Edward Gaming: Pressure on China’s hometown heroes

Edward Gaming (EDG) struggles to find success at the 2017 League of Legends World Championship, rounding week one of the group stage with an 0-3 match record. Despite coming in as heavy favorites to advance to quarterfinals alongside defending champions SK telecom T1, China’s first seed cannot seem to find their footing. Let’s dive into EDG’s games and look at what they must do to claw out of Group A.

Game 1: Edward Gaming (EDG) vs ahq e-Sports Club (AHQ)

edward gaming

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Edward Gaming controlled the tempo for the majority of a 54-minute brawl, ultimately crumbling to AHQ’s superior teamfighting. To start the game, EDG locked star mid-laner Lee “Scout” Ye-chan on a comfort pick in Lucian. EDG looked to dominate mid-lane and that advantage across the map. Scout executed, earning a staggering +30 CS differential at 15 minutes.

Despite this aggressive lead in the mid-lane, AHQ found multiple advantageous teamfight opportunities in the mid-game. An extended five on five fight at 20-minutes resulted in a quadra-kill for AHQ’s AD-carry Chun-An “AN” Chou. Taking these small victories, AHQ dragged the game into a plus fifty minute slug fest, ultimately overpowering the Chinese representatives.

What internal factors led to EDG’s loss in their first match of Worlds 2017? Crucially, EDG failed to capitalize on their Shen counter-pick for top-laner Yuhao “Mouse” Chen. As a team, EDG should have prioritized mid-game skirmishes and early Drake control using their Teleport advantage with Shen’s “Stand United” to out-rotate AHQ. Naturally, Cho’Gath stood to outscale Mouse‘s Shen in both teamfight effectiveness, objective control and raw tank stats. EDG had to recognize this weakness in their composition and close out the game early. However, because of Mouse‘s weak lane performance against the enemy Cho’Gath and EDG’s lack of proactive rotations, AHQ secured early objectives that paid dividends in the late-game.

Game 2: Edward Gaming (EDG) vs SK telecom t1 (SKT)

edward gaming

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

EDG had no time to lick their wounds before facing off against long-time rivals, the defending world champions, SK Telecom T1. With the force of an entire arena in Wuhan cheering on their hometown favorites, Edward Gaming stormed into game two with blood in their eyes. Led by Wuhan native, Kai “Clearlove7” Ming, EDG coordinated plays to shut down living legend, Sanghyeok “Faker” Lee. Unlike the day before, EDG did not relent. The Chinese squad continued to wreak havoc on multiple SKT members, ballooning their lead to over 9.1k gold at 25-minutes.

Then, at 29-minutes, SKT finds a single teamfight that swings the entire momentum of the game. In rapid succession, SKT’s support, Jaewan “Wolf” Lee and jungler Wangho “Peanut” Han layer double knock-ups onto EDG’s carries. Faker lands a picture-perfect “Command Shockwave” on four members of Edward Gaming, decimating the opposition and turning the game on its head. EDG are never able to regain control of the game.

One fight. One crystal initiation by SKT’s play-makers leveled Edward Gaming’s seemingly insurmountable lead. It is difficult to find many faults with EDG’s play in this particular game. After successfully neutralizing Faker‘s Orianna, EDG exposed several mid-game vulnerabilities in SKT’s playstyle. However, a single positioning mistake at the height of their gold lead cost EDG their second game. Still, we can find many positives for Edward Gaming. They successfully shut down Faker, whose ability to absorb and outplay enemy pressure is perhaps the best in the world. EDG then took that mid-lane pressure and earned leads across the board, securing three Mountain Drakes, Rift Herald and a Baron.

Game 3: Edward Gaming (EDG) vs Cloud 9 (C9)

edward gaming

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Coming into Game 3, Edward Gaming looked like they had a chip on their shoulder. C9’s rookie jungler, Juan “Contractz” Garcia invaded Clearlove7‘s side of the jungle, stifling EDG’s ability to gain vision control and snowball lanes. Meanwhile, EDG’s top laner Mouse found himself suffocating under early pressure from C9’s top-laner Eonyoung “Impact” Jeong.

