The Group Stages are in, and now we know what the competition will look like for the World Championships. In depth matchup considerations will come later, but for now, here’s what I think of the groups. You’ll be interested to see that I’ve deviated a bit from my Power Rankings, thanks to a few favorable matchups.
This group has the best and the worst of Worlds, and the results are going to be telling. Not too much to say about that.
Samsung White is definitely the favorite to win this matchup. Pawn is a very solid mid laner who should outclass U, and with Teleport in vogue, Looper should outplay Koro1, while Mata is one of the best supports in the game. I’m expecting a 1-1 between EDward Gaming and Samsung White, but I think Samsung White is the slightly better team.
An argument can be made that Clearlove is the best jungler in the game at the moment, and a strong argument could be made that NaMei is the best ADC. However, their game might just crumble about mid lane, where Pawn should be able to win against U without jungler help.
Dark Passage has dominated the Turkish scene for 2 years, and has never competed internationally with their star ADC. They have almost no chance of escaping this group phase, but a strong performance against AHQ could mean bigger sponsors, time in the limelight, and a bright future.
It’s not a good day to be AHQ. They face a nearly impossible group to escape, and they have more to prove than Dark Passage. Dark Passage is making a huge jump simply by making Worlds, while AHQ will not be able to prove themselves after struggling to make Worlds for so long. Or as Thorin put it:
This group is the most wide open, with 4 middle of the road teams (hence QuadraMid). None of the internationally dominant teams are here, and there are a lot of questions. Have SHRC stayed in top caliber despite changing every player but Uzi? Can TSM finally perform internationally? Is SK Gaming coming out of the shadow of Fnatic/Alliance? Can TPA show that the GPL isn’t a joke? Honestly, any two teams could make it out of this group.
I think TSM looks strong coming out of the NA LCS playoffs, and should be able to fight for the top spot.
I believe in Winds. I think he’s reinvigorated the team enough that GPL can finally prove themselves. TPA may have lost at All Stars, but Winds is a huge upgrade for them, and now that they’ve had time to practice with him, TPA could be a genuine threat. If Morning can bully Corn and draw INsec mid, TPA will force Uzi to be the only threat, and his over-aggression could cost him games.
SHRC may be the favorites here, with a strong 2013 World Championship performance, but I have doubts about their roster. Cola is lackluster in the top lane, and without Tabe shotcalling, Uzi has made overly aggressive calls all season. inSec being on the team hasn’t helped, and his aggressive plays combined with Uzi’s have led to a lot of SHRC throws in the LPL. This puts the pressure on Corn to make plays and Zero to bail them out, and that might be too much for him to handle.
This is Group QuadraMid, and Jesiz is the weakest mid laner in the group by a decent margin. That alone puts SK Gaming at threat at losing any game to any team if mid crumbles. Jesiz would have to step up big here for SK Gaming to have a shot. SK Gaming looked solid against Alliance, losing a series that they looked to have the potential to win. By contrast, Fnatic looked completely confused against Alliance. However, I think this group phase is just going to be too much for them.
This group is a giant contingency, with teams 2-4 all standing a good shot at advancing. OMG could get overaggressive against the strong laners of LMQ, Fnatic could use their late-game wiles to sneak some wins in, and LMQ has only been improving all year. If I were a betting man, I’d place my bets in different groups.
2 OGN finals in a row is no small feat, and I don’t want to be the guy to bet against them.
I have to give this to OMG, simply because LoveLing outclasses Cyanide and NoName, and with OMG lanes getting ahead early, it will be hard to fight against them. However, OMG has looked shaky in recent games, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lose sloppy games due to over-aggression early, especially to the strong laners of LMQ.
Honestly, if Fnatic can sneak a game or two off of Samsung Blue or OMG using their late-game wiles, they just have to hope that OMG’s aggression backfires against the strong laners of LMQ. If any team can do it, it’s Fnatic, but I’m not willing to put money on it.
LMQ has improved, to be sure, but I don’t think enough to take down Season 3 powerhouses like OMG and Fnatic.
I can’t imagine any of the teams here are particularly excited to be in this group. Could their group be harder? Yes. But there is no team that is that happy to be in this group, as they all face competition that could potentially knock them out. Every other group has reasonable frontrunners, but it feels like any of the 3 top teams could find themselves shut out. Honestly, I think that one of these teams will drop 1 game to KaBuM, and that team will be the team that ends up missing out on the Playoffs. Me, I’m choosing to believe in Alliance and Apple Pie.
Alliance didn’t just look like the best team in Europe, but one of the top teams in the world. They face off against the lowest-seeded Korean team in the Group Stages, and a win here could give them the confidence they need to advance out of the semifinals. Alliance is definitely in the top two of this group. Even Koreans in solo queue/scrims have been hyping Froggen:
If you’ve been watching the meta evolve, it’s looking more and more Cloud9 heavy. Clearlove and LoveLing have shown the viability of carry junglers, while Save and Koro1 have been showing off their AP top laners. With the potential for carry top and junglers, the synergy between Balls and Meteos will be front and center. Moreover, Hai is the highest rated Western player on the Korean ladder at the moment, and Cloud9’s struggles centered largely around Hai’s struggles to recover after his surgery.
Najin White Shield could be shaky. The teams they beat to get into Worlds (KTB, KTA, SKTT1K) had been slumping. Moreover, Save has been busting out the stops, playing Kassadin and Kayle top during the Qualifiers. Now that everybody knows how they play, Cloud9 and Alliance could take games off of them. Honestly, I can’t tell whether Najin White Shield is the #1 team in this group or the #3. I’d flip a coin, but I’m going to go with my NA bias and say that they’re #3 so the NA hate brings more traffic.
Sorry Kabum 😦