It’s going to be rather interesting watching Group B at the 2016 World Championship. At first glance it seems like a group of death, because no team in it is considered a write-off, and anyone can advance. However, the expectations for all of these teams aren’t as high as they can be for different reasons. Let’s dive into each team and take a look at how the group may shape out.
#1 Seed (LMS) – Flash Wolves
It truly has been the season of the Flash Wolves within the LMS. They won both LMS splits in a convincing fashion. They placed 3rd-4th at the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational, securing a first seed for their region at Worlds. Not only that, they did this after switching their long-time captain Steak after his retirement with their long-time substitute MMD. While the Flash Wolves are a first seed in their group, expectations couldn’t be lower for them due to the relative strength of their region in the summer split and their performance in the playoffs.
-Strong players in the Jungle, Mid and Support positions
-Good synergy between the Jungler and Mid Laner
-4/5 of the roster from last year is still on the team which should result in good team synergy
-NL is one of the weakest AD Carries attending Worlds
-MMD is an isolated laner and could be a point of focus for the other teams in Group B
-Too reliant on Jungler/Mid doing well resulting in lack of win conditions
#2 Seed (LCK) – SK Telecom T1
It has been a very interesting and worrying year for SKT. While they managed to win another LCK title by defeating the ROX Tigers in the Spring Playoffs, they stumbled quite a bit during the group stage of the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational. After losing single games to Counter Logic Gaming, Flash Wolves and Royal Never Give Up, the defending world champions bounced back in the playoffs stage and won MSI by defeating CLG 3-0 in the finals. After going back to Korea they were expected to do well again, but that didn’t happen this time around. After struggling to stay at the top of the standings through the season, SKT was defeated by KT Rolster in Round 2 of the playoffs and qualified for Worlds as the second seed through championship points. While they are the first defending champion that has the chance to retain their title, expectations for SKT aren’t as high this time around.
-Strong laners in all three positions
-Good at adapting throughout a tournament
-Really good in a Bo5 setting
-Not as dominant in a Bo1 setting
#3 Seed (LPL) – IMay
IMay’s journey to Worlds is a true Cinderella story. From an LSPL team with low expectations, formerly known as EDward Esports, IMay qualified for Worlds in their first split through hard work and dedication. While they’ve been inconsistent and a huge mystery in the LPL due to their unique playstyle, they are good at working together and finding ways to win even in disadvantageous situations. IMay are definitely an underdog in their group, as most people expect SKT to advance along with a surging Cloud9 or the LMS champions Flash Wolves. However, none of those teams should underestimate IMay. A team with nothing to lose and everything to prove is the deadliest opponent possible.
-Good at playing from behind
-Avoidless has good synergy with his lanes, particularly AmazingJ
-Athena is a consistent Mid Laner
-Creative and unique approach to the game, which could throw their opponents off track
-Player for player they are weaker than the other three teams
-Not that strong at using gold leads efficiently
-Heavy reliance on AmazingJ and Road doing well
-Pommunicatissible coon issues due to using more than one language
#3 Seed (NA LCS) – Cloud9
Cloud9 is heading into Worlds as one of the most improved teams in the Summer Split. While the Cloud9 of old relied on Hai’s shotcalling heavily, the current Cloud9 was finally able to work without Hai on the roster thanks to Reapered. While C9 hit a bit of a slump during the regular season, they were able to defeat one of the playoff favorites in Immortals. They were also able to have a decently competitive series with eventual winners Team SoloMid. Going from a team that looked like it had no brain without Hai to a team that is able to play well and take games off of strong teams like Immortals and TSM, Cloud9’s improvement has been massive. Now they aim for a good showing at Worlds, as one of the favorites in their group.
-Impact is one of the best Top Laners in the current standard lane meta, heading into the tournament
-Jensen is one of the top Mid Laners at Worlds
-Self-sufficient bottom lane
-Meteos is prone to making silly mistakes or not being in the right place at the right time
-Impact’s poor communication with the team may be a concern
-Jensen is great when he plays on point but is rather lackluster on a bad day
-Lack of strategical depth
-Poor at playing from behind
Looking at each team’s strong and weak points and comparing them to each other, it’s clear SKT is a favorite within the group despite not even being the first seed. Cloud9 and Flash Wolves are most likely to battle it out for second place. As for IMay, while they do have what it takes to get through the group, expectations for them should be kept to a minimum due to the team still being young.
Group B is sure to be interesting, with a lot of exciting and close games. With all the teams capable of taking games off each other, no team will have a free ride into the Quarterfinals, and anyone can advance further into the tournament. It all boils down to who prepares and improves the most on the road to Worlds.