The World Championship features some of the best teams in the world. Just this week, there are 24 games to watch. What are the key games to watch?
For this week, SK Gaming will be playing without their starting jungler, Svenskeren, thanks to his racially insensitive comments. While his replacement is no slouch, he is untested in the professional scene. Even with an LCS-level sub, it would be hard for SK Gaming to be prepared in time. They should probably start 0-3, and as such, I have not included any of their games here. Any losses by teams to SK on Thursday or Friday spell doom for their opponents, and could allow SK to climb back to the top in Week 2.
Both of these teams are semifinalist quality, and I expect to see both of them in the semifinals. Getting to watch them face off in the Group Stages is just extra candy for us all. Samsung White is a strong contender for the best team in the world, but EDG has dominated China 2 splits in a row. Between these two teams, we have two of the top 3 junglers in the world, EDG’s Clearlove and White’s Dandy, and watching them match wits would make this game worth it on their own. However, we have the best ADC in the world – EDG’s NaMei – facing off against probably the best bot lane in the world, White’s Imp and Mata. This match promises to set the tone for the whole playoffs. If White dominates here, expect to see an all Korean final.
These teams may both be projected to finish at the bottom of their group, but this match is for bragging rights. Both teams are representing much maligned regions, and picking up wins here would at least let them say they performed at Worlds. AHQ probably has the edge, thanks to the high-caliber talent of their mid, Westdoor, but it should be an exciting, fast-paced match, as both teams play for kills and quick wins.
StarHorn Royal Club are definitely the favorites in their group, with Lee Sin legend inSec and ADC extraordinaire Uzi pairing up. However, TPA were the World 2 champions, and while only BeBe remains from that roster, they have picked up great players in the interim, not the least being their new jungler Winds. If TPA can take the first game off of either SHRC or TSM, they should probably exit the Group Stage, making these matches extremely important. TPA seems outclassed at every position, so it will be on their jungler and mid to make the plays they need to win, letting BeBe ride into his stellar late game.
If SHRC has a challenger, it’s definitely TSM. Before the NA LCS Summer Finals, there would have been no question that SHRC would win this matchup, but TSM has looked on top of their game, and new addition TSM’s Lustboy is absolutely dominant on Nami. Given SHRC Zero’s skill on Nami as well, don’t be surprised to see the fish support be an early pick and series determiner. Either way, between SHRC’s inSec, Uzi, and Corn and TSM’s Amazing, Bjergsen, and Lustboy, this matchup is stacked with talent and worth watching.
I find it unlikely that SK Gaming will win without Svenskeren. However, if they are going to surprise a team, it will probably be TPA, simply because we have better estimates as to how SK Gaming matches up against NA teams, and we expect an SHRC victory. Gilius, Svenskeren’s substitute, will have to step up hard in this game, but if he does, it certainly reflects well on his own team, Unicorns of Love.
The impact of this game will depend a lot on both team’s matchups against SHRC, but it is most likely that both will have fallen to SHRC, and will be fighting each other for the #2 spot. I give the edge to TSM thanks to their support, Lustboy, and their top laner, Dyrus, both of whom outclass their opposition. However, TPA is a solid team that should put up a fight.
It’s pretty unlikely that AHQ wins against the top 2 teams in their group, but if they are going to win, it’s going to be by playing aggressively against EDG and throwing them off early. EDG has gotten much better in the early game, but they still don’t have any truly dominant laners. Westdoor will have to have the game of his life to make a win for his team.
The importance of Saturday and Sunday’s games will depend wildly on the results of the first two days, so I shall update this post after Saturday’s games conclude. However, one thing is sure: SK Gaming will come out swinging with something to prove in the second half of the games, and a loss to them then could spell the end for any of the top teams in their group.