After a prolonged Play-In Stage, the 2017 League of Legends World Championship is finally starting in force with the Group Stage battles set to begin tomorrow, on Oct. 5.
With the Play-In over, we now have all 16 teams qualified to play in the event and fight for the vaunted title of League of Legends World Champions.
Starting with Group A, we have two favorites, LPL Champions EDward Gaming and three-time World Champions SK Telecom T1.
This is because LPL is widely considered to be the second-strongest region in League of Legends and EDward Gaming historically had a lot of success both in China and in international events. Reasons for why SK Telecom T1 is almost guaranteed to place high in this year’s Worlds honestly don’t have to even be discussed.
Despite all of that, Group A isn’t without its points of interest. Both Cloud9 and ahq e-Sports Club are teams which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Out of the two, C9 seems to be the strongest contender to upset and make it to the Playoffs.
Despite having to go through Regional Qualifiers to make it to the Play-In, Cloud9 and the whole North American region is closer to the level of LPL than ever. Cloud9’s assured journey through the Play-In shows that the team is in sufficient form to challenge the favorites.
Expecting them to go to the Playoffs as the 1st seed from Group A would be a pipe dream because that spot almost has SKT’s name engraved on it, but the NA titans could challenge EDG if they perform at or close to their skill ceiling. Especially if C9 finds a way to get advantages for their top lane, making use of the skill and experience disparity between Chen “Mouse” Yu-Hao and World Champion Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong.
Group B has an overwhelming favorite, a likely fourth-best team, and two question marks.
Longzhu Gaming is almost guaranteed first seed in Group B. Nothing less would count as a success after actually defeating SK Telecom T1 in 2017 LCK Summer Split Playoffs, after all. They have a godly top laner, a mid laner who’s finally living up to the hype that has surrounded him since his start in pro play, and one of the best bot lanes in the world.
GIGABYTE Marines are known for upsetting Team SoloMid, G2 Esports, and Team WE at the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational, but that doesn’t mean that they really have a chance in Group B, barring some unforeseen outcomes. It’s safe to say that they will be out of the World Championship after the Group Stage in fourth place.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t have the potential to hit some of their Western opponents with an off-the-wall cheese strat and come away with a game or two. Things like this are unlikely to work against the LCK Champions, though.
Now, we get to the difficult part of this group.
Immortals and Fnatic. These two teams are some of the best in their respective regions. Despite Fnatic having to slog through the Play-In, they should still have enough in the tank to have a shot at a Playoffs spot.
The problem is that their two rookies make the team unstable. As seen in the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split Semifinals, where Fnatic lost to Misfits, the 2017 Regional Qualifier, and the Play-In matches where Fnatic had trouble against Young Generation, you can never know which Fnatic you’re going to see.
At their best, the talented rookie mid laner and jungler can play very well, but then sometimes, their lack of experience screws over Fnatic big time. Against Longzhu, they have no chance. Against the Marines, they are favored to win. That only leaves the matches against Immortals to be worried about. If they can play their best game against the NA team, they have a chance to make it out of the group.
Where Fnatic has a chance, Immortals have the weight of expectations to deal with and make it out as the second seed from Group B. Why? Simply put, Immortals is a much more stable version of Fnatic. Against Longzhu, they have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, which is turned upside down against the Marines. Against Fnatic, however, they stand a very good chance if they can keep their head.
Where Fnatic has two talented rookies in the jungle and mid, Immortals are fielding experienced veterans, Jake “Xmithie” Puchero and Eugene “Pobelter” Park. They might not have as high of a skill ceiling as Fnatic’s Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and Rasmus “Caps” Winther but where the rookies dip and rise, the veterans can keep a more even level of performance.
The Immortals jungle/mid duo should be able to use the experience advantage they have to keep track of and counter their Fnatic counterparts. That would mean that the outcome of the game will rest on the performance of the top and bot lanes. In our opinion, Immortals hold a slight advantage there, leading us to think that they should be the ones winning their matches and making it to the Playoffs.
Group C is the Group of Death.
Anytime you have G2 Esports, Royal Never Give Up, and Samsung Galaxy in the same group, you know that it’s going to be exciting to say the least. Add to that one of the nicer surprises from the Play-In, 1907 Fenerbahçe, and you have what should be an explosive, fascinating, and simply amazing group battle for the two spots in the World Championship Playoffs.