Feeling the need to pull his team from the trenches, Scout tried to pressure Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen’s Syndra pick. However, without his team to back him up, Scout found himself on the receiving end of multiple three-man ganks. Edward Gaming cracked under the pressure to perform on their home turf as the North American representatives led them into their third consecutive loss at Worlds 2017.

Taking a look at this game, it is clear EDG is off-center. In an attempt to slow down Contractz‘s aggressive playstyle, EDG banned Ezreal. However, after Contractz locked in Graves, EDG failed to adapt their strategy. The result: Cloud 9 methodically dismantled Edward Gaming, executing clean initiations and trades to put the game away.

Looking at Week Two

edward gaming

Credit: LoL Esports Photos

Despite the odds, an 0-3 match record does not mean Edward Gaming is out of the running. In games one and two, EDG earned sizable leads and control through mid and jungle control. Their crutch was a failure to close out these games. In the days leading up to week two, EDG must work on fixing issues with their macro-play and teamfighting.

The road to quarterfinals will be exceedingly difficult, but EDG is no stranger to being behind. This roster secured China’s first seed by reverse-sweeping regional rivals Royal Never Give Up (RNG) 3-2 at the LPL Summer Finals. Most of EDG’s members are repeat Worlds competitors, veterans even. In times like these, leadership and composure on the world stage will define EDG’s legacy. Team captain, Clearlove7 will look to lead his team surging into week two.

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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Worlds Group A

Worlds 2017 group A : The Clash of Titans

Introduction

Every year, as the post-seasons of the multiple leagues around the world come to a close, many fans set their eyes on Worlds and the meeting of the best of the best in the international throw down. While maybe not the exciting affair for some, the group stage draw signals the coming of Worlds in the hearts of fans and is the nostalgic feeling of ‘Worlds is around the corner’ again. The group draw is this series of events that will drastically shape which teams are slated to go forward, who has the easy group, who gets the dark horse team and who gets placed into the dreaded Group of Death™. With that each group has its own story lines that emerge, and for group A, the title I’d give it has to be the Clash of Titans.

Group A drew not only EDward Gaming (EDG), finalists for the LPL, but also Worlds’ favorite and defending champions in SKT T1. As if a more storied and titanic clash could exist, the group, for me at least, avoids the term Group of Death™ because, well, AHQ is there. With the fourth team still to be determined, we can’t comment too much there, but this group is definitely a dance of two. Will it be the resurgent LPL region’s EDG that walks away in first, or the fan favorite in SKT that manages again, even with questions hanging over their head, to prove themselves as the best in the world? Or can AHQ, against all odds, pull off a miracle and make it out of the group? Maybe the fourth team will add some unexpected spice that upsets the perfect balance of the two titans facing off for the first and second seed.

EDG 

With some of the most stylish jerseys out of the LPL, EDward Gaming hope to cement themselves as a force to be reckoned with internationally. Courtesy of EDward Gaming Facebook.

EDG come into Group A as the finalists from the scrappy LPL region, a region known for aggression that can start as early as level one. After reverse sweeping Royal Never Give Up to keep the team from winning an LPL Finals, to cement themselves, at least as far as standings go, to be the best in China, EDG come into Worlds roaring with confidence. However, EDG come into the group in an odd position; they match up against their titanic opponents, SKT, which draws concern.

Questions surround EDG’s top lane, Chen “Mouse” Yu-Hao, and even Ming “Clearlove7” Kai, the on and off star jungler, abound. It’s the weaker side for the roster, that contains Lee “Scout” Ye-chan and Tian “meiko” Ye on the other half of the Rift. That being said, EDG’s draw in the group stage is a slight benefit, they face SKT, which for most would be a bad thing. But with SKT’s struggling top lane and jungler position too, EDG’s weaker sides may not be placed up against a stronger side. This means not only will EDG’s side not be exposed to a stronger lane match up, where the other team can focus and create a lead there, but also maybe EDG can manage to be the stronger side in the top half.

Their bot lane, with new kid on the block Hu “iBoy” Xianzhao, will be the true point of contest between the two titans. Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan have not looked like the dominant force they once were, having been a key part in SKT’s slump mid split. That doesn’t mean that they’re not a formidable foe for a rookie ADC. EDG will have to prove themselves the stronger team even with the questions that surround them, but given their pedigree and history of strong performances, EDG look to be easy favorites for at least second place, if not first in the group.

