Worlds’ OP five after week two

The Group Stage of the 2017 League of Legends World Championship has finished, and the quarterfinals are set. The second week was a roller-coaster, as many teams who struggled in week one made a come-back in week two. Groups B and D had massive shake-ups, while groups A and C had major upsets without affecting the standings.

Just like in the first week, we saw certain players shine. We saw new champions drafted, updated item builds, and adapted strategies. Other players faltered, whether on their own or as part of deeper team-wide issues. Recency bias will paint over their week one performances, and they will be remembered for how they fell short.

Rather than dwell on missed opportunities, it is important to lift up those players who executed. These are the five most fearsome from the second week of Group Stage.

Top: ssg Cuvee

SSG's Cuvee was the most OP top laner in week two of worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Almost every top laner had major failures this week. In SKT’s loss to AHQ, Huni sacrificed four of their 12 deaths. Khan did not play all three games, and Rascal only played one (not really a failure, but it’s more difficult to judge against players who had 3-4 games). Cloud9’s Impact and TSM’s Hauntzer looked much less coordinated than last week.

However, Samsung’s CuVee actually looked strong in all three of his games. He averaged ahead in gold (+235), CS (+8), and XP (+237) at 15 minutes. SSG’s top laner was the only player with a lead in their game versus RNG. His Cho’Gath found 1907 Fenerbahce’s AD carry multiple times, and helped enable Samsung to deny G2 any neutral objectives.

The top lane pool in Group C (Letme, Expect and Thaldrin) is not the most intimidating, but members of Groups A, B and D all played inconsistently. WE’s 957 had strong showings, but he averaged behind in laning phase, despite having advantageous match-ups. One could also argue that he contributed less to their victories than CuVee did to Samsung’s.

Jungle: EDG Clearlove

EDG's Clearlove was the most OP jungler in week two of worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Say what you will about week one EDG, but they played their hearts out this week. Clearlove got first blood in two of three games. He secured the Rift Herald, multiple dragons and first Baron in all three games. While he averaged behind in XP (-323) and CS (-12), Clearlove averaged ahead in gold (+280) at 15 minutes. His 6.0 day eight KDA was the highest in Group A.

EDG’s jungler is a big reason why they accrued over 3,000 gold leads by twenty minutes in all three games this week. Clearlove made sure to give advantages to his carries, particularly Scout and iBoy. His Jarvan IV ultimates were key to locking down Sneaky and AN’s Kog’Maws.

Maxlore did provide spectacular early game pressure for Misfits, but they lost crucial Barons in three of their four games this week. Mlxg was stifled in his Rek’Sai game against G2. WE’s Condi had great performances this week, and he may even be more worthy than Clearlove. Team WE’s lanes seemed less dependent on Condi’s early influence, because they drafted advantageous match-ups more often.

Mid: WE Xiye

WE's Xiye was the most OP mid laner in week two of worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

It was difficult to choose the most OP mid laner this week. Arguments could be made for Bdd again, Xiaohu, Xiye, or even Perkz, Caps, Faker or Scout. However, WE’s Xiye seems like the best choice. Not only did he average more kills (4.0) and assists (5.7) per game than any other mid laner in his group, but keep in mind he is in Group D. He clearly out-performed Bjergsen, Maple and PowerOfEvil, which cannot necessarily be said about mids in any other group.

Part of the credit should certainly go to his jungler, Condi, but Xiye knew what to do with his leads once he had them. His Jayce was pivotal in WE’s siege composition versus TSM. Xiye used Corki to roam and dish damage against Flash Wolves. Finally, he had multiple solo kills on PowerOfEvil, helping dismantle Misfits’ lead.

LZ’s Bdd was really the only other mid laner as dominant. He continued to use roaming zone mages to spread his leads and out-roam his opponents. This is a valid strategy. However, it just does not feel as powerful as Xiye’s performance this week. Xiye played three different champions with slightly different play styles. The pressure was higher on Xiye to shut down main components of TSM, MSF and FW for their victories, while Longzhu’s group has those pressure points more on bottom lane and jungle.

