Coming into Saturday’s draw for the Worlds group stages, we speculated on multiple possible scenarios for a Group of Death. Could we see a group with EDG, SKT or G2? What about Flash Wolves, SKT and RNG?
While many expected the Group of Death to be the one including G2, as the only Pool 2 team that won a major region, G2’s group instead seems pretty straightforward. Korean champions ROX Tigers are the favorite to win the group, while G2 should be favored to advance over struggling North American No. 2 Counter Logic Gaming and Wild Card qualifier Albus Nox Luna.
Even SK Telecom T1, the defending Worlds champions and another strong Pool 2 team, has what appears to be a straightforward Group B. The Flash Wolves have given SKT problems at international events before, but both teams appear to be a step up on third-seeded Chinese team I May. This group could be trickier than at first sight, though — I May has the potential to play very well, and fourth-seeded Cloud9 has improved rapidly in the last few months.
But no, the Group of Death, in my opinion, is clearly Group D. It’s one of just two groups without a Wild Card team (the Wild Card regions are improving but still not up to par with the Big 5), and gap between these teams is closer than that of Group B, the other non-Wild Card group.
While No. 2 Chinese seed and LPL Summer runners-up Royal Never Give Up have not been playing up to their massive potential recently, it’s a star-studded roster that performed well at the beginning of MSI. North American champions Team SoloMid look as strong as any team from that region ever has entering Worlds, without a single weak spot in the starting lineup.
Those two teams seem like the most likely to advance, but they won’t do so without a fight. Third-seeded Korean team Samsung Galaxy made the tournament with a miracle Gauntlet run, pulling out a surprise Skarner pick and upsetting KT Rolster en route to this tournament. Even the Pool 4 team, Splyce, had a strong Summer and possesses the mid-to-late game micro/macro play and a star carry to orient around (top laner Wunder) that you need for international success. Even though RNG and TSM seem like the most likely to make it out, any of these four teams can advance (and that doesn’t seem as true for any of the other groups).
So yes, I’m extremely excited for Impact to face his old teammates at SKT and G2 and Counter Logic Gaming’s bottom lanes to square off for a knockout round spot. But I’m most exicted for Doublelift vs. Uzi, Wunder vs. Looper, Bjergsen vs. Crown and the other great matchups we’re going to get out of a close Group D.