 

The X Factor: iBoy and Scout

Rookie iBoy will have his skills and mettle tested severely against the veteran bot lane of Bang and Wolf. Can he come out ahead? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

The two primary carries of EDG are the linchpin of the roster for me. Scout has to be performing at his top tier to dominate the group, and particularly to show up against old teammate Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. If it’s Scout at his ceiling, he can be the carry that EDG needs to maybe secure that first place in the group. If he’s at his floor, EDG will find trouble against possibly even AHQ.

The other big factor is iBoy, the newcomer to the LPL scene. A rookie by all accounts, he comes into Worlds only having played a total of 22 games over his entire professional career. To be thrown into a Worlds roster, let alone one that has SKT and Bang in its group, is one large task for the rookie. However, iBoy’s stats aren’t worrisome, and with the veteran lane mate of Meiko by his side, this could be a real time for the young player to shine. On the other hand, not performing will be costly for the team overall, so the pressure on iBoy is pretty damn high to at least go toe to toe with Bang.

SKT 

Ahh, SKT. They barely need introduction for fans of League of Legends, but the once completely unstoppable juggernauts have had a slightly less than glamorous recent showing. The notable slump in performance, and the question marks not only in top lane of who to start between Seung “Huni” Hoon Heo and Ui “Untara” Jin-Park, were concerns that many analysts brought up. Not just that, but also their jungler position too is up in the air, with Han “Peanut” Wang-hoand and Kang “Blank” Sun-gu, being the two possibilities. For many on the outside looking in, this has put the organization in a bit of a tumultuous position.

SKT’s full roster will be tested as they go into Worlds. Courtesy of SKT T1’s Facebook.

Just as with EDG though, SKT lucked out slightly by placing in a group with similar question marks in the top side of the Rift. With the “Unkillable Demon King” of League in Faker playing on the team though, and the long standing relationship between Bang and Wolf in the bot lane, it’s hard to say SKT is weak, even through their struggling top and jungle positions. Untara looks to be the more stable top lane, and Blank slots in similarly, and that almost feels the stronger formation for SKT going into Worlds. SKT can win games off simply mid and bot lane, and a tank meta supports a more supportive top and jungler position, rather than the more carry-oriented play that one might expect out of Huni or Peanut.

SKT however is still not the guaranteed top squad. With the current draw, they should be able to squash struggling AHQ Esports Club, but will be faced against an equally formidable EDG. The more aggressive nature of LPL teams may be a challenge for the defending champions, but it’s difficult to say they’ll struggle. Sure, at Rift Rivals the LPL were the ultimate winners, but LCK is never a region to bat an eyelash at. And almost most importantly, this is still a team with Faker on it, and Bang and Wolf, who bring not only their experience, but synergy. It will depend on how the squads match up, if Faker can take on his once pupil, Scout and if synergy wins out over new kid and star iBoy in the bot lane and the veteran in Meiko.

 

The X Factor: Untara/Huni and Blank/Peanut

High risk, high reward, is what has always characterized both Huni and Peanut. But can SKT take the gamble at Worlds? Courtesy of SKT T1’s Facebook.

This may come off wrong, but I’m not worried about SKT’s bottom half of the map. Faker has rarely performed negatively, and the Bang and Wolf duo seem a lot more energized after their slump. It’s the top half that’s the tricky part for SKT, and ultimately something they’ll need to address if they plan to make any real statement at Worlds.

The Huni/Untara saga continues, as Huni, previously the star diamond in the rough player, has looked considerably disappointing in recent showings (like, recent for a while…) Untara, on the other hand, may not be as flashy as Huni in his hay day or the phenom in Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, but he gets the job done for SKT. If Huni can be assured to perform, he’s the obvious pick, as a strong top laner into a group with weaker top laners could be another weapon in the SKT arsenal. However, he’s a liability, and SKT may decide to go with Untara for the security in the top lane.

