Everyone went into the first week of the Group Stage with high hopes for some explosive games and exciting results. They were not disappointed. This week has been one of the most exciting I can remember with all the highlight plays, upsets, and examples of fantastic planning and execution that we have come to expect from the League of Legends World Championship. Before getting into the final results of the League of Legends: Week 1 Groups, I’ll give a run-down of a few highlight games this week.
G2 eSports vs Samsung Galaxy:
As expected G2 played a great macro game, making considered moves around the map and using information provided by having vision of the enemy champions to the full. Their team composition supported this roaming playstyle (a feature of G2’s playstyle), including Shen, Ivern, and Corki. This provided a large lead in the early game. Samsung Galaxy, on the other hand, picked a team composition to win the teamfights – and win they did. With Taric and Gragas providing a very beefy frontline and Crown playing a near-perfect game on Taliyah, they steamrolled G2 several times, securing Baron and enough structures to ensure their victory.
Lonzhu Gaming vs Immortals:
Immortals’ team composition in this game was built to poke the enemy time and zone them from afar. Maokai, Ezreal, Ryze, and Varus did this very effectively for them in the early game and they were able to control Lonzhu Gaming’s movements and get themselves a lead. Longzhu, however, chose the composition to beat a poke-based team, a team with hard engage. Kha’zix, Jarvan IV, and Tristana provided a huge amount of burst and lock-down potential for them. Neither team chose to pick up much of a frontline which was interesting, especially considering the success of tanky teams up to this point. Longzhu managed to pick up a Baron, but Immortals were ahead in kills. Longzhu eventually won out due to some calm, collected play and capitalizing on Immortals comparatively reckless decisions. Pobelter made some questionable decisions on Ryze for Immortals and Pray came up huge on Tristana for Longzhu.
Fnatic vs Gigabyte Marines:
This game was by far the most action-filled, exciting game I have watched in a long time. No one would have expected it: Europe’s third seed playing against the Vietnamese underdogs, but this match was the highlight of the week for me. Fnatic took first blood after a messy tower dive (this seems to be becoming a feature of their playstyle). Levi (GAM’s jungler) picked Nocturne to the excitement of the crowd. He became “man of the match” within the first five minutes by taking 3 kills for his team. Fnatic looked more controlled through the game, but GAM didn’t allow them any room to breathe by keeping the pressure up and making numerous aggressive plays around the map. This was probably the bloodiest game this week- there were 17 kills inside of 14 minutes! This furious pace only accelerated with skirmishes all over the map. Levi built up a huge lead on his Bloodrazor, Guinsoo’s Rageblade Nocturne- not even I saw that coming! In the end Noway finished the game for Gigabyte Marines in style by getting a Quadra kill on Tristana. Honestly, I loved watching GAM play. Their team composition was brave and built around engaging with Tristana, Kassadin and Nocturne and then Galio providing follow-up. This was the best use of reworked Galio, and the best game, I have seen in some time.
Edward Gaming vs AHQ eSports:
There was a massive teamfight early on in this game that gave AHQ a great lead to play off. Their ADC, An, got a Quadra kill on Twitch – something that, to many teams, would spell doom from that moment. However EDG did not give up and, with a scaling composition, they knew they could take back the lead. Each team had a similar composition- a hyper carry with a number of champions to protect them. However, EDG departed from everyone’s expectations with their champion builds, specifically a tank Kog’Maw. AHQ ended up winning a fight and taking Baron. They used this very well to exert pressure on the map. However, they were locked down by a fantastic Sejuani ultimate and EDG turned the tide in their favor. From this point, it really seemed like EDG’s game. They played a very patient game, not allowing themselves to grow overconfident and instead starving every objective and structure away from AHQ. However, An again came in strong for AHQ, and with a Cho’Gath providing literally a massive front line, he was able to deal serious damage on his Twitch. They won this fight and were able to take Baron and push down Toplane. At the mammoth time of 60 minutes, AHQ won the game.
Edward Gaming vs SK Telecom T1:
This game was quite something to behold. EDG, in contrast to the game above, were very aggressive in their moves early on, especially around midlane. Clearly, the strategy going in was to focus Faker down and starve him of resources to prevent him from becoming a threat. EDG picked up First Blood on Faker, and minutes later followed up with a tower dive in the midlane securing three more kills and two turrets. Needless to say, their strategy was working out. In fairness to them, they capitalized on this huge lead and at 20 minutes the score was 5-0 in their favor, and they also had a Rift Herald and Mountain Drake to their name.
They looked in a very strong position at this stage, leading in kills, gold, and two objectives that aid in pushing lanes and snowballing the game. In fact, two minutes later they had Baron and three more kills, with SKT still not even on the board. All seemed lost for SKT- but a terrible mistake from EDG put SKT back in the game. EDG were pushing down midlane in an attempt to solidify their lead, with no vision on SKT. SKT chose this moment to flank them and unleash a merciless wombo combo of ultimates, wiping EDG. Following this SKT were able to take Baron among other objectives in an attempt to regain traction. However, EDG had such a sizeable gold lead they won the next teamfight and, with SKT’s base sitting open, they took the midlane inhibitor. Unbelievably though SKT caught EDG in a bottleneck and won a crucial fight! This late into the game SKT had a terrifying frontline, Bang was putting out a lot of damage on Twitch, and following such an important victory they were able to stomp down EDG and win the fight.
I was conflicted following the game over whether or not SKT deserved to win when they played so poorly for such a large portion of the game. I came to the conclusion that the final result was in fact evidence of a team with serious experience and fortitude that, despite a weak season, are proving they are still possibly the best team in the world.
SKT vs AHQ:
Similar to the last game, SKT’s opponents found an early lead. SKT took back some revenge kills botlane but AHQ won an important teamfight by the Baron pit. Each team had favored late-game scaling compositions, so there was a sense of building momentum through the game. SKT made a rare and crucial mistake that may have cost them the game, in letting AHQ sneak a Baron. The Cho’Gath pick for AHQ seemed too strong for SKT to deal with. However, after yet another near-perfect performance, Faker’s Fizz came into the game and he managed to finally bypass Cho’Gath and find AHQ’s backline. This led to SKT’s victory and their number one place in their group.
Week 1 Groups Round-up
This week was a tumultuous one, with back and forth games and near-losses left and right. SKT obviously proved themselves again. Some might argue they got very lucky in winning crucial fights, but my argument would be that they know when to sit back and farm, and they also know when to go all-in and take advantage of opponents’ mistakes. Likewise, Gigabyte Marines put in a fantastic performance and I look forward to seeing more of them. Fnatic and EDG, among others, disappointed me this week. I hoped to see more considered play from these experienced teams. They have few chances left to redeem themselves. Hopefully, they take those chances.
Already we are seeing a very specific META emerging. Cho’Gath is the “buzz” name of the week, for in almost every game he was either picked or banned and the teams that picked him up more often than not enjoyed resounding victories. The dependability of his almost untouchable tankiness in teamfights, coupled with his strong crowd control and high-damage ultimate made him a very strong contender. Following this week I can only see his pick/ban priority rising. As well as this, the relevance of the Ardent Censer item must be mentioned. We are seeing a lot of priority put on shield-heavy supports such as Lulu and Janna, and for good reason.
My personal hope is that in the coming weeks, teams take a leaf out of Levi’s book and attempt more imaginative picks. However, I lament the sad fact that this most likely will happen very little, simply due to the nature of the game. Good luck to all the teams, and I will check in again next week for more highlights and analysis! And if you see something with four arms and an apostrophe in its name run. Run for the hills lest you get NOMMED.Related: Article, Championship, eSports, League of Legends, MOBA, Riot Games