A look at the group stage
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
Arguably the most successful of the electronic sports (esports) leagues, League of Legends has six competitive leagues worldwide, which all converge in October to compete for the World Cup and a $1,000,000 prize purse. However, not every team in each region makes it. The rules vary depending on how many teams are involved in each regional league, but generally, you see the top three teams of each region move on to compete on the world stage.
After the competitors are decided, they are placed in groups of four according to a random draw. These groups determine the initial knockouts, as only the top two teams from each group will advance to the next round.
Starting with group A: we have the North American team, Counter Logic Gaming (CLG), the Flash Wolves from the League Masters Series (LMS) (the competitive league that includes Taiwan, Macao and Hong Kong),the KOO Tigers from South Korea, and PaiN Gaming from Brazil.
There’s not much to say about this group other than it’s probably the easiest out of the four. Favoured are the South Korean KOO Tigers, who are expected to take first place out of the group round, followed by the North American team, CLG. These two teams will also be the match to watch from this group, as it will be the best bottom lane partners from North America—Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black—facing off against one of Korea’s best bottom lane duos—Kim “PraY” Jong-in and Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon. As for expected upsets, seeing as this is the weakest group in this stage, there is a definite possibility for the Flash Wolves to claim one of top spots if they play their cards right.
Group B will consist of: Fnatic from the European league, Invictus Gaming (IG) from China, ahq e-Sports Club from the LMS, and Cloud 9 from North America.
Fnatic is expected to take first out of the group stage, followed by IG. Though Cloud 9 have been solid competitors in previous World Championships, recent changes to the player roster left them struggling during their regional season. If you watch any matches out of this group, make sure it’s a Fnatic one. This season saw the return of Fnatic’s star Attack Damage (AD) player, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, and he’s been on an impressive streak that carried Fnatic through the European season.
Group C proves to be the most one-sided group, playing host to SK Telecom T1 (SKT) from South Korea, H2k-Gaming from the European league, China’s Edward Gaming, and the Bangkok Titans from the LMS.
SKT is the favourite team to land the number one spot coming out of this group; second place is expected to go to Edward Gaming. Unfortunately for H2k-Gaming and the Bangkok Titans, they have little to no chance of an upset based on their current skill level. The match to watch out of this group will probably be SKT versus Edward Gaming, as it will most likely be a preview of the World Championship finals to happen later this month.
Group D includes: China’s LGD Gaming, kt Rolster from South Korea, Origen from the European league, and North American fan favorite, Team Solomid (TSM). This is probably the most difficult out of the four groups, and unfortunately contains many top teams that were expected to move on to the quarter-finals before the draft. That being said, it is unlikely that TSM will make it out of the group stage, as first- and second-place will most likely go to LGD Gaming and Origen. Though it has been argued that kt Rolster might pull off an upset and take second place, I think it’s highly unlikely and I expect them to actually finish last in the group standings. For marquis matchups I would definitely say TSM versus Origen. TSM’s mid-laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg is touted as being one of the best mid-lane players in the world and is known to carry games purely on his own mechanical skill. Seeing him play against a top-tier European team known to mostly ignore their mid-lane is certainly bound to be interesting.
The competition is set to begin October 1 and will proceed through the month. Check out lolesports.com for a schedule and live stream information.