9 Things We Learned from the LoL Worlds 2017 Group Stage

The Quarter-finals

With LoL Worlds 2017 group stage is now over, the quarter-final pairs are scheduled as follows:

Date Quarter-finals pairs
10/19/2017 10 AM Longzhu Gaming Samsung Galaxy
10/20/2017 10 AM SK Telecom T1 Misfits
10/21/2017 10 AM Royal Never Give Up Fnatic
10/22/2017 10 AM Team WE Cloud9

These games will be incredibly exciting. Longzhu Gaming and SK Telecom T1 are almost certainly going to proceed to the semi-finals, barring a massive upset. The other games could feasibly go either way, but RNG and WE are likely to also proceed. Anything can happen in Esports, though.

SKT T1 can be beaten

SKT are known for their completely dominant rosters, and they are the most successful League of Legends team of all time. The current incarnation of their roster, however, isn’t as strong as previous ones. Their loss against ahq in the group stage may be a sign of things to come. Huni and Peanut are not as consistent as their teammates. They are also picking overly defensive, late game scaling comps and often had to overturn massive gold deficits just to win games.

9 things we learned from the LoL Worlds 2017 Group Stage

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They now have some tough competition if they want to win this year, however. They cannot be counted out, but if they have to face Longzhu in the finals, it could be a difficult one to call. Most people would say that Longzhu are the favourites to win Worlds 2017, but SKT are definitely still contenders.

Longzhu are looking unbelievably strong

The group stage for Longzhu was a demonstration of their total and utter dominance. They showed that they could pick practically anything, even breaking the meta by picking up Nasus top. This pick had only seen a tiny amount of professional play, so to bring it out on the world stage was a risk. Khan absolutely dominated SoaZ with the pick. Longzhu also showed that they could compete with the more cheesy, aggressive teams such as Gigabyte Marines.

For any team to beat LZ would be an achievement in itself. Samsung Galaxy will have to take them on in the quarter-finals. They beat Longzhu in Week 5 of the LCK Summer Split, so it’s not impossible that they will beat them again. If Longzhu are defeated on the way to the final, it is likely that SKT will take home the bacon.

TSM choked (again)

TeamSolo Mid exited an international tournament before their prime, yet again. They performed well during the first week but capitulated to some extent in the second week. No player can bare individual responsibility for them packing their bags. Each player played well in some games, and badly in others. However, one thing that is worth pointing out is that in the vital game vs. Misfits, Hauntzer picked up Jayce. Ignar (Misfits support) himself said that as soon as they saw this pick they were optimistic.

Jayce is incredibly high risk, incredibly high reward. If the pick isn’t played to perfection (for example by someone like Khan) then it simply doesn’t work. This is what happened, and Misfits managed to win the game through a few early top lane ganks. Hauntzer cannot be solo blamed, but he must take some responsibility for this risky pick. They would have had a much better chance of staying in Worlds 2017 had he picked a tank, for example, Shen.

9 things we learned from the LoL Worlds 2017 Group Stage

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EU > NA

This is no longer simply a meme. It’s an undeniable fact. Over and over again, despite the difference in hype for each region, EU has outperformed NA at international tournaments. Although words may be eaten later, should C9 do better than Fnatic and Misfits, even at events like MSI EU has done better. This was supposed to be TSM’s year, and they went home earlier than the 2nd and 3rd seed from EU and the 3rd seed from NA.

9 things we learned from the LoL Worlds 2017 Group Stage

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Misfits, Fnatic and C9 deserve a lot of praise for their performances in the group stage. Although Fnatic will, of course, not be feeling great about their first week, their unbelievable run in the second week will go down in the history books. Misfits were supposed to be an inferior squad to TSM and G2, but they showed that they weren’t simply at Worlds by luck. Having beaten TSM twice during the group stage, they can give themselves a pat on the back and even if they lose in the quarter-finals, go home proud.

Asian teams are still the best

The group stage definitely proved one thing. The Asian teams are still dominant. The games between the Asian teams were much closer than the games between Asia and the West. The best example of this was ahq e-sports club beating SKT T1 in the group stage.

There are 5 Asian teams in the quarter-finals, but the picture may be even more skewed towards Asia in the semi-finals. Fnatic and Misfits haven’t actually beaten any of the completely dominant teams (SK Telecom T1, Longzhu Gaming, Royal Never Give Up and Team WE) so far in the tournament and it will be tough for them to make it through to the semi-finals. C9 managed to beat EDG in the group stage, but all of the Western teams have a struggle before them to make it to the semi-finals. If none of them make it, it will be a completely Asian affair, further proving that Asia is still the dominant region in League of Legends.

SKT and Longzhu can overcome massive deficits

You can never count these two teams out. Normally in pro games, if one team is ahead early on they are very likely to win the game. This is even truer at Worlds, as the teams that are competing are so good at using early advantages. However, Longzhu and SKT continue to prove that they’re on a completely another level compared to the rest of the teams. Longzhu overturned the largest deficit in World’s history when they beat GAM in the group stage. SKT overcame massive deficits against EDG (twice) to ensure a dominant performance in their group.

This cannot be overestimated. This ability is what really sets them apart from other teams. The fact that you can never say that they’re out of a game makes them even more exciting to watch. Even when SKT lost to ahq, it was hard to see them losing the game. This makes them even harder to beat, and will give their opponents extra pressure when facing them.

9 things we learned from the LoL Worlds 2017 Group Stage

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Don’t taunt SKT

At what EDG thought was near the end of the game, iBoy shot up his EDG flare. This was a massive mistake as it seemed to completely incense the South Korean line-up. It was only minutes later than SKT managed to win a team fight, despite the massive gold deficit, and eventually turn the game around. This should be a lesson to all other teams out there, don’t hit your flares until you’ve definitely beaten them.

However, iBoy is an exciting player. He’s only 17 and he performed out of his mind on the last day of the group stage. He and his team almost managed to pull a Fnatic and sneak into the quarter-finals off the back of iBoy playing out of his mind. Unfortunately (although not for C9 fans) it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe next year EDG will perform better, but we shall see.

Pressure to perform affects some more than others

The fact that both NA and EU’s first seeds are going home, whereas the second and third seeds for EU and the third seed for NA are in the quarter-finals shows us an important thing. It seems that the pressure of performing well affects Western teams massively. TSM, Immortals, and G2 all were billed to be dominant and are all going home early.

On the other hand, it’s only EDG of all Asian teams who left the tournament earlier than expected. All of the Korean teams are through to the quarter-finals, with only one slight slip-up from SKT and 0 from Longzhu. They obviously didn’t feel the pressure and played very well during the group stage. EDG were the first seed from the LPL, but RNG and WE are arguably as good if not better teams. EDG fell apart in their first week, but showed in the second week that they deserved LPL’s #1 seed. The problem was that it was too little, too late.

Breaking the meta isn’t always a bad option (but it can be)

Longzhu and GAM showed that breaking the meta can have great success. As mentioned before, Longzhu picked up Nasus in their game vs. Fnatic. Furthermore, GAM managed to take down Fnatic and Immortals in “upset” victories by utilising picks like Urgot, Kayn and Nocturne. Their support even took Heal + Ignite in some games. Although this didn’t, in the end, help them progress to the quarter-finals, it did help show that off meta picks can win you games.

On the other hand, GAM had some horrible games thanks to their off-meta picks. The most memorable is, of course, Archie picking up the Mordekaiser top and practically inting. Going 0/6 in a vital LoL Worlds 2017 Group Stage match isn’t exactly ideal.