In the 2016 League of Legends World Championships Group Stage, the unheralded Russian team Albus NoX Luna sent the esports world into a spin. A year on, things are seemingly more settled.
Before we give you our view on how the qualifiers have panned out in general, let’s take a look at the current tables for each group after one set of Group Stage games.
SK Telecom T1 1-0 Cloud9
Edward Gaming 0-1 ahq e-Sports Club
ahq e-Sports Club 0-1 Cloud9
Edward Gaming 0-1 SK Telecom T1
SK Telecom T1 1-0 ahq e-Sports Club
Cloud9 1-0 Edward Gaming
Group A Standings
|1||SK Telecom T1||3||0|
|3||Ahq e-Sports Club||1||2|
As expected, three-time and current World Champions SK Telecom T1 made light work of their opening three group games. They sauntered to three wins to sit at the top of the table heading into the second round.
Cloud9 have proven to be the second-strongest team in the group. They are the only team likely to pose any significant threat to SK Telecom T1.
Edward Gaming’s loss to ahq e-Sports Club was something of a shock, as the Chinese teams have done well in this event so far. Given their lowly position in the group, Edward Gaming have been frankly disappointing.
I cannot see anything changing from the current positions in the group next week. I would not be surprised if the same set of fixtures brings about the same results. That said, I would expect a reaction from Edward Gaming in at least one of their matches.
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Longzhu Gaming 1-0 Immortals
Fnatic 0-1 GIGABYTE Marines
Immortals 1-0 Fnatic
Longzhu Gaming 1-0 GIGABYTE Marines
GIGABYTE Marines 0-1 Immortals
Fnatic 0-1 v Longzhu Gaming
Group B Standings
Fnatic’s fall from grace has been steep. They went from being the first-ever LoL World Champions to being a punching bag for Asian and North American teams. A miserable opening week of fixtures saw the 2011 champions lose all three games. The writing was on the wall for Fnatic when they lost in the Play-In group to lesser opponents.
Longzhu Gaming sit atop the table with a 3-0 record, and they have looked like the class of the group by a clear margin.
Immortals earned the second spot with a key victory over GIGABYTE Marines. Provided the teams repeat these results next week, the two best teams in this group will make it through relatively unscathed.
Royal Never Give Up 1-0 Fenerbahce
G2 Esports 0-1 Samsung Galaxy
G2 Esports 1-0 Fenerbahce
Samsung Galaxy 0-1 Royal Never Give Up
Fenerbahce 0-1 Samsung Galaxy
Royal Never Give Up 1-0 G2 Esports
Group C Standings
|1||Royal Never Give Up||3||0|
Arguably the biggest shock of the tournament so far came when Royal Never Give Up defeated former World Champions and Korean No. 2 seeds Samsung Galaxy in their opening matchup.
That win, accompanied by confident victories over G2 Esports and Fenerbahce, ensured the Chinese team would top the group. Their Korean rivals took the second spot. Next week’s matchup between Samsung Galaxy and Royal Never Give Up will likely decide the eventual group winner.
Flash Wolves 0-1 Team SoloMid
Team WE 1-0 Misfits
Team SoloMid 1-0 Team WE
Flash Wolves 0-1 Misfits
Team WE 1-0 Flash Wolves
Misfits Gaming 1-0 Team SoloMid
Group D Standings
Group D always promised to be the most open of the three. Three teams have outstanding chances of progressing into the playoffs, while the unfortunate Flash Wolves look doomed to an early exit.
Each of the three teams defeated Flash Wolves. The big shock came when North American Team SoloMid produced something of an upset over Team WE in the third game of the group. That victory was then undone in the final game of the group. Team SoloMid, going for top spot, were defeated by Misfits, meaning all three teams would finish the first round of fixtures with 2-1 records.
Assuming all three teams beat Flash Wolves next week, the three games among Team WE, Misfits, and Team SoloMid will decide a thrilling outcome.
Group Stage Phase 1 reviewed
Overall, things panned out pretty much as planned for the very best teams in the initial Group Stage. SK Telecom T1 and Longzhu Gaming, the clear favourites for the title, were predictably dominant. It would be a huge surprise if either failed to come through with even one defeat.
Meanwhile, Samsung Galaxy is in a mortal battle Royal Never Give Up. The latter could pose a significant threat to Korean teams’ dominance at Worlds.
Team SoloMid will be rueing their Day 4 defeat to Misfits, which stopped them topping Group D and now means this group is up for grabs this weekend.
Unfortunately, the minnows of Fenerbahce didn’t get a win in their opening games and were predictably outclassed. Here’s hoping they can make some adjustments to put up a better showing in the second week.
The next set of group games starts Oct. 12. On each day, one group will be played to a conclusion, starting with Group B on Oct. 12, Group C on Oct. 13, Group D on Oct. 14, and finally Group A on Oct. 15.