Samsung Galaxy stands at the top of this group. They haven’t changed the roster from their unexpected second-place finish in 2016 Worlds, where they managed to bring SK Telecom T1 to five games before finally losing. They did struggle a bit in the 2017 LCK Summer Split, finishing third in the regular season and fourth in the Playoffs after getting 3-0ed by SKT. They more than made up for it in the LCK Regional Qualifiers, however, sweeping KT Rolster and earning themselves a ticket to the World Championship for the third time in a row.
G2 Esports is undoubtedly the strongest European League of Legends team. After all, you don’t win four splits in a row by being weak.
When you talk about G2 Esports, however, the topic of their international struggles always comes up. Thankfully, it seems like the EU giants are starting to get over this hump with their success at the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational. After a convincing 2017 EU LCS Playoffs, G2 Esports is in a better position than ever to make it big in this group of death.
Royal Never Give Up… is always looming in the background, ready to explode and fight for the highest honors in any international event. Having Shiyu “Mlxg” Liu and Zihao “Uzi” Jian means that they are up to at least giving Samsung Galaxy a run for their money.
With the rest of the field being what it is, it’s very unlikely that 1907 Fenerbahçe will manage to make it out of groups, however, they can possibly put a wrench in the plans of the other teams if all goes well.
Okay, what do we have here? Samsung Galaxy is likely to come out on top in Group C because of the individual strength of their players. While both RNG and G2 have ways to fight Samsung in certain positions, like, the jungle and bot for RNG and bot/mid for G2, the Koreans are the stronger team than both overall.
That leaves us with two options for the 2nd seed. Both RNG and G2 have a shot. Unfortunately for all the EU fans out there, we have to give the nod to RNG. While G2 Esports might actually have a way to win against the Chinese in the late game due to the prowess of their AD Carry, Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Luka “PerkZ” Perkovic, RNG is unlikely to let the game reach that point.
First, we have to state the obvious—This is Team SoloMid’s group to lose.
Flash Wolves, Team WE, and Misfits is the best it gets for a team of TSM’s caliber in the World Championship. That doesn’t mean that the American Champions’ opponents are strong. In fact, both Team WE and Flash Wolves are known to be some of the strongest teams in the world and Misfits surprised with their performance in their first year.
With that said, the other groups have much strongest opposition: SKT in Group A, Longzhu in Group B, and Samsung/RNG in Group C.
The Team SoloMid players seem optimistic about their chances of making it out of groups, the analysts agree that it will be a huge clusterfuck if TSM doesn’t at least make it out as the second seed.
The lesson from the 2016 Worlds where Team SoloMid came in hyped as hell and failed to make it out of groups seems to have been learned, they are less likely to believe their own hype. They will need to be ready to fight because their opposition, while not the strongest by any means, is definitely able to upset at least.
Flash Wolves is one of the consistently strongest teams to come out of Taiwan. Their star trio, Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan, Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang, and Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Jie, probably won’t be able to bring the team to the Playoffs, but they will have a fighting chance, especially if Team SoloMid somehow manages to crumble like they have in the 2016 Worlds.
Team WE, on the other hand, is one of the legendary Chinese League of Legends teams which looked very strong in the Play-In stage despite struggles in the 2017 LPL Summer, where they lost to Royal Never Give Up in the Semifinals and Invictus Gaming in the fight for third place. With the Play-In warmup, the Chinese should be able to start the Group Stage on the right foot. It’s very likely that they will make their way to the Playoffs, the only question remaining is this: Will they do it as the first or second seed? We will need to see some matches against actual good teams to see.
Misfits is more or less doomed. Yes, they are the kings of upsets these days, having overcome both Unicorns of Love and Fnatic in the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split Playoffs, but the competition they are going to face, especially TSM and Team WE, is much steeper than it was in the EU LCS. Hell, even Flash Wolves could be said to be stronger than their previous EU opponents, given the two rookies on the Fnatic roster.
If all goes to plan we’re likely to have SK Telecom T1, EDward Gaming, Longzhu Gaming, Immortals, Samsung Galaxy, Royal Never Give Up, Team SoloMid, and Team WE in the Playoffs. Unfortunately, League of Legends is rarely that predictable.
We will probably get some surprises over the next several days. Groups B, C, and D are especially susceptible to surprises due to the fact that there are three strong teams in each of them. Even the dark horses of each group can’t be ignored. After all, this is the World Championship. Truly bad teams were sifted away in the Play-In.
The action starts tomorrow with a Group C match between Royal Never Give Up and 1907 Fenerbahçe. Pick your winners on DrakeLounge.com.