Group A has two potential semifinals contenders as well as two of the least hyped teams. There’s not much to be said here: it would take a miracle for Dark Passage or AHQ to advance.
Samsung White played at the 2013 World Championship, under the name Samsung Galaxy Ozone, and with Dade in the mid lane. However, they fell behind both Fnatic and Gambit Gaming in the Group Stages, and their playoff run ended there. After Worlds, they picked up Pawn, and have proven themselves as one of the top teams in Korea. With three of the top 20 players at Worlds, Samsung will dominate against most teams, with a stronger laning phase and better teamfights than almost any team. As such, they are one of the favorites to take it all home.
Champions – Rengar, Lee Sin, Kha’Zix
Dandy is a tactical mastermind, earning #7 at Worlds, predicting the movements of the enemy team and countering them, whether it be with a counter-gank or a traded objective. He is largely responsible for popularizing jungle Rengar, but like every jungler, plays quite well on Lee Sin and Kha’Zix. Look to see him make early plays and snowball White to victory.
Champions – Alistar, Thresh, Morgana
Mata, White’s Support, was once known as MadLife-lite, but since matured into one of the best supports in the game, and the #3 player at Worlds. Look to see him make huge plays on any support, and God help any team that has to face his Thresh.
EDward Gaming is a relative newcomer to the LPL, but they have taken two consecutive #1 showings in their first two splits, thanks to world-class talent. While the LPL is known for their early game, EDG swiftly became known for having the best late game in China, winning a staggering 85% of their games when they secure first blood, dragon, or tower. As the top team in China, their performance will tell us a lot about how compare China to other regions. In many ways, their group is a blessing, as they face no North American or European teams in the Group Stage. This will allow them to enter the quarterfinals a relative unknown. Their likeliest matchups in the Quarterfinals are StarHorn Royal Club – a team they have dominated two splits in a row – and TSM, a team which hasn’t played against Chinese teams in over a year. As such, EDward Gaming looks solid for making the semifinals.
Champions – Kog’Maw, Twitch, Jinx
NaMei, EDG’s ADC, was ranked the #4 player at Worlds, and well deserves it. He is known as potentially the best ADC in the world, he is at home on hyper-carries like Kog’Maw, Twitch, and Jinx, and so long as his team does what it takes to let him carry, he will put up results.
Champions – Jarvan, Lee Sin, Nunu, Evelynn
Clearlove, EDG’s jungler, was ranked the #20 player at Worlds, but I think this vastly underrates his skill. He is known as “free win” on the Korean ladder, and spent a long time as the #1 challenger player in China. While known as a farm-oriented carry jungler, on EDG he has established himself as one of the best map pressure junglers on Evelynn, Jarvan, Nunu, and Lee Sin, making plays around dragon to allow the other star of EDG, NaMei, to carry. He may just be the best jungler in the world, and as such, the pressure will be on him to make plays for his team.
AHQ Esports failed to make the 2013 World Championship – despite being considered one of the top two teams in the GPL – and the chip on their shoulder can only be exemplified by the death bracket they’ve been placed into. Or as Thorin put it:
Champions – Twisted Fate, Fizz, Zed, Kassadin
Westdoor, AHQ’s mid laner, is the obvious star, with an aggressive, assassin-oriented style that makes him a threat to carry or throw a game. He is definitely one of the top mid laners in the world, having once ranked #1 in NA, TW, and Korea’s solo queue ladder simultaneously. With the number of assassins in the meta right now, it is unlikely that he can be banned out, but teams may still try to force him onto a specific champion they can plan for and counter.
Champions – Thresh, Braum, Malphite please
GreenTea, AHQ’s support, is certainly one of the most unique player on the team, having played unconventional supports like Malphite. He is extremely aggressive, loving to make picks and aggressive initiations, making Thresh one of his best champions.
I detailed Dark Passage’s history on lolesports, but the important thing to note is this: they have something to prove for their region, Turkey. They have been unable to put on their best face in major tournaments, thanks to HolyPhoenix not yet being 17. Now that he is finally eligible to compete internationally, Dark Passage is looking to show what they’ve got.
Champions – Tristana, Jinx, Graves
HolyPhoenix will be the player to watch in their games, as he is yet untested in major tournaments, thanks to his age. However, there is no doubt as to his talent, as he was the first Turkish player to reach Challenger Tier in EUW in Season 3. He is best known for his high-damage ADCs, including Graves, Tristana, and Jinx, so if his team is unable to ensure his safety, the team will struggle.
Champions – Elise, Jarvan
Crystal, Dark Passage’s jungler, is another strong player to watch, as Dark Passage avoids aggressive play, instead waiting to make plays until either Crystal ganks or FabFabulous make a play with Teleport. This passiveness could come back to bite them against the best teams in the world, as their lanes will be bullied. It will be on Crystal to prevent that from happening, by being proactive about ganking and counterganking before his team falls behind.