League Time! Top 5: League Teams that have Something to Prove at Worlds
As we creep towards the end of September we also creep more towards the beginning of The League of Legends World Championships that starts on October 1st. The groups have been drawn and now we’ll take a look at the Top 5 Teams with Something to Prove at Worlds.
5. Cloud 9 (#3, NA)
Let’s get this out of the way now, I love Cloud 9, as a NA fanboy. But as an annalist this is a team that feels like it doesn’t belong at Worlds. This was a team that had a horrible summer split that saw the team drop 6 of their first 8 and then lose their starting Jungler Meteos due to his inability to be a leader and shot-caller. Luckily for C9-recently retired Mid-Laner Hai stepped in for Meteos and provided the shot-calling and leadership necessary to win games. Problem was C9 was still doing poorly, and still finished the season under 500 (7-12). It took a collapse by Team8 and a miracle-run in the Regional-Qualifier (2 reverse sweeps) and a win over the team that should be in worlds, Team Liquid to make it this far. C9’s task to make it out of groups isn’t impossible, they don’t have the worst group to make a run on. That being said teams like Invictus (#2 LPL) and AHQ (Taiwan) won’t go down so easily like the rest of NA did for C9. It’s time for Hai to make good on his promise for World Domination for C9.
4. SKTelecom T1 (#1, LCK)
Ok I know what you’re thinking how can I put a Korean team on this list? Korea has been dominant in League for a long time winning the last 2 World Championships and looking to make it 3 in row after this season. But here’s the thing about SKT1 they’ve look beatable recently, especially at the newly formed Mid-Seasonal Invitation (MSI). SKT1 dominated the group stages of MSI, but then when it came to crunch time, let Fnatic take them to 5 games and nearly dropped that game 5. In the Finals they would lose to the hybrid China/Korean team of Edwards Gaming in 5. SKT1 after that dominated LCK going 17-1 and secured a favorable group for worlds (at least for them). But in their group is their dreaded MSI rivals Edwards Gaming (EDG).With EDG in their group it brings back the exciting mid-lane match (hopefully) between Pawn (S4 world champion from Samsung White) and Faker (S3 world champion from SKT1), or will we see the rise of the EasyHoon vs. Faker mid lane debate. If you’re a SKT1 fan, you don’t have to worry to much, they don’t have too much to prove already having won Worlds in 2013 and look to have an even stronger roster than that season. They should be heavy favorites to make it all the way again this season, but with EDG in their group, they could be in for a rocky road.
3. Team SoloMid (TSM) (#2, NA)
NA on this list twice, impossible! Yes NA and EU (we’ll touch later) statistically haven’t been the strongest performers at worlds (NA still looking to win a World Champion *fingers crossed for CLG*). But hey who knows maybe C9 can break the meta again with Hai’s inspired Amumu pick (LOL) and CLG can win without Jungler XSmithie (unless he can get his visa situation figured out they’ll have to). Then there’s TSM… Oh boy let’s get this out of the way right now, I despise TSM with a passion not because I’m a devoted C9 fan boy, but because I can’t stand that they always are the “Top NA Team” and “NA’s only glimmering hope at worlds.” TSM every worlds I’ve viewed has disappointed majorly. Last season they failed to make it out of groups and represented the disappointment known as NA at Worlds. This season they hope to change that but this time as NA’s 2nd best team. But looking back at TSM’s summer split, they looked confused and scared. It started with the benching of ADC WildTurtle for Team Liquid’s former starter Keith. Then Mid-Laner Bjergesen couldn’t carry quite like he use to due to bot lane’s inconsistency, and Jungler Santoren not being able to help get him going like he use to. Then Summer Playoffs rolled around and all of a sudden TSM looked like the TSM of old. Top Laner Dyrus (who is retiring after this split) played amazingly in TSM’s first 2 playoff series, Santoren was free to camp Bjerg and LustBoy was able to roam safely without worrying about WT getting caught. But then CLG happened. CLG Top-Laner ZionSpartan picked Yasuo into Dyrus’s Gnar and that forced Bjerg onto the champion. That created a downward spiral for TSM that lead to CLG sweeping them for the Top Spot of NA. Now TSM has a chip on their shoulder to show why they deserved to be NA’s #1. But looking back at MSI when TSM represented NA they look awful. They managed 2 wins and almost made it out of groups, but still fell to Fnatic 3 times over the course of the tourney. TSM has no easy feat to get out of groups this year though as they have arguably the hardest group with teams like LGD Gaming (#1 Chinese LPL team), KT Rolster (#3 LCK team) and Origen (#3 EU team). Can this finally be the year TSM makes it to the Promise Lands (dear god I hope NOT)!
