Week 1 of the Group Stage at the League of Legends 2017 World Championships wrapped up Sunday morning. There have been a total of 24 games played over four days, with each team having played three total games. Here are the top storylines of the tournament going into Week 2.
Group A: Edward Gaming (EDG) are 0-3
It’s no surprise that SKT (3-0), the defending World Champions, are in first place in Group A. However, EDG (0-3), the League of Legends Premier League Summer Split Champions, have yet to find their first win. After a close 53-minute game against AHQ (1-2), throwing a 10K gold lead against SKT, and getting smashed by C9 (2-1), the #1 seed from China are winless going into Week 2. It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly is going wrong with EDG; they’ve lost all three of their games in three completely different ways. Nevertheless, they definitely have to improve their late game decision-making and positioning. Had those parts of their game been up to par, they could’ve finished Week 1 with at least two wins.
Group B: Gigabyte Marines (GAM) Unconventional Strategies; Fnatic go 0-3
The GAM (1-2) of Vietnam are playing in a meta of their own. In their first game against Fnatic (0-3), they picked jungle Nocturne and ran ignite-heal Lulu, catching the European third seed off guard and crushing them swiftly in 24 minutes. In their second game against Longzhu (3-0), they tried something even crazier. They picked Lucian top, placed Mordekaiser in the duo lane with a Karma, and had their Tristana farming in the mid lane with a jungle Cho’Gath. Unfortunately, this time things did not go so well for the Marines, losing the game just as quickly as they beat Fnatic and giving up 17 kills while only earning two. In their final game against Immortals, the Marines reverted to their ignite-heal Lulu and picked jungle Kayn. They kept up with Immortals in the early game, but things eventually fell apart in the mid game. It’ll be interesting to see what the Gigabyte Marines come up with during the days off, and it should be an exciting Week 2 in Group B. On another note, Fnatic finished Week 1 winless just like EDG, after Rekkles made an overaggressive play against Immortals that lead to his death and the team’s loss. It’s hard to criticize him as he’s been the lone bright spot for Fnatic all year, and he definitely feels the pressure mounting.
Group C: Major Regions > Minor Regions
There was a lot of hype this year around the inclusion of all minor regions in the tournament in the new Play-in stage. However, we still ended up with only two minor region teams in the Group Stage, the same amount as last year without the Play-in stage. Those two teams are the Gigabyte Marines in Group B, who played an unconventional style and could only put together a single victory, and 1907 Fenerbahçe (0-3), who have yet to find their first victory. Ultimately, this shows that the minor regions still have a long way to go before they can compete on the world stage. The Gigabyte Marines have only been able to win by playing outside of the meta, and 1907 Fenerbahçe only found a small amount of success in their game against Samsung Galaxy (2-1), in which they eventually threw their lead late in the game. It appears that the major regions, especially Korea, will continue to dominate the League of Legends arena for years to come.
Group D: D does stand for Death
Going into the tournament, many, including myself, thought that Group C would be the most competitive and Group D would be an easy win for Team Solomid (2-1). However, we have all been proven wrong. Instead, Team WE (2-1), TSM, and most surprisingly, Misfits (2-1), all sit tied for first place in Group D. Very few people saw Misfits finding success in this group, but it is actually FlashWolves (0-3) who sit at the bottom of the group. This group will be the most interesting and entertaining to watch in Week 2. While TSM have relied on Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng to carry games late, it has been Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell who has made up for TSM’s mistakes in the early game. Team WE are still playing through their star marksman, Jin “Mystic” Seong-jun, with some decent performances from their mid laner, Su “xiye” Han-Wei. Misfits have had strong showings from Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Steven “Hans sama” Liv, leading to their surprise success in Week 1. FlashWolves are simply struggling on all fronts.
Top champions and bans
There have been some hotly contested champions that reveal how narrow the meta currently is in competitive League of Legends. Kalista is definitely the top-tier marksmen, with a 100% ban rate in Week 1 of the Group Stages. Xayah comes next with a 95.8% pick/ban rate, while other hypercarries such as Varus, Kog’Maw, Tristana and Twitch are popular backup picks. In the jungle, both Sejuani and Jarvan IV have 100% pick/ban rates, with Gragas as another popular option, showing just how dependent teams are on tankiness and reliable engage. For supports, ardent censor users are clearly the way to go, with Janna and Lulu both having 91.7% pick/ban rates. The meta for solo lanes are a little more varied, with the only notable champion being Syndra, who has an 87.5% pick/ban rate.
Looking back at my Group Stage predictions, it’s a mixed bag of results. That’s a given when so many of these teams have been practicing behind closed doors. Now that they’ve each shown some of their hands, they all return to the drawing boards to figure out their strategies for Week 2. It’s guaranteed to be even better than Week 1.
Tune into Week 2 of the Group Stages from October 11-14 on Youtube, Twitch.tv and LoLeSports.
Lawrence Zhao covers eSports. Contact him at [email protected].