Day 1 of Worlds groups finishes. Stomps and anti-climaxes all around
The World Championship (also known as Worlds) is the second of two yearly international tournaments in the League of Legends Esports scene, where players compete on franchised teams for fame, pride, a considerable salary, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash prizes.
22 teams from 12 regions (The Vietnam Championship Series couldn’t send their 2 teams due to covid travel restrictions) will compete for the ultimate prize in LoL esports, the 70-pound Summoner’s Cup. The tournament started with the play-in stage on October 5th, before advancing to the main stage groups which are happening now, before eventually ending with the finals on November 6th.
Day 1 has wrapped up and I feel cheated. There were so many good matchups on paper today and almost none of them lived up to the hype. I will be going through each game, giving the result, a headline that sums up the match, and a summary of how the game went, and a look at who the teams will play next.
Game 1: (LCK)
TLDR: An absolute slaughter. DK on form, FPX have uncharacteristically bad game.
Summary: OK, realistically, this game was never going to live up to the hype. Too many storylines, too many narratives, and the volatile nature of best-of-1s.
But what was that? That wasn’t a match between two world champions, that was a complete and utter decimation of everything FPX held dear.
With a surprise Yummi first pick, Damwon slaughtered FunPlus Phoenix. A great counter-roam from Showmaker’s Leblanc and Canyon’s predator Trundle secured 1st blood on DoinB. With only one more fight around Rift Herald, FPX’s big teamfight composition was set too far behind to do anything. The rest of the game was complete domination and a complete flipping of the script. FPX were supposed to be the early-game gods and they looked pretty bad. They kept focusing top side while leaving DoinB out to dry. He could do very little on the Galio and couldn’t play his game. Crisp wasn’t great on the Nautilus. His hooks weren’t finding their marks and his roams topside didn’t amount to anything. It was a 5k gold lead by 14 minutes. The final kill score was 18-2. They will need to clean up their act if they want to have a shot at first in the group
Meanwhile Damwon decided to silence the doubters saying that this team wasn’t as strong as their 2020 incarnation. They are just as scary as ever. Kahn absorbed the early pressure and went on to stomp Nuguri. Canyon busted out the predator Trundle and ran circles around Tian. Showmaker found first blood on Leblanc and never looked back. He ended the game 6/0/10 and 4.8k gold ahead of DoinB. That was supposed to be the premier match of the tournament and he made FPX look like amateurs. And the “weak point” of the bot lane? Ghost dove Lwx under tower with BeryL’s help and ripped through FPX. He didn’t die once despite FPX’s comp being perfectly outfitted to dive him with Galio, Jarvan IV, and Nautilus. And with FPX lacking the gold to buy healing reduction, BeryL made any teammate he attached to unkillable. If they keep this up, DK will defend their title.
The only thing to note is that it was a best-of-1 and it was both teams’ first game of the tournament. It is highly unlikely that FPX’s true level is this low, or that DK outclasses FPX by this much. It would be foolish to write FPX off this early and there is still plenty of time for them to fix things and turn it around. Hopefully the rematch will live up to the hype.
Damwon KIA play Rogue tomorrow at 7am while FPX look to bounce back against Cloud 9 at 10.
Game 2: (LPL)
TLDR: Great early game from RNG almost overcome by PSG off massive Kennen flank. Just isn’t enough.
Summary: Royal Never Give Up had PSG Talon dead to rights early. A great early engage by Ming netted GALA first blood, Xiaohu’s Syndra top was completely running over the game, Wei’s early pressure got his laners ahead, and Gala found good ultimates on Twisted Fate. This game was set up to be almost as much as a stomp as game 1. Then at 17 minutes, Maple and Hanabi did this
That Kennen flank gave PSG Talon a 2nd lease on life, but RNG would quickly snuff it out. Sure, Maple could wreak havoc on the back line. If he could get there. Great peel from Ming’s Rell, Cryin’s TF and Wei’s J4 kept Maple locked down while GALA and Xiaohu never really got caught out of position. At 32 minutes, Cryin and Ming caught out Hanabi to kill him and blow his ultimate. Although the other 3 members of RNG couldn’t stop PSG from taking Baron, they could kill 2 members and crack the base. An attempt to turn it around with a TP flank from Hanabi was disastrous as he didn’t have ultimate to lock RNG down. Untimely kills onto River and Hanabi would allow RNG to take Infernal Soul and the game shortly after.
Apart from the over-force at 17 minutes, RNG looked as good as they did at MSI and during regular season. Xiaohu busted out a pick only RNG use and wrecked house on it. Wei played smart on J4. GALA could chunk out any member of PSG with 1 MF Q or ultimate late game. Ming looked great on an engage support. There is a reason RNG are considered a good pick for the title despite only being the 3rd seed. As for PSG Talon, they looked completely outmatched for 80% of the game. Unified’s Aphelios was not a good pick for the situation and was exploited relentlessly. River was not impactful on Lee Sin. That other 20% however gives me some hope. All 3 teams battling for 2nd place have clear issues, it’s just a matter of which ones will be the least crippling.
