LoL 2017 World Championships: Group stage, Week 2

Jess Carruthers Roar Guru

By , Jess Carruthers is a Roar Guru

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    The first week of the League of Legends 2017 World Championships has seen upsets, speed runs and slogs… and we still have another week of best-of-ones to go!

    While there have been a couple of surprising outcomes, this tournament has mostly had fairly expected results. In past years though, we’ve seen some pretty drastic changes from week one to two, so we can’t get ahead of ourselves!

    This week, I’m going to focus down just on the state of these groups. Three of them, while not at all cut-and-dry, can be reasonably expected to roll out certain ways; historically, no 0-3 team from week one has ever gotten out of groups, and the 3-0 teams should be pretty set to go. But Group D has a three-way tie for first, which could play out in a lot of different ways.

    Each group’s second round will take place entirely on a single day, including any tiebreakers. Let’s check them out chronologically.

    Group B
    Playing Thursday from 3pm AEDT.

    Current standings:
    Longzhu Gaming (LZ): 3 wins, 0 losses
    Immortals (IMT): 2-1
    GIGABYTE Marines (GAM): 1-2
    Fnatic (FNC): 0-3

    What a juicy group! Although these teams are – so far – in the more or less expected order, there were some ridiculous games last weekend.

    LZ are quite rightfully sitting on top. Although they had a couple of shaky moments, they definitely looked like the #1 LCK team. With their performance last week, there really isn’t any question that they should come out of this group in a strong spot. Of all three teams that are currently 3-0, LZ look like the team with the best shot at going undefeated in groups.

    Although IMT have a pretty nice record, it’s not quite as simple as it seems. FNC came very close to winning their matchup last Friday, though IMT managed to pry the game back for a win. Their first game on Thursday is against GAM; if GAM bring fresh strats and beat IMT, it could set them back for the rest of the day, but if IMT can win that first game, they should be able to move out of the group stage in second place.

    GAM came tearing out of the gates with their ridiculous, amazing Nocturne game against FNC, but were unable to secure a win against either of their other opponents in the rest of the stage. They seemed to not commit to either meta or pocket picks, instead sitting somewhere in the middle with worst of both worlds. If they can commit to one playstyle or the other they could pick up a win or two (if they get two, they’ll probably be tied for second place with IMT), but if not, I can’t see them having a good second week.

    FNC’s performance has been disappointing both for fans and for the team – Rekkles’ face after each of their losses was heartbreaking. They’re very unlikely to make it out of groups at this stage, but I completely expect them to step up this week. If they take a win against either GAM or IMT, they will make it drastically harder for their opponent to proceed, and I do think they can win at least one of those games; the questions are how many, and which?

    Over the day, I expect to see IMT beat GAM in game one, and LZ beat FNC in game two. FNC though will be looking better, and will proceed to beat IMT in the first real upset of the day. LZ will beat GAM as expected, leaving FNC and GAM eliminated and tied at 4-1. In their final game of the day, FNC will beat GAM to at least take the third seed in the group, and LZ will beat IMT in the final game. That’s no ties in the group, and somewhat of a rebound for FNC.

    Group C
    Playing Friday from 3pm AEDT

    Current standings:
    Royal Never Give Up (RNG): 3-0
    Samsung Galaxy (SSG): 2-1
    G2 Esports (G2): 1-2
    1907 Fenerbahçhe Esport (FB): 0-3

    Another group with very few surprises in the outcomes, although some of the individual plays in here were much more unexpected.

    RNG’s dominance over SSG is the big surprise here. RNG didn’t drop a single kill in their 27 minute game, and lost only two towers. That’s not all; in week one, Ming didn’t die once, and came away with a 33.0 KDA. His teammate Xiaohu only died once in three games, for a KDA of 30.0. These are some incredible stats; RNG are arguably the team with the most potential to reach the finals outside the Korean teams.

    That said, I have to qualify my implicit praise of the Korean teams by pointing out that although SSG are 2-1 in their group, they do not look that good. As I mentioned, in their game against RNG they didn’t manage to take a single kill, and their game against FB was far too close for comfort, with FB taking an impressive gold lead around the 30 minute mark. SSG should still make it out of groups, but they’ll want to step up their game going into the next round.

    G2, however, lost to SSG in a relatively swift game back on day one. They did get the one win, a near-perfect game against FB, but rolling through inexperienced play-in teams is not enough to get out of groups. This is Europe’s #1 seed; if they want to behave like one, they absolutely have to step up and win two games this week and force a tiebreaker with SSG.

    Although FB are arguably the weakest-looking team in the group stage, they have performed very well given the circumstances. I’ve spoken harshly of G2 and SSG, but the reality is that these are still two very good teams, and with RNG in the mix it is going to be exceptionally difficult for FB to take any victories during week two.

