With the last of the Play-in Group games finished for the 2017 World Championship, it’s time to decide which of the remaining eight teams will advance past the Play-in and which will be left out of the larger Worlds Group Stage.
Day one’s slate of games is the most compelling of the two and likely the most enticing for League’s western fans. In game one, Group B winners, Cloud9 will take on Lyon Gaming, the Latin America North team that came in second in Group A. While the LCS representatives will go in the clear favorite, Lyon has impressed during the Play-in so far and should make this the perfect first series for Worlds 2017.
Meanwhile, in game two, EU LCS number three seed, Fnatic — who barely managed to take the top spot in Group C — will be taking on LMS third seed, Hong Kong Attitude. HKA looked strong in their group, but were beaten to the top spot in a tiebreaker match. Fnatic may have looked like the stronger team for much of the Summer Split, but after struggling in their group during Play-ins, this match has some real potential for surprise.
With two teams coming into the day as favorites and two challengers that could be up to the task of taking them down, we broke down the keys to victory for both the favorites and the underdogs.
Cloud9 vs Lyon Gaming
Why Cloud9 should win
Any discussion of Cloud9 winning any series over the last year has to start and end with mid laner Nicolaj Jensen. He is the team’s best players and their best asset when the game is on the line. While putting all their eggs in the Jensen basket may not be the best strategy later on in the tournament, it’s certainly their best choice here and should be more than enough to take down Lyon Gaming.
How Lyon Gaming could pull off the upset
Lyon Gaming haven’t quite proved that they are up to the level of their major region counterparts, but they aren’t far off. This is most evident in their carry roles with mid laner, Ali “Seiya” Bracamontes and star AD Carry, Matias “WhiteLotus” Musso. If Bracamontes can keep things from getting too far out of hand mid against Jensen, and jungler, Sebastian “Oddie” Niño can get spark a lead for their bottom lane, Lyon Gaming could find a reliable and repeatable formula for success.
Fnatic vs Hong Kong Attitude
Why Fnatic should win
Coming into the playoffs for the EU LCS Summer Split, Fnatic were the popular favorites to win. They didn’t. Instead they were taken down in just four games by eventual runners-up Misfits. Fnatic should still be able to take this series, but they should also use it as an opportunity to get back to what worked for them during the Summer Split.
The best way for Fnatic to do that is for mid laner, Rasmus “Caps” Winther to focus on comfort champions that he can succeed on, and for the team as a whole to play a deliberate and mostly objective focused style.
How Hong Kong Gaming could pull off the upset
Fnatic’s bread and butter during the Play-in has been the 34 minute game. It gives them just enough time to go even in laning before making a few solid objective trades and allows them to finish the game off while gold leads are still meaningful. HKA on the other hand have only won two types of games at this tournament so far. Long games and short ones.
If HKA go for an early game composition and create massive leads right off the bat, like they did against Rampage, they have a chance to take down Fnatic in the same way Young Generation did, by never letting the team settle into their comfortable mid game. On the other hand, if HKA managed to drag a game out to 40 plus minutes, everything comes down to a few split seconds and Fnatic could lose otherwise winnable games. If HKA can control the speed of the game, and force Fnatic out of their comfort zone, they should stand a chance of taking down the European third seed.