For those of you living under a rock, you may not have heard, but the first week of the 2016 League of Legends World Championship has drawn to a close – and boy do things look exciting! If by chance you did miss the games or want to relive the magic of some of the amazing moments that we saw this week, I highly advise you visit r/loleventvods where you can find every game from each group for your viewing enjoyment.
With that said, as to be expected of a recap article, YARR, THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD! So, if you haven’t watched the games, consider yourselves warned. Without further ado, let’s walk the plank and dive right in!
GROUP A STANDINGS:
ROX TIGERS: 2 Wins – 1 Loss
COUNTER-LOGIC GAMING: 2 Wins – 1 Loss
ALBUS NOX LUNA: 2 Wins – 1 Loss
G2 ESPORTS: 0 Wins – 3 Losses
The G2 Junction
Right off the bat, we have a myriad of stories to
look at. First, I’d like to take a look at G2 Esports. Favored to come second by most analysts, the Europeans had a rough week, dropping all three of their games. Their play has been nothing short of disastrous, excepting their match against Korean Favorites ROX Tigers, whom they very nearly beat, before a 23 minute Baron Steal by Peanut’s Nocturne, followed by a four man slicing maelstrom from Smeb’s Kennen sealed the fate of G2’s early-game composition, preventing them from snowballing and heavily punishing G2 Perkz’ reckless build on the Karma Mid pick, as well as Trick’s jungle Olaf.
While G2 does look to be in dire straights, they can at least take away from the ROX game that they were, up until that Baron misplay, beating the tournament favorites. Unfortunately for G2 that has been the story of every other team in their group as well. Even more unfortunate, CLG actually managed to BEAT the Tigers, meaning that G2 now needs to go 3-0 in Week 2 and hope that two teams of CLG, Albus Nox or ROX lose at least two games a piece to still be in the running. It’s a tall order, but I believe that if Perkz smartens up and plays for the team, and stops being so needlessly aggressive with his positioning and item purchases, as well as having the whole team commit to calls as a solid unit, that G2 could still show up for Europe. However, it will take a lot of trust and growth over the next three days, and I’m not sure that’s enough time to fix errors this large.
As for the CIS region, praise can only be heaped upon Albus Nox, who have shown up strong, taking games off the European and North American teams with excellent and cunning play involving sneaking the baron, while also taking advantage of comfort picks that seem to have caught the European LCS champions unaware. Even showing up strong in the early game against the likes of ROX, it was a series of mis-steps in the mid-game that lead them to falter against the dominant Koreans. Whether or not they will beat Pain Gaming’s record of two matches in groups is as of yet undetermined, but ANX look poised to potentially be the first Wildcard team to make it out, if they can keep up the pressure and stay unpredictable.
With that said, a constant worry to me for this squad is aMiracle’s AD Carry pool, which I have brought up before and which has gone largely unpunished due to the priority placed on banning other champions. I feel that the best way to attack this team is by putting aMiracle on a champion that isn’t Jhin or Lucian, and by limiting PVPStejos’ ability to influence the bottom lane. I have yet to see aMiracle play anything other than those two champions, aside from one game of Ashe at the IWCQ which was a sub-par showing for him, that eventually lead to a loss to LAN’s Lyon Gaming.
Next, I’d like to turn to North America’s Counter-Logic Gaming. What can I say? A loss to the wildcard team, beating G2, and taking a win off of ROX on Blue side… This group has gone almost entirely as I predicted, aside from G2 failing to show up in week one, which only shows that faith is, indeed, rewarded only sometimes. It wouldn’t be an international event if CLG didn’t lose to a wildcard region, but aside from that loss, CLG has looked stellar. In their first match against G2, they stepped on the throttle and never took their foot off, dominating the early-game and transitioning it into a huge lead that the Europeans simply could not overcome, mostly on the back of a stellar performance from Xmithie. Their game against ROX was a similar story, with Huhi pulling off an unexpected roam to the bottom lane at level one with his signature Aurelion Sol pick to set up a three man gank on Pray that gave Counter-Logic’s mid laner first blood. From there, the game snowballed out of ROX’s control and lead to a surprise victory for the North American squad.
