The Worlds 2018 Quarterfinals was a historic weekend for professional League of Legends. Case in point, several of the biggest upsets in all of esports happened in the past four best-of-five series.
Whatever script you were used to reading in the past, feel free to throw it away already. Because, from here on out, we’re threading uncharted territory.
Having said that, here are the events of the Worlds 2018 Quarterfinals.
The Meta Continues to Evolve
Three weeks into patch 8.19, we have seen the meta continue to evolve. More and more teams have been shying away from the Kai’sa pick and a lot of the scaling AD Carries, and have been going into more lane-dominant ones such as Lucian. The support picks have been adjusted to go with the idea of lane dominance: Thresh and Braum are here to fully dominate lanes and assist carries, or save that carry when he is in danger.
The name of the game right now is lane priority and snowballing early game advantages. The purpose of the junglers right now is to empower the laners and further the advantages accrued in the laning phase. That is why picks such as Lee Sin, Xin Zhao, and Camille have been contested jungle picks. Better skirmishing and team fighting are also rewarded more in the current meta, hence drafting a lot of engage options has been prevalent.
Another pick that has cropped up over the past weekend has been the Viktor in the top lane. It has been shown to win most matchups in the top lane, even against an Aatrox or an Urgot. It is not exactly a counter, but it can do a lot of damage and can be immensely tanky due to his Q shield. Viktor can also obtain a lot of movement speed due to the Q, which means that he cannot be ganked as easily even if the lane is long.
Given the number of options available, each team can play nearly every style that they can think of. This makes the interactions between different styles a treat to watch.
Tournament Favourites Bow Out Early
In the first day of the Worlds 2018 Quarterfinals, tournament favorites KT Rolster and Royal Never Give Up were eliminated in Game 5 of their respective series.
KT Rolster rather underperformed in their quarterfinal. After a 5-1 start in their group stage, and after Invictus Gaming lost two consecutive games to the EU LCS first seed Fnatic, many expected KT Rolster to sweep Invictus Gaming without breaking a sweat. KT Rolster’s repeated insistence on drafting scaling AD Carries such as Kai’sa and Tristana proved to be their fatal flaw— in the games that they lost, they were never just able to scale safely and effectively into the later stages of the game. In addition, on the matches themselves, the difference between the solo laners was enough to tip the whole matchup over the edge.
Royal Never Give Up, heralded as the best team in the world coming into the tournament, have won all of the tournaments they have been in this season. Unfortunately, they fell short of adding the Summoner’s Cup to their trophy case. The reason? They fell to the lowly G2 Esports, whose bottom lane of Petter “Hjarnan” Freyschuss and Kim “Wadid” Bae-in went toe to toe with the current best bottom lane against Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming, G2’s solo laners were able to take it from there.
The upsets only serve to prove that any region can go the distance and life the Summoner’s Cup at the end of this year’s festivities.
Before the tournament, followers of the League of Legends esports scene thought that not only was Fnatic the sole hope for the West, but that we would only see Asian regions playing in the semifinals and beyond.
The EU LCS, however, had something to say about that.
G2 Esports and Fnatic used the Worlds 2018 Quarterfinals to show to the rest of the world that they are well capable of beating their Asian contemporaries.
Royal Never Give Up’s loss to G2 Esports was something that most people probably would not have expected. Especially since they did so on the backs of their bottom lane, which many believed was Royal Never Give Up’s bread and butter.
As for Fnatic, Edward Gaming stood no chance against them as they won 3 games to 1. This isn’t to say that Fnatic cruised through the series, though. In fact, it was a hard-fought matchup. However, despite Rasmus “Caps” Winther’s struggles, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson stepped up and reminded everyone why he was the MVP of the EU LCS. His play on the Sivir and the Xayah has been impressive. It was like he was never even out of the starting roster over the summer.
With their wins at the 2018 Worlds Quarterfinals, the EU LCS is now the most represented region going into the semfinals, and there has never been a better time to be an EU LCS fan.
Cloud9 Continue to Defy Odds
Cloud9 as the NA LCS’ only hope in the bracket stage had both nothing and everything to lose. While expectations were extremely low as they were going against a South Korean team, and that they always went out in the quarterfinals, they were their region’s last representative.
With their backs against the wall in the Worlds 2018 Quarterfinals, Cloud9 shattered expectations as they defeated the Afreeca Freecs with a sound 3-0 sweep.
Cloud9 owe this to their clear identity. They put a lot of priority in their bottom lane early game, evidenced by their Lucian pick. In addition, they made sure that they had engage potential, and that they would always follow up and outdo their opponents in a skirmish or a team fight. As a result, even Eric “Licorice” Ritchie has been able to turn around a laning phase that he had been losing handily in after getting solo killed by Kim “Kiin” Gi-in multiple times in the earlier parts of the game.
Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen’s aggression has been a thing of beauty in this series. He was always in the right place at the right time, setting the plays up for his team and putting the team on his back whenever they were behind. He was the deciding factor in turning games two and three.
Last, but not the least, Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen finally delivered. After receiving constant criticism, he consistently outplayed his counterparts at Worlds. It also helped that Cloud9 was able to unleash Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi’s prowess in the lane, proving that he’s still at the top of his game despite being out of the competitive scene for a long time.
South Korea’s Dominance Ends
South Korea’s run of dominance ended this weekend after KT Rolster and Afreeca Freecs lost in the Worlds 2018 Quarterfinals on home soil.
The Koreans just seemed a little bit slower to adapt to all of the incremental changes this season. Specifically, the removal of tracker’s knife, sightstone, the jungle changes and the adjustment of items for marksmen and mages.
With less wards available in the game, the best way to contest vision is actually take fights with incomplete information and prioritize lanes. After this, a jungler with a capability to make plays in the early game is preferential. Global or semi-global ultimates may also come in handy: this explains the continued presence of the Summoner Spell Teleport on AD Carries even with its increased cooldown time.
If a team wins a team fight or two, they can use this lead to snowball and take more objectives, with neutral jungle monsters such as the Rift Scuttler assisting in pulling this off. In addition, when the enemy is behind in gold, face checking brushes becomes a greater risk for them.
While the LCK teams got the part about team fighting right, they still heavily indexed into scaling. We saw the Kai’sa often from South Korean teams, and we have seen it backfire time and again. Not picking lane priority seems to be off if one does not possess the tools to stall.
After what was an upset-filled Worlds 2018 Quarterfinals, only four teams remain now. The two European teams, Fnatic and G2 Esports, the North Americans, Cloud9, and China’s last hope, Invictus Gaming.
The tournament has turned out completely different from what most would have expected, and by the tournament’s end, we might just see a Western World Champion for the first time since season one of competitive LoL.
It’s anyone’s game now.
What did you think of all the action that happened in this season’s Worlds 2018 Quarterfinals? With the heavy favourites now gone, which team do you think will end up lifting the Summoner’s Cup? Let us know in the comments below!