    Barring one team throwing hard, this group is unlikely to change much; although I would like to see SSG step up, RNG are just looking too good. Each team ought to beat out the higher ranked team; RNG to beat G2, SSG to beat FB, SSG to beat G2, RNG to beat FB, G2 to beat FB, then close out the day with RNG beating SSG. Should that the be outcome, once again there will not be any tiebreakers

    Group D
    Playing Saturday from 3pm AEDT

    Current standings:
    1. Misfits Gaming (MSF): 2-1
    1. Team WE (WE): 2-1
    1. Team SoloMid (TSM): 2-1
    4. Flash Wolves (FW): 0-3

    This is the group that could still have anything happen. Even the lowest rank team is only two wins away from top at the moment, and although the week one performance doesn’t bode incredibly well, they are still in with a chance.

    MSF started out with a very weak first game against team WE, then proceeded to pick up two wins. Both those wins took a while – over 45 minutes apiece – so they were not the most convincing games, but they were still wins in the end. MSF are definitely exceeding my expectations, and by the sounds of it the expectations of a lot of analysts. The big question now is how adaptable they will be with a week off; all their opponents have been here before, but this is a new experience for the team.

    WE’s shaky performance from Play-Ins has continued into the group stage, with an unexpected loss to TSM. They didn’t play outright badly; in fact I still think this is the best team in Group D. It’s just that WE do not seem to be the powerhouse that many analysts would have had us believe. I do expect them to come out on top of the group when all’s said and done, but at the same time they do have a very real chance of falling down the table, especially given their inability to build a convincing lead out of week one.

    TSM are a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma. They looked pretty darn good in their win over WE, but they just couldn’t close out their game against MSF. This is a team that has not always done very well at pivoting from week to week at tournaments like this, either; if they correct their mistakes then they should be just fine, but the big question is whether they can actually do it.

    The rumours around FW started to turn in the lead up to week one; they were smashing the scrims, they were stronger than they looked, and once again, we were all underestimating the LMS. Following their games, those expectations have been shattered. Although they have a better shot statistically than the other 0-3 teams, there is still an awful lot of catching up that they would need to do to make it out of the group stage, and I just don’t see it happening.

    FW may pick up one game; if they do, it’ll be the first of the day, against MSF. TSM should take the second game against WE, but WE will beat FW. MSF should be able to re-beat TSM, but between TSM winning against FW and WE winning against MSF, the two final losers will be eliminated. WE and TSM would need a tiebreaker, and although TSM at this point would have won both prior matches, my gut tells me WE will take a tiebreaker to move out of the group as #1 seed.

    Group A
    Playing Sunday from 3pm AEDT

    Current standings:
    SK Telecom T1 (SKT): 3-0
    Cloud9 (C9): 2-1
    ahq e-Sports Club (AHQ): 1-2
    Edward Gaming (EDG): 0-3

    This group has been very interesting. Although we all expected SKT to dominate, virtually no one expected EDG to go 0-3 in their group, and yet somehow here we are.

    SKT’s position in this group is very similar to LZs in group B. They have dominated their games so far, although with just a few more weaknesses peeking through.Still, their scoreline is looking excellent so far, and barring an incredible comeback from EDG I see no reason to expect it to change; this team knows how to handle themselves at this tournament.

    Maybe I’m showing my bias here, but C9 have performed really quite well in the first week of games. Their loss to SKT was frustrating, but not at all unexpected, and they’ve been a lot more flexible in their strategies than we’ve seen in previous years. Their opponents in this group do still have the potential to take them down, there is no doubt, but provided they don’t get complacent or cocky, C9 are looking very good to get out of this group.

    AHQ are the surprise LMS team; although they have only won the one game this week, this is a team who are, at the very least, exceeding expectations. Still, their win over EDG came down more to EDG’s failures rather than AHQ’s strengths; it was well over fifty minutes, the gold fluctuated horribly back and forth, and EDG still had a gold lead as AHQ cracked the nexus. AHQ are not likely to make a sudden run and succeed.

    And finally, EDG. Without a win on the table, they are very likely to be out of the tournament after this weekend. But of all the teams that could mount a comeback, this is the one that has the best shot at success.

    The thing is, I just haven’t seen any evidence that they actually will do; EDG are plenty strong when they perform, but in week one they showed no signs of it. I do at least think they have a reasonable shot at taking a game on Sunday, but I’ve not seen anything to make me think that they will do any better than that.

    Once again, I don’t see this group shifting positions in any meaningful way. SKT will beat AHQ in the first game, and I suspect C9 will do the same to EDG. EDG have a shot against AHQ, but I don’t think they will take it successfully.

    SKT will walk straight over C9, but C9 should be able to regroup in order to win over AHQ. The last game between SKT and EDG should absolutely go to EDG, but it won’t be a game for placements as much as pride, so as unlikely as it is, I’m going to cross my fingers for a cheesefest.

    I’m really looking forward to having a whole group on a single day. Do you think we’ll see any upsets? Or is everything going to go just as planned?