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World Championship Coverage: Group Stage Review and Quarterfinals Preview


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Since the Season 3 World Championship kicked off on September 15th, there have been a total of 41 games to see which four teams will escape the group stages and move onto the quarterfinals of the tournament. Although not everyone’s favorites made it into the bracket stages, the four teams coming have proven their worth and truly put on a spectacular show for viewers around the world. Take a ride with us as we review the teams who made it out of the group stage and preview their upcoming opponents in the quarterfinals.

Group A

As Group A’s matches came to a close, the International Wildcard team GamingGear.EU finished 5th place with a (1-7) group stage record. The North American crowd favorite Team SoloMid took 4th place with a (2-6) group stage record. The EU LCS Summer runner-up Lemondogs took 3rd place with a (3-5) group stage record. And finally, the two teams advancing to the quarterfinals are the Korean Qualifier winners SK Telecom T1 and China’s OMG who tied for 1st place with a (7-1) group stage record.

SKT1SK Telecom T1

skt1

The Korean powerhouse team has lived up to their hype by absolutely dominating Group A with dropping only one game to OMG in the group stage. The star OGN Champions Summer MVP mid laner and King of the Korean Solo Queue ladder Faker made an absolute show in his first appearance on the international stage by producing highlight play after highlight play to allow his team to take control of the game off of even one mistake from their opponents.

In the top lane, Impact exhibited the sheer depth of his champion pool in the group stage having brought out six different champions over the course of SK Telecom T1’s eight games in the group stage with Elise, Kennen, Renekton, Shen, Singed, Jax, and Jarvan IV. His overall champion versatility opens up a myriad of options for SK Telecom T1 in terms of team compositions. His ability to bully his lane opponent, punishing his lane opponent for small mistakes, as well as in-game playmaking from the top lane made him a force to be reckoned with in the top lane.

The unsung hero from the jungle, Bengi continued to make his presence known across the map throughout the laning phase opening up opportunities for his teammates to secure kills and objectives throughout the game. He has brought out Lee Sin, Jarvan IV, Vi, Elise, and is the first Korean jungler to bring out Aatrox in a competitive scene.

In the mid lane, Faker once again lived up to the hype and demolished every mid lane opponent he faced in the group stage. His ability to make plays in the mid lane whether it would be on Ahri, Gragas, Fizz, or even Riven forces his opponents to put a lot of resources into dealing with him but often will fall short when Faker makes his escape. With SK Telecom T1 advancing into the quarterfinals, Faker will be looking to demonstrate that he is the best mid laner in the world. And after his spectacular Ahri play during their last group stage game against OMG where SKT T1 accumulated 6 kills, 3 towers, and 1 inhibitor in 2 minutes due in large part to his Charm skillshots, Faker might soon be crowned as the king.

The so-called “Hundred Acre Wood Bottom Lane”, Piglet and PoohManDu had their ups and downs in the laning phase of their group stage games but despite sometimes falling behind, they were always extremely impactful in the later stages of the game by making stellar lane rotations to shove down towers, snagging vision control away from their opponents, and providing the necessary damage and utility in team fight engagements. PoohManDu played mainly Zyra throughout the group stage to great effect while also bringing out Sona, Nami, and even Leona while Piglet has brought out Vayne, Caitlyn, Ezreal, and Corki.

General Strategy and Playstyle

SK Telecom T1 showed some of the highest caliber mechanical play in the world and in their games they seeked to dominate the laning phase against their opponents, take vision control in the mid game, create the picks, and then strategically take objectives off of picks or plays that they make across the map. Once SK Telecom T1 started setting the pace of the game forcing their opponents to react to whatever action they took, it was very hard for their opponents to come back at that point.

In Group A, SK Telecom T1 ran various compositions, but they excelled at running pick compositions and punishing their opponents for positional errors throughout the game. Bengi often opted for picking Vi while Faker selected high burst damage mid lanes such as Ahri or Fizz to follow up Vi’s single target lockdown and vaporize anyone who got out of position. The duo lane often opted for Zyra with Piglet’s champion of choice with the goal of pushing towers down as fast as possible and then rotating to other lanes to help the rest of the team snag more objectives.

