed with internationally renown individual talents in all lanes, each of which have shown a tendency to “pop-off” and hard-carry games.

In spite of the many questions their inconsistent performances may have spawned, RNG’s  victories, however few, have been both strategic and convincing. Given SKT’s superior macro and lane-phase, it is more likely that the matches will snowball for SKT during the early game, giving them complete control over the mid and late games.

If RNG is able to “activate” all of their carries, the raw individual talent that we’ve been hearing so much about may prove overwhelming for the largely unchallenged Korean favorites. Is RNG going to stomp the early lane-phase like in their final group stage match against TSM? Or will they simply fold under consistent map pressure and indecisive laning like against SSG? Can SKT stand up to the pressure of a fulled ramped-up RNG squad, or will they stumble during the first true test of Worlds 2016?

ROX 3-2 EDG

The ROX Tigers entered the tournament as favorites after an upset victory over KT Rolster during the 2016 Summer LCK Finals: a fitting end to a hard-fought season from last year’s World Finalists. With some of the strongest lane talents available today, the ROX Tigers are equipped with a deep champion pool, strong understanding of the Macro game and a level-headed shot-calling environment—the perfect ingredients to a decisive Worlds run.

Enter EDG, who, after a dominant 16-0 showing, swept RNG 3-0 during the 2016 Summer LPL Finals. Any pre-tournament prediction would obviously be torn between these teams as potential World’s favorites but, after weak showings on both sides during the group stages, neither team looks nearly as strong as they should. Some of the prevailing weaknesses on both sides include shaky, sometimes poor shot-calling and decision making, weak laning and bad draft phases.

With a dire mismatch in Smeb vs Koro1, and a botlane that looks inconsistent and erratic, EDG’s hopes hinge on PawN’s rock solid lane-phase and Clearlove’s legendary jungling prowess. If ROX can get their game together and avoid the mistakes which plagued them against CLG and Albus Nox, it should be a relatively dominant showing from the former Korean favorites. If EDG is able to knock ROX off balance with strong Macro decisions and cleaner early laning, they still have a good shot at advancing.

H2K 2-3 NoX

Albus NoX Luna may very well be the second coming of the Moscow Five: the only Wildcard to ever make it out of groups, this Russian squad surprised many with their individual talent and violent, action-packed, high velocity game-play. H2K escaped the group stages with a similar miracle run, securing the top spot in their group after a shaky 1-2 showing during their first week.

Both NoX and H2K are considered a tier below ROX, RNG, SKT and SSG for good reason: though they both show promising individual talent and strong, mostly unpredictable lanes, their shaky macro, relative inability to recover from gold deficits and an apparent aversion to quickly closing out games pit them alongside C9 as flawed teams.

That is not to say that any team is perfect; no team has left the group stages totally unscathed and so no team can truly escape scrutiny and criticism. Albus NoX have a very promising opportunity to make a name for themselves and their region, but H2K’s strong botlane is capable of effectively neutralizing their entire game plan.

Cloud9 vs I May at the 2016 World Championship - Group Stage at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California, USA on 2 October 2016.

Andrea Barresi:

SSG 3-2 C9

Cloud9 have everything they need to take the series against Samsung; sadly, they have not yet shown enough confidence to focus on the right advantages to get, and they are more than prone to make mistakes in every stage of the game. For this reason, I feel Samsung are favorites, but their champion pools have been shallow as of late: drafts could be an exploitable point for Reapered.

SKT 3-1 RNG

Royal are a very bizarre team: at times, they outperform their opponents and create massive advantages that win them the game, and at times they look totally lost, unable to impact the map or rotate properly. Team synergy will be the deciding factor, and SKT1 have shown to have more than anyone once again: the amount of pressure they can exert around the map and the ways they play around it are currently peerless. Nevertheless, I think Uzi and Mata will have a couple of games where they go off and win the game by themselves!

ROX 3-1 EDG

Both teams looked uncomfortable, to say the least. But while the Tigers seem to be still on track with a clear understanding of what they need to fix after the Group Stage. On the other side, EDG did not look ok in the slightest, with a massive weakness in the toplane, which is going to have Smeb as opponent, and Clearlove is not helping is lanes they way he did during LPL Summer. Unless EDG suddenly solve everything that has pained them in the last week, it’s hard to see them prevailing over the Korean champions.

H2K 3-2 NoX or H2K 2-3 NoX

I honestly can’t predict the outcome of this match: Albus NoX have been unpredictable and out-of-the-box, and H2K has never looked this solid, while still having occasional “cringy” moments. Junglers will be extremely key: PvPStejos has been a master of early pro-activity, with the highest FB% of any jungler; Jankos has put himself as the vision leader of his team, and their map control has proven to be instrumental to their wins.

ROX Tigers vs G2 Esports at the 2016 World Championship - Group Stage at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California, USA on 1 October 2016.

Trevor James:

SSG 3-0 C9

It seems there’s been a rebirth of a once World Champion organization. Establishing themselves as the first seed out of Group D with arguably the most impressive play we saw in group stage makes Samsung a shoe-in, as the team to make it to finals on this side of the bracket. Samsung matches up perfectly against Cloud 9 and counters essentially every strength C9 has, as well as has the ability to exploit the weaknesses of their team. CuVee will stand toe-to-toe with Impact, Ambition is performing above expectations and will out-pressure Meteos, and Crown has proved he can shut-down star western mid laners.

SKT 3-1 RNG

SK Telecom winning the series in a decisive fashion is expected with their long history of success and somewhat impressive group stage performance. In groups their macro play looked to be back in crisp form after their blunder in the Summer playoffs and they had excellent side-lane wave manipulation as well as objective control. With Bengi cleared to start in the series, I predict a methodical 3-1 from SKT, where they only drop one game to a carry-performance by Uzi.

ROX 3-2 EDG

Both #1 seed teams had unstable performances in the group stages, but retained some bits of their domestic glory. In the final day of group stages however, ROX looked far more composed than EDG, which places the onus on the Chinese champions to surprise in this match. The pivotal factor in the match-up comes in the top lane where Smeb stands as a titan in comparison to EDG’s top laner. Overall, ROX has had a much more well-rounded performance as a unit, so I believe they’ll beatable to come out ahead in a close series against the ClearLove/Deft/Meiko triple-threat.

H2K 3-1 NoX

Europe’s last hope was able to dazzle in the group stage and rob EDG of the first seed from group C, resulting in them drawings the dark horse wild-card, Albus NoX. PVPStejos is the biggest threat on NoX in my book, and it will be up to Jankos to read his pathing to thwart his pressure. Despite this, after watching H2K’s impressive performance in groups, a methodical 3-1 victory is likely. I predict that they may lose one game trying to scout the strategies NoX have prepared for the best of 5, but barring that they will clean sweep the match.

Photos courtesy of Riot Games