The next question mark is in the jungle. Peanut, the darling of the Rox Tigers that stormed onto the scene last year, is in doubt. He’s not the consistent jungler that SKT needs. Stats aren’t everything, but Blank, particularly in SKT’s playoff run, was the superior jungler in almost every category, having played six games to Peanut’s eight. That’s a decent sample size. With Blank’s solid performance, and the bigger question mark being in the top lane, SKT could very well leave Peanut out of the six man roster for Worlds in favor of a more diverse top lane option. Regardless, whoever fills in the jungle position for SKT will need to be able to get their carries in the position to succeed. 

 

AHQ

The LMS region has always been a dark horse region. Often times discounted, except when one remembers the miracle run of Tapai Assasins, or Flash Wolves’ constant ability to take down the tyrants of SKT, they tend to look to be the weakest region of the non-wild card regions. While expansion of LMS teams at Worlds has gone from two to three, a welcomed sign for the region, it’s not as bright a note given the current teams being fielded.

Can the weird… flying… unicorn… horse thing of AHQ carry the team to one of the biggest upsets of the year against the two titans in Group A? Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Many pundits feel that AHQ is a fairly weak team, and particularly compared to Flash Wolves, is the easier opponent hailing from the LMS region. While an AHQ of yesterday, with a strong top lane in Chen “Ziv” Yi , might’ve posed a threat to the group of weak top side teams, it’s not as big a factor anymore. As the analysts noted, Ziv has not looked as strong as he has in the past. More importantly, the mid lane question mark for AHQ is whether to play weaker Liu “Westdoor” Shu-Wei who synergizes better with jungler Xue “Mountain” Zhao-Hong, or stronger mechanics but weaker synergy in Wong “Chawy” Xing. SKT and EDG are teams that play around their star mid laners, and to have a position of almost a lose-lose scenario of options to field in that vital role, it’s hard to see them coming out ahead.

While longtime Chou “AN” Chun-An and Kang “Albis” Chia-Wei in the bot lane might bring some stability to the roster, it’s difficult to say whether they’d be able to make any real threats against the likes of Bang/Wolf or even iBoy/Meiko. AHQ look like a team that, truthfully, doesn’t have a real edge in any position over their (confirmed) group opponents. While that doesn’t mean they can’t win, their lack of clear, concise team play doesn’t assure a “team play > mechanics” style of winning either. It’s hard to see the team making a real dent in the gargantuan teams of SKT or EDG here, but we’ve seen before that the LMS region can pull some real dark horse prowess on opponents who may not give them the credit they are due.

 

The X factor: Chawy/Westdoor and Ziv

Ziv is one of the old faces of the LMS, and it’ll be on his shoulders to try and create an advantage for his team to work off of. Courtesy of Leaguepedia.

Group A is a group of strong mid laners, and that’s something that cannot be said for AHQ. The rotating mid lane of Westdoor, who has the weaker mechanics but better jungle synergy, and Chawy, the newer, stronger, but less synergized mid laner, is the biggest hurdle for AHQ. They need to make the proper decision, either trusting Mountain and Westdoor’s ability to work together, or Chawy’s individual prowess, when facing up against some of the strongest mids at Worlds. 

Ziv is the rare situation in the group up until now: he’s a steady top laner for a team. Another long term member of the club, his performance has not be the most impressive, and it’s questionable on whether he would even be able to match up well into either Mouse or Huni/Untara. But if he can, if he can become the strong point of AHQ, he’s in the group of his life to upset. While the mid lane is looking to be a fiery display of strong skill, the top lane is almost unanimously questionable on each roster. A strong showing from the top lane could be just the trick that AHQ needs to be memorable additions to Group A. Without it, there isn’t much in the way of hope for any particular position on the AHQ roster to have any clear advantage against their confirmed rivals of EDG and SKT. 

 

Overall story lines to follow

The big story line here is the mid lane, with Scout facing up against his old organization SKT, and Faker, looking across the rift to a player he once helped improve. Scout has improved considerably with EDG, and while a kind of High Ceiling Low Floor (i.e. can either do really well or really… not… well,) may be enough in a Bo1 series against SKT, it’ll still be questionable on whether he can truly make a god bleed. Faker, on the other hand, looks to reassert SKT’s position to the World, coming in with a lot of questions hanging over their head. If SKT can make quick work of a team like EDG and look comfortable doing so, they’ll remind everyone of why they are still one of the favorites to reclaim their title. If they struggle, if EDG instead are the ones standing atop the battle in the mid lane, SKT’s position in Worlds will be called further into question. And for EDG, the curse of performing not as hot in international tournaments can be fully put to rest. 

