Heading East: Asian Teams Clash at LoL Worlds

Chinese teams OMG and Royal Club face off while Taiwan's Gama Bears play SK Telecom at LoL Worlds.
Gama Bears LCS Season 3 Finals
Gama Bears © LeeIChi
By Ryan Smith

The second half of League of Legends’ World Championship quarterfinals brings a massive showdown between Chinese powerhouses OMG and Royal Club Huang Zu, while Taiwan’s Gamania Bears look to beat the odds once again and slip past the awesome SK Telecom T1 team.

Gamania Bears vs. SK Telecom T1

SK Telecom T1 is one of the scariest names in Korean eSports. They have an incredible infrastructure and depth of experience that reliably produces the best progamers in StarCraft, and their League of Legends team looks set to add to the legend.

Against that pedigree, the Gamania Bears are a bit of a blank slate. They got their ticket to the World Championship with a miraculous performance at the Taiwanese regionals, where they upset both the defending champions of Taipei Assassins and their sister team, the Snipers. Their quarterfinal spot is thanks to last year’s Taiwanese victors, Taipei Assassins, so the Bears are a strikingly unproven quarterfinalist.

The other wrinkle is that the Bears have a reputation for running slow gameplans, winning via a long, drawn-out snowballing. This was a more powerful and effective strategy last season, when teams playing from behind could basically freeze a game and hold until the endgame while catching up on farm or pushing things so late that gold and itemization mattered less.

But the current professional landscape favors more aggressive, explosive play. Teams like SK Telecom 1 can’t be kept behind for 35 minutes without beating them repeatedly in big engagements. But SKT isn’t the kind of the team that let you stay ahead on a small lead. They will turn that game around.

The truth is, after a sluggish start from SKT in the group stage, they looked nigh-unbeatable by the end, getting revenge on the Chinese OMG squad and tying their records at 7-1. They have a strong player at every position, and their mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang Hyeok is one of the game’s very best. Battle-hardened and without any real weaknesses, Gamania Bears will need another miracle to keep their season alive.

Our Pick: SK Telecom T1

Royal Club Huang Zu vs. OMG

OMG were a surprise in the group stage, stunning SKT in their first game and then plowing through the rest of the Group A teams. While they don’t have that single star player that can define the picks and bans, they were perhaps the most cohesive unit in the group stages. They played aggressively and coordinated perfectly in teamfights, and were impossible to contain during the roaming phase.

While Yu “Cool” Jia Jun was fully capable of dominating the middle lane, the real danger tended to come from the flanks as Guo “San” Jun Liang and Ouyang “bigpomelo” Wei-Qi would typically end up winning their lane, then using their positional advantage to apply some pressure in mid and free jungler Yin “LoveLin” Le to gain control of the enemy jungle and help win top.

This means that Royal Club Huang Zu are in some trouble. While they got their quarterfinal spot over OMG by winning the grand final at the Chinese regionals, that victory only came after they’d already lost an earlier series to OMG. OMG were considered China’s premier team heading into that tournament, so this quarterfinal is a chance for OMG to put the upstart underdogs back in their place.

But Royal Club are all about beating the odds. When OMG beat them at regionals, they outplayed the favored Invictus Gaming team in the loser’s bracket to get back to the finals and win. They’ve overcome a ton of roster instability over the last year. This is a team that is constantly doubted, and constantly winning. But OMG left no doubts after the group stage, and it seems like Royal Club might be out of miracles.

Our Pick: OMG

No matter who wins, however, they face tough adversaries in the suddenly-flawless Fnatic, who obliterated Cloud 9 in Game 3 yesterday, and a NaJin Black Sword team that overcame an initial setback against Gambit to dominate the final two games.
All the action starts  at 7 PM PST Wednesday.

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