ADC: LZ Pray

LZ's Pray was the most OP AD Carry in week two of worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Mystic, iBoy, Bang, Uzi, Zven, Rekkles… so many great AD carries are at this championship. But in week two of the Group Stage, Longzhu’s PraY reigned supreme. He carried LZ to another 3-0 week on Kog’Maw and Varus. PraY’s 6.3 kills per game topped all players in Group B, and his 8.7 assists were highest among Group B’s AD carries. He also put up 991 damage per minute, 39.6 percent of LZ’s total.

PraY and GorillA made Immortals, Fnatic and Gigabyte Marines’ bottom lanes pale in comparison. While their early games have not necessarily been oppressive, their late-game fighting is clean. In all three of LZ’s games, PraY came up massive in teamfights just past 30 minutes and they closed. While last week’s wins seemed much more dependent on Khan and Bdd, this week PraY drove them home.

Bang and iBoy had high highs on day eight, but they both had duds, too. Bang finished the AHQ loss 0-1-0 over 37 minutes. IBoy finished the SKT loss 1-3-1 over 38 minutes, despite having a clear early lead. These losses dilute their gameplay in victory. Mystic had a similar situation in Group D, where his two Caitlyn games were extremely oppressive, yet he had two early laning deaths against Misfits from lack of respect. Uzi was outplayed by G2’s Zven in Group C, as well.

Support: SSG Corejj

SSG's CoreJJ was the most OP support in week two of worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

As mentioned last week, the support role is currently difficult to judge between players. All of the supports at this year’s Worlds are exceptional. With the meta revolving around Ardent Censer and enchanter champions, Janna and Lulu have dominated the draft. Both have a 92% presence in the draft thus far. Since they focus almost exclusively on the success of their AD carries, if their teammates lose, then they lose.

That being said, Samsung’s CoreJJ had a fantastic week. Even in the loss to RNG, CoreJJ finished with a positive KDA. SSG’s marksman, Ruler, could not put up the carry performances he has shown without CoreJJ’s constant buffs. He came out of day six with a 28.0 overall KDA, averaging 0.3 deaths and 8.0 assists per game.

EDG’s Meiko and Misfits’ IgNar also stood out this week. The only factor preventing Meiko from being in the OP five was the bottom lane competition in his group.  Uzi-Ming, Zven-Mithy and Padden-Japone came out more consistently strong this week than Bang-Wolf, Sneaky-Smoothie and AN-Albis. While IgNar was ambitious to draft Blitzcrank, Taric and Thresh this week, he did not play as crisp as possible. The Blitzcrank ultimately lost in the late game to TSM.


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Team and Player Statistics: Game of Legends

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Worlds 2017 group B preview

It’s that time of year again for League of Legends fans. The Worlds 2017 group draw has concluded and we can start getting excited to see some of the best teams from around the World face off in some heated matches. The group draw has been vital in just how far a team can go at Worlds. Group B has a nice mix of Worlds veterans and rookies. Let’s take a look:

Longzhu Gaming

Top: Khan

Jungle: Cuzz

Mid: BDD

ADC: Pray

Support: Gorilla

Longzhu Gaming took the summer split title of LCK after defeating SK Telecom T1 3-1 in the finals. The way LCK sets up playoffs, we only got to see them in one best of five which was their finals match. They threw multiple bans at SKT’s mid laner, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok en route to winning their first LCK finals. Longzhu had the luxury of being able to watch SKT play two best of five series before facing off whereas SKT did not. Nonetheless, winning the LCK final is a major victory for a team that was bottom tier not too long ago. Winning the best region in all of League of Legends definitely pegs you as huge favorites to make it to the World Finals.

Longzhu has a good mix of seasoned veterans and hungry rookies seeing their first World championship. Pray and Gorilla have become household names at the World championship. After qualifying the past two seasons with the Rox Tigers organization, the team split up, but Pray and Gorilla insisted they stay together. They’ve developed an unstoppable bot lane synergy over three seasons together and will look to show up big once again.