AHQ, on the other hand, are on the outside looking in for the group. They’re not really slated to do overly well, and it’s questionable if they can even make a dent against the two teams already pulled, let alone a possible third seed team. Their relevancy at the world stage will be tested, and while not even a gambling person would have them out to make it out of groups, taking a few wins will be imperative to give some sense of dignity going home for the team.

Overall comments

I know it sounds kind of lame, but I have to agree with the analysts on the group from the group draw. This is definitely EDG and SKT’s group to lose. What order that’ll be depends on which team can shore up their leaky top side, or which team can make enough plays around the mid to bottom half to make up for it. That’ll decide who takes the first seed, and while many would be safe in saying SKT has that all but locked up, I’d caution against counting EDG out of that contest.

However, AHQ are a team that many still feel shouldn’t even necessarily be here. The LMS region, while still upset-able, are not necessarily that strong of a region in recent times. EDG historically face up well against AHQ, and SKT, not facing Flash Wolves, should be able to dismantle the LMS representatives fairly easily.

The third spot, as discussed by Jatt, has the potential (note: this is highly speculative so keep that in mind) to have either Fnatic or Cloud 9 in it. While both teams, particularly Cloud 9, seem slightly more assured in the top lane, it’s hard to hold the rest of the roster as showing much potential to upset for a second place slot. They can each bring damage to the records of both, and honestly could be the decider for the top seed teams, but their shots to make it out of groups are thoroughly suspicious. It’s just hard to imagine the two titans in EDG and SKT falling victim to a third place team from the West. But crazier things have happened. 

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s Greatest Dynasties

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive first released August 21st, 2012, and since then the competitive scene has went from strength to strength. The game followed on from the already popular Counter-Strike series and the newest release sparked even more interest than its predecessors.

Despite a few controversies along the way, the esports scene for CS:GO has boomed, with ELEAGUE’s season 1 and 2 having a combined prize pool of over $2.5m.

With such prizes out there, it is no surprise to see many teams competing and training hard to slug it out over these massive cash rewards, not to mention the sponsorships and contracts that come into play in modern day Counter-Strike.

Some teams, however, have went above and beyond the competition experiencing an extended period of time at the top. Many of these teams went months in domination, others went a lot longer with long unbeaten streaks still lauded over rival teams to this day.

The following list will break down just some of the teams who dominated Counter-Strike for a period of time following the game’s release:

[This list is in no particular order]

5. Fnatic – November 2013-June 2014

photo by AftonBladet.se


Fnatic were the first team to ever win a major in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, something that places them in the history books. This lineup consisted of JW, Flusha, Schneider, Pronax and Devilwalk, and they put their stamp on the scene by beating the odds and coming from nowhere to placing second at MSI Beat IT.

This was just the beginning as the team continued to place high in tournaments consistently before the lineup burned out in the summer of 2014 after failing to progress from the DreamHack Summer groups.

4. Virtus Pro – October 2013-February 2017

Virtus Pro are a team that traditionally blow hot and cold, the terms Virtus Plow and Virtus Throw go hand in hand depending on how the team performs. It is, however, undeniable that they have been one of the most consistent long term teams the game has seen.

The team has featured the charismatic lineup of TaZ, NEO, Pasha, Byali and Snax, and have been a thorn in the side for nearly every team attempting to establish a tier one dominance since October 2013. With one Major win and seven international titles, they are without a doubt one of Counter-Strike’s most successful dynasties.

photo by GINX eSports TV

Virtus Pro are one of the teams that have been able to forge a legacy that will out last this iteration of the game as their longevity at the top remains admirable to even the biggest rivals of the Poles.

 

3. Ninjas in Pyjamas – August 2012-November 2014

Ninjas in Pyjamas are another team that will forever hold a legacy within Counter-Strike. Their run to the fabled 87:0 winning streak is still talked about to this day, a feat that will likely never be replicated.

