It is safe to say that this year’s Worlds Group Stage went pretty much as expected. With the LPL asserting itself as the most dominant region in League of Legends, the LCK as a close second, and the NA LCS traditionally underperforming, this year’s group stage had the fewest number of upsets in recent memory.
Group A was off to an unexpected start as Liquid dropped its first game versus Machi Esports, and with G2’s victory over Suning. But the situation quickly turned into a match of rock-paper-scissors and developed into anyone’s game with all the teams separated by just one game after the first week.
Suning looked to be in control for a big part of Week 2, but a loss to Liquid put the LPL team on shaky ground, while at the same time giving the LCS squad a faint hope for a second-place tiebreaker. Despite a strong start, Machi Esports was caught in the crossfire between the three teams and was stuck dead last as the groups progressed. Machi’s second loss against G2 shot down any hope Liquid had left for advancing through the groups.
In the end, Suning pulled through with back-to-back wins against G2, clinching the first-place tiebreaker against the Europeans. Despite fighting tooth and nail until the bitter end, Liquid was sent home in third place with the same 3W-3L record for the third year in a row.
Group B was by far the most straight-forward of all the groups at the 2020 World Championship, as Korea’s #1 seed DAMWON and China’s #2 seed JD Gaming battled it out for first place.
Rogue opened up the group with a victory over PCS’s PSG Talon, but could not follow up, losing every single one of its matches later on. A heroic PSG Talon late victory against JD Gaming did put a monkey wrench into JD’s machinery, who had to settle for second place due to the loss. PSG Talon fairytale, which started due to the team competing with three substitutes during the Play-Ins came to an end.
Ultimately it was the Koreans and Chinese that advanced, as the PCS #2nd seed and EU #3rd seed looked outclassed for the biggest part of the group stage.
One of the most competitive groups on paper, Group C turned into a meme fest mid-way after TSM’s horrendous start. It is safe to say that TSM had potentially the most disappointing Worlds showing ever. The North American squad will go down in history as the first #1 seed from Pool 1 to go 0-6 in groups, with their showing deemed so bad that it has raised doubts over NA’s future classification as a Pool 1 region.
Apart from TSM’s disastrous showing, Korea’s #3rd seed Gen.G dominated the groups, securing first place with a complete thrashing of Fnatic, who had to settle for second place. Coming into the groups, there was a lot of doubt concerning Fnatic’s midlaner Nemesis and jungler Bwipo, but the duo exceeded expectations.
Chinese hopeful LGD Gaming had a good showing, winning its first game against Fnatic, but slowed down as the group progressed. The final nail in the coffin for LGD was delivered by Fnatic, who clinched a knockout stage spot following their victory in the second-to-last game of the group stage against LGD.
Heading into Group D, all eyes were on Top Esports who is viewed by many as the biggest favorite to win it all. The Chinese champions had a worthy challenger in the form of Korea’s #2 seed, DRX.
But it was not the Koreans who struck the first blow against Top Esports, as DRX fell in both matches versus the Chinese #1 seed. North America’s last hope FlyQuest found its second wind during the latter part of Week 2, handing Top its first World’s defeat. Sadly it was too little too late for NA’s second seed, with the first two places already being decided after the first matches of week two.
Unicorns of Love were relegated to bystander status during the whole group stage, looking outclassed by all three of its opponents.
Top Esports vs. Fnatic
Top Esports is definitely the team to beat at this year’s Worlds, and Fnatic’s chances are looking very bleak. The European fan favorites will have to dig deep if they want to surprise China’s #1 seed.
Although we can never count Fnatic out, the odds are certainly not in their favor.
Suning vs. JD Gaming
The battle between China’s 2nd and 3rd seed is a close one, and even though JD got the better of Suning during the LPL Summer Season, Suning has elevated its game to the next level during this year’s Worlds.
I can see these two teams going the distance, with Suning winning by a hair.
Gen.G vs. G2 Esports
G2 Esports got the draw they were hoping for, with Gen. G looking like the weakest #1 seed out there. Considering G2’s lackluster performances versus LPL squads, it seems as though the stars have aligned for them this year, with the winner of this matchup heading towards a battle against Korea’s very best.
Despite Gen. G being the slight favorites in this matchup, I’m putting my money on G2.
DAMWON Gaming vs. DRX
Last but not least, we have a matchup between the top two LCK seeds. With the last two victories in a row in this matchup, it’s safe to say that DAMWON has got DRX’s number.
DAMWON is, apart from Top Esports, the biggest favorite for this year’s tournament, and although the difference in talent between these two teams isn’t all that big, DAMWON is by far the clear favorite.