Red Bull eSports breaks down the 10-team Group Stage at this weekend's LoL World Championships.
After the Korean team’s dominating performance at the League of Legends All-Star tournament this summer, League of Legends fans began to wonder if there’s any team in the world that could topple them. The rest of the world will have the opportunity to get their revenge starting on Sunday at 12 PDT with the World Championship tournament group stage.
The question remains: Which four teams will make their way out of the group stages into the quarterfinals? Here’s Red Bull eSports’ predictions.
GROUP A: World-Class Mids Battle It Out
If there’s one theme that runs through the teams in Group A, it’s that all the mid lane players are super strong. Whether it’s the flashy play of SK’s Faker or the polarizing leadership of TSM’s Reginald, the guys in the center of the map will set the precedent for their teams - and the first group as a whole.
The Favorites: SK Telecom 1 and OMG
The Koreans came out in full force to this summer’s All-Star tournament, dominating all that came before them, and that train of victory doesn’t look to stop any time soon. The boys of SK may not be the top ranked team from Korea, but their team fighting and assassinations in lane are among the best in the world. Watch for Faker to blow everyone’s mind with some amazing plays from the mid lane.
If SK wasn’t joining them in Group A, there’s no doubt that OMG would be the favorites. While they may not be as exciting to watch as some of the more assassination-based teams, OMG rarely makes mistakes, methodically taking control of all objectives on the map. There’s very few imperfections in their play style, especially not in the mid lane, where fan favorite Cool will assert his dominance over anyone he comes into contact with - except for perhaps the aforementioned Faker.
Dark Horse: TSM Snapdragon
North America’s TSM is well-known for their inconsistency, with any member of the team being more than capable of carrying a match to victory. However, sometimes they have a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde streak. Victory will depend on which TSM shows up to play: The great, or the imploding. De facto team leader and mid lane player Reginald is the man to watch here, as he tends to set the tone of his team’s play, whether it be positive or negative.
The Longshots: Lemondogs and GamingGear.eu
Unfortunately for Europe, both of the regions teams are at the bottom of the Group A pile. Lemondogs has the best shot at advancing – their strong laning phase often leads to an early lead in matches. All eyes will be on Nukeduck, the mid laner, but keep an eye on both top Zorozero and jungler dexter1 to make plays. If they can hold their early aggression to the late game, Lemondogs will have a chance to survive.
GamingGear.eu is a bit of an unknown. The Lithuanian team managed to brawl its way through the International Wildcard tournament to become an extremely unlikely participant in the Championship tournament. Watch for them to use their relative obscurity to shock more established opponents with wacky picks and strategies.
GROUP B: Experience is Everything
Group B will likely be dominated by those who have some experience in the international scene. Fnatic and Samsung Galaxy Ozone have been here before, while rookies Mineski and Vulcun will have their work cut out for them.
The Favorites: Fnatic and Samsung Galaxy Ozone
With lots of international experience, Fnatic is poised to be one of the few Western teams to make a run at the title. The top seeded European team must fight their way through the group stages due to a poor EU showing at the All-Star tournament, but the strategically versatile team can handle just about anything opponents throw at them. Perpetual crowd favorite xPeke will be the man to watch here, with risky backdoor strategies and speedy assassinations being his specialty.
While Fnatic may have the experience, it’s undeniable that Korean team Samsung Galaxy Ozone has the skills. Expect them to take an early lead on unsuspecting teams due to a hyper aggressive early game -- often thanks to the impeccable counter jungling of DanDy. Once late game hits, watch for bottom lane duo Imp and Mata to tear apart opposing teams. Ozone simply does not have a weak area, and will be very tough for anyone to upset.
Dark Horse: Gambit BenQ
Gambit is in the unfortunate position of being the other European team in Group B. Led by mid laner Alex Ich, the Russian squad looks to group up as quickly as possible and take their strong team fighting skills to the enemy. Unfortunately, due to their focus on team cohesion over individual skill, losing lanes early can result in a very difficult time for them. If Alex Ich gets going, watch out for Gambit. If he gets beat early, don’t expect much.
The Longshots: Vulcun and Mineski
While CLG’s Doublelift gets all the attention as North America’s preeminent AD Carry player, Vulcun’s Zuna and Bloodwater may actually secretly be the best bottom lane the region has to offer. Unfortunately for them, though, the rest of their team is simply too inconsistent to carry them if they have even a slightly lackluster showing. They’ll pull off a spectacular win or two in the group stages, but it’d be a bit of a shock if they advanced.
The rookie team of Group B is Mineski, who are coming off a shocking upset of favorite Singapore Sentinels in the Southeast Asian regional finals. The team may have momentum, but their hyper aggressive play style will run into trouble when playing against some of the more defensive and mechanically skilled teams in the world. Unfortunately for them, many of the teams in Group B are exactly that.
The battle for the $1 million first prize begins Sunday at noon PST with a full slate of 10 games. For the full schedule of the Group Stage, go here. To watch streams online, visit lolesports or Twitch.