Team Liquid and PSG Talon have secured their spots in Groups, V3 Esports and INTZ are heading home, but for the rest of the Worlds Play-ins teams they still have a knockout stage to contend with. Worlds has had its fair share of upsets already, but here’s how it should play out:
(Picture: LoL Esports)
The 3rd and 4th place teams from each group will play off in a Best of 5, the winner of which will move onto play a second Bo5 versus the 2nd place team from the opposite group. I.e. the winner between the 3rd and 4th seeds of Group B will move on to face the 2nd seed of Group A. The two teams that emerge victorious will earn the final two spots in Worlds Groups.
All games can be found on the LoL Esports website, or the respective Twitch and YouTube channels.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the matchups:
Group B Elimination Round: Rainbow7 V. LGD Gaming
Game start: 7:00 am BST 29/09
(Picture: LoL Esports)
A must win match for LPL 4th seed lest they become the first major region seed to be eliminated from play-ins - ever. They narrowly escaped being sent home after a tiebreaker match versus V3 Esports, but they now have to take on a resurgent Rainbow7 who already have the head to head.
For all that R7’s carry jungler and mid have stepped up alongside the incredible playmaking of support Shadow, they still have a mountain to climb. LGD still have the best early game stats of any team at play-ins:
The LPL 4th seed has 100% first blood rate, highest gold lead at 15 minutes (avg. 2.1k), 60% first turret take and an 80% first three tower rate (i.e. all outer turrets). Their problem has been their abysmal team-fighting around objectives and quiet games from star Jungler Peanut - the things that got them to Worlds in the first place against Invictus Gaming!
R7 are coming in hot, they’re coming in hungry, and LGD have the weight of their 2015 failure and the demanding standards of the LPL faithful to overcome. For all that, it’s hard to favour R7 on paper, but LGD have never looked more vulnerable.
Expected outcome: LGD win
Group A Elimination Round: Papara SuperMassive V. MAD Lions
Game start: 11:00am BST 29/09
(Picture: LoL Esports)
Perennial Turkish representatives SuperMassive will be looking at their Round 1 opponent with glee. MAD have looked out of sorts across the whole of play-ins, with even their victories being far from clean. Much like LGD, they too had to play a tie-breaker to avoid an ignominious elimination. And much like LGD, they run the risk of being the first major region team to be eliminated from play-ins.
SuperMassive on the other hand ended their group stage 2-2, with their victories coming hand in hand with strong performances from Toplaner Armut and legendary Jungler KaKAO. It would be remiss not to mention SUP’s Bot lane as well, consisting of Zeitnot and SnowFlower, who are also a mechanically strong duo, even if Zeitnot’s alleged homophobia scandal from earlier in the year still haunts the team’s reputation.
SUP’s strengths in Top/Jungle contrast glaringly with their counterparts on MAD. Orome has had a difficult time versus his opposing numbers (including a paltry 4.9k damage game in a winning game on Renekton), going down heavily in lane and struggling to find an effective champions pool. Shad0w too has struggled, with meta carries Lillia, Hecarim, and Evelynn all looking awkward in his hands - certainly a far cry from his notorious Lee Sin. Add in an often disrespectful Humanoid, who has been as likely to crush as he has been to int, and warning bells have been ringing for the LEC 4th seed
It is worth a reminder that MAD are a team of rookies (Humanoid excepted) who seemed to lose some of their creative magic in the Summer Split playoffs. Nerves and a slightly fragile grasp on the meta are a dangerous combination - especially against the vast experience of the SuperMassive roster. MAD and their mechanical prowess alongside their major region pedigree shouldn’t be discounted, but shockingly SUP come in favoured.
Expected outcome: SUP win
Qualification Round: TBD (Group B Winner) V. Legacy Esports
Game start: 7:00am BST 30/09
(Picture: LoL Esports)
Analysts had assumed LGC would prove to be a weak squad and the OCE hopefuls have relished proving them wrong.Legacy were a tie-breaker away from automatic promotion to Groups, instead they find themselves waiting to face either LGD or Rainbow7.
A mix of clutch late-game decision making and objective fights (see their win over INTZ), coupled with the mechanical prowess of superstar in the making Raes from the botlane make the OCE squad a force to be reckoned with. The ADC ended up 15/3/10 in a breakout game on Ezreal versus SUP with the highest average DPM of any ADC in the tournament thus far.
Their major worry will be from how they fared in their tie-breaker match against Team Liquid, where they got convincingly beaten across every lane, and got put to the sword in early Jungle skirmishes and ganks to boot.
LGC will be hoping to face R7, who they should feel they have a good chance again, whereas they may be a little more nervous to face LGD despite their recent woes. That said, LGD’s recent bizarre setups and fights around objectives will play well into LGC, so there are certainly options for the OCE representatives.
Expected outcome: LGC win (v R7) | LGD win
Qualification Round: TBD (Group A Winner) V. Unicorns of Love
Game Start: 11:00am BST 30/09
(Picture: Unicorns Of Love)
Mad, bad, and dangerous, the Unicorns of Love’s greatest strength (their explosive early games and creative decision making) can also be their undoing (skirmishing too aggressively around objectives and “creative” decision making). Like LGC, they too lost a tie-breaker match that would have sent them straight to Groups. To make matters worse they may well end up facing off against old rivals MAD, who knocked out UoL in the exact same match at last year’s Worlds as Splyce 3-2. You can bet UoL are itching for revenge.
While they ended 3-1, their one loss to Rainbow7 and sloppy end game versus PSG highlight the team’s loose late game and their blind aggression around objectives. Even in their convincing victory over V3 Esports, UoL’s initial Herald fight in that game was very poorly managed, even if the subsequent Kassadin outplay will go down in Worlds history.
But for their flaws, the Unicorns are definitively favoured against either of their opponents in SUP or MAD. Their creativity in draft, especially around Bot laner Gadget’s impressive mastery of mages, alongside decisive snowballing in the early game and mid game engages should see them through. Sure, they play disrespectfully, but damn if they don't make it work.
Expected outcome: UoL win