Final Thoughts

SK Telecom T1 continues to show how far they have come since their beginnings as a team with five solo-queue minded individuals turning into one cohesive team with multiple threats all over the team and who are all individually capable of making plays for the team. Facing the Gamania Bears in the quarterfinals, SK Telecom T1 will look to make Korea proud and defeat the Taiwanese squad to avenge Azubu Frost’s loss to TPA. Korea’s SK Telecom T1 has learned from Frost’s defeat as well as their own defeat against OMG to never underestimate their opponents and will be taking the necessary precautions to prepare for the Gamania Bears in the quarterfinals.

OMGlogo300OMG

omg

This formidable Chinese team made a huge splash at the world stage with almost unprecedented aggressive and mechanical play as well as some of the best teamfight coordination among all of the world championship teams. Known for dismantling World Elite’s previous dominance in China as well as completely revolutionizing the Chinese meta in Season 3, OMG will look to face Royal Club Huang Zu once again in the quarterfinals.

Gogoing, the veteran top lane for OMG, has shown to be a thorn in the side of OMG’s opponents constantly applying pressure from the top lane and bullying his lane opponent. Often times he is the main or secondary initiation along with LoveLin for OMG and he will fearlessly initiating team fights for OMG often single-handedly forcing an entire team away. He has shown strong performances on Renekton, Shen, Kennen, Aatrox, and Zac.

LoveLin, the jungler for OMG, demonstrated that he is an absolute monster no matter what champion he is given. He is a crucial part of OMG’s hyper-aggressive early/mid game by initiating 3v1 tower dives at the 3 minute mark and rushing Boots of Mobility to get around the map to constantly make his presence known and gank his opponents over and over again to snowball OMG further and further into the lead. He is one of the few junglers in the World Championships outside of EU to adapt the jungle Aatrox to great effect utilizing the revive passive for tower dives. LoveLin has also brought out Lee Sin, Jarvan IV, Yorick, and even Volibear consistently terrorizing OMG’s opponents in all stages of the game.

Cool, the star LPL MVP mid lane for OMG, exhibited his playmaking plays for OMG with his strong roaming capability that can create picks for his teammates or follow up picks from his teammates with raw damage to secure kills. So far in the group stage he has brought out Ahri, Fizz, Gragas, Syndra, and Cassiopeia and he has consistently drawn Zed and/or Ahri bans from OMG’s opponents because of his ability to make plays happen for OMG that spin the game completely into OMG’s favor.

In the duo lane, San and Bigpomelo has been absolutely terrifying in the group stage games with their dominating lane performance even over SK Telecom T1’s duo lane. San, the Captain for OMG, currently sports the highest KDA at worlds at 15.1 and has brought out Caitlyn, Ezreal, Tristana, Kog’Maw, Corki, and even AP Nidalee. Bigpomelo has mainly played Zyra in the tournament while also bringing out support Annie and Veigar demonstrating his ability to catch out his opponents with deadly accuracy and he will consistently make the plays happen for OMG whether it would be in the laning phase or in team fights.

General Strategy and Playstyle

OMG ran skirmish compositions looking to constantly duel their opponents and win small engagements during the early/mid game stage that snowball into objectives and kills. In all stages of the game OMG picked fights and made aggressive plays across the map no matter if they were ahead, even, or behind their opponents in gold.

Gogoing and LoveLin often opted for champions that were very strong early game bullies and could provide the main frontline initiation for OMG in teamfights or skirmishes in the jungle. Cool often went for high damage assassins in the mid lane but can also chose more utility mages depending on what OMG’s team composition needed. San and Bigpomelo often opted for duo lanes that had high kill potential as well as strong tower pushing capability to secure global gold for OMG.

Final Thoughts

With their convincingly dominating performance in the group stage despite dropping one game to SK Telecom T1 at the very end, OMG demonstrated how their style of constantly making aggressive plays across the map will absolutely punish any team that prefers a slower paced game. Once OMG starts dictating the pace, it becomes increasingly difficult for their opponents to make any sort of comeback because OMG will constantly pressure and force their opponents to react to their map movements.

