The 2018 League of Legends World Championship begins this weekend, starting with the Play-In stage. Riot broadcast the group draw, and the teams are assigned to their respective groups. Of all four, Group A will most likely be the most straightforward. Edward Gaming, Infinity Esports, and Dire Wolves fight for a chance to make it into the Main Event. Each team’s current form and each region’s history demonstrates that EDG will handily win the group. So the bigger question is which team will finish second, and can they take any games from EDG?
Infinity Esports versus Dire Wolves
- Lyon Gaming/Rainbow7 performed better than Dire Wolves at the last three Play-In stages
- LLN lost 2018 Rift Rivals to CBLoL and CLS
- INF crushed KLG (pool three) at Final Latinoamerica Movistar
- OPL won 2018 Rift Rivals over SEA and LJL
- DW undefeated in regular season Opening and Closing
- DW have much more international experience than INF
The fight for second favors Infinity Esports. They come from the historically stronger region, which usually counts for a lot at international events. Dire Wolves have shown over the last two years that they are not up to par with Turkey, Brazil, Southeast Asia, and Latin America North. Generally, their jungler gets out-matched and one of their lanes gets camped. Dire Wolves continue to attempt plays, but get shut down.
International experience is in Dire Wolves’ favor, though. This specific roster, excluding BioPanther, has played at Worlds 2017 and both 2017 and 2018 Mid-Season Invitationals. Even if they lost most of their games, that scrimmaging, practicing, and competing experience has value, which Infinity lacks. Dire Wolves also won their Rift Rivals, while Infinity lost theirs.
Gameplay-wise, SolidSnake and Cotopaco have the advantage over Triple and Shernfire. K1ng and Cupcake will be Dire Wolves’ main hope for victory. Not only do they usually dominate other OPL duos, but they also frequently draft unusual bottom lane picks, like Zac or Mordekaiser. Curveballs could be Dire Wolves’ way of closing the gap, like GIGABYTE Marines last year. Both top laners stick to tanks, like Mundo, Ornn, and Sion.
- The LPL is historically a top two region in the world
- EDG has qualified to Worlds every year since 2014
- EDG finished second in the LPL regular season
- EDG helped the LPL win this year’s Rift Rivals versus the LCK and LMS
Every individual member of Edward Gaming out-classes the players on Infinity and Dire Wolves. Ray, while generally relegated to tank duty, will split push with Gnar or Gangplank. Haro and Clearlove will completely nullify inferior junglers. Scout has the second most Player of the Games in China across the year (one less than Rookie). IBoy is a young, hungry ADC with mechanics to back it up, and Meiko is a top five support in the world. On equal ground, Infinity and Dire Wolves do not stand a chance.
But, hypothetically, how would they win a game over EDG? First step, they need to target the younger players–Ray and iBoy. Clearlove, Scout, and Meiko have played so well for so long that they have vast champion pools and mastery over various styles. Ray and iBoy do not. When piloting the right champions, these two love to play aggressively. In the NA LCS, Ray would consistently get caught out in top lane. iBoy has his outstanding peaks and his reckless moments. If Infinity or Dire Wolves can draft one of these two onto something aggressive, then punish any over-stepping, then they may have a shot.
Match-Up to Watch: Jungle
Shernfire, SolidSnake, and Clearlove and Haro have fairly distinct roles within their teams. Infinity and Dire Wolves prioritize Nocturne first for their junglers, while EDG does not. SolidSnake’s next two choices have been Camille and Olaf–champions that have decent skirmishing power, but really turn on when they hit level six and hard commit to killing one target. Gragas and Trundle are Shernfire’s second choices–champions that are tankier and have earlier impact on lanes.
Meanwhile, EDG’s junglers prioritize Sejuani much higher than INF or DW. Haro then goes for the Olaf-Camille, like SolidSnake. Clearlove pivots to Trundle and Xin Zhao–more akin to Shernfire. EDG could possibly switch junglers, depending on which team they are facing. They may also try to contest Nocturne more in the Play-In, since INF and DW have clear carries to assassinate in K1ng and Cotopaco.
Prediction: 1st- EDG: 4-0, 2nd- INF: 1-3 (win tiebreaker), 3rd- DW: 1-3 (lose tiebreaker)
Images from LoL Esports Flickr