As the annual countdown to the Season 3 World Championship begins, we here at Cloth5 will be getting you up to speed on who’s playing, how they’re playing and what they’re playing. This is our final instalment of the 4-part preview series that profiles the fourteen participating teams and we give our predictions on who is going to be taking home the Season 3 World Championship Title and engraving their names on the Summoner’s Cup.
[one_half_last]Contributors to this article include:
Charlie “Charlie” Lipsie, Daniel “Heliosan” Song, Adrian “oberyn” Montenegro, Daniel “League” Lemmond, Rick “MANGO” Reilly, and Ling “2×2″ Gu.
With the end of Season 3 at hand, we now know which teams stand atop each region participating in the Season 3 Finals. But how do they stack against each other? With two million dollars on the line in the World Championships, most people can’t help but wonder about what will happen this month.
Apart from League Championship Series teams, many of the participants in the upcoming month are a mystery to most viewers and unpredictable even for those in the know, especially as teams pull out surprising and innovative strategies to take home the crown. OGN and LPL broadcasts provided some exposure to the Korean and Chinese teams, while the Wildcard and Southeast Asian teams are flying under the radar in relative anonymity. Still, the fans have one question on their mind: Who will take home the Summoner’s Cup?
Over the past 3 days, the Cloth5 eSports team has provided analyses numbering tens of thousands of words and dozens of graphics covering the fourteen teams in the Season 3 World Championships. Today, on the eve of the first game of the finals, we have collated the perceptions of the eSports team, and are proud to present Cloth5′s World Championship Power Rankings.
Group Stage Exits
Expectations are not high from the Cloth 5 eSports team for GamingGear.eu. After failing to make it into the EU LCS qualifiers, they are only in the World Championships due to working their way up to qualify for the Wildcard Tournament through a rule loophole. They seem to play only one composition, which causes their pick and ban stage to be very predictable. Unless they have developed new strategies for the World Championships, it will be difficult for this one-trick pony team to take games from other teams in their group. GamingGear’s level 1 tends to be extremely defensive; any team can waltz into their jungle and take complete vision dominance from the team. It is hard to tell how they will exactly play out against the Asian teams since they have no international experience.
The question for GG.eu is: If they couldn’t even qualify for the EU LCS, how will they be able to take down Team SoloMid and Lemondogs in Group A, let alone Chinese powerhouse OMG and OGN Champions SK Telecom?
Mineski is the ultimate Cinderella story of the tournament, even more so than GG.eu. As a team that wasn’t even supposed to be able to qualify for this tournament, Mineski has been the underdog since before the get-go. Their style of overt aggression is almost solo queue style in nature with the Filipino scene being slightly underdeveloped compared to the rest of the world. However, if they are allowed to play their aggressive style they may catch some of the more established teams with passive tendencies off-guard. Unfortunately for Mineski, this is not a tournament filled with amateurs. Even if they do catch some of the more established teams and put them on the back foot, they may not know what to do against a professional team in a best-of series after the round robin group stage.
However, as the old saying goes: It isn’t the pros you need to worry about as they are predictable; it’s the amateurs that you need to be scared of.
After their loss in the NA LCS Summer Playoffs to Cloud 9 and their latest Gamecribs video, Team SoloMid appear to be running on low morale entering the tournament. As the underdogs in their group filled with Asian powerhouses SK Telecom T1 and OMG, TSM will have to pull themselves together and scrap with some of the best in the world to make it into the bracket stage. The bulk of the pressure lies on the shoulders of Reginald. As a team that runs best on his emotional fuel, he’ll look to carry these games and need to remain composed throughout all of their matches. However, based upon previous sets against Korean teams and on the international level, results look unfavorable for this NA squad. While they will likely be able to defeat the wild cards in their group, even the slightest hitch in team morale may make the difference between winning and losing.
If Team SoloMid can pull themselves together in the upcoming week, they may put on a good show for their “baylievers”, but as of now, we do not anticipate TSM leaving the group stage.