One of the more exciting prospects on the team will have to be top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha. Khan has become known for his huge play making abilities and carry potential from the top lane. His Jayce almost always draws a ban. If left open, he shows why it is such a pocket pick for him. He was vital in their LCK final match in shutting down the top laners of SKT. Him and Cuzz showed a picture perfect strategy on how to shutdown a Cho’gath in the early game.

Mid laner Kwak “BDD” Bo-seong may be the definition of “KDA” player as he finished the LCK summer with an impressive 11.3 KDA. He loves to play assassins, but has shown the ability to play whatever his team needs.

Immortals

Worlds 2017

Photo by: Riot Games

Top: Flame

Jungle: Xmithie

Mid: Pobelter

ADC: Cody Sun

Support: Olleh

Immortals qualified for Worlds as the team with the most circuit points from North America after a second place finish in the summer playoffs. This team came out of nowhere in summer after making the trade for jungle veteran Jake “Xmithie” Puchero. Many thought Xmithie’s career was on a decline and saw him as a downgrade to former jungler, Dardoch. That was not the case as Xmithie revitalized his career on Immortals and showed to be the best jungler in NA for summer. They also brought in former Rox Tigers and Longzhu coach Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo whose coaching effects showed immediately. The team looked much improved and finished the split atop the standings. Despite losing to TSM 3-1 in a close finals, they go into Worlds looking to prove themselves for the first time on the Worlds stage.

Like Longzhu, Immortals have veterans along with some rookies showing up at Worlds. The bot lane duo of Cody Sun and Olleh will be exciting to watch. They struggled in their first split together, but have steadily improved. They have a tall task going up against the likes of Pray and Gorilla.

As a former LCK top lane star and Longzhu sub, Lee “Flame” Ho-Jong will get the chance to face off against one rising star and another veteran of the pro LoL scene in Khan and Archie. In the jungle Xmithie will need to hold down Gigabyte Marines jungler, Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh. Levi showed the ability to carry games at MSI. With the meta shifted to more supportive tank junglers, Xmithie should feel right at home.

Depending on what last team is drawn into their group, Immortals can definitely show some promise. Don’t be surprised if they are able to take a game off of Longzhu and be the second team out of this group.

Gigabyte Marines

Photo by: Riot Games

Top: Archie

Jungle: Levi

Mid: Optimus

ADC: NoWay

Support: Sya

Gigabyte Marines were able to secure a Worlds spot after helping secure a group stage spot for the GPL region after making it to the groups of MSI. They then went on to qualify in dominating fashion going 6-0 in playoffs.

Last we saw of Gigabyte Marines on the international stage they were handily defeating some of the best teams in the World. They almost took a best of five against TSM in which they led 2-0 before being reverse swept. Most of their MSI victories came off the back of phenomenal jungle performances by Levi. They busted the meta open by openly ganking bot early to get them ahead. This isn’t exactly the same team we saw at MSI. Former support, Minh “Archie” Nhựt Trần moved to the top lane as the team took on a new duo of NoWay and Sya who showed good performances in the GPL.

Top laner Archie will have some stiff competition facing off against two great top laners from Korea in Flame and Khan. With the possibility of drawing 957 or Soaz as well, the top lane competition could become even stiffer. Gigabyte Marines will most likely be looked at as huge underdogs coming in, but the same was said for them at MSI. When underestimated in best of ones, Gigabyte Marines have the chance to shock the World once again. They’ll most likely be looking to go on a run similar to Albus Nox Luna last year.

Last Team Possibilities

With a North American team already in this group, Cloud 9 cannot be placed here. That leaves Fnatic, WE and Hong Kong Attitude of LMS. If we expect all the third seeds from the major regions to advance, Fnatic and WE will be teams to watch. While Longzhu is almost certainly 100% favorites to make it out, the second seed can be a toss up depending on who gets placed here. WE and Fnatic are long time veterans of the LoL pro scene and would make this group even more competitive.

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Picks you bet NA will take from the LCK

With the North American League Championship Series Summer Split dropping in just one day, here’s a list of the top three picks to see in each role. The League Championship Korea Summer Split has already been underway and it’d be a surprise for NA teams to not adopt the freshest Korean picks. So here it is, the top three picks in each role to be picked or banned in the NALCS.