2. KOO Tigers (#2 LCK)
2 Korean Teams no way! Well yes way KOO is a team I want to believe in and I want to say is a team that can be the SKT1 killers. But recently KOO haven’t done much to impress. They finished 2nd in the LCK based on championship points. But was that really all that impressive, it also raises the question if KT had pulled off a miracle and beat SKT1 for LCK‘s top prize would KOO even be at worlds? The Regional-Qualifier was brutal coming out of Korea: Jin Air Green Wings, Nanjin Em-Fire (who played well against KOO) and CJ Entus all were slated for the Qualifier and idk if KOO would have survived a brutal gauntlet like that. KOO were very fortunate to draw the group they did. CLG will give them a fair bit of trouble (Pending again if Jungler XSmithie can play), but teams like paiN Gaming (from Brazil) and Flash Wolves (from the LMS) should be winnable games for KOO. The bigger question is what will KOO do after groups when the real test begins and stiffer competition will be waiting?
CLG (#1 NA)-I love CLG and I’m so happy they beat TSM to take NA’s Top Spot. But that being said pressure’s on to prove that NA is not a joke of a region like many other regions (such as Korea and China) have often believed. Added pressure for CLG if XSmithie’s visa issues don’t get resolved and CLG has to play with a sub at Jungler. If it comes down to it I have faith in Rush Hour (ADC DoubleLift and Support AphroMoo) and Top-Laner ZionSpartan carrying this team through a manageable groups and possibly further.
Edwards Gaming (#3 LPL)- After capturing the Mid-Seasonal Invitation title, Edwards had full momentum on their side as they prepared for the Summer LPL split. Then LPL was ready for EDG, and halted their momentum and almost kept EDG out of worlds. Invitctus took 3rd from EDG and that catapulted them to enough points to take 2nd of LPL. But EDG ran through the qualifiers and took 3rd. We’ll just have to see if they can have repeat success against SKT1 from MSI and see if Mid-Laner Pawn will be able to carry this bunch through groups.
Origen (#3 EU)- After an inspiring first split for Origen, they shocked everyone by breaking Fnatic’s 20 game winning streak in Summer Playoffs and were 1 win away from taking EU‘s top spot. But after a crushing Game 5 loss to Fnatic, Origen barely had enough championship points to qualify for the Regional Qualifier. They almost dropped their first series to Roccat, but managed a reverse sweep to keep their worlds dreams alive. Then crushed the Unicorns of Love to take EU‘s third sport. Now although being the new kids for EU, this team isn’t short of veterans. Mid-Laner and Captain X-Peke is a experienced world champion (Season 1 with Fnatic), along with his former FNC teammate Top Laner SoaZ, as well as Jungler Amazing that’s been to worlds with TSM in season 4. This team has high expectation to fill with a stacked roster we’ll have to see what they can do in a murderous group.
1. Fnatic (#1 EU)
EU and NA as regions as a whole have been awful when it comes to worlds. But on one hand at least EU has one world champion already in Fnatic. Fnatic will look to repeat that success form the 1st World Championship. They went on an impressive 20-game win streak in EU, finishing with the first ever perfect regular season in LCS history. But let’s be real for a second, although a perfect season and 20-straight wins is impressive, it’s still EU. EU as a whole was very weak. They had two teams in the Playoffs with losing records (ROC was 9-10 and Giants was 8-11). For Fnatic fans things aren’t all bad. This is the team that took SKT1 to 5 games at MSI. And that was with ADC Steelback (now on NA Challenger team Imagine) starting instead of the returning ADC Rekless (who played and led Fnatic to worlds in 2012-2014). With Rekless rejoining the roster and Support YellowStar calling the shots this could be a big year for FNC. But that being said there isn’t a team with more pressure to win than FNC. With a tough draw for groups in AHQ (Taiwan Wild Card), C9 (#3 NA) and Invictus Gaming (#2, LPL) Fnatic will have to pull out all the stops if they hope to avoid another early exit and another disappointing performance at Worlds.