With the news about Chen “Mouse” Yu-Hao not being able to keep playing at Worlds due to a family emergency, the Edward Gaming team, which was already an underdog against Korean ROX Tigers, was almost destined for failure. Yes, Mouse’s replacement, Tong “Koro1” Yang, played for EDG previously, however, there was a reason he was replaced. Without playing in any competitive matches for a while, Koro1 had a tall order ahead of him.
The first match of the Playoff series started with ROX banning Rek’sai, Poppy, and Syndra, while first picking Caitlyn for their AD Carry, Kim “PraY” Jong-in. EDG looked to be having everything in hand when they picked up Olaf for Ming “Clearlove” Kai and Ryze for their Mid, Lee “Scout” Ye-chan. ROX answered with Lee Sin and Zyra, not unexpected picks when you consider Worlds meta as a whole. Up next, EDG got themselves a bot lane by picking Karma and Ezreal. That’s where everything went wrong for the Chinese org. ROX picked Jayce Top and Aurelion Sol for their Mid, Lee “kurO” Seo-haeng. With Poppy banned, their substitute Top laner had no real counterpick. The team decided to just get Rumble and hope to survive to team fights.
Unfortunately, ROX wasn’t about to let that happen. To understand the way the matches played out, you must realize where the strongest players on both teams are. The cornerstones of ROX are the team’s Top, Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho and Jungler, Han “Peanut” Wang-ho, with their Bot Lane Duo, PraY and Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon coming in second. Their weakest lane is Mid. On EDG, the situation is different. In this team, Top is definitely the weakest part of the map. This issue was made even more painful when Mouse had to be replaced by Koro1. Instead, Edward Gaming’s power comes from it’s amazing Bot Lane, Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu and Tian “Meiko” Ye.
What was supposed to happen? Precisely what DID happen. While ROX tried to get Smeb fed by having Peanut’s Lee Sin gank for Jayce, EDG put their forces to help their superstar bot lane. Seems clear cut, right? No. You see, ROX Mid Laner had Aurelion Sol, a champion, whose bread and butter is pushing out Mid and roaming to side lanes, facing Ryze, a reasonably immobile Mid mage. When Lee helped out Smeb, EDG’s Olaf went Bot to help Ezreal. Ryze even managed to join him before his lane opponent could get there somehow. The problem was that Olaf screwed up the dive and died. By the time Aurelion Sol got there, the fight was almost over in ROX favor, all Kuro had to do was clean up. Even then, he actually misjudged his range and failed to take two easy kills, showing his lack of comfort with the champion. After all, it was nowhere near close to his most played champions.
Following the disaster in bot lane, ROX kept ganking Top, building a lead from it. Aurelion Sol kept making the side lanes his bitch. EDG couldn’t compete with that, ROX won the first match of the bo5 in a commanding manner.
The second match of the series started with a niggling suspicion that EDG didn’t learn their lesson from the first match. They banned Elise, Jayce, and Olaf to ROX’s Syndra, Nidalee, and Rek’sai and first picked Kennen for Koro1. Then, ROX answered with Lee Sin and Zyra, which worked out great for them in the first match. Then, EDG took away Aurelion Sol, right? Um… No. The Chinese picked Ryze once again. Oh, and Jhin, inviting PraY to get Caitlyn once again. Of course, ROX didn’t hesitate, snapping up Aurelion Sol and then did something weird, getting Maokai for Smeb, while EDG rounded out their comp with a Hecarim.
So… EDG got outpicked once again. After it got a single Magic Resist item, Maokai was supposed to be able to lane on equal footing against Kennen, Aurelion Sol was still likely to be a terror all over the map, Lee sin had an immobile AD Carry to play with, coupled with the ample Crowd Control from Zyra. Any bets on how this match went? No? Sad.
Yes, you got it right. Aurelion Sol and Lee Sin got a super great deal on tents, set up two of them in the side lanes and kept pounding them into the ground, building a huge lead which allowed them to close out the game. All that pwn practice was also helping Kuro to play better, his Aurelion Sol was even better this time.
When teams get two blowouts in a row against the same opponent, they often get cocky. ROX Tigers are not immune to this. That is actually precisely what happened in game 3. ROX banned Syndra, Poppy, and Rek’sai to EDG’s Elise, Nidalee, and Jayce. Then, they first picked Zyra. EDG responded with Olaf and Caitlyn. Then, ROX got themselves a Jhin and Lee Sin. EDG picked Rumble and Karma. THAT is when ROX derped really hard. They picked Ryze. I repeat, Ryze. Instead of Aurelion Sol. Which basically won them the last two games despite the player using it not even being that amazing on it. And they picked Ryze. The champion they themselves have been owning with Sol for the last two games. Oh, and Smeb got Fiora. After the game, PraY said to Eefje “sjokz” Depoortere that Smeb was very confident and wanted to play Fiora. After the game, he was very sorry. Okay, ROX are adorable, but still, it was stupid.
How did the game go? Well, in the beginning, for the first 10 minutes or so, ROX maintained a small lead despite Scout being the one who roamed and killed people with the ball star dragon thing. That’s when it all went wrong for ROX. A Bot Lane party broke out and ROX lost it. EDG took full advantage, using Aurelion Sol to take command of the map, starting with Smeb’s top lane. Derpalooza, clown fiesta galore, ladies and gentlemen. ROX deserved to lose that game, to be honest.
Having been recently humbled, ROX were likely to take the match seriously once again. As it turns out, they did. Their red side bans didn’t change from Game 2. ROX took away Syndra, Nidalee, and Rek’sai. The differences started with EDG. Together with Elise and Zyra, they FINALLY banned Aurelion Sol. Then, the chinese picked Caitlyn for Deft, answered by Olaf and Karma from ROX. EDG then picked themselves Nami and Lee Sin, answered by ROX’s Ryze and Jhin. At least this time, Ryze wasn’t a derp, Aurelion Sol was banned, after all. With Mid and Top yet to be picked, EDG had a doozy on their hands, however. They probably didn’t want to leave Jayce for Smeb, yet Koro1 wasn’t comfortable on it. Scout was decent at playing that champion, so EDG decided to pick Jayce for their MID and Rumble for Top. Rounding out their comp, ROX picked up Kennen for Smeb.
The game was a chill affair for the first 10 minutes (almost). Then, a Bot Lane Party broke out. Unfortunately for EDG, ROX Tigers managed to win it, having 1 death (PraY) to 4 of EDG’s (everyone except for Scout, who was chilling in the Mid lane). The rest of the early/mid game was Peanut going wherever he pleased and people dropping like flies when he got there. The rest of the ROX team only had to keep up. Let’s hope that Clearlove took notes, because that’s how you play Olaf. Basically, Peanut hard carried the early game, the rest of ROX piggy-backed off of it and snowballed their lead into a 32 minute blowout.
EDG lost the series hard, it could have easily been 3-0 if ROX hadn’t gotten cheeky, however, doesn’t change the outcome. Still, it has to be noted that EDG wasn’t at it’s best. They did have their Top Laner, the guy they practiced with for a whole split, replaced by someone who hasn’t played competitive League for months. Let’s be brutally honest, EDG didn’t really have a chance. Not against a team like ROX Tigers.