Top Lane

Kennen is the most contested top laner due to his versatility and OP on-hit build. Courtesy of leagueoflegends.com

Kennen– Sure this champion has yet to be seen in-game in the LCK, but that’s just because the Heart of the Tempest has had a 100 percent ban rate. This is in large part due to the on-hit Kennen build that has become popular the past few months. With this build shredding through tanks like an electric woodchipper, Kennen fits perfectly in the current meta. The on-hit build makes building resistances difficult into Kennen’s mixed damaged, making laning against him just as painful as team fighting against his AOE ultimate.

Jayce– Also a tank buster, Jayce continues to be the Swiss Army Knife of champions. Jayce brings resistance shredding, max health percentage damage, hard CC, soft CC, artillery, gap closers, utility, and a whole lot of swagger to the Rift. Tank busters are pretty strong in the top lane right now, but Jayce is all that and more.

Galio– It’s no wonder how strong tank busters are right now, given the state of tanks in the top lane. It was a tough choice deciding who of the big three tanks – Galio, Gragas, Sejuani – to put in this list, but Galio smashes in at number one of these tanks with his dominant crowd control and game changing abilities. Galio makes it into this list, because like the other OP top laners, he brings percentage max health damage with his Winds of War. Watch out for Galio top and mid lane as the NA LCS dawns because the Colossus is as fun to watch as he is strong.

Honorable Mention: Sejuani– The Fury of the North has seen some considerable playtime in the LCK, but her laning phase brings with it too many bad matchups to include in the top three. This alongside some horrible Sejuani performances by the likes of Kang “ADD” Gun-mo of MVP has pushed her into the honorable mentions section of the top laners rising out of Korea. Still, it would be surprising not to see her charging into the NA LCS in the hands of players like C9’s Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, an expert tank player.

Jungle

Lee Sin– I don’t see this guy ever leaving the top three competitive junglers in the LCK. It seems that almost every jungler in the LCK is a Lee Sin one trick, constantly pushing this champion to a whole new level of play. Whether it is Han “Peanut” Wang-ho on SKT T1 during MSI, or recently, Longzhu’s  Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan showing that move speed nerfs mean little in the LCK, everyone seems to be prioritizing the Blind Monk.

Both Lee Sin and Orianna are making a return from their MSI conquest in the LCK. Expect to see them in the NALCS. courtesy of lolesports

Zac– Zaun’s Secret Weapon is going to have to stay secret a bit longer, unfortunately. Zac, like Kennen, has seen the ban list each and every game and with good reason. Zac’s Elastic Slingshot into Let’s Bounce combo has carries seen on that back of milk carton’s since his release, but it seems players are just now mastering Zac as his win rate has skyrocketed as of late. Expect NA to follow in the blob steps of the LCK with a perma-banned Flubber cosplay.

Elise– The Spider Queen has returned as the Queen of the Jungle. Elise, also known as AP Lee Sin, is an early game playmaker with enough hops to rival the blind monk. The terrifying spider tears through the jungle without taking much damage, while also being one of the only viable sources of magic damage from the jungle. With her hard hitting early game damage and that sweet percentage health damage, Elise has rappeled her way into the top three.

Honorable Mention: Graves– The Outlaw has been hit hard ever since the return of his smoking habit. With no more slick combos on his ultimate and a lack of MR coming out of one of his ten passives, Graves seems to be falling out of favor. However, Raptors are keeping this smoker on the Rift. With Raptor control as such a priority in the LCK, Graves has found his calling as one of the best champions that can clear the Raptor camp. This allows for him to dominate both his jungle and the enemy’s, and while this is important for the jungle meta, Graves seems to be lacking in some of the game-changing abilities his peers have.

Mid Lane

Syndra– “Press R to Outplay.” Syndra has come back into the LCK with sovereignty. While she has been seen on the ban list more often than she has been picked, it is without a doubt that NA will assimilate her playstyle with ease. Like many of the popular mid laners, Syndra can set up ganks with ease via her semi-reliable CC, but more than that, she can capitalize on her allies CC by getting in range to press R and seal the deal. Just ask SSG’s Lee “Crown” Min-ho how easy it was to 2-0 SKT with Syndra.