While I have been quick to praise CLG, I have to say that their loss to Albus Nox is troubling. There seems to be a serious level of variance in the play we see between this counter-logic squad, which has been there from the beginning, perhaps, but has only been exacerbated by this week’s play. While I don’t think CLG should worry too much about the loss, I do think they need to spend time analyzing their mistakes and correcting them if they hope to beat ANX in the rematch and especially if they intend to move beyond group stages, as sloppy control of vision around the baron area will be punished much more harshly by better teams.
Lastly, I end with a sad note for the ROX tigers. I’m not sure what is up with this team, but they do not appear to be the dominant power-house they were in Korea; reports are that Smeb is unable to speak without coughing due to illness, so perhaps that is influencing the team dynamic. Either way, ROX has looked incredibly shaky in all three of their games, falling behind in each one, and only clawing back in by the skin of their teeth. Thankfully, those teeth are razor sharp, and were able to pierce through the less coordinated G2 and ANX, letting their superior skills slingshot them back into the late-game. Even so, questionable drafts and disrespectful play has lead to many discounting ROX as being the strongest Korean team despite them coming in as the first seed of their region. Only time will tell if Smeb and the Tigers can traverse the delta between their current state and their prime form and punish the other teams in an expected manner.
Smeb – The 3k Elo Kennen Ult
Likkrit – 22.3k Damage done to champions as Brand Support vs G2 (He bought Sight Stone first)
Xmithie – 6-0-5 as Olaf in the win against G2 Esports
GROUP B STANDINGS:
SK TELECOM T1: 2 Wins – 1 Loss
CLOUD9: 2 Wins – 1 Loss
FLASH WOLVES: 1 Win – 2 Losses
IMAY: 1 Win – 2 Losses
SK Telecom – Superior or Sandbagging?
After a fierce four days, SK Telecom has managed to wrest control of the top of group B from every underdog that was thought to be their initial downfall. Recovering from their poor summer form, the Korean telecom giants and returning world champions looked absolutely unstoppable in their first two matches against IMay and Cloud9. But every superhuman has a weakness, and wherever Faker is concerned, that weakness has always been the LMS’s Flash Wolves. Despite drafting a strong early game composition, the Korean kings failed to respect the ability of a roaming Swordart, and a proactive Karsa, who set up tents in the midlane and snowballed Maple’s Aurelion Sol out of control. The Koreans would later claw back into the game with superior mechanics, but never managed to get ahead, leaving Blank’s Olaf pick incredibly ineffective. Finally, in a play that can only be called disrespectful, Blank pushed aggressively into the Baron area as Karsa’s Lee Sin flanked from behind. Without Ult, Olaf was easy fodder for the Flash Wolves, which meant a free baron for Taiwan and no chance to get back into the game for SKT.
Of all the teams at Worlds, SKT has shown the least variance in their play, but even so, that variance and a few mistakes were enough to lose a game to Flash Wolves. Some may say that the Taiwanese are Korea’s kryptonite, but others still seem to believe that the gap between regions is smaller than it ever has been. Only time will tell if others come to poke holes in the otherwise methodical game-play of the former champs, or if SKT will find their stride again and continue crushing their competition.
Cloud9 – Grounded
On the other side of the #1 spot, behind SKT only by a loss to the Koreans, is North America’s Cloud9. In what have been shaky, long, drawn out games with little decisiveness and less pro-activity, Cloud9 has struggled to stay relevant, often wandering around the map at points of the game looking aimless. Meteos picked Lee Sin in two of their three games, and both times, he looked lost for plays to make in the early and mid game. However, against Karsa and the Flash Wolves, Meteos eventually found enough wherewithal to flank behind the team and kick Maple’s Varus amidst his allies for an easy kill, which lead to a game-winning fight with the man advantage.
