Group Stage Day 3 Recap
Slowly but surely the group dynamics are being shaped, and there are now clear leaders in Groups A, B and D. The big thing about day three was the number of drawn out games, with multiple teams being unable to close things out when they had a lead, and their opponents finding windows of opportunity to claw their way back in. It’s likely that the teams that can tie off loose ends will find the most success in the coming weeks.
CLG vs Albus Nox Luna: Winner, Albus Nox Luna
In contrast to how they looked against G2, CLG’s play today was sloppy and all over the place. The crisp objective control and map rotations from day one were gone and instead they just seemed to be picking fights wherever they could, regardless of whether or not they were good. In contrast, Albus Nox built on their strong points from their game against ROX and actually transitioned well into the mid game. At multiple points they actually out-maneuvered CLG, a team renowned for its macro play, often trading two or three turrets for a single kill. That being said, they still didn’t look perfect. Despite being ahead for the majority of the match and having a good siege composition, Albus Nox still had a tough time closing the game out, needing two barons and three big teamfights towards the end to gain enough ground to actually crack into CLG’s base. With both teams currently sitting at 1-1 and neither looking strong enough to take a game off of ROX, it’s likely that they’ll have to look closely at this game to prepare for the rematch on October 6th.
G2 Esports vs ROX Tigers: Winner, ROX Tigers
The first of many games that started one way, and ended another, G2 shot out to an early lead over the ROX Tigers. Trick looked like he was back to his top form and had a series of strong ganks across the map, leading G2 to a four thousand gold lead at fifteen minutes. This kept going up until the twenty-two minute mark when Peanut had a miraculous baron steal that put ROX back in the game. For a little while after, it seemed like G2 still had control of the situation, until Smeb launched himself into the middle of G2 and eviscerated their whole team with the Kennen ultimate. Those two big plays were all it took for ROX to surge back into the game, despite spending the majority of the game behind. This was a particularly hard loss for G2, as they didn’t do anything wrong per se, they just got outplayed in the late game, and couldn’t lock down Pray’s Ezreal. ROX on the other hand still showed weakness in the early game, and relied on their opponent’s mistakes to come back into the game. It remains to be seen if this strategy will keep them going throughout the tournament.
Flash Wolves vs C9: Winner, C9
In what wound up being the second longest game in the history of Worlds competition at just over seventy minutes, the one thing that spectators could agree on was that there wasn’t really a winner. While C9 technically destroyed the enemy nexus, the game showed once again that they are struggling in the early laning phase, overextending without vision and generally getting caught out where they shouldn’t be. Meteos in particular had another subpar game on Lee Sin, and it begs the question of why C9 keeps prioritizing the champion in the draft. Meteos has shown proficiency on Elise in the past, and yet they haven’t picked her in either game. Meteos just doesn’t look as comfortable on the Blind Monk as he does on other junglers. On the side of Flash Wolves, this match was just a worse version of their loss against I May. They jumped out to an even bigger lead this time around, but once again failed to close out the game, despite taking two barons and four inhibitors. Part of this hast to do with the fact that they had no hard engage outside of an Elise cocoon or the Varus ultimate, but even so, there’s really no excuse at this stage. All it took was a hero flank from Impact and the baron steal from Jensen’s Orianna ultimate, and the Flash Wolves crumbled. Needless to say, both teams will need some serious improvement over the next few days.
I May vs SKT: Winner, SKT
Unlike the three games before, there was no ridiculous comeback here. There was no seventy minute game. All that happened here was SKT put on a clinic about how to control a game and close out said game once they had a solid lead. To I May’s credit, they did get first blood, they did have some decent early map movements, but it just wasn’t enough. SKT showed their skill and experience by putting a stranglehold on their opponents. I May weren’t able to take a single tower, dragon or baron, of all the games played on day three, this was certainly the most depressing to watch. I May couldn’t seem to find any avenue to get back into the game, as SKT didn’t give them any opportunities. The rest of the teams at the tournament need to start taking notes, as SKT looks far and away like the cleanest team and are certainly a top contender to win the Summoner’s Cup. As for I May, they still looked good, and with the mistakes that the other members of their group are making, they could have a very real chance of making it out of the group stage, albeit in second place.
TSM vs Splyce: Winner, TSM
Here we go, a return to crazy throws that really shouldn’t have happened in the first place. The game started out innocently enough, with both teams trading kills and objectives, and the gold lead never going above a thousand. That changed all of a sudden around the twenty-seven minute mark, when Splyce got two good picks and picked up baron. Suddenly the match tilted heavily in favor of Splyce, and it looked as if they might pull out the upset and get their first win. Unfortunately, the team fell prey to the same problem as G2 and Flash Wolves before them and couldn’t close the game out, eventually falling to TSM’s superior experience and shotcalling. Still, Splyce should take solace in the fact that they held out so long, with Trashy and Sencux putting up incredible performances going 1/2/11 and 10/4/2 respectively. TSM on the other hand should count themselves lucky. They were not playing well in the mid game, with Doublelift in particular getting caught out multiple times because he was overextended without vision. These kinds of simple mistakes are what have been holding TSM back so far, and they will end up costing the team crucial matches if they aren’t fixed soon.
RNG vs Samsung Galaxy: Winner, Samsung Galaxy
The last game of the day, the halfway point of Group D, and the only other game not to have a ridiculous comeback of some sort on day three. Samsung Galaxy showed during this match that they had truly earned their spot at Worlds. Ambition pulled out his Skarner and Crown had a strong performance on Ryze that gave the team serious presence in team fights. The two teams were actually pretty close up to the twenty-three minute mark, when Xiaohu walked too close to Ambition and Samsung jumped on them. Four kills and baron, and Samsung didn’t let up after that. One team member who was vital to this victory was CuVee on Kennen. Despite having a less than stellar scoreline of 1/5/8, CuVee’s ultimates were incredible, setting up easy kills for Crown and Ruler. RNG on the other hand seemed to revert to some of their bad habits from the regular season. Xiaohu and Uzi were positioned too far forward and