OMG will advance into the quarterfinals to face none other than their Chinese counterpart team Royal Club Huang Zu. Rumor has it that OMG purposely threw their games against Royal Club in the Chinese qualifier after already knocking Royal down to the losers bracket in convincing fashion and knowing which group the 2nd Chinese team would take which prompted a support switch with bigpomelo and comA to allow OMG to enter the groups. OMG has demonstrated in the past LPL seasons that they are capable of dismantling Royal Club, but only time will tell on how it will play out between these two Chinese teams. One thing is for sure though, it is going to be an extremely bloody affair.


Group B

In Group B we had Fnatic taking the first place with a 7-1 record. The European squad had a slow start with a defeat in their first game against Vulcun but they never looked back and went on to win their remaining games in the group. Gambit Gaming took second place beating the heavily hyped Korean squad Samsung Galaxy Ozone in a single-game tiebreaker match since they shared a 5-3 record. Taking fourth and fifth we had Vulcun (3-5) and Mineski (0-8).

FnaticFnatic

fnatic

Fnatic destroyed Group B at the Season Three World Championships in a convincing fashion, dropping only one game on their first day before going on a seven game win streak to clinch first place in their group. Their midlaner, xPeke, continued to prove his world class ability with strong performances on Ahri, Zed, Kassadin, and Orianna throughout the group stage. His ability to work in tandem with Cyanide and sOAZ to pick up kills and dominate the early and mid game allowed Fnatic to consistently outfarm, outpush, and outperform their opponents.

sOAZ proved the depth of his champion pool throughout the group stage, playing 6 different champions in 8 games, with his only repeat performance being Zac against Vulcun and Gambit. He also managed to prove his role diversity, playing an assassin, a tanky engage, a mage, and even a support. He continues to be a staple in Fnatic’s lineup, and his performance in the group stages shows that he’s here to stay, and for a reason.

In the jungle, Cyanide got his hands on his favorite champion 50% of the time – Aatrox. Playing Aatrox in games against Gambit, Mineski, and Ozone, Cyanide proved that jungle Aatrox is no joke, and led Fnatic to victories each and every time he got his hands on the champion. When combined with xPeke’s Orianna in the game against Gambit and the game against Ozone, the strong engage of Dark Flight + Shockwave turned many teamfights into Fnatic’s favor, and showed the true power of their extensive champion pools. He also managed to grab onto Lee Sin in a couple games, one of his favorite comfort picks.

In the midlane, xPeke continued to draw numerous bans, including two separate games where he drew all three bans from the opposing team. With consistently strong CS, a diverse champion pool, and world-class mechanics, xPeke proved that he needs to be shut down in order for the opposing team to win, and even then there’s no guarantee. After picking Orianna in two games, xPeke reverted to his assassin style gameplay the moment he got the chance, closing out the group stages with strong performances on Zed, Ahri, Kassadin, Fizz, and Diana.

Meanwhile, in the bottom lane, Puzsu managed to draw an Ashe ban before managing to get his hands on the champion twice. Puzsu played through numerous AD carries in the group stages, including Caitlyn, Ashe, his famed Varus, Corki, and even a Sivir game before the stage ended, and proved his dominance on each and every one. With an especially strong performance on Corki – going 8-1-11 – Puzsu proved that his champion pool isn’t limited and was a key factor in numerous Fnatic victories.

Rounding out the Fnatic roster was a very strong performer in Yellowstar, whose preferred champions for the group stage seemed to be none other than Leona and Zyra, the former coming as a slight surprise to casters and fans alike. However, when you combine Leona’s ultimate with Aatrox’s Dark Flight and Orianna’s Shockwave, you end up with a truly destructive CC combo that is not soon overlooked. However, the real show stopper was his Zyra, whose clutch Grasping Roots and Stranglethorns saved Fnatic from far too many aces and provided an avenue for early kills like in their game against SG Ozone where they repeatedly caught out Dade’s Lissandra. Yellowstar’s Zyra was praised greatly, by fans, foreigners, and casters.

General Strategy and Playstyle

Fnatic’s general strategy seemed to rely on strong map presence and vision, with precision dives, ruthless ganks, and flawless objective control. Their true strength lied in their ability to snowball early and control their lead, while maintaining strong map presence through global ultimates, teleports, or vision control. Fnatic played with a global ultimate or a teleport in 5 out of their 8 games, not including Ashe’s Enchanted Crystal Arrow. With xPeke usually grabbing teleport in the mid lane, this set up Fnatic for strong early presence with commanding ganks and picks that could spring out of nowhere.

