LoL Worlds Review: LCK Conquers the Groups

The Worlds groups ended with a bang. Three of the four groups ended with tiebreakers, including a four-way tie in group D. In the end, all four LCK representatives made playoffs, three of them as first seeds. The LPL has two teams in the quarterfinals, while the LCS and LEC have one each.

T1 are first in their group - will Faker add another trophy to his collection? (© Riot Games)

After the first part of the League of Legends World Championship main event groups saw the LCK and LPL dominate their Western rivals, the second round robin threatened to have no Western representatives in playoffs. All LCS and LEC teams were either 0-3 or 1-2 and our hopes to see them make it to the quarterfinals were fairly low. However, it wouldn’t be a Worlds without some surprises. With every day having at least six games between the teams in each group, the player’s ability and mental fortitude would be put to the test so the better teams on the day would triumph.

Group A: DAMWON Are Undefeatable - and Cloud9 Beat the Odds

Coming in the group ,we expected DWG KIA and FunPlus Phoenix to fight for the first two places and leave Rogue and Cloud9 in the dust. The first round robin delivered just that, and after the LCK champions won a decisive victory against the LPL team, all looked decided. However, Cloud9 threw a spanner in the works by first defeating Rogue and then having a great game against FPX, leaving the LPL Champions at 2-3. After an even early game, DAMWON overpowered Rogue with huge damage from Kim "Khan" Dong-ha ’s Lucian and Jang "Ghost" Yong-jun’s Draven. In a clutch 4v5 fight, it was Khan who would take over and wipe out Rogue with a Pentakill.

Rogue had to dust themselves off and take on FPX and despite a poor start, they showed they were a match for the LPL champions on the day. Kacper "Inspired" Słoma’s Fiddlesticks was key to their control of the jungle and their much needed victory. When Cloud9 failed to defeat DWG KIA, it left the group in a three-way tie, with the LCK team at 6-0 and the three other teams at 2-4. Due to their longer game time, FPX and Rogue would play first, with the winner taking on Cloud9. In the initial game, Rogue once more showed their mettle, defeating the LPL team after another standout performance by Steven "Hans sama" Liv. In the end, it would come to an EU vs NA clash. Rogue and Cloud9 were neck and neck for almost the entire game. Several times, the LEC team was in a position to go for the Baron, but they disengaged instead of going for broke. In the fight that likely decided the game, however, the LCS team started the Baron and get both it and an ace in the fight, taking over the game. Rogue was eventually routed in a fight near the Elder drake. Cloud9 took the game and the second seed, reaching playoffs after a 0-3 start and breaking the LEC's winning streak against the LCS in playoffs.

Group B: T1 Is Back

In group B, LPL champions EDward Gaming would have a showdown with the always dangerous T1 with Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok at the helm. Both teams secured their playoff spots early on with victories against Detonation FocusMe and 100 Thieves. When the two titans clashed, T1 was clearly the better team, getting an early gold lead and a big teamfight 15 minutes in. A kill on the EDG jungler saw T1 go for the Baron, securing it with two extra kills and ending the game a few minutes later.

It was a matter of pride as 100 Thieves rematched Detonation FocusMe. The LJL champions had a strong start with a very good early game by Lee "Aria" Ga-eul on Twisted Fate, but 100T endured, even getting an ocean soul, and won the game after punishing a risky DFM attempt to backdoor their base. The Japanese team did not fare any better in their last game against T1 and, despite being the first LJL representatives to make it to the group stage, was unable to secure any win there. Yet when we all expected to see a T1 vs EDward Gaming tiebreaker, the LCS champions threw a spanner in the works and tripped up EDG, sending them to second place.

Group C: Hanwha Rises (almost) to the Top

Day 3 started with victories by the lower-ranked teams. Hanwha Life Esports triumphed against PSG Talon to tie them for second place. Fnatic having a great performance against Royal Never Give Up and handing them their first loss after a very competitive game where Chen "GALA" Wei was a huge factor for his team. The LPL representatives rebounded with a much-needed victory against PSG Talon, taking an early lead and eventually manage to close out despite some heroic plays by the PCS representatives.

Fnatic had to fight for their playoff hopes in the next game against Hanwha Life Esports. The two teams went blow for blow for over half an hour, but a clutch fight for the LCK team 34 minutes in saw them secure the Baron and the third drake. This proved the decisive moment of the game and HLE some 10 minutes later. Hanwha kept their form for a rematch with RNG, focusing the top lane to punish Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-Hao and taking the dragon soul and Baron to take the game. In the last game of the regular group, PSG Talon had a convincing win against Fnatic to secure the third place.

The tiebreaker saw Hanwha start strong against their LPL opponents. The LCK team looked on point to win, but RNG came back in the mid-game, taking the win and the first place.

Group D: Tied to the End

MAD Lions opened the day with a loss against Gen.G. The LCK team had a strong start with an early lead and scalingm and while MAD came came back in the mid lane, they eventually overextended and Gen.G capitailized to win the game. Team Liquid, meanwhile, had a very strong game against LNG Esports, taking a key win against the Chinese team. In return, the LPL team defeated Gen.G after a great performance by Hu "Ale" Jia-Le’s Fiora.

MAD now had to win both next games to force a tiebreaker. They had a hard fight against Team Liquid, who used Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen’s Twisted Fate to set up kills, but the clutch mid-game teamfights went to the LEC representatives. In the two games that followed, TL and MAD defeated Gen.G and LNG respectively, forcing a rare four-way tie in the group where everyone was at 3-3. It would take three more games to sort the group out

In the first tiebreaker, Gen.G overcame their early deficit with great play from Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong’s Zoe. With some clutch snipes, she turned the game around and ended Team Liquid’s hopes of finally making playoffs. MAD Lions, meanwhile,had a horrible start against LNG, but once more lived to their reputation as teamfighting experts. In the end, they turned the game around and won after a heroic 4v5 base defense. With both MAD and GEN.G qualified for the playoffs, they played one another nailbiter. Despite their early lead the LCK team played relatively passively and this allowed MAD to get back in the game. In the end, it took a single overextension by MAD's top laner to give Gen.G the decisive lead that saw them secure the win.

The long day ended with the playoff draw.

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Worlds continues on Friday, October 22nd, with a repeat of the LCK regional final between T1 and Hanwha Life Esports. In the meantime, check out the rest of our LoL coverage and make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!