Orianna– We saw Faker play Orianna to perfection at MSI, but have you seen Longzhu’s ‎Kwak “Bdd” Bo-seong on Orianna? Longzhu 2-0’d kt on the back of Bdd’s Orianna in both games, where his Ultimates created tragically one-sided games for kt. Orianna has always been a staple of competitive League of Legends, but now more than ever has she risen to the top.

LeBlanc– While assassins seem to be falling out of favor in the LCK, LeBlanc consistently survives as one of the most valuable picks. There’s not much to say about the Deceiver that hasn’t already been said before, she is frustrating to lock down and packs a ton of single target damage. While Orianna seems to be able to survive the matchup pretty well, LeBlanc can dominate other popular picks in the LCK from Fizz to Karma.

Honorable Mention: Galio– Not only is Galio a top tier top laner, but he is doing pretty well as a flex pick in the mid lane. It is true that Faker lost lane using this pick, but Galio’s ability to freely itemize MR in a lane ruled by AP carries allows him to survive handily as a top value flex pick. With magic damage coming out of top laners and supports alike, don’t be surprised to see Galio smashing his way into the NA LCS mid lane.

ADC

Pray leads team to victory against kt via his jaw-dropping Ashe ultimates. Courtesy of lolesports

Ashe– If you haven’t seen Kim “PraY” Jong-in’s Enchanted Crystal Arrows, you haven’t been watching LCK. The pro’s use the high-value Ashe ultimate on cooldown, while also itemizing cooldown reduction through an early Essence Reaver. For Ashe in competitive play, it really is about the ultimate, but this is not to say that her early lane is weak. Ashe can force a level two fight bot lane with her early pushing power, and when this is paired with some of the more meta supports like Karma and Zyra, Ashe lanes can be kill lanes.

Varus– With a high value ultimate and a kit the shreds tanks, Varus is one of the top two ADC’s alongside Ashe. Both of these top-tier AD’s utilize Blade of the Ruined King to the maximum of the item’s ability. They both have game changing ultimate abilities that provide for pick potential as well as peel on a relatively short cooldown as well as AOE damage with their preferred build paths. Ashe and Varus are near one and the same, so it comes as no surprise that they are the two most valued picks in the AD role. Other champions such as Caitlin, Twitch, and Xayah seem to be the go to backups in the LCK.

Support

Thresh– The Chain Warden is back, and that’s great for spectators wanting to see big plays coming out of the support role. With relic shield item line buffs and a rather disappointing coin rework, Thresh is stronger than ever. Over this past spring split, it seems like every viable support has been nerfed except Thresh, making this split his time to shine. However, it is worth noting that Thresh has a very bad laning phase into Zyra, who seems to be prominent as well.

Zyra– The Thresh counter is back at it. Zyra is the classic mid laner gone wrong, as she dominates the game with very few items and a very cheap overall core build. While she peaks damage charts in solo queue environments she seems to be doing the same in the LCK. Except to see the rise of the thorns in NA as a solid counter pick to not only Thresh, but hard engage in general.

Lulu– As Zyra counters Thresh, Lulu counters Zyra. Lulu has seen some play since her whimsey was nerfed a few patches ago, allowing her to be lifted from the perma-ban list. That being said, she is still very strong especially in protect the carry comps that are oh-so-good right now. Not only does she excel late game as an ADC steroid machine, but she also does very well in lane and can get rid of the pesky Zyra plants with her Pix passive.

MVP Max flashes, then predicts Zyra’s flash with a beautiful hook. Courtesy of LCK

Honorable Mention: Max’s Blitzcrank– MVP Max has always been a support player that pushes the meta. His claim to fame Sion Quadra Kill has been followed by his extensive playmaking champion pool. As the support player to watch in the LCK, his most recent success on Blitzcrank has given professional players in the LCK flashbacks to solo queue nightmares. While I don’t exactly expect him to be picked in NA, I would guess Cloud9 to pick him up first as they already have last split.


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