The biggest and most important games that will be played at the 2017 League of Legends World Championship will be the best of five series that determine who is eliminated and who moves on during the Knockout Stage of the tournament. But before anyone can get their, they must survive the Group Stage.
Each of the four groups that make up the 2017 World Championship is impressive in its own right, with at least three teams in each that could rise to the top and advance to the next round. With each team only playing the other teams in their group twice each, for a total of six games, each match will be key as teams attempt to make it to the Knockout Stage.
Groups A and B have an almost unbelievable amount of talent between them. Heading Group A is three time world champions SK telecom T1, while Group B’s standout team are the team in the world that looks better than SKT right now, Longzhu Gaming.
For a full look at which teams are likely to escape these impressive groups, here’s our full preview of Group A and B:
Any conversation about who gets out of Group A has to begin and end with SK telecom T1. It’s not just that they are the strongest team in the group, it’s that they are likely the group’s gate keeper as well.
The most likely scenario for the group looks something like this: Edward Gaming and Cloud9 split their head to head matches with each other 1-1. SK telecom go through as the number one seed, but drops a game to one of those two teams and advances 5-1. That leaves just one important question to be answered; which team will take the game off of SKT.
If one of the two teams does take a game off the defending world champions, it’s likely to come from the bottom lane, thanks to SKT mid laner Sang-hyeok “Faker” Lee’s almost super natural ability to keep up in gold with his opponent no matter what the situation. This fact puts Edward Gaming at a distinct advantage, after all, their AD Carry Hu “iBoy” Xianzhao has successfully carried against some of China’s best teams. While Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi, from Cloud9, has look more impressive recently, particularly in the Play-In Stage, he often struggled to carry when facing some of North America’s best teams forcing Cloud9 to rely far more on mid laner Nicolaj Jensen to leave his mark on their wins.
If neither team manages to take a game off of SKT, then this becomes Cloud9’s group to win. Their ability to play with an emphasis on Jensen, and Jensen’s own experience carrying despite an enemy team focused on stopping him, makes C9 a perfect team to bet on going into a one game tiebreaker.
- SK telecom T1 5-1
- Edward Gaming 4-2
- Cloud9 3-3
- ahq e-Sports Club 0-6
Just like in Group A, this group has an undisputed king, Longzhu were the best team in Korea during the Summer Split and there’s a pretty good argument — four straight World Championships — that says that makes them the best team in the world. One of the perks of being the best team in the world is that Longzhu Gaming is favored to make it out of this group stage in first place.
So, that just leaves one question for the rest of the group: EU, or NA?
The truth is, headed into this match up it doesn’t even seem like much of a question. Immortals are simply the better team. Fnatic will enter, not just, as the third seed from Europe, but as the only major region team to drop a game in the Worlds Play-in tournament last week.
Thanks to Fnatic’s fairly uncommon approach to objectives and map movement, even for Europe, winning games they don’t have solid leads in can be very difficult. This should provide a perfect set up for North American Summer Split runners-up Immortals when the teams meet head to head. With Immortals’ conventional style and smart objective focused play, any hesitation or misstep by Fnatic will be punished immediately giving the North American team a significant advantage in the match up.
- Longzhu Gaming 6-0
- Immortals 4-2
- Fnatic 2-4
- GIGABYTE Marines 0-6