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Worlds 2020 QF primer: Who will advance out of deadly first stage of Knockouts?

Groups have finished, and the Knockouts are upon us! With only eight teams remaining, we dive in to see who is likely to be coming out on top in this clash of titans.

Worlds 2020 has been one for the history books: a virtual stage, a global pandemic, and a hell of a lot of contenders for the Summoner’s Cup have all been a backdrop to the event thus far.

With the appetiser of Groups finished, it’s time to move onto the meat of the matter. Namely, how are the Quarter Finals likely to play out?

Worlds 2020 Quarter-finals primer

DAMWON Gaming (5-1) Vs. DRX (4-2)

15/10 11:00am BST

Damwon Gaming vs DRX
(Picture: Riot Games)

It’s the LCK Summer Finals all over again, but DRX will be hoping they put up a better fight or it’s going to be a very short series. DAMWON come into this match heavy favourites - they were hotly tipped before the tournament began, proved themselves worthy of that hype in groups, and absolutely crushed DRX the last time the two faced.

On paper it should be a done deal, but this is Worlds and bigger upsets have happened.

If DRX want to find a way past DWG and find some sweet, sweet revenge for the Summer Finals, then they will need to find a touch more consistency in their play. Credit where credit is due though, both Doran and Pyosik came into the tournament with question marks about that consistency, and both have stepped up in their wins. Pyosik in particular has put on some masterclass performances in the jungle on high-priority picks Nidalee and Graves. Chovy too, has been nothing except stellar throughout the groups as well, even in tough matches.

It is notable that their losses in groups were both to TOP Esports (another tournament favourite) who frankly outclassed them in the top/jungle matchup and put a serious spanner in the works of DRX’s win lane, win game mentality.

Take the first game versus TES as an example, and you can see how well DRX’s lane-dominant draft got picked apart - 369’s Renekton had no right finding a way back into that game, and yet… More worrying still, ace bot laner and veteran presence Deft had an eyebrow raising game on Draven where he lost lane to a Senna/Tahm Kench lane, and was struggling to manage mana. 

That said, problem points of DRX seemed to have been sured up, and when they do manage to play to crush lane they are nothing if not a threat. It’s a shame then, that they are up against arguably the best laning team in the world in DAMWON Gaming. DWG were hunting for that coveted 6-0 record, but a final game loss to JDG in groups prevented that. They have been styling on opponents, with Canyon’s Graves doing unholy things on the rift, and Nuguri’s eye for teamfight flanks looking second to none, and currently hold the record for the top two team GPM games in the tournament thus far (G2 v Rogue, G1 v JDG respectively).

Worlds 2020 League of Legends Quarter finals preview primer
(Picture: Riot Games)

Where they have faltered it’s been when teams can be quicker to the punch than they are around sidelines, and punishing Nuguri and Canyon’s notorious aggression. Tracking BeryL and ShowMaker’s roams are also paramount, but that is easier said than done. That said, it can be done - see JDG’s victory over them.

Players to Watch: DRX Chovy, DWG Showmaker.

Two of the best performing midlaners in the world in a Summer Finals rematch. Need I say more? Watch for jungle intervention, too. Both Pyosik and Canyon have been on a tear, and could easily tilt the matchup.

Expected Outcome: 3-0 DAMWON Gaming

 

Suning Gaming (5-2) Vs. JD Gaming (4-2)

16/10 11:00am BST

Suning Gaming VS JD Gaming
(Picture: Riot Games)

With the Korean heavyweight match out of the way, it’s time to move onto the LPL heavyweight showdown between JDG and Suning. Suning may have come out on top of their group, but JDG still come in favourites. Part of that is weighting an arguably easier group for Suning and a somewhat tumultuous run to first against them, and part of it is historical precedence from their matchups in the LPL.

For JDG, they have a 1-1 record against DWG - who are right up there with TES as tournament favourites - and outside of an admittedly poor loss to PSG, have put on consistently intimidating performances with high kills, low deaths and a jungle/support duo who are vying for best in the world.

Kanavi hasn’t hit his domestic heights perhaps, but LvMao has been on another level. A nod to Yagao, too: midlaners have been unusually quiet at the tournament thus far, but Yagao’s Zoe and TF have been putting the fear of the LPL into opposing mids. Certainly, there’s been some sloppiness, but the LPL second seed’s wins have been crisp.

Suning on the other hand, lives and dies by the insanity that is SofM - the only jungler alive to make tank Lee Sin look like the full damage variant. “Style of Me,” indeed. Minor hyperbole aside, the Vietnamese superstar is in his element with the current meta of enabling the jungler, and Suning have been more than happy to board that hype-train wherever it goes. An eye does also have to go towards veteran ace support of SwordArt, who’s playmaking has been a massive boon to SN’s success thus far.

This all said, SofM and crew do have a number of rookies all too eager to join the jungler’s aggression. When that aggression has worked it’s been beautiful to watch, when it hasn’t… well, just watch Bin’s Gangplank versus G2 in their tie-breaker match. Caught out multiple times with cocky flashes, only to get the game-winning double kill onto Perkz and Caps after losing the Elder Drake. Great drama, but not the most convincing way to win.

Players to Watch: JDG Kanavi and SN SofM
Two of the best junglers from the most aggressive jungling region the world. SofM demands his team’s resources, and Kanavi is more than happy to force his team to do the same. If SN win this series, this will be how. If JDG can hold SofM to account, then they will shut down huge portions of their opponent’s playstyle.