Vulcun TechBargains doesn’t get any respect from their audience. Even so, they may prefer it this way after such a long time of being discarded for no real reason. Vulcun is possibly the most complete team from the NA region with their own unique and distinct playstyles, far from mirroring any other region or any other team’s tactics. With two strong solo laners, an easy-to-snowball jungler and a bot lane that plays overly aggressive either to boon or bust, Vulcun continues to fly under the radar of many. Look for them to put up a strong showing, especially against the teams from EU, who may not be able to handle the fact that an NA mid laner can stand up to their vaunted and team-essential EU mids. Vulcun has the ability to stand toe to toe with any other region’s solo laners and they may be able to prove it in worlds.
If they can keep big man Zuna from making big plays for the wrong team, keep an eye out for Vulcun to escape the group stages. Even though they are tied for 11th within these rankings, they may be able to pull off an upset to advance from the group stages.
Lemondogs proved to be a very solid team during the EU’s Summer Split, and after replacing their support and fixing vital communication issues within the team, they’ve improved dramatically. However, even with that being said, all of Lemondogs’ members are untried on the international stage, and their team may face measurable difficulty when put up against teams with significant experience. Despite the fact they have been performing well since their roster change, one player alone will not make the difference to defeat the Asian powerhouses in their team. Lemondogs also has the unfortunate placement of Group A, placing them in the same group as the highly-favored World Champions SKT1 and OMG.
The eSports crew here at Cloth5 wish them the best, but doesn’t hold high hopes for Lemondogs’ performance and do not expect them to advance past the group stage.
Gambit gaming has been very hit or miss this split it seems. Going through two separate supports in Edward and Darker before finally settling on Voidle, Gambit has faced significant challenges in both roster swaps and team inexperience. Combine their rookie support, Voidle, with a new roster and you have a fairly difficult challenge to overcome in order to end up as the top dog at Worlds. With that being said, Gambit Gaming has always been a surprising team to watch, and it would not be out of form for them to take games off Ozone or Fnatic since they have never in their career placed below fourth in offline events. Even with these liberties, Gambit will likely have problems when facing off against other teams in Group B, and the Cloth5 team expects them to finish 3rd in their group.
It remains a mystery whether experience will drag Gambit through the group stages or if they will fall short on the offline stage for the first time in their careers.
Even though Gamania Bears have defeated strong teams like Taipei Assassins, Taipei Snipers and AHQ Taiwan, the Cloth 5 eSports team does not see the team progressing past the quarterfinals. Gamania Bears have a limited champion pool which makes their picks/bans very predictable; due to the fact that they formed 4 month ago, they severely lack experience as a 5-player team compared to most of the other teams. The Bears have an incredibly passive laning phase, and with the possibility of facing teams like SKT Telecom and OMG who have the tendency to snowball games with their relentless aggression in the early game, Gamania Bears does not have a chance.
Without any experience in the international scene, Gamania Bears stands a low chance defeating top teams from other regions unless they pull out a trick card with a twist of fate.
Even though they declined from their original form back in OGN Champions Winter, Najin Black Sword is not a team to be underestimated at Worlds. There is a lot of mystery in terms of what they might have been practicing for worlds and very little is known about them other than NLB Summer VODs after they did not qualify for OGN Champions Summer playoffs which gives them an advantage. Not having to play in the group stage will also give Sword an edge in that they can keep everything they are doing in secret and then bring it out in the quarterfinals to whoever has to play them.
Although expectations aren’t high for this Korean squad, their low profile might serve as an advantage with squads underestimating just how terrifying this team can be when the stakes are high.
Since their first place finish at the NA LCS Summer Playoffs granted them a berth into the quarterfinals, Cloud 9 will automatically finish at least 8th in the tournament. Although showing signs of utter domination in the NA region, Cloud 9 has never been tested on the international level. Whereas their games in the LCS usually revolved around them capitalizing upon enemy teams’ mechanical errors and poor decision-making, they won’t have the same advantage against most other teams in this later stage of the tournament. However, Cloud 9 has the immortal Meteos and his ability to control the pacing of games is partly responsible for his achievement as the Summer Split MVP. Coupled along with an excellent pick/ban phase that stems from the minds of LemonNation and analyst Alex Penn, Cloud 9 will be sure to turn heads on foreign expectations of the NA region.