The line up is still largely the core of modern day NiP, featuring GeT_RighT, F0rest, Friberg, Xizt and Fifflaren. That team has amassed one Major win amongst 18 international tournament wins. This coupled with the fact that they reached the last eight in 31 of their 32 tournaments in this time frame cements them as one of Counter-Strike’s best teams ever.

photo by Liquipedia

Their success can be attributed to the clear nature of each of their roles, every player knew what they had to do and executed it with lethal precision for over two years. It seemed as though no team could touch them before Fifflaren’s retirement, which NiP could not recover from, replacing their fifth member consistently over the years until Friberg left in June 2017. Only time will tell if this will help NiP get back to where they once were.

2. LDLC/EnVyUs – September 2014-July 2015

photo by Liquipedia

Shox, KioShiMa, NBK, Happy and SmithZz came together in September 2014 to create a team that worked wonders. They emerged in the shadow of a deflating Fnatic team whose era was coming to a close. They won one Major and six international titles in a run enviable to many teams today.

One of the main reasons for this team’s success was the expressive nature players were allowed. Rather than focusing on a highly tactical game, they focused on allowing players’ decision making and individual skill to find the openings in games.

One of the cruxes of many teams throughout competitive Counters-Strike has been the sacrifice of skill in lieu of an IGL’s tactical ability. This was a notion that this team grabbed by the scruff of the neck and disobeyed, Happy was arguably the team’s best player despite being their IGL, which allowed for the team’s firepower to exceed that of other teams. This run is typified by the run of 17 top four finishes from 19 tournaments, which is to this day unchallenged.

1. SK Gaming – August 2016-Present

This is a team that needs no introduction even to the most casual Counter-Strike fan. SK are the hot topic within professional CS:GO at the moment; there doesn’t seem to be a tournament that goes by that SK don’t make the finals. Since August 2016 they have made seven finals, winning four of them. A recent poor showing in the ESL Pro-League is the only blip on the scorecard for the Brazilians, which has seen them pick up almost $1m in prize money in 10 months.

Coldzera in particular has gained a lot of attention, gaining a majority of tournament MVP’s for 2017 so far. This has lead to claims that he could be one of Counter-Strike’s greatest players ever. With this level of success it’s hard to debate the legitimacy of these claims.

Fallen, Coldzera, Fer, Taco and Felps have all been writing history over the past year and will likely place themselves high in the history books of Counter-Strike. Only time will tell how long this period of success will go on for, but they will have at least secured a dynasty to be fondly remembered.

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Feature image courtesy of Game Skinny

What EDG’s Loss Means for Group C

So, unless you were living under a rock during day one of Worlds, you probably heard that Brazil’s INTZ pulled off potentially the biggest upset in World’s history by knocking off China’s number one seed, EDward Gaming.

And this wasn’t just a fluke win on a miracle Baron steal. This was INTZ dismantling a team that didn’t drop a series for the entirety of the Summer Split in China. The Brazilian wildcard won through the same strategy they employed throughout most of the year, through jungler Revolta providing pressure for top laner Yang, ensuring that he had a sizable advantage coming out of the lane phase.

Yang played like an absolute monster with the lead Revolta set up for him; he finished the game 3.9 thousand gold ahead of EDG’s top laner, Mouse. He used that lead to deal the most damage to champions of any player in the game, finishing with 29.5 thousand damage dealt in a 6/2/7 performance on Gnar.

EDG threatened to make comebacks throughout, winning multiple fights due to mid-laner PawN’s sneaky flanks on Vladimir while the INTZ team was spread out.  However, following a key three-for-one fight around the 33-minute mark, resulting from a pick onto EDG’s Clearlove, the Brazilian team ended up getting their second baron of the game; this allowed them to take an inhibitor, which led to an Elder Dragon, which finally ended up being the nail in the coffin for EDG.

With this being just the first day of Worlds, there are still plenty of games left for teams to overcome a first game mishap. But EDG was seen as a team that would run through their group without a problem, maybe dropping a game to H2k or AHQ if they had a bad showing. However, a loss to INTZ was something that nobody in the league scene expected, even the analysts (and thus the EDG sandbagging memes have been reborn).