Fnatic also continued to produce picks for their team, featuring a strong roaming mid who regularly took teleport and jungle who was consistently where he needed to be. With Cyanide’s ability to engage on both Lee Sin and Aatrox, enemy teams found it hard to escape from Fnatic when they needed to and this allowed Fnatic to snowball hard through consistent picks in the jungle.

Fnatic favored compositions with champions that could abuse their high mobility. As they skirted around the map, Fnatic was typically too slippery as a team, weaving in and out of skirmishes to create favorable engagements on their terms. Usually featuring sOAZ in the top lane on a split pusher, xPeke was the playermaker- creating picks for the team through strong upfront burst or crowd control, such as Kassadin’s R -> Q -> E combo or Ahri’s Charm.

Vision control was a key feature throughout all of their games, taking advantage of their trademark, “the Fnatic brush.” Often hiding in brush waiting for enemy teams to approach, Fnatic would patiently wait until key abilities were blown on waveclear and then dogpile in for an instant kill and capitalize off it by securing a nearby objective.

Final Thoughts

Fnatic proved their players’ abilities on the world stage this week, and their performances are some that will not soon be forgotten. From Yellowstar’s newly minted Zyra play to xPeke’s 18-3 Zed against Mineski, Fnatic proved that old dogs do indeed learn new tricks, and that they were Season 1 World Champions for a reason. With consistently strong performances and strong map control, they’re definitely in the running for the title for this year’s “World Champion”.

GambitGambit Gaming

gambit

The Russian powerhouse started their participation at the World Championship with two victories on Day 1 with an expected win over the outclassed Mineski and against Samsung Galaxy Ozone, featuring a Trinity Force Kog’maw coming from Genja.

On the remaining days of the group stage, the Gambit squad was inconsistent with their play and showed some of their weaknesses. While they were still able to pick up wins against the likes of Mineski and Vulcun, the Russians fell short against both Fnatic  twice and Ozone, leading them to a 5-3 record tie for the second place and were forced to decide their fate on a tiebreaker against the latter Korean team. Although they pulled out a win in the longest game of the tournament thus far, it wasn’t an easy task and only helped show other teams Gambit’s inconsistencies at the moment.

General Strategy and Playstyle

Not much has changed here for Gambit, they divide their playstyle in three distinct ways across the map:  the top lane, the jungle-mid lane duo, and the bot lane. Much like most of the other European teams, their main focus point is getting their mid laner rolling and transforming the mid laner Alex Ich into the playmaker. As such, Diamondprox will look to float heavily around the middle portion of the map if he isn’t counterjungling and making life hell for his opposing jungler.
Gambit’s duo lane is the team’s most passive and consistent lane, with Genja’s farm taking high priority over anything else. In the past with Gosu Pepper, this lane may have been more aggressive with a support who actively looked to create plays againt their enemy duo but these days CS is the name of the game.
For the top lane the one thing that has changed is Darien’s tendency to play Aatrox in a carry style over the typical top tanky bruiser like Shen or Renekton, giving him more offensive capabilities in the top lane. Since he’s in a position to carry on Aatrox, he draws immense global pressure and allows Alex Ich to make the necessary plays to carry the game. However, if on Shen or Renetkon, he’ll be looking to engage more in teamfights (if not splitting with Shen) instead of choosing to continuously duel. Do keep in mind that he tends to build Aatrox with a Guinsoo’s Rageblade after a Ravenous Hydra which allows him to outsustain nearly anyone in a 1v1 situation.

Final Thoughts

Gambit Gaming showed an improvement in communication and synergy coming from their lackluster performance during LCS Europe Summer Split, but they are yet to show two things. The first being consistency and maintaining a good level of play against varying compositions and playstyles. Their games were not straight slopes to victory but rather mountains filled with many troughs and uneven terrain that require some refinement if they hope to make it to the finals. And second, the Gambit squad has yet to defeat a top tier team. Although they defeated Ozone twice, it was evident that they were underperforming as a team for the entirety of the group stages with a new top laner that threw off team syngery, an on-tilt mid laner Dade, and lacking vision control from Mata. If Gambit can put their head on straight for the remainder of this tournament, then they might have the best chance at facing against any international team since they’re one of the best teams who adapt ingame to match their opponents.