Expected Outcome: 3-1 JD Gaming

 

TOP Esports (5-1) Vs. Fnatic (4-2)

17/10 11:00am BST

TOP esports vs Fnatic Worlds 2020 LOL
(Picture: Riot Games)

There’s no other way to put this, TOP Esports come in favourites. For the tournament, nevermind the series. They have been the most dominant team in the LPL, marred only by their rival’s JDG getting the edge over them in Spring. Otherwise, this roster is nothing short of terrifying, with everyone but their support contending for best in role.

Their group stage performance was similarly ruthless, with only a shock upset to FlyQuest off the back of well orchestrated level 1 counting against them. In a tournament becoming defined by carry junglers, Karsa has been putting his name forwards as one of the best, clocking in some impressive performances and earning himself the best KDA of any player at the tournament moving into knockouts.

He’s going to have to defend that claim though, because his opponent is Fnatic’s Selfmade. Evelynn, Hecarim, lethality Graves… you name it, Selfmade will carry on it. While TOP come in favourites, Fnatic have surprised many by the level of their performance in a tough group, and one of their major assets is Selfmade’s impressive carry champion pool. Another has been a resurgence in form from Hylissang and an aggressive change in mindset from Rekkles in lane. Their 2v2 in Fnatic’s win over Gen.G will be a bright data point for Fnatic fans coming into this brutal Quarter Finals - especially considering yuyanjia’s sometimes suspect level of play.

Problematically though, Yuyanjia's lane partner is JackeyLove - a former World Champion and the most feared Senna player in the tournament. Similarly, while Nemesis has found new confidence in his play mid after a difficult Summer Split, he’s up against the widely touted best performing mid in the world in Knight. And yet, even as that statement stands, Knight’s World Championship thus far hasn’t been as dominating as some (including this author) expected. Odd performances on Nocturne and Galio, an average of 8.5 CS/M, 375 DPM, and a Kill Participation of 55.6% is underwhelming considering Knight’s calibre. Part of that, of course, has been TES’ focus elsewhere on the map, but even so this Quarter Finals will call for more from the superstar.

TOP will definitely be considered favourites, but there is more of a chance for a hungry Fnatic to cause an upset here than the LPL representatives will be happy with, especially if Fnatic’s mercurial playmakers are on form

Players to Watch: TES Knight, FNC Nemesis
It may be the other players for both teams that have been winning them games thus far, but this is the lane that could lose them the Quarters. Nemesis has stepped up from a horror Summer regular season, but questions about his champion pool still abound. Knight - fabled superstar and second coming of Faker - has yet to really ignite this tournament. If one or the other fumbles on the biggest stage, it could spell disaster.

Expected Outcome: 3-2 TOP Esports 

 

Gen.G (5-1) Vs. G2 Esports (4-3)

18/10 11:00am BST

Gen.g vs g2 esports Worlds 2020 League of Legends
(Picture: Riot Games)

It has been hard to get a read on the level of both of these teams. Bdd has had an underwhelming tournament and Life’s Ignite/Exhaust Rakan will go down in infamy. Claps and Craps have both made appearances, and Perkz’ positioning has caused facepalms and yet he still puts out 10k damage teamfights. The list could go on, but the point has been made: both of these teams have been somewhat inconsistent.

For G2, that mercurial element has often been caused by some very questionable level 1 setups that have put Jankos at a deficit - something that has been the death knell of lesser teams. Add onto that a propensity to want Jankos to play for lanes rather than have lanes play for their jungler, and the transition to a carry jungle meta hasn’t been the smoothest for G2. 

Where they’ve shined through, is in their exquisite teamfighting, pulling out insane mid and late game objective fights. Case in point, in their win over Suning (and narrow loss, for that matter) G2’s execution in fights when down Dragon Soul was some of the best in the world. Look to Mikyx, too. G2’s support has out-roamed and out-fought nearly every opponent he’s come up against, with only the likes of LvMao really in contention as a better performer in the role.

For Gen.G, outside of an ignominious 2v2 loss against Fnatic, Ruler has been phenomenal. The ADC’s damage share currently sits at a whopping 32.5% with 649 DPM. Contrast that with Perkz’ still commendable 24.7% and 566 DPM, and you can see how hard the Gen.G bot laner has carried. That still has to be measured against a far from flawless performance from both Clid and Bdd, who will be thanking their lucky stars that they did not lose their second game against TSM. Clid in particular has fallen into the trap of getting as many picks as he has been picked off, which can be very concerning when Baron is a viable option later into games.

While the matchup is close, G2 probably edges it. Their historic strength in Best of 5’s compared to single round robins, a rare level of form out of Wunder, and the playmaking poise of Mikyx will offer the killer instinct required. That said, if Perkz’ positioning and G2’s level 1 jungle starts don’t improve, the Gen.G are more than capable of taking the EU 1st seed out of the tournament.

Players to Watch: G2 Mikyx and Gen.G Life
Mikyx has been a superstar for G2 at Worlds this year, finding incredible picks and engages in every step of the game on an impressive roster of champions. Life on the other hand has been an incredible playmaker during Gen.G’s regular season, but hasn’t been hitting the same highs at Worlds thus far. Even so, if he can stunt Miky’s playmaking and keep Ruler alive, then G2 could well be in trouble.

Expected Outcome: 3-2 G2 Esports

The 2020 World Championship Quarter Finals will run from 15/10 to 18/10.

You can watch over at the LoL Esports website, or the associated Twitch and YouTube channels.

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