While there is no doubt that Cloud 9 is a top tier team within the North American scene, the quarterfinals stage will mark the first time they will get to play another powerhouse team on the international stage.
Unlike the other two European teams, Fnatic received a fairly high rating from the crew at Cloth5 and has been ranked in the Top 5 teams at the championship. World class players, international experience, and consistent performances, combined with a very effective roster swap and improved team synergy makes Fnatic a very strong contender for Worlds. Seeded into Group B, Fnatic should have no problems with the likes of Mineski and Gambit while possibly struggling against Samsung Galaxy Ozone.
Assuming they get passed the group stage, Fnatic should show their international prowess against less experienced teams such as Cloud9 and Gamania while struggling against the likes of SK Telecom T1 and OMG.
The Top 4 Contestants
Finishing first place in the China Regional Finals granted Royal Club a berth in the quarter finals. Royal is a team fueled by aggression during all stages of the game. At level 1 they favor setting up picks over invading the enemy jungle. In the early game, jungler “Lucky” spends most of his time ganking and tower diving lanes to snowball the game. Their duo lane lane features the LoL prodigy, Uzi, along with Tabe, who on his support Annie will cause nightmares for teams if left unbanned. The Cloth5 eSports team believes that Royal Club will advance to the quarter finals but it will not be an easy task to accomplish. They have weak vision control in the early stages of the game due to Tabe tending to opt for double GP10 items and delaying his Sightstone. In addition, two of the Royals players are retiring after the finals so this tournament will be a strong last hurrah for the team, but ultimately, may not be enough to take home a crown for China.
Since teams like Samsung Galaxy Ozone and SK Telecom T1 who are mechanically proficient in lane will be able to survive their early aggression or even beat it due to superior vision control, we don’t predict Royal Club to make it past the semifinals.
Known as the “Forces of Darkness” in China, OMG will finally take the world stage and battle it out with the top teams from around the globe to bring glory and honor for China. Often regarded as the “Cloud 9” of China with them running many Korean-like strategies and team compositions, OMG has changed the entire meta in China by unseating World Elite from their spot of domination. OMG has yet to demonstrate how they will fare against non-Chinese teams, however it can be expected that no matter who they are facing, OMG will be ruthless and will play aggressively no matter if they are ahead, even, or behind their opponents.
Perhaps the spiritual successor in playstyle to Najin Sword last World Championship, OMG’s explosive tendencies will carry them far into the knock-out stages of the tournament but may fall short of first place due to their always-on mode of perpetual aggression.
Samsung Galaxy Ozone is an all-around solid team with multiple threats and an OGN Champions title under their belt. As such, they are looking to make an impressive run at the World Championships. Ozone’s duo lane is arguably one of the best in the world and DanDy is a world class jungler. With their lane dominance via ganks from DanDy,aggressive plays from Dade in the mid lane, consistent play from Homme in the top, and a mechanically gifted duo, Ozone is looking to easily shred through Group B. Even against the EU power houses, Fnatic and Gambit Gaming, the Cloth 5 e-sports team expects Ozone to place first in Group B and with a good chance to win Season 3 Worlds Championships.
Although we rank Ozone as the second strongest team in this tournament, they have a strong performance record against other teams in this tournament, including our favorites to win, SK Telecom T1. With a million dollars on the line, anything could happen if Ozone finds themselves in the Finals.
It is absolutely amazing to see how SK Telecom T1 has grown as a team. They went from being a group of 5 “solo queue-oriented” individuals that relied on Faker to carry, lacked teamfight coordination, and would often make the same mistakes every game to becoming a team that has multiple threats and who are all individually capable of creating plays. With a versatile top lane, a formidable duo lane, an immortal jungler, and the star Faker himself in the mid lane, it is finally time for SK Telecom T1 to take the world stage and prove to all whether they are deserving of the hype and praise.
Due to their overall ability to adapt and execute just about any strategy at the highest level, the Cloth5 eSports team puts SK Telecom T1 as the favorite to win the Season 3 World Championship.