Quarterfinal Matchups

38px-C9logo_stdCloud 9 HyperX vs Fnatic38px-Fnaticlogo_std

Ashe and Zyra have been the preferred duo lane for both Fnatic and Cloud9 as of late. They will be highly contested or even banned. Zac and Elise have also heavily been part of both team’s compositions as Cloud 9 opts for Zac in the jungle while Fnatic plays him in the top lane.

Composition wise, Cloud9 will run double damage solo lanes while Fnatic normally tends to go with a tanky initiator in the top lane. During the early game, Fnatic tends to be more aggressive with their jungler Cyanide looking for skirmishes while Cloud9 will focus on objective control. In the laning phase it is really up to Sexpeke to dominate Hai and keep him from roaming. The early game will be the deciding factor between the two teams, as Cloud9 is still relatively untested when playing from behind.

From Fnatic, xPeke is always the player to watch as EU is a very mid lane centric region. xPeke is the one to pick up all the empty lane farm from Fnatic and looks for kills during the mid game. Highlighted during the last weeks of the NA LCS and NA Regionals, Balls has showed his ability to carry the game all on his own with champions like Rumble. And we’ll finally get to see whether Meteos will remain his immortal self as he encounters more junglers who focus on counterjungling and paint a target on his back.

The showdown between NA and EU can really go either way. There is a slight advantage for Fnatic because they have had stage practice with their group stage games while Cloud 9 will be entering the world stage fresh and haven’t played a game on the stage just yet. However, Cloud 9 will have the opportunity to pull out secret strategies and team compositions since it’s been at least 20 days since their last competitive showing with a new patch in-tow.

Najin_Black_SwordNajin Black Sword vs Gambit Gaming38px-GambitLogo_std

In this match up the pick/ban phase is extremely unpredictable outside of the standard FoTM champions. There isn’t much data on Sword to make a judgement on exactly what they prioritize and Gambit can always bring out new champions to the tournament. From past match history in the most recent NLB Summer tournament, Expession demonstrated to be a monsterous Jax and Irelia player especially with the new Trinity Force. Korean allstar PraY was always known for his great plays on Ezreal and Corki but can always opt for alternate choices if need be. Thresh will also be a hotly contested pick between Cain and Voidle since both supports are capable of playing him at a proficient level.

If Najin Black Sword lives up to their motto of “do dive” , Gambit Gaming will have an extremely tough time surviving the early stages of the game. Alex and Genja won’t have the time to grow and come out ahead in the mid/late game like they usually do. Sword has a fast and heavy aggression style of play that will surely snowball out of control quickly if allowed to. The big factors of the game will be which mid laner Sword will opt for (SSONG or Nagne), Diamondprox matching ganks with Watch, and how well Genja will be able to survive Pray and Cain duo lane.

PraY and Cain will be the lane to watch for from Najin Black Sword due to their aggression in lane and Pray being considered as one of the best marksman in Korea. As for Gambit, Alex Ich and Diamondprox are the ones to pay attention for their clutch plays and ability to carry Gambit to victory by being one of the best duos in competitive and having unmatched synergy across the middle lane and jungle.

This match up can go either way, as there are only limited info available on Najin Black Sword. However, the Najin team did bring their sister team, Najin White Shield, to Los Angeles just so Sword can practice with them and come up with strategies. As for Gambit, you can never count them out even at the worst time they manage to pull out a win. After taking down Samsung Galaxy Ozone in the tie-breaker match, will Gambit take down another Korean team? Or will Najin Black Sword make it to the semifinals the departure of MakNooN and avenge Ozone’s early exit from the group stage?

bearsGamania Bears vs SK Telecom T1SKT1

The players on SK Telecom have a much bigger champion pool than the GamaBears as the individual players on the Bears typically have a small rotation of 2-3 champions that they will always pick. Caitlyn will be highly contested between Piglet and NL and Sona between PoohManDu and SwordArt. As for rest of the map, Ahri, Elise, and Jarvan IV will be priorities in the picks and bans.

