The Group Stage of the League of Legends World Championship is starting to pick up speed and the standings are gaining shape. Today’s matches, while surprising in some cases, also set an expectation of which teams are truly strong and which might have won or lost because of a fluke during the past couple of days.
The first match of the day was between the two presumed leaders of Group D, Team SoloMid and Team WE. This was the true test of Team SoloMid’s skill in this World Championship following a hard-fought win against Flash Wolves in Day 2. If they were able to win against Team WE, the hype surrounding them would have been proved to be earned, for once.
The beginning of the game was quite calm, with both teams farming up. Team WE were the first to pull the trigger, but even though they got several kills, TSM managed to keep up with them pretty well. The game turned close to the Baron pit, when Vincent “Biofrost” Wang found a pick with Rakan, starting a fight which went disastrously for the Chinese.
After winning this fight, Team SoloMid got themselves a Baron buff and started pressuring the WE side, closing out the game soon after and going 2-0 so far.
Following their soul-crushing defeat against TSM, Flash Wolves had something to prove. On the other side, Misfits getting buggered by Team WE was expected, so they were probably in a better psychological situation.
The surprising thing in this game was that Misfits actually played more aggressively, getting themselves a small lead at the time when the mid game came. It’s a fact that Misfits win more games when they have some kind of a lead at that point and find it almost impossible to win without it at that time.
This particular property of the EU team proved to be correct once again, because Misfits managed to close out the game, putting Flash Wolves in an unenviable situation.
Even though G2 lost to Samsung Galaxy and Fenerbahçe fell to Royal Never Give Up, neither of the two teams were particularly disappointed with that result. Facing off against each other, they were in a Do or Die situation if they expected to make it to the Top 8 of the 2017 World Championship.
Unfortunately for the Turkish side, they were not the favorites to win this match. After all, a Play-In team should never be expected to defeat the EU LCS Champions who have had a strangle hold on the title for a couple of years now.
In this match, G2 Esports showed why they are considered to be vastly better than Fenerbahçe. The game took 32 minutes and G2 Esports didn’t give up a single kill. Starting at 6 minutes, their gold advantage had a steady rise, reaching 15.6k by the time G2 Esports won. To put it simply, G2 simply proved that they were undoubtedly better in this match.
This match was the one to determine the pecking order in Group C. Both teams came into the match with a 1-0 score. Despite the fact that RNG is one of the best League of Legends teams in China and has the home crowd advantage to push them forward, Samsung Galaxy was our favorite to win this game.
That is not what happened. They picked a scaling comp with a Ryze and Twitch, while RNG got themselves Syndra and Tristana. The beginning of the game was quite calm, until RNG started making moves, diving Samsung’s Lee “CuVee” Seongjin as a four man unit. While the top laner did die eventually, he managed to survive for quite a while, putting several RNG players at risk of dying.
In this game, RNG were irreverent towards their opponents, decisively engaging whenever an opportunity came up and pushing their early game advantage as much as possible. It didn’t help SSG any that their players had a worrying tendency of disrespecting the fact that the Chinese could be close, overextending a bit.
That’s how the match ended—RNG caught a couple of people, followed it up with two more and closed out the game.
Even though SK Telecom T1 has been having problems in the 2017 World Championship due to their tendency to fall behind early, their ability to stall out the game and mount a comeback meant that they came into the match against ahq with a 2-0 record and better chances to actually win and finish the first round robin with a 3-0 score.
In the game, SKT started falling behind early, allowing ahq to tease the fans and feel as if they actually had a chance. Then, the World Champions decided that enough was enough and did what they do best. They stalled out the game and started coming back. Unfortunately, ahq fell for it and started losing out on the momentum.
While a good team could have stopped SKT from taking over the game from an early game deficit, ahq was not good enough to do it. Eventually, SK Telecom’s superior macro and teamfighting allowed them to win the game.
The final match of the day was between the main candidates for the 2nd seed in Group A, EDward Gaming and Cloud9. Coming into the match, Cloud9 was 1-1, while EDG had to suffer through a couple of disappointing losses after blowing huge leads, especially in the match against SK Telecom T1.
Different from the other two games they played, EDG failed to get themselves ahead in the early and mid game. In fact, Cloud9 were performing very well throughout the game, especially when it came to their main game plan of getting Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen fed enough to hard carry the game.
In this match, we finally got to see how EDG looks when seriously behind and it wasn’t good. It seems like EDG is in big trouble despite enjoying the home crowd advantage. Unless they can improve considerably before the second half of the round robin, it’s quite likely that C9 or even ahq e-Sports Club will make it into the Playoffs. That would have been hardly conceivable before the teams actually started playing in the Group Stage.
League of Legends World Championship Group Stage returns tomorrow, head over to DrakeLounge.com to see the matches that are going to be played and pick the teams you think will win.