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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Courtesy of LoL Esports.

Why Imports Might not be the Solution to Competing at Worlds

After Samsung White shredded through the competition on their way to winning the World Championship in Season 4 of League of Legends, there was a “Korean Exodus” in the offseason. Multiple talented Korean LoL players were offered huge salaries to come over to China to play in the LPL. Analysts and fans thought this would mean the end of Korea’s reign on pro League of Legends, when their top talents decided to go elsewhere to chase the money. Multiple super teams formed in China, looking to contend for the World Championship. It’s now safe to say that the exodus was a failure for both sides. Korean players hoping to contend for a World Championship met the same defeat losing to newly bred Korean talent. A lot of Chinese players got lost in the shuffle and never looked quite as good as they had in the past.   

Courtesy of lolgamepedia

Once known as top tier players in the World, many of their careers dissipated in China. Former SSW jungler, Dandy, hailed as a jungle god when he won the World Championship. He then faded on Vici Gaming, even attempting to play top lane for a bit. He just never looked like the same jungler who dominated in Korea and at Worlds. Dade was another huge name who was once considered a top tier mid-laner in the World. He was soon forgotten as his play diminished in China. Even Chinese players, such as Gogoing and Cool, never looked the same after the imports came in and weren’t able to qualify for Worlds again. Some of them were eventually benched, and retired.

Less than Expected Results

It seems that for the most part, since importing became popular in the off season of seasons 4-5, the super teams formed have not been able to meet their expectations of contending for a World Championship. Edward Gaming hailing out of China’s LPL region has always looked dominant in their region. With new star Korean carries, Deft and Pawn, EDG always looked like strong favorites coming into Worlds. Just this previous season, many analysts hailed them as being the second best team competing at Worlds. Clearlove looked like an unstoppable jungler and Deft looked as good as he always had.  They were thoroughly disappointed to lose to Brazilian wildcard INTZ Gaming. They placed second in their group to Europe’s H2K, before being swept at the hands of Korean team ROX Tigers.  

Looking to the bottom of the LCS, a lot of low tier teams have given players from the Korean solo queue ladder a shot at playing just based on their ranked and team ladder performances. Teams like Coast and Roccat specifically, have been guilty of doing this, seeing less than stellar results. Coast decided to bring in two Korean players right before promotion series in an attempt to qualify. They were swept easily, and had looked worse than before they brought in the imports. Roccat failed to make playoffs when they imported Korean top laner, Parang, and support Raise, and eventually had to play through relegation to keep their spot in LCS. Before joining NA’s Counter Logic Gaming (CLG), Seraph was a top lane sub for Najin White Shield and had held a high spot on the Korean solo queue ladder for awhile. CLG found success for a time with Seraph, but eventually fell apart when communication and underlying internal issues became a major issue with the team. Teams also need to understand that rookies coming straight from solo queue don’t always translate to success in professional play.

Should teams try to grow players within their region?

Courtesy of Riot Esports Flickr

It sparks an interesting discussion of whether or not Western and Chinese teams should be importing as much as they do.  It has almost become a necessity, rather than an option.  With the promotion of Goldenglue to Team Liquid’s starting mid laner, he joins Pobelter as the only North American mid laner playing in the region.  On the other hand, you have many North American teams importing Korean top lane talent, negating the growth for talent in that role for the region.  Since Cloud 9 entered the scene, there hasn’t been a team grown from Challenger Series to find success in the LCS. Teams just aren’t grown from Challenger the way they should anymore.  Challenger teams are importing veterans of Pro League, such as Madlife recently, to Gold Coin United, in an attempt to revive their careers and qualify for LCS.

It’s rare to find North American talent that finds instant success playing in the LCS. Most of the time, they aren’t given a shot on a big time LCS team like Biofrost was with TSM.  They’re usually forced to fill one of the three Region slots on a sub-par, low tier LCS or Challenger team, and given two imports who may or may not be great on the professional stage. It’s not the greatest environment to say the least, as communication may not be stellar, and coaching structure is not built for success. This is because most of the Challenger teams are new organizations trying to enter the scene with no prior knowledge of how to run a Pro League of Legends team. There are also many rumors of shady organizations not playing players/coaches, which would definitely hinder a player’s desire to continue pursuing a career like this.  

