After a massive fight between the West and South Korea in Day One of the League of Legends World Championship, where G2 Esports lost to Samsung Galaxy, Immortals to Longzhu Gaming, and Cloud9 to SK Telecom T1, Day Two promised to be just as exciting with some great matches. Was the potential of the matchups realised? Read on to find out.
The match between Team SoloMid and Flash Wolves was extremely important. Depending on how Team WE does in the Group Stage, the team who came out ahead in this double round robin match was almost guaranteed a spot in the Playoffs.
If Team WE manages to take the first place in the group, Flash Wolves and TSM will fight for the second seed, so their record against each other will be the deciding factor in the standings, unless Misfits actually succeed in upsetting someone in this group.
The first game between Team SoloMid and Flash Wolves as a typical TSM game, where they played to not lose instead of playing to win. They didn’t really make any aggressive moves in the early game, soaking up Flash Wolves’ aggression and hoping for their scaling comp based on Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng’s Tristana to pull them through against an extremely CC-heavy comp by the Flash Wolves.
For most of the game, Flash Wolves had a gold advantage of around 3k. Everything changed when TSM was pushing top. After a stunning 5-man Gnar Ult by Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell, TSM managed to take a very important teamfight and catch up to their opponents, but it wasn’t enough for them to take the game. All they managed to achieve is taking their opponents’ Nexus tower and catching up in gold.
After that, Flash Wolves managed to take the initiative for a while, getting Baron Nashor and going on a rampage on the TSM side of the map. At one point, all three TSM inhibitors were down. The almost unkillable Cho’Gath and always-up Taric Ultimate, as well as Sejuani from Flash Wolves really put a spanner in TSM’s engage efforts.
After Doublelift sold his Berserker’s Greaves for Blade of the Ruined King, however, Cho’Gath suddenly became less scary. In the end, TSM managed to find an engage and kill a couple of Flash Wolves players, running down mid after to end the game. Flash Wolves’ Corki went to try and take the TSM base with multiple waves of super minions coming in to help him, while Taric and Sejuani tried to defend, but the combine might of the TSM champions proved to be too much.
The second game of the day was expected to be much more one-sided. Despite the fact that Misfits more than earned themselves the title of Upset Kings in the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split Playoffs, it was difficult to imagine them matching up well against Team WE.
The game started off slow with both teams playing each other evenly, content to farm and make half-hearted attempts at aggression. Eventually, at around 15:30 mark, Team WE’s Jungle Jarvan IV did get first blood against the Misfits Support after he flashe the E + Q combo and had no way to get out of the Cataclysm. Around three minutes later, Team WE continued playing “Abuse the Lulu” when they killed poor Lee “IgNar” Donggeun and continued the play by taking tower First Blood in the bot lane and continuing the push to the inner tower as well.
After that, Misfits were honestly dead on arrival. The game ended at 26 minutes with a perfect score on the Team WE side. This showed a great contrast by TSM and Misfits. While Misfits held off their opponents despite a slight gold deficit, Misfits were incapable of doing anything. WE’s LeBlanc mid and Xayah ADC just took over the game. It’s not looking good for Misfits, unless they can suddenly learn to win from behind because they don’t have superior laners to their future opponents, Flash Wolves and Team SoloMid. If this is how they react to getting behind, there’s not much chance of an upset, to be honest.
The third matchup of the Group Stage Day 2, where Immortals faced off against Fnatic was likely to be the deciding one for the outcome of the whole group. There is no doubt that Longzhu Gaming is overwhelmingly favored to come out on top in this group, leaving Fnatic and Immortals as the most likely teams to fight for second place. With that said, GIGABYTE Marines showed in Day 2 that they were not to be forgotten about either.
Where the current iteration of the Fnatic roster had promising rookies, the jungle and mid lane, Immortals fielded hardened veterans. The all-important jungle position seemed to be much stronger on the NA team before the match, going by experience if not raw mechanics. The biggest advantage Fnatic held over their opponents was their AD Carry, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson.
In a metagame where 12 Ardent Censers are bought in six matches, the whole game revolves around the bot lane. While Fnatic has a stronger bot side in a vacuum, Jake “Xmithie” Puchero’s experience was likely to make the deciding difference in the match.
In Champ Select, Immortals went ham, picking Jayce against Fnatic’s Cho’Gath, as well as Kog’Maw and Janna. Fnatic got themselves a Twitch and Lulu in the bot lane and Lee Sin.
Playing the Blind Monk, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen had the pressure on him to make something happen. He did just that, getting his ADC a First Blood with Kog’Maw as the victim. Immortals reacted by diving top as a threesome, evening it out at the cost of using Flash, but Lee Sin came back to bot lane, killing Kog once more.
The early game strategy settled upon by both teams was clear—IMT wanted to get Flame ahead and put down the Cho’Gath, while Fnatic preferred to turn their Rekkles-controlled Twitch into a monster and delay the awe-inspiring late game from Kog’Maw. The interesting thing is that both teams succeeded in pulling off their plan. While Fnatic bullied the IMT bot lane, Immortals answered perfectly on the top side, giving kills to Eugene “Pobelter” Park on Taliyah and relying on Lee “Flame” Hojong’s CS advantage and assissts to have him remain stronger than his lane opponent.
The Problem was that IMT’s strategy was much harder to play effectively because of having to have immaculate split pushing, while Fnatic were perfectly content grouping around their fed Twitch, boosted by an Ardent Censer Lulu, which is a much easier playstyle to pull off. To be fair, though, Fnatic also had a late game challenge in Lee Sin, which loses more and more of its usefulness as the game progress, especially when compared to IMT’s Gragas, which was bound to become tankier and not lose its usefullness.