PSG Talon will attempt to bounce back against Hanwha Life Esports at 8 am while RNG look to continue their dominance against a Fnatic in turmoil at 9 am.
Game 3: (LCK)
TLDR: Fnatic’s Worlds run takes a massive hit before the games even begin. HLE come out swinging.
Summary: The world really didn’t want Fnatic at Worlds did it? First the absolute gauntlet of a playoff run, and now this.
To spend so many splits so close but never quite making it to Worlds only to not get to play because of forces out of his control is just heartbreaking. To FNC’s credit, Bean did make it to EU Masters finals on Fnatic Rising, but his loss was definitely felt. Fnatic actually got a huge lead in the jungle early thanks to good teamplay and Bwipo being aggressive that put Willer very far behind. But HLE would play better as individuals and as a team. Chovy would outfarm Nisqy and combo well on Yasuo with Vsta’s thresh. Aside from 1 early blunder from Deft where he died with both summoners up, he outmatched Bean at every other point. Adam’s early roams might’ve secured 1st blood, but Morgan’s Kennen did much more in fights. Even Willer came back from the early deficit to find good plays on Lee Sin. The scoreboard doesn’t always tell all, but here it really does.
The game was a complete stomp in HLE’s favor after the first 3 minutes and it was the start they needed to shake off the doubters. It’s by no means Bean’s fault and I am sorry that his first big game (didn’t play in LEC) was against Deft at Worlds but I all but wrote Fnatic off the moment Upset had to leave. He was a main reason Fnatic pulled through in those big games and he was going to be one of the main factors if they wanted to succeed at Worlds.
Game 4: (LCK)
TLDR: A massive difference in the mid lane is the name of the game.
Summary: That really wasn’t even close. I’ am sensing a theme today.
The shoe was on the other foot as LNG were the ones with scaling advantagwe with big late game threats like Gwen for Ale and Aphelios for Light. Even in some of the later fights, you could see signs of life and ways LNG could get back in it if given the time. Fortunately for the LCK, Gen G did not give them any time. Rascal would get 1st blood on Ale thanks to a dive and would serve as an unkillable frontline in the crucial fights, but this victory can be traced back to one man.
BDD absolutely destroyed Icon. He found time to roam top to secure Rascal first blood, out farmed him, solo killed him twice, and his Zoe bubbles would be the reason LNG could never really take a fair fight. To Icon’s credit he was in a bad matchup (Sylas/Zoe is very unfun) but he didn’t pay BDD enough respect in laning phase and LNG did little to shut down BDD. As Gen. G took 3 dragons very fast, it would all come down to a do-or-die fight at 22 minutes. Ruler would force LNG away from the pit, Clid would hit the smite, and a buffed-up Gen. G would ace LNG 5 for nothing to end the game in under 25 minutes, the fastest game of the day so far. It’s good to see that Gen. G didn’t let the end of their split get to them and seem to be back in form. I’m a bit disappointed in LNG for not coming out swinging but they have 5 games to turn it around.
Gen. G look to continue the strong start against MAD Lions at 12 while LNG look to bounce back against Team Liquid at 1.
Game 5: (LCK)
TLDR: You have 5 more games of this left DFM. Sorry.
Summary: That wasn’t a game of League of Legends. That was a massacre shown on live broadcast.
T1 made their return to the Worlds stage in a dominant way as they quickly crushed the hopes and dreams of DFM. You thought the other games were one-sided? (they were) You haven’t seen anything yet. That game only last 3 minutes before Gumayusi and Keria combined for first blood on the Jhin Yuumi bot lane. Every member of T1 was outfarming DFM and fights quickly went the way of T1 thanks to Oner’s Talon). T1 was 5k gold ahead at 10 minutes. That was a solo queue game where you forfeit at 15. DFM got 2 kills, That’s it. The game didn’t even last 20 minutes and was just a complete and utter shellacking of DFM from start to finish. This made C9 vs PEACE and LNG vs INF game look like close contests. It was the completely expected result and sorry for DFM but it’s probably not going to get much better. As for T1, this was a literal warmup game so I wouldn’t draw any sweeping conclusions, but everyone took care of business, and it was a treat to see Faker back on the biggest stage. It just isn’t the same without him.
Game 6: (LPL)
TLDR: The expected result plays out as EDG shows they’re here to play
Summary: To the LCS champions’ credit, they at least got 1st blood and were in the game for a short while. That lasted about 10 minutes before Scout’s Leblanc found a kill on Abbedagge’s Zoe and Jiejie found a great Lee Sin kick onto FBI. Almost every single fight went EDG’s way. Whether they were 1v1s or 5v5s. Closer’s J4 existed just to die, and Abbedagge found zero impact on the Zoe as Scout ran circles around him. A deathless Graves piloted by Flandre was the least impactful member of EDG. And even he was 3k gold ahead of one of the strongest members of 100T Ssumday. These games haven’t been close and this one was no exception. All of EDG looked really good, but this was supposed to happen. As for 100T, they needed to be at 120% form for all 6 games if they wanted to get out, and they certainly weren’t that today. Abbedagge was a key reason 100T made the jump from 4th to 1st and Scout made him look like a fool.
