Group A is unquestionably the strongest of those competing at the Play-in Stage of the 2017 World Championship.
Coming into the group from Latin America North is Lyon Gaming a team that has always been met with significant hype but has faced a series of difficulties on the international stage. However, now that the field has expanded thanks to the Play-in system Lyon are looking to prove they deserve to be a part of the international conversation.
Meanwhile, from the LCL, Gambit are one of the most experienced teams in the entire Play-in stage and would give any team there a run for their money. Rounding out the group, from China’s LPL, is Team WE, who many see as the region’s best team, despite some late in the season struggles.
So, to get you ready for all the Group A action, here is a look at what we expect to see when the Play-ins start on September 23.
Who will win the group: Team WE
Team WE should look the least like they belong in these Play-in group stage matches because, quite frankly, they should be the best team there. While they may have advanced as the third seed from China, they spent most of the year looking like the best or second best team in the region. Even if that has dropped off in the last couple of months, third best in China should still set them ahead of almost every other team in the Play-in stage.
With all that being said, they shouldn’t have too hard a time advancing from their group. Coming into the tournament, Team WE has one of the best mid game bottoms lanes of anyone, Play-in Stage or not, and that should give them a massive advantage coming into this section of games. Their one downside, and it’s a big one, is their consistency. When going up against the best teams, WE have a habit of dropping the habits that make them world class and losing site of their core teamfight style, one of their primary strengths as a team.
Team WE will have to reign in some of those wilder tendencies if they want to make it deep into the World Championship as a whole, but even if they fall victim to these flights of fancy during the Play-in it shouldn’t make much of a difference. Despite having the strongest group, WE should come through with flying colors.
Who to watch out for: Gambit CIS
Gambit is a little different from all the other small region teams we have seen before. Whereas most of them are teams full of newer players trying to work their way up to the level of the major regions, Gambit is a team full of players that would very likely be well regarded players in the EU LCS. There are more than a few reasons that the players themselves aren’t on EU LCS teams, whether it’s visa issues or better offers from CIS teams, but the fact remains that this roster could likely compete for the top half of the table in EU.
Another frequent issue of smaller region teams is experience, and Gambit certainly don’t lack for that. With two veterans that have been playing professional League of Legends since 2012 in jungler Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov and support, Edward Abgaryan, as well as two members of last year’s Worlds quaterfinals team Albus Nox Luna, Gambit have more Worlds experience than some of the major region teams competing in the Group Stage.
With that combination of talent and experience, Gambit should be able to take down Lyon Gaming and make it out as Group A’s second seed.