So here’s what EDG’s loss and INTZ’s victory means for Group C…

What it means for EDG Themselves…

It shows that they can’t afford to sleep on any team, and can’t expect the same strategies that got them to Worlds to work on the international stage. EDG’s bottom lane, Deft and Meiko, are considered by many as the best bottom lane in the world, and they showed that throughout the regular season. Honestly, Deft, Meiko, and PawN were the only ones holding together that game against INTZ. Jungler Clearlove, who analysts also consider one of the best in the world, spent much of his time in the bottom lane to give Deft and Meiko all of the resources they’d need to carry the game. This often leaves Mouse to fend for himself in the top lane. INTZ showed that this can be exploited by a talented and aggressive top-jungle combo.

It’ll be interesting to see if the other teams in Group C, H2k and AHQ, will try to implement a similar strategy against the Chinese powerhouse, or if EDG will take steps to counter this strategy in future games. The junglers for both AHQ and H2k, Mountain and Jankos, are also known for their early aggression on the map, with Jankos participating in over 81% of his team’s kills during the Summer Split, and Mountain’s performance being the primary reason for AHQ’s success at the LMS regional qualifiers. With that said, H2k looked very lost in its macro play against AHQ, slowly hemorrhaging an early-game lead through a series of picks in the mid-game.

What it means for INTZ…

Teams will no longer be sleeping on them as a wildcard team. With the success of past wildcard seeds, especially from Brazil, INTZ should not have been slept on. But I think most people were considering this mainly from the perspective of H2k and AHQ, who were seen as the teams competing for second place in the group (with EDG being the number one). INTZ looked stronger than H2k did against better competition with the gold lead they acquired early. INTZ did a better job of getting deep vision within EDG’s jungle and using it to determine whether Revolta and Yang could generate another pick onto Mouse, and turn that into an objective.

What it means for H2k…

In contrast to INTZ, H2k didn’t get any wards into AHQ’s jungle with their early tower lead. This allowed AHQ to generate some key picks on Forgiven and Ryu, allowing them to break down H2k’s outer ring of turrets and begin their comeback. In their game against INTZ tomorrow, they will have to ensure that Jankos and Odoamne can compete against Yang and Revolta in the laning phase. As we saw back in H2k’s playoff series against Splyce, Odoamne can be incredibly dominant when given the chance to succeed, but can also be pushed around when being consistently camped by the enemy jungler. On paper, H2k should still have the advantage here, and they should do well to remember that and keep their confidence up. It comes down primarily to their macro-level execution during the mid game, which proved to be their downfall against AHQ.

What it means for AHQ…

They need to continue to look to improve on their early game play. EDG, and even INTZ (if their first game was any indication), will not make the same macro mistakes in the mid-game that allowed AHQ to claw their way back into game one vs. H2k. Mountain should look to employ the same strategy that INTZ executed against EDG, get top lane ahead, and have that success flow into the bottom lane to disrupt Deft and Meiko. An and Albis were at a sizeable deficit in the laning phase against Forgiven and Vander, whereas Deft and Meiko straight up killed micaO and Jockster in a 2v2. Deft would certainly have run away with the game if Revolta didn’t initiate a 3v2 dive in the bottom lane a little after six minutes. Mountain has been the key to this team’s success since the regional matches, and he’ll have to continue to step up big if he wants to lead his team out of the now very interesting Group C. It should give Mountain confidence, however, that Clearlove appeared to be off his game against INTZ, not ever being in a position to help out his top lane or snowball his bottom lane in the early game.

I still think EDG will recover and win the group, but it now leaves a lot of questions open concerning the second place spot in the group. But it now begs the question of how strong they are in the spectrum of Worlds in its entirety? While ROX also exhibited some early game miscues, they quickly recovered and steamrolled their wildcard seed, Albus Nox Luna. Many people see EDG as one of the favorites to play the tournament favorite ROX Tigers in the Finals. We’ll see if this game causes analysts to change their tunes after week one of groups concludes.

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Brazil’s INTZ threw a major wrench in the Group C dynamic, upsetting the clear favorite EDward Gaming on the first day of games. Photo courtesy of intz.com