As we saw in the Group A, slow methodical play is not how to dominate the group stages and that is exactly how Gamania Bear prefers to play. Gamania Bears have a extremely slow paced and passive laning phase while SK Telecom T1 are the polar opposites. SK Telecom tends to dominate the mid game in kills or CS then continue their stranglehold until victory. If Gamania Bears does not end up falling behind in the early game, they can get ahead from their well-composed and coordinated team fights. Steak in the top lane from Gamania Bears is also a big factor since if Steak is behind or camped by Bengi, Gamania Bears will have little or no pressure around the map. If Steak goes down early so will mostly the team. The MVP mid laner Faker from SK Telecom is the player everyone has been paying attention to and due to his flashy plays and incredible mechanics, Faker is currently considered the best midlaner in the world. Along with Faker, Piglet is always there with the clean up and superior positioning during teamfights and skirmishes.

It’s Bears against a telephone company, so naturally the monstrous Bears will win. Except for the fact that Gamania Bears are more like teddy bears in hibernation and SK Telecom are like a phone company that doesn’t stop overcharging you until you are dead. SK Telecom will keep pressing the issue with their hyper aggression in the mid game and force the Bears back into their caves. Due the fact that Gamania Bears will not be able to keep up with SK Telecom in the early game simply due to laning mechanics, the phone company will most likely take another win with their star sales representative Faker.

Royal_ClubRoyal Club vs OMGOMGlogo300

This is a repeat of the Chinese Regional Finals where Royal Club was able to overcome the powerhouse team OMG.  Royal Club will always first pick Annie if she is available along with Fizz and Twitch. OMG seems to favor Aatrox jungle as of late and that is something that Royal Club have also used before during LPL. If Annie is banned, Sona will be highly prioritized between the two teams along with Zed/Ahri/Fizz if they are left open. Between the two marksmen, Uzi and San can both play Vayne, Caitlyn and the Trinity Force carries so picks between them will most likely be traded back and forth without worry.

Coming from the same region and placing first and second in the summer season of the LPL, these teams both have a similar play style. Both Royal Club and OMG will look for level 1 team fights and aggressive tower dives in the early game. When these two teams clash, there will be endless amount of aggression and heavy focus on Fizz and support Annie picks. Essentially, it is a race between who can snowball harder and faster between the two teams.

From what was seen in the group stages, LoveLin has been performing incredibly making aggressive dives and getting the team ahead in the early game all on his own. OMG Cool who is has also been crushing his lane throughout the group stages with his Ahri and Syndra play, even beating Faker in a 1v1 duel against his Ahri. Royal Club’s Uzi is considered as one of the best marksmen in China and coupled along with Tabe’s Annie, we can expect hyper aggression from the duo lane. Wh1tezZ is also someone that deserves attention as he strictly plays assassins such as Zed, Fizz and Kassadin. During the mid game, look for Wh1tezZ roaming top lane and winning duels even against bruisers on his Fizz and Kassadin.

Much blood will be shed and shots will be fired between these two Chinese squads as they once again face off and collide in the quarterfinals. Both teams are not afraid to be aggressive and bring out unconventional picks. OMG has demonstrated in the past two LPL seasons that they know how to break down Royal convincingly when they knocked Royal down to the losers’ bracket of the Chinese Qualifier. Even though Royal Club was able to beat OMG and take first place in the Chinese Qualifier Finals, OMG was not playing at their highest potential due the fact they played with their sub ComA and it’s rumored they wanted to throw on purpose to get an easy group. As they fight Royal Club against in the quarterfinals, OMG will be using their tried and tested support Bigpomelo and coming off of a 7-1 record from the group stages with momentum on their side.

 

Be sure to catch the quarterfinals games starting on Monday September 23rd at 12PM PST when Cloud 9 faces Fnatic and following shortly after Najin Black Sword versus Gambit Gaming. Keep tuned in for more coverage from Cloth5 as more games are played through the bracket stages and as we approach the grand finals!


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The eSports writing team here at Cloth5 extensively covers both the NA and EU LCS, OGN Champions, the Chinese LPL, and GPL. Providing game analysis and meta-shifting trends across all regions around the globe.

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