The two teams see-sawed over and over again, Fnatic took the lead only for Immortals to come back, get themselves an advantage and watch Fnatic take it back once again. It all came down to Rekkles. As the strongest player on Fnatic, he had to survive for his team to have a chance. Unfortunately, in a deciding moment, Rekkles got overconfident and used Flash aggressively. Unfortunately, he failed and the team paid for it. With two open inhibitors, IMT had plenty of options to finish the game.
This match was honestly a battle between two equal teams. Picking the ones we liked more would be practically impossible. It’s just sad that Fnatic lost despite making one of the most awesome plays in the tournament so far, where their Ryze took his whole team to the Baron Nashor pit with his Ultimate and sneaked it from under Immortals’ nose.
This match was never supposed to be anything resembling competitive. If Team WE vastly outskilled Misfits, the skill gap between Longzhu Gaming and GIGABYTE Marines was even bigger. The Marines realized that as well, so they decided to troll. They picked Mordekaiser top, Cho’Gath Jungle, Lucian mid, and a Tristana Karma bot lane, sending the players to lanes they were not supposed to go to in the early game. Needless to say, Longzhu Gaming demolished their opponents very quickly. That is all that needs to be said about this match. If you are curious, check out the VOD at lolesports.com.
Ignoring the unexpected success ahq e-Sports found against EDward Gaming, ahq and Cloud9 were supposed to fight for the third place in Group A. Barring any unforeseen stuff in the vein of ahq vs. EDG, Cloud9 was the team favored to win this match. Their most efficient strategy involves getting their star mid laner, Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, fed as much as possible and relying on him to carry while the rest of the team tries to keep up with the opponent laners. ahq e-Sports likes to do the same as well, but the difference is that Jensen is a stronger player than the ahq mid laner, Liu “Westdoor” Shu-Wei.
This match some unusual picks from Cloud9 in Jung “Impact” Eonyeong and Juan “Contractz” Garcia. The top laner picked Nautilus which has fallen out of favor in recent months and Ezreal, which, while extremely popular in successful in solo queue, wasn’t very popular nor dominating in the World Championship so far.
In the game, Cloud9 did outplay their opponents in the early game, managing to get Jensen’s Ryze and Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi’s Xayah fed. With the early game lost, ahq proceeded to give away free gold to their NA opponents and eventually lost the whole game. It seems like one of two things is true—either EDG is worse than expected or ahq’s win against the Chinese super team was a fluke.
Finally, the time came for the reigning World Champions to enter the Summoner’s Rift once againg after their convincing Day 1 victory against Cloud9. EDG, on the other hand, had a lot to prove after their own unexpected defeat against ahq e-Sports Club. With their seemingly struggling play, however, they had a hard battle ahead of them with the strength of the SKT roster in mind.
In the Champ Select, EDG took a risk in picking a snowball comp with Rek’Sai as their tankiest champion, Rumble top, Lucian mid, and Xayah Janna bot lane. The problem was that EDG proved in the match against ahq that they weren’t very good at actually finishing the game quickly. Against individually superior SKT, it ws a dangerous strategy to use, especially when the World Champions were ready for a long game with Twitch, Orianna/Jarvan IV combo and Cho’Gath.
The first piece of action predictably happened in the mid lane, where EDG’s mid laner and jungle decided to play the “Kill Faker” minigame. EDG’s Lee “Scout” Yechan barely got away with his life in tact. A bit later, SKT came to the bot lane to try and get Twitch fed a la FNC, but Xayah managed to get away with a sliver of health courtesy to Heal and Barrier Summoner Spells. EDG answered by trying for the second round of killing Lee “Faker” Sanghyeok softly, but the Unkillable Demon King managed to get away.
The next time a fight broke out in the mid lane, all five EDG members were there. They not only killed but took two towers as well. It seemed like EDG were actually pulling off their early snowball strategy and it was up to the Koreans to stop it. SKT were up against a challenge because the Chinese had a 5k gold lead at 16 minutes after taking down a Mountrain Drake as well.
After that, EDG started pushing their advantage, taking down top tower and Rift Herald, while SKT were left watching helplessly.
EDG had the run of the game for a very long time, but then SKT caught them in the mid lane and pulled off what their comp was made to do, killing four of the EDG players in seconds, getting a turret and taking down the Baron. Suddenly, EDG’s gold lead shrunk from 10k to 4k. The Chinese weren’t about to sit still. Thei ganged up on Seung “Huni” Hoon Heo, stopping SKT’s split push attempt. A bit later, EDG’s Rek’Sai caught Faker and fascilitated a teamfight, but the team didn’t get any objectives because SKT respawned. If that happened later, it might have actually been game because of longer respawn timers.
In the next teamfight, EDG made a pick on Rakan, but ultimately lost the fight with only their AD Carry managing to get away with his life, costing them Baron Nashor and Elder Dragon, which finally evened out the gold at approximately 71k by 39 minutes. With power to spare, SK Telecom T1 felt comfortable enough start going for EDG’s inhibs, but the Chinese managed to hold them off pretty well despite the Baron buff for a while, while a huge SKT minion wave was making its way down the bot lane, forcing EDG to go defend and helping SKT to finally take down an inhib.
At this point of the game, with SKT actually in the lead, EDward Gaming’s chances seemed small. Their comp was really lacking in initiation against a team comp made for this part of the game, played by the best team fighting team in the world.To the surprise of exactly nobody, SK Telecom T1 went for the base and found the W, coming back from an extremely shitty situation.
This time, they actually did their thing pretty well. Just like in the match between Team WE and Misfits, it was up to SKT to stop their opponents. The difference in this match was that SKT is no Misfits, they found an out and took it.