I have been playing this godforsaken game for almost 2 years now[2 years!], even though it seems like only yesterday I started learning the basics with Ashe, feeding my arse off in Co-op vs AI games and soon after in normals. Anyways, I love watching pro players face off against each other in esports, and in League of Legends, nothing beats Worlds in this regard[LCK does come close though]. Let’s jump right into the highlights and surprises of the first week of Worlds, with each team getting 3 Best-of-1 matches against their group opponents.
The SKT T1 Comeback : SKT vs EDG, Group A
Considering they were last year Worlds winners, not to mention 3-time world champions now, it may not be surprising to see SKT topping their Group A standings at 3-0 presently. But it wasn’t an easy road to their destination; the game against EDG was especially difficult, with SKT falling behind by 10K gold at some point between 25-30 minutes, actually. But SKT is world champion for a reason; they held their nerve, let their Twitch ADC scale up gradually alongside Orianna.
Oh, you messed up big time EDG!
One positioning mistake by EDG at the 29-minute mark turned the tide; SKT Wolf on Rakan just flash-ulted 3 of the enemy team members, and this was followed by a 4-man Orianna Shockwave; Faker coming in during clutch situations as always. And nobody could even get close to Bang’s Twitch, who just spray-and-pray-ed the enemy to shreds, resulting in a 4 for 0 trade in SKT’s favor, allowing them to pick up a baron thereafter. This was the beginning of the comeback which allowed them more map control and objectives, and ultimately won them the game.
Level 6 in 5 minutes : GAM vs FNC, Group B
For those who have seen MSI 2017, Gigabyte Marines [GAM] would be one team to look forward to, with their off-meta picks, crazy strategies, chaotic early game and one hell of a jungler in Levi. And Fnatic is a team which has always been something of a crowd favorite on the international stage, which also specializes in some aggressive early-mid game playstyle. So, what happens when the two of them meet? Absolute chaos, of course!
The insanity began right in the team draft phase itself, with GAM locking in Nocturne jungle, a champion who has seen virtually no playtime in competitive play this year. Added to this was the level-1 laneswap initiated by GAM, sending Tristana and Lulu botlane duo top side and Galio to the bot side. Nocturne received the best leash ever, with Archie on Galio leashing for him at raptors, the bottom lane duo doing the same at the red buff, followed by a further Galio leash for all of the botside jungle camps. All of this accelerated the Nocturne jungle clear so much, he ended up hitting level 6 in 5 minutes, which Levi used to great effect, as he managed to kill 3 FNC members in a botside fight where GAM traded 3 kills for 2 deaths. This further snowballed Nocturne, who could now burst down anybody in teamfights whenever his ultimate[Paranoia] was up.
Level 6 already?
Meanwhile, Tristana was often left alone and she, with her amazing turret-killing abilities, managed to get turret gold on multiple turrets, not to mention free farm on many an occasion, enabling her to get ahead of the enemy Varus as well. All of this culminated in Tristana[Noway] getting a quadra-kill in a 2v5 fight, with the pentakill being stolen away by scumbag Optimus[on Kassadin] who, along with the other 2 members of GAM, arrived right at the end of the fight, and the game as well. Oh, and by the way, Lulu went heal+ignite this game, forgoing the safer option of Flash, cuz why not, eh?
The Rift Herald Dance : LZ vs FNC, Group B
Longzhu’s toplaner, Khan, is known to be the absolute best top laner in the LCK region right now, overshadowing even KT Smeb and AFS Marin[who was a part of SKT during their Worlds 2015 victory]. Not only that, he’s known to often pull out non-meta picks and win with them as well; for example, he picked Mordekaiser into AFS Marin’s Renekton, pretty crazy considering Mordekaiser not seeing much competitive play in the season[similar to GAM Levi’s Nocturne, in a sense]. This time, he sees FNC sOAZ pick up Maokai, and immediately proceeds to take Nasus, an unconventional pick, to say the least; however it is apparently a great counter to Maokai; I’m not a toplaner so I’m not well acquainted with top lane matchups.
Anyway, this game is one of the most clinical games ever played in competitive play, even; LZ beat FNC with a 5-0 scoreline at the end, in a span of just under 21 minutes, probably the fastest game in Worlds history, especially considering it was minimal on kills and consisted of brilliant map control. The events transpired so fast that LZ got to use the Rift Herald only at the FNC Nexus turrets, and it survived until LZ took down the enemy Nexus. This is the only condition under which Rift Herald dances, and boy did it dance!
Rift Herald dance time!
Reckless [Rekkles] Flash, OH NOOOO! : FNC vs IMT, Group B
Fnatic and IMT are both teams which are pretty aggressive in their playstyles, so it was only inevitable that one would get to see some fireworks in the game as it went into late game; with both teams opting for late-game bot lanes[IMT Cody Sun on Kog’Maw and FNC Rekkles on Twitch], which has been the norm in this Ardent Censer-support meta.
FNC took the lead with an early 4-man dive on botlane, but IMT responded with a 3-man dive on top lane, both dives being successful. The game went back and forth throughout, with FNC sOAZ missing his Cho’Gath Feast on the baron at about the 24-minute mark, alongside the Jayce[IMT Flame] solokilling Lee Sin under a FNC botside turret which gave IMT a good break, offering them a way back into the game. However Rekkles on Twitch was a monster throughout, using his stealth effectively to try making some picks against IMT’s carries. But another botched fight later, IMT get yet another baron at 34:30, helping them to knock down more turrets of FNC.
It wasn’t nearly over, though. FNC Broxah[Lee Sin jungle] managed to steal away the elder dragon from IMT in a Smite battle, bringing the game back to even keel. Rekkles was the biggest threat on FNC, and an Elder Dragon on top of their two Infernals was going to spike their damage up several notches. IMT still manage to put up a good defense during the Elder dragon buff period. But at 49:43 mark, Rekkles seems to get a pick on IMT Pobelter’s Taliyah, and proceeds to all-in her. And then comes the misplay; Taliyah flashes away from Rekkles’ Twitch, and Rekkles flashes in after her. But Taliyah just ends up using her Zhonya’s Hourglass to survive, and her teammates follow up immediately; IMT Cody Sun on his Kog’Maw obliterates the fed Twitch even through a Lulu[FNC Jesiz] ultimate, and they kill the Lulu as well, and “swiftly” close out the 50-minute bloodbath of a game.
So, what do we learn from all of this? To watch all the FNC games I guess, at least if you want to watch some crazy stuff; too bad they are stuck 0-3 at the bottom Group B. A final speciality of this Worlds is the Kalista permaban; what with the Ardent Censer-supports keeping the ADC alive throughout the extended fights, no team wanted to risk a situation where a Kalista ult ends up saving her support as well, keeping them both near-unkillable.
Will be back with another post at the end of next week, when the Group stage ends and we finally know which teams will be making it to the knockouts. See you all!