After the Play-ins concluded, the League of Legends Season 7 World Championships have moved on to the main Group stage. In my opinion, this is the most exciting portion of the tournament. Similar to the first few days of March Madness or the group stage of the World Cup, we get a lot of huge games being played over a short period of time. This is also the only part of the tournament that consists of best-of-ones, allowing teams to pull out their quirkiest and most creative strategies in order to catch teams off-guard. Every game has the potential to become a nail-biter. In preparation for these matches, here are my predictions for the results of the Group stage:
Group A: 1. SK Telecom T1 2. Cloud9 3. Edward Gaming 4. AHQ eSports Club
SK Telecom T1 comes in as the most storied franchise in League of Legends eSports history, having won three world championships and looking to pull off a three-peat. This is the first time thought that we’ve ever seen holes in SKT’s armor. They only finished 4th in the LoL Champions Korea Summer Split, which included a 4-match losing streak. Nevertheless, SKT has always been the best at adapting and fixing their weaknesses. I expect them to find their identity again, which is why I’m picking them to win this group. Cloud9 and Edward Gaming will be fighting for second place. Cloud9 has a slight edge, coming off of a Play-in stage in which they showed their mid lane dominance and revived bot lane, while Edward Gaming suffers from a small jungle pool and inexperienced marksman. AHQ will probably end up finishing last because they lack a presence in both carry positions.
Group B: 1. Longzhu Gaming 2. Fnatic 3. Immortals 4. Gigabyte Marines
Longzhu Gaming comes off of defeating SKT in the LoL Champions Korea Summer Finals, the first team to ever defeat SKT in a domestic finals. With arguably the best bot lane in the world and a star top laner, they should make quick work of this group. There were a lot of questions about Fnatic coming into Worlds, but they appeared to have answered most of them in the Play-ins. They’ve figured out how to control the mid lane, and have veterans in both the top and bot lanes. Immortals comes to Worlds after failing to qualify last year in their breakout season. While they have great individual talent, their lack of international experience will come back to bite them. Fnatic should have the upper hand if they continue the level of play they had in their Play-in knockout match against Hong Kong Attitude. The Gigabyte Marines made a splash at the Mid-Season Invitational, upsetting teams such as Team Solomid. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that they find much success in this group.
Group C: 1. Samsung Galaxy 2. Royal Never Give Up 3. G2 eSports 4. 1907 Fenerbahçe
Prior to the Play-ins, Group C was considered the “group of death,” having consisted of three legitimate title contenders. Things have only seem to gotten worse with the addition of 1907 Fenerbahçe. 1907 Fenerbahçe showed off their star carries in the Play-ins, but will find it difficult to generate similar results, as their opponents are some of the best teams in the world. Samsung Galaxy is a former world champion, and have retained the same roster that last year pushed SKT to five games in the World 2016 finals. Royal Never Give Up is a Chinese powerhouse that has multiple threats and potential carries, but also have questionable draft strategies. G2 has solid mid lane pressure and side wave control, but they fall behind in pure mechanical skill when compared with Samsung or Royal Never Give Up.
Group D: 1. Team Solomid 2. Team WE 3. Flash Wolves 4. Misfits Gaming
Team Solomid have superstars in the mid lane and marksman positions, along with a top laner and jungler who have been synergizing well for a while now. Their consistent, high level of play should secure them first place in this group. Team WE also has a consistent playstyle, coupled with a solid team identity around their star marksman. It is never a question of if they will find a chance to scale, but when. Flash Wolves have traditionally been a strong contender at Worlds, but they’re underperforming in the mid lane this year which spells trouble in the current meta. Misfits have an exciting play style and draft strategy, but, much like Immortals in Group B, lack the international experience to close out games against teams such as Team Solomid and Team WE.
Tune into the Worlds 2017 Group stage matches on the mornings of October 5th thru 8th on LoLeSports, Twitch.tv, or Youtube.
Lawrence Zhao covers eSports. Contact him at [email protected].