Group D of the 2016 World Championship is stacked from top to bottom. With every team being capable of taking games off the rest, everything is wide open. While Team SoloMid is expected to make it out of the group due to their dominance in North America, nothing is set in stone, and in a group like this, even TSM might not get out..
Team SoloMid is coming into Worlds off of the most dominant NA LCS season in the organization’s history. After changing only their support after the Spring Split, adding Biofrost after YellowStar’s departure. The roster move proved to be what TSM needed, as they defeated Cloud9 in the finals of the playoffs to win their fourth NA LCS title.
Players to watch: Hauntzer, Svenskeren, Biofrost
Hauntzer has been one of TSM’s most consistent players during the regular season, but his playoffs performance wasn’t as impressive. After his face-off against Cloud9’s Impact, people have put question marks on Hauntzer. The major concern for Hauntzer is whether or not he’ll able to play well in the standard lane meta. While Hauntzer may thrive more in lane swaps, it should not be forgotten that even in the lane swap meta, Hauntzer was more than capable of doing great in 1v1s.
Svenskeren has had a very impressive Summer Split but there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to do yet, silence the critics that believe Reignover is better. Throughout most of the split, Svenskeren has been consistently rated just below Reignover. Most of the criticism towards him comes from his tendency to invade or engage too aggressively which could be a potential problem for TSM. Not only that, TSM’s roster is so stacked to the point where people believe his job is much easier than other junglers’ jobs. While that is somewhat true, Svenskeren has still played at a good level and his performance will be crucial towards TSM’s success.
Biofrost will have his first Worlds appearance at this year’s World Championship. While the rookie support has shown that he can play well under pressure, playing in a crowd as massive as the Worlds crowd against opponents of the highest skill level is a totally different beast. Biofrost will have to handle his nerves and continue to perform at the same level if TSM wants to go far into the tournament.
MVP of the Team: Bjergsen
Bjergsen continues to be Team SoloMid’s strongest point of power. The star Mid Laner won his 3rd consecutive MVP award in the Summer Split. While still having a high damage share within the team and doing a lot of work with the gold he gets, the scariest thing about Bjergsen this year is that he has Doublelift as his partner in damage and shotcalling. Last year Bjergsen’s problem was that it seemed like he had to do everything for TSM. This year, Bjergsen’s burden has been lifted from him and he has less pressure on him and more freedom to play to his strengths. Bjergsen has always been a strong laner, and in the current meta, he is expected to be one of the strongest Mid Laners at Worlds this year.
Royal Never Give Up, China’s second seed, has had a very up and down season. They were able to win their first LPL title in spring after taking down Edward Gaming 3-1 in the final. However, after losing to SK Telecom T1 at the Mid-Season Invitational, the team decided to sub out former AD Carry Wuxx and add the superstar Uzi to their roster. While the team was expected to perform really well, they were unable to defeat EDG in the Summer Finals and finished 2nd, qualifying for Worlds through points. With RNG looking bad in terms of synergy and team play, expectations for them in groups are low.
Players to watch: Everyone
It’s no secret that every single one of Royal’s players haven’t played to their best in the Summer Split. Teamwork aside, if Royal wants to get past groups, they have to start with simply playing better individually. And not only playing better but doing it consistently as well. If their Korean bootcamp gets them back in shape and they have the time to work on their teamwork, Royal can definitely challenger everyone in the group.
MVP of the Team: Mata
As the main shotcaller of the team, Mata’s performance is the most important. However, his job is probably the hardest. Not only does he have to learn how to play in lane with Uzi better, he also has to lead his team towards the right decisions macro-wise. While it’s not an easy task, a player of Mata’s caliber can definitely get it done.
Samsung Galaxy’s return to Worlds had quite the journey to it. From a team that looked just “okay” in the Summer Split of the LCK, they flipped a switch in the regional qualifiers and started playing faster and more aggressively. If Samsung is able to continue this style of play, they can go far. But if they revert to their slow style of play, they’ll be in some trouble.
Players to Watch: CoreJJ
On paper, all of Samsung’s players are good and they can do fine. The only major concern is CoreJJ if he is played at all during Samsung’s games. Having switched to support recently, CoreJJ impressed heavily in the Regional Qualifier. But without too many games to judge from, it’s impossible to tell if CoreJJ simply overperformed or if he truly is a much better Support than an AD Carry.
MVP of the Team: Crown
While Ambition’s performance may be just as important to the team as Crown’s, the Mid Laner has been very impressive in recent times. Most impressive is his laning and how good he has looked in the standard lanes meta. He is at the top of the LCK Summer Split mid lane rankings in terms of solo kills, and he has a very positive CS @ 10 differential. If he is able to dominate the mid laners in his group, Crown can make Samsung’s job of beating their opponents much easier.
During the Spring Split of the 2016 EU LCS, Splyce was a very underwhelming team that eventually had to face relegations. But after retaining their LCS spot, the players worked hard, playing a ton of Solo Queue in their off days. Under the guidance of YamatoCannon, they were able to come around as a team and develop into a strong macro squad that plays the map quite well. Expectations for Splyce aren’t that high, seeing as how they are EU’s third seed and their opponents are quite tough. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that no team at Worlds should be underestimated, and anyone can surprise.
Players to Watch: Wunder, MikyX, Sencux
Wunder has been the most impressive Top Laner in EU this split. Despite being of the worst Top Laners of Spring, the improvement he has made is massive. Now all that’s left is to show those improvements at the World stage and prove that he is a very good player who can only go up from here.
MikyX is in a similar position to Biofrost. While he did have a great season domestically, he is still unproven internationally. There’s no telling how he will do outside of Europe. But if he is able to stay composed and play at the same level he showed in Europe, that will be a great thing for Splyce.
The biggest concern for Sencux is how he will do against world class Mid Laners such as Bjergsen and Xiaohu. His laning in the current meta hasn’t been the most impressive. While he works well within the team, he needs to work on his laning phase. Luckily for him, Korean Solo Queue can help with that so if he has improved on that aspect coming into Worlds, Splyce will have an easier time.
MVP of the Team: Trashy
Being the main facilitator of the team, Trashy’s impact within Splyce should be respected. The main issue he will have to face is how he stacks up against the junglers in his group. Ambition, Svenskeren, and Mlxg are all proactive junglers that do a lot for their team. If Trashy is able to keep up with them and maybe even outpace them, Splyce could surprise a lot of people.