C9 has looked almost completely out of sorts. Many heralded them as being almost as good as TSM, but lately the team has looked somewhat off. Only against Chinese third seed IMay did the meme-team manage to pull out a convincing win, most notably without Meteos’ Lee, by instead prioritizing Olaf and harassing Avoidless by constantly taxing his jungle camps with strong early pressure. While they’ve gotten out to a 2-1 start, no doubt the specter of last year hangs over this team, and it may yet take a monumental effort of mental fortitude to overcome the tilt and achieve their heart’s desire.
Flash Wolves: Press D to Dominate Korea, F to Fail out of Groups
Flash Wolves haven’t had much glory worth writing home about. After taking over two games almost entirely, they managed to fall behind by doing little to nothing with that lead to grow it. Two tough losses to C9 and IMay might have broken the backs of other teams, but the Wolves stayed strong and corrected their non-chalant, unproductive behavior towards the mid-game when facing SK Telecom, and managed to keep the ball rolling fast enough to steam on over their rivals.
It wasn’t an easy game, and by no means have the Wolves fixed everything, but they have improved from their first game, and knowing Maple, Karsa, MMD and Steak, they’re only going to keep getting better with each day that this tournament continues.
I May: Be running out of time (and titles for these teams)
Lastly, there is I May. A team with a strong mid-laner from Korea, they opted instead for their sub Baeme to play against Faker in the first game of groups. Whether this was specifically so Baeme could play his patented Ryze pick into Faker’s Cassiopeia, or whether it was a matter of hiding strategies from SKT for round two is unclear, but either way, the unexpected move brought little change to the end result. With only one win against the likes of a faltering Flash Wolves, I May will have to pick up their game in order to make it out of the group.
Impact – Everyone Die
Faker – 10/7/9 in three games
Karsa – 10/9/15 in three games with 72% Kill Participation
GROUP C STANDINGS:
EDWARD GAMING: 2 Wins – 1 Loss
AHQ E-SPORTS CLUB: 2 Wins – 1 Loss
H2K: 1 Win – 2 Losses
INTZ e-Sports: 1 Win – 2 Losses
EDward Bound: The search for easy wins
A group full of questions, group C has looked the most up in the air of any thus-far. Favorites EDward Gaming slipped up against the likes of Revolta and Yang in their first match, with Mouse playing far too aggressive against the Brazilian duo. Fortunately, they struck back against Europe and the LMS to claim the top of the heap, but even so, nothing looks certain for this group as we head into week two. Mouse has not been playing to the level of his peers, and has only been saved by the graces of Meiko, Deft, and Clearlove, the latter-most of which has likewise been very hit or miss at times.
What defines a wildcard region? INTZ & H2K
EDG looks as though they will remain on top, provided that H2K and INTZ don’t make a late resurgence. It’s hard to say how effective the European and Brazilian teams will be at coming back from their losses thus far, as they’ve at times looked so good that they were actively punishing their opponents, but likewise have fallen so far behind in games that they’ve had no way out. It’s impossible to say which way fate will pull this group with any certainty, but it falls largely on Jankos and Revolta to put their teams on their backs and lead them to victory. The question is whether or not the young junglers can rise to the occasion, or if they’ll choke in the face of overwhelming force.
AHQ: Taiwan Number 2?
In closing, the former Dark horse of this group, AHQ, has risen to a tie with EDG and looks as though it could be the primary contender for first. Westdoor hasn’t looked his sharpest, and with Chawy playing a game as well, some wonder if the former best Fizz in the world is still up to the task ahead of him. If anywhere on the map is exploitable from EDG, it’s the top half, and if AHQ want to win, they’re going to have to put more effort into exploiting the mismatch between Ziv and Mouse and securing themselves that advantage if they want to take top seed. That said, if AHQ doesn’t mind a slightly harder Quarter-final bout, all they need to do is keep putting pressure on the bottom half of the standings.
