This is the first in a hopefully regular series called Expectations VS Reality. These posts will focus on generally accepted attitudes towards players, teams, tournament formats, etc. I personally believe records such as these are important to the history of Esports and to inform future generations about the feelings of events and teams at the time. Not the revisionist history that we see all too often today in the world of Esports Journalism. To give people a view into the past and what we thought at the time.
Expectation: TSM Make it out of Groups for Sure.
Reality: TSM Fall in Groups
My fear in the future is that Esports journalists will look back on the TSM of 2016 and claim that they were just not that good. TSM’s failure to make it out of groups calls into question their true strength on the international stage. Especially with teams such as H2K making it all the way to the semi finals of Worlds.
However we must put facts into perspective and the fact of the matter being that their failure to perform against one team in a best of one shouldn’t undo all the great things that TSM 2016 summer was able to accomplish. Had TSM been in Group C and gotten matched against ANX in the round of eight they for sure would be in the semis.
TSM 2016 summer are a team that had the potential to achieve what few western teams are able to. Be competitive on the international stage.
Expectation: EDG are a Contender
Reality: EDG Fall in Round of Eight….Again!!!
What appears to be a curse for this Chinese powerhouse EDG have far too often been unable to convert tremendous domestic success into good international performances. Many analysts, myself included, believed that EDG was one of the strongest teams entering the World Championship. Possibly the front runner for a non Korean contender.
The fact of the matter is the EDG shockingly lost their first game of the tournament to wildcard team INTZ. They slowly clawed their way back with wins against H2K and AHQ, but in week two were not able to finish top of what was supposed to be an easy group.
EDG’s top lane weaknesses were heavily abused in groups and against ROX in the quarterfinals. A team who were the worst possible match up for EDG in my professional opinion. Only time will tell if EDG can break their quarterfinal curse at the World Championship.
Expectation: ANX is Bottom Two Team at Worlds
Reality: First Wildcard to make it out of Groups
After INTZ were able to pull off what was called the greatest wildcard upset in history with their win over EDG Albus Nox Luna made that claim short lived. ANX was projected as a bottom two team by nearly everyone coming into Worlds. The question to many was how many games would they manage to pick up.
The answer turned out to be enough to earn a tiebreaker against ROX and potentially exit the group in first place. ANX impressed many with their start support player Kirill “Likkrit” Malofeev and his impact on in the laning phase. ANX surprisingly were able to close out games more efficiently than some of the top western teams.
Despite being dominated by H2K in the quarterfinals ANX have forever changed to minds of analysts and Worlds pickems players everywhere with their great performances.
Expectation: The LMS Will Be Much Weaker Than Last Year
Reality: The LMS Was Much Weaker Than Last Year
To the surprise of few who had been following the tumultuous Summer season in the LMS region Flash Wolves and AHQ both fell pretty hard during the group stage of this year’s Worlds.
After over performing by most standards at last years World Championship many analysts and casuals had the likes of Flash Wolves and AHQ making it out of groups due to the same lukewarm hype around the teams this time around. However they fell into the trap of picking teams based on previous international successes rather than looking at their current form.
Summer in was a really rocky road for the top LMS teams which saw a handful of teams look like they could make it to the finals. Sadly there was no true powerhouse from the region and their sloppy play manifested into sub par group stage performances. Better luck the the LMS next year to see if they can redeem themselves.
Expectation: G2 are Europe’s Only Hope
Reality: H2K Were Europe’s Only Hope
Despite putting up an honorable fight Splyce was never in a position to exit Group D due to the sheer level of the teams in the group. G2 were seen as having the easiest path of all European teams to exit Group A. However G2 unexpectedly cracked at another international tournament and looked like one of the weakest teams at the entire tournament.
Only time will reveal why G2 collapsed so spectacularly only managing to pick up a single game. However H2K were able to rally and have a very impressive showing in week 2 which saw them take 4 straight games and top their group in first place. The hopes of EU were still alive in a team that had struggled all season to convert their talented roster to in game cohesion. With most of their players operated at season highs H2K exited Group C with flying colors.
EU eventually did end up having a team to root for all the way to semis. However it was not the one that they were expecting nor did H2K have a very difficult path to semis.
Expectation: Group D is the Most Competitive Group
Reality: Group D Was the Most Competitive Group
Nearly every team that entered Group D was holding their breathe as victory was guaranteed to none. Having Arguably 3 of the top 5 teams at the entire Tournament Group D called into question the very structure of Worlds once all was said and done.
To the heartbreak of many TSM failed to make it out, and to the delight of Chinese fans RNG managed to pull themselves back from a disastrous summer season. Samsung solidified their right to participate at Worlds by topping their group.
Nearly every game in the group was competitive and close, except Splyce vs RNG in week 1, making for one of the best viewing experiences as a fan of league during the whole group stage.
Expectation: This is the Best Chance For a Non-Korean Team to Win Worlds
Reality: Korea Has It’s Best Worlds Performance Yet
Although Korea may very well have had three teams enter the semi finals in previous years had several teams not faced one another this was the best showing Korea has had to date. Putting into question the idea of the gap closing argument as many western fans are extremely down on the results of the west at this Worlds.
Despite projections NA barely had a better game score at this worlds compared to last. However everyone can agree that the region stepped it up in terms of world class quality teams that attended the tournament. China also improved from its collapse at last year’s Worlds having two teams enter the round of eight.
The collapse of projected powerhouse teams such as EDG, TSM, and G2 have left a very bitter taste in the mouths of non Korean fans. However hard it may be to tell the gap is for sure closing, but as always there is a lot of ground to be covered.
Expectation: Clearlove is the Best Jungler in the World
Reality: Clearlove was Average at Best
I have personally never been a deep believer in the opinion that Clearlove is the best Jungler in the world. This has been a discussion by many fans for many years dating back to Season 2 and Team World Elite. This falls on more of the huge disappointment that EDG were at yet another World Championship after coming into the tournament with such high praise and high hopes.
After falling for yet another time the Clearlove debate may finally be put to rest after even the most die hard fans come to grips with the reality of his flaws as a player. Clearlove is a Jungler whom only looks good when he has some of the best players in the world at his disposal. His playstyle and habits are from a bygone era that no longer works in the complex and demanding world of high level competitive Jungling.
Even in a Tournament where the Jungle talent was lacking Clearlove and the whole of EDG continued to get exploited and read all day long. It is unclear where his career goes after now having lost Pawn and Deft, whom were his two most important teammates, he and the whole of EDG will have to forge a new path.
Expectation: The Title is Between ROX and SKT
Reality: The Title was Between ROX and SKT
Despite facing off in the semi finals there is little doubt that ROX vs SKT was the true battle for the title at Worlds 2016. Turing out to be one of the best series every played in LoL competitive history the 5 game series was on a razor’s edge. With ROX eventually falling to long time rivals SKT. This result has stirred up debate over weather or not ROX are objectively the better team, but stylistically can’t defeat SKT.
Regardless of how you feel about the situation ROX and SKT were the two favorites going into the tournament and proved to be in a league of their own throughout Worlds.
Expectation: Smeb is The Best Player in the World
Reality: Faker Had a Much Better Worlds
Coming into the tournament nearly every expert fan and analyst came to the agreement that Smeb was the bets LoL player in the world. Whether that was true or not Smeb did not live up to expectations during Worlds and Faker was crushing everyone that he came into contact with.
Though this does not detract from the amazing year that Smeb has had in 2016 it does help put into perspective each player’s impact on the game. For myself personally I felt that Pray was the best performing player on ROX at Worlds. Smeb may be one of the best players of all time, but Faker has reclaimed his title as the King of the Games.
So there are the most interesting story lines and expectations of Worlds 2016. Let us know what you guys thought were the most interesting points that we didn’t cover here. Stay tuned for the next edition which will most likely cover the upcoming IEM Oakland later in November.