Should teams focus more towards growing talent in their own region?  Should the most talented NA players look to flood themselves into various NA super teams similar to Flash Wolves and AHQ in LMS?  Import slots, although useful, can be a double edged sword in making or breaking a team.  What if the language barrier is too much or they discover being out of the comforts of their home country isn’t what they had hoped for?  This NALCS season will be a huge measuring stick in looking at the effectiveness of imports, as every roster looks more dangerous than ever, bringing in players from every region to compete.

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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.

Image result for intz

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

LPL Summer 2016 Power Rankings

With the LPL getting started back up tonight, I figured I’d release my power rankings and expectations going into the split. I’m going to be splitting my rankings up by Groups, but I’ll weigh in as to which group I believe is stronger.

Group A

  1. Edward Gaming – To me, EDG is the only clear standout in Group A. There are some good teams in this group, but without the competition of RNG, I think EDG will have no problem having control over Group A. With an allstar roster (and the addition of former SKTT1 Sub Scout), I think EDG has an easy split.
  2. Newbee – Newbee (Previously QG Reapers) played really well last split, but after not being able to field a mid for the semifinals, had to forfeit. I think they will have similar success this split, and hopefully will be able to show up to the playoffs. dade is now the primary mid laner, with Peco (now HappyY) moving to the ADC position. If there is a team in Group A that can challenge EDG, I think it’s Newbee
  3. Snake Esports – Snake had a great spring split as well, but fell short against EDG in Round 2 of the playoffs. They’ve made a couple changes in the bot lane during the break, and I expect to see a solid performance.
  4. Invictus Gaming – Rookie is probably in my top 2 LPL mids, but last split his shoulders just weren’t strong enough to carry his team through round 1 of the playoffs. With consistent abysmal performance from the bot lane, its no surprise a new support has been brought in that will hopefully bring some new life to the Rift. If Tabe can fix IG’s bot lane, then they may be able to climb much higher.
  5. Saint Gaming – formerly Hyper Youth Gaming, SG had an astounding 1-15 record in the spring. Since then the roster has had an intense overhaul. Highlight pick up is definitely former Samsung Blue top-laner Acorn. Frankly I’m not expecting much from SG this split, but I’ve been surprised before.
  6. Game Talents – Who? Game Talents purchased Energy Pacemaker’s LPL slot. With a roster made up of EPA and M3 players, I don’t have a lot of faith they’ll do any better then EPA’s 4-12 last split.

Group B

  1. Royal Never Give Up – This is perhaps the easiest team to rank in all of LPL. After a fantastic Spring Split, and a respectable showing at MSI, RNG is definitely poised to be the champions of LPL once again. I have high expectations of RNG, and would not be surprised to see them in the top 3 at Worlds.
  2. Vici Gaming – I’ll probably get some hate for this one, but I have high expectations for Vici this split. Despite a fairly average performance in the Spring, I think Easyhoon can lead this team to great places.
  3. Team World Elite – WE took second in the regular season last split, and definitely has the guns to continue being successful. Mystic and Zero aren’t the best bot lane in China, but are consistent enough to provide a good rock for the team. I think Condi is the real wild card for WE, if Condi succeeds, WE will succeed.
  4. LGD Gaming – On paper, LGD should be one of the best teams in China. MaRin and imp are some of the strongest individual players in China, but last split something just didn’t click. I’m afraid that LGD is just missing some key factor of success. I predict this will be MaRin’s last split with LGD.
  5. OMG – To be honest, I wanted to put OMG at number 4. But with 11 people on their roster I struggle to have high expectations for their ability to trust, communicate, and execute. OMG has not done anything particularly impressive since 2014, and doesn’t seem to have done much to change that. Maybe they’ll be able to swap players in and out without a problem, but with that many players I expect that developing any kind of synergy may be difficult.
  6. I MAY – I really like I MAY. Their logo is cool, they’ve got an experienced roster, and they have a lot of potential. I just don’t see them succeeding on the stage. Now: This is almost identical to what I said about Europe’s G2 before the Spring Split. If anything, by placing them here at #6, I’m guaranteeing that they will win the LPL.

 

Overall, I think Group B is the stronger of the two. If I were to rank them all together EDG and Newbee would be the only Group A teams I’d put in my top 6.

Best of luck to all of the LPL, and to all you folks who stay up until 7AM to watch them play!