Revolta – 4/6/16 in three games
Odoamne – Help us Odo-am neobi, you’re EU’s only hope!
Clearlove – 5/4/17 in three games
GROUP D STANDINGS:
SAMSUNG GALAXY: 2 Wins – 1 Loss
TEAM SOLO MID: 2 Wins – 1 Loss
ROYAL NEVER GIVE UP: 2 Wins – 1 Loss
SPLYCE: 0 Wins – 3 Losses
And on to our final group; Group D, or “the group of death” as people have taken to calling it, has not disappointed. Just as in group A, we see the European seed dropping to the bottom of the standings, (an expected result for the young Splyce squad, but upsets have not been beyond possibility) followed immediately by a three-way tie for first.
Team Sick Midlaner: I’m not talking about his plays
Once sitting near the top of the standings, North American favorites TSM have bested Korea’s Samsung, but fell in their first match to an RNG that looked stellar. TSM’s Doublelift played an awful game as Jhin in their first match, getting caught by Mata’s Alistar countless times and ultimately costing his team the match, as he was either unwilling or unable to properly respect the range of Alistar and failed to flash out of the Thundercow’s engage range.
Thankfully for TSM, the rest of the team looked fine, for the most part, and Svenskeren’s Lee Sin has been phenomenal at providing and securing early game leads. The biggest issue for Solo Mid has apparently been their mid-laner, according to all reports, given that he too, has fallen ill. Team-mate Doublelift confirmed the statement, saying that Bjergsen has been without a voice for week one, which has shifted much of the shot-calling burden on the cocksure AD carry. Fans can only hope that the Mid-lane Dane returns to good health.
Samsung Galaxy: Not yet out of this World(s)
For fans of Korea, Samsung has proven to, at the very least, still be in contention. After losing a decisive game to TSM, they struck back against the Chinese contenders RNG, preventing them from topping the standings, and silencing critics of Crown and Ambition. Ruler also had a strong showing against RNG’s Uzi despite some early blunders, albeit Samsung saved their up and coming support CoreJJ for the match, swapping him in to replace veteran Wraith and to form the same roster that won them the Korean regional qualifiers. I wonder if the swap may have had some part in Ruler’s poor choice of positioning. Mostly though, the game was the Ambition show, proving that he is not a man to be taken lightly now that he has finally achieved a chance at the Summoner’s Cup, at least not when playing his favorite pocket-pick Skarner, anyway.
What’s in a name? Royal Never Gives Up.
As for Royal, all seemed well when Mata showed up for game one of the tournament, turning “big brother” Doublelift into “baby brother” with the amount of love and attention that his Alistar gave to the American’s immobile Jhin pick. With people calling the Korean sensation a god and daring to whisper that this pick may just wind up permanently banned against him, he turned his attention instead to Nami, in future match-ups, using the abusive pick to demolish Europe’s Splyce gaming, but ultimately failing in his third game against Samsung to pull out the same level of performance as he had against the danes.
Splyce: Sad But True
For Splyce’s sake, they have at least looked capable, but their inexperience and inability to compete at the level of their opponents has become apparent after the first week. All three games they have played have ended in a frankly embarrassing fashion, but then, Splyce was never expected to get out of groups from the get go, so perhaps the embarrassment isn’t nearly as much of a shameful burden as some might make it out to be. The danish team and coach YamatoCannon have tried valiantly, and should keep trying, as a win could very well be the thing that is talked about the most in this group, if the competition stays as fierce as it has been.
Svenskeren – 5/3/13 on Lee Sin in two games
Mata – Just Mata Things
Ambition – 8/4/31 Across three games this week
REDACTION: This article has been corrected to state that Meteos kicked Maple’s Varus into his team, not Karsa.