Asian Teams Rein Supreme
As we all know, LoL Worlds 2017 Semifinals will be an all-Asian affair. 2 LPL (China) teams will face 2 LCK (Korea) teams in a true clash of the titans.
The pairs fit just right. Royal Never Give Up, who dominated group C over the likes of LCK #3 seed Samsung Galaxy, and absolutely demolished Fnatic in the quarterfinals, will have a go at three times, reigning LoL Worlds champions SKT T1.
Team WE, #1 from LoL Worlds group D, who also managed to overpower Cloud9 in the last quarterfinal of the week, will take on the aforementioned Samsung Galaxy, who pulled off a major upset against Longzhu Gaming.
As it stands, Asian teams are simply better at the game. They have more advanced pick & ban strategies and they are more adaptable, knowing when to retreat and when to push. Their macro-plays and shotcalling are better in most cases. The individual skills of their players provide that final, extra edge they often need to pull out of the tight situations.
Asian Teams Have a Number on Each Other
Over the course of the group stage, one pattern was on full display. Asian teams clearly struggle against each other. Apparently, it seems that at any given day, they can all beat each other.
The previously mentioned Longzhu, who looked mythical this summer in LCK, are the clearest example of this trend. Their loss against Samsung Galaxy, while not really that surprising considering their 1-1 head-to-head score in the LCK during regular summer season, sent ripples throughout the community and social media. With stakes this high, almost everybody expected them to advance to the semis. Yet, the opposite happened.
Then there’s also the SKT T1’s loss against AHQ. Granted, it was a low stakes series for them with flawless performances in all of their other series, but it showed they are beatable.
AHQ, however, had a 1-1 score with Edward Gaming, which cost them the chance of advancing to the quarterfinals through the tiebreaker. On the other hand, Edward Gaming, the LPL summer 2017 champions, finished last in group A against SKT T1, AHQ and Cloud9.
Despite coming from the most competitive League of Legends league, LCK #3 seed Samsung Galaxy lost both of their group series against LPL runner-ups Royal Never Give Up. This begs the question whether they have any meaningful chance of becoming the champions this year. Even their upcoming semifinal against Team WE looks more challenging than you would think.
On top of all this, most of the series involving any two Asian teams have been the most erratic and chaotic displays of competitive struggle so far. Nerve wracking back and forth has been the defining characteristic of their matchups so far. Expect nothing less from the upcoming LoL Worlds 2017 semifinals.
Adapt or Die
The unquestionable domination of Asian teams proved to be too much for the 3 LCS teams in the LoL Worlds 2017 quarterfinals.
Misfits surely came closest to squeezing through the quarterfinals. They were willing to experiment and try different things during the group stage, showing drastic improvement every time they would set foot onto the stage. This fearless approach was almost enough to beat SKT T1. After the quick first game, won by SKT T1, Misfits proceeded with unconventional bot lane picks in the second and third game, taking two wins in a row. Unfortunately for them, this wasn’t SKT T1’s first worlds rodeo. Be it nerves or simply lack of experience and/or maturity, Misfits gave SKT T1 several free hand outs, ultimately losing 3-2 in the end.
Sadly, Fnatic looked like a fish out of the water against Royal Never Give Up. Their insane Day 5 series likely contributed to overall fatigue and emotional drain. Fnatic’s mix of veterans and rookies simply couldn’t work around RNG’s stacked roster. They did manage to steal one win, but overall, their flawed macro-plays and overall inability to finish games sealed the deal.
Cloud9 probably had the easiest job of all 3 LCS teams, yet they too failed to advance past the quarterfinals. Their matchup against Team WE looked favourable on paper, and the results further proved the point. Going the distance against Team WE was as far as they could accomplish. At least they proved Team WE as one of the weakest Chinese/Asian representatives though.
Edward Gaming, the LPL summer champs, also failed to adapt. They showed a significant lack of composure in teamfights, which cost them dearly in the group stage. They can’t seem to shake off the tradition of being a top 2 LPL team which can’t advance further than the groups/quarterfinals. They’ll have 12 months to work on these problems; hopefully we’ll get to see a new and improved Edward Gaming next year.
The international stage requires a different approach for most teams. Yet, time and time again, we see teams coming in from their regional leagues trying to play like they usually do. An odd win here and there can happen that way, sure. But, in a long-term, teams need to start experimenting and mixing stuff up if they want to become and stay relevant on the international scene.
Can Chinese Finally Beat the Koreans?
Royal Never Give Up definitely excelled at LoL Worlds 2017 so far, significantly exceeding all expectations and performing vastly better than their rivals, the LPL 2017 champions, Edward Gaming. Tomorrow, however, raises the bar of challenge for them. They’ll have none other than triple, reigning League of Legends champions in front of them, SK Telecom T1.
Royal Never Give Up passed the first test successfully in group C, twice. Their series against Samsung Galaxy, while erratic and chaotic, proved their group dominance. However, Samsung Galaxy is not SKT T1. Both teams are veterans of the scene, and Royal Never Give Up never looked better than this year. Personally, I doubt they’ll beat the champs, but it’s far from impossible either.
Samsung Galaxy are realistically more favoured over Team WE than SKT T1 is over Royal Never Give Up. The second pair will play on Sunday, and it will most likely go the distance. Of all the Asian teams, Team WE had the easiest group by far. Group D consisted of Flash Wolves, TSM, Misfits Gaming and, of course, Team WE. Now, the final standings of the group D differ from what you would expect before the series took place. However, Team WE were always at least slightly favoured over the rest of the teams. As much as SKT T1 is a serious challenge for Royal Never Give Up, so is Samsung Galaxy for Team WE.
This is THE time for both Chinese teams to play out of their minds. They’re playing in front of their home crowds, a factor that has surely played to their success so far. The fans will surely be their 6th player in the next two days as well, so both LPL representatives will be pumped. On the other hand, the added pressure will be another liability to work around too. The overall performance of these two Chinese teams will surely be affected by how players manage and cope with the high stress levels.
Prepare your nerves for both semifinals. It’s going to get bloody and messy for sure.
Repeat of Last Year’s Finals?
With Longzhu out of the picture early on, SKT T1 once again stands at the doorway of another championship title. The legacy of this team is unrivalled – Season 3, 5 and reigning, Season 6 champions. The competition has slowly closed the huge gap this super-team has made over the years. SKT T1 definitely look far more beatable than they looked last year or two years before. Misfits came close recently, going the distance against all odds. SKT T1 also lost a game against AHQ in the group A as well.
However, this team has mastered the form build-up leading up to the finals. They always play just enough to win most of their matchups, confident in their ability to come from even the biggest of deficits. They will meet a worthy opponent in Royal Never Give Up tomorrow, so we’ll get to see if they still “have it”.
Despite coming in as #3 LCK seed this year, Samsung Galaxy looked unreal in their quarterfinals series against Longzhu Gaming. Sweeping the reigning LCK summer champs almost defies the realm of possibilities, yet that’s exactly what happened. After seeing such a monstrous display of power, it’s really hard to imagine Team WE having any chance whatsoever.
However, Samsung Galaxy struggled in group C against Royal Never Give Up. They lost both of their games against the Chinese veterans. It was close, but it ended 0-2 in the end. Team WE also had their fair share of troubles against Cloud9 too, but maybe it was just the case of them underestimating the recently revitalized NA LCS team.
With all these factors and variables in mind, it’s really hard to make any definitive statements here. Koreans have a proven track record, but the Chinese teams have played out of their minds this year, backed by the home crowds on the home turf.
It’s going to be a real treat watching these teams over the next two days!