EDG will look to get revenge for 2017 against T1 to kick off the day at 6 am while 100T will get a bounce back opportunity against DFM at 11am.
Game 7: (LCS)
TLDR: NA strikes first in the western rivalry match. TL plays at peak form while MAD underperforms heavily.
Summary: Finally! We get an upset today! Seriously, this has been one of the most boring starts to the group stage.
`Team Liquid would pull off the W in the first LCS/LEC matchup of Worlds in fairly dominant fashion. Santorin’s Xin Zhao would dive Armut’s Jax alongside Alphari’s Camille for 1st blood and found a kill onto Humanoid shortly after. His pressure on the map and in fights would be a critical factor in their victory. Jensen would juke a dive from Elyoya with his Leblanc clone and the early game would go TL’s way. MAD wouldn’t just lie down and die as Carzzy had answers on the Aphelios, but Xin Zhao was becoming a problem while Tactical was staying safe on Ezreal. MAD even had the gold lead at one point off a great fight in the top lane. But Santorin would give his life to find a kill onto Carzzy who had both summoners up while Tactical’s Mystic Shots found their mark. This would allow TL to secure a Baron. Even though MAD would kill Alphari when TL tried to take the base, they chased too far and Santorin, Tactical, and Jensen would turn it around, picking up 5 kills and the game to upset the EU 1st seed! While the game wasn’t as one-sided as the previous 6, it still only lasted 26 minutes.
Team Liquid picks up a crucial victory in the race for group D. While every team had a shot at the knockout stage, TL was on the outside looking in coming into Worlds. Everyone proved that the finals were just a bad day and if they keep this up, Team Liquid has a very real shot at getting out. The team does have legitimate talent and they showed it today. MAD Lions were a pretty massive favorite and TL played their most solid game of the year to win in fairly clean fashion. I’m not going to jump on the hype train just yet as that if is a big one.
Meanwhile, this was not the MAD Lions that dominated the LEC. Elyoya was very quiet on Jarvan IV. He was melted through on the frontline and Santorin had his number. Armut couldn’t stand up to Alphari in the skill matchup. These were the two players who were the replacements for the underperformers, yet Armut and Elyoya looked eerily similar to Orome and Shad0w. Carzzy had a shot at carrying the game, but he got killed with both summoners up. It’s not cause for panic as 1 game isn’t enough to make or break a team but losing a game they were expected to win will hurt later in one of the most contested groups of the tournament. MAD just need to put this behind them and show up tomorrow.
Game 8: (LEC)
TLDR: EU strike back in brutal fashion. Rogue slip up a bit in the final moments but C9 never really had a shot.
Summary: Straight off the victory of their NA brethren, Cloud 9 had much to prove against Rogue. When looking at the other 2 opponents of the group, this game was essentially a must-win game for both teams. If you want to have any hope of pulling off the upset of the year, you have to beat the only team close to your skill level first. At 8 minutes, the game was fairly even. A trade bot lane went 2 for 1 in favor of Cloud 9 with Zven getting 1st blood. With how underwhelming the LEC looked on the day and how much Rogue was written off coming in, this was a perfect opportunity for Cloud 9. A chance to prove that NA was here to stay and C9 learned from their play-in struggles. Go C9, go and claim your destiny!
… Or you know, Blaber could just do that. That works too. Glad to see he’s open to throwing games and making nonsensical plays over more than just scuttle crab now.
With a double kill onto Inspired’s Qiyana (who was already outfarming Blaber) and another kill by Odoamne’s Rumble onto Fudge’s Gnar, Rogue was set up for success. Rogue would run over Cloud 9 in most of the fights from then on out. Some off their own skill, some off errors from Cloud 9. Inspired, Trymbi, and Odoamne had a great combo with ultimates while Hans Sama and Larssen completely outmatched their C9 counterparts. Even after getting a 10k gold lead, “Rogue Time” wouldn’t be fatal as the individuals of Rogue were simply too strong and too skilled for the LCS 3rd seed to handle. While it certainly wasn’t flawless, it was a massive step up from the playoff run that people feared destroyed Rogue’s mental going in. They looked much more like their regular season selves, jumping out to early gold leads off strong laning and choking the opponent out from there. They also looked more proactive than they did in summer. It certainly isn’t enough to make me pick them over DK or FPX, but it is a good start nonetheless.
Meanwhile C9 was completely uninspiring. Zven would have a terrible game going 2/6/4. Fudge had a bad teleport in one of the late fights. Perkz was almost invisible when compared to Larssen. Blaber ruined the even early game state with another head scratching play. They were never favored to make it out but to see them look so bad against the one opponent they had a shot against doesn’t inspire much confidence in the rest of the run.
Both teams will get their true test tomorrow. Rogue get to play an on form Damwon at 7 am, while Cloud 9 stare down an angry FPX at 10 am.
The World Championship will continue October 6th with South Korea’s T1 vs China’s Edward Gaming at 6am CST You can find the full schedule at https://lolesports.com/, and catch every match there, on the LoL Esports YouTube channel, or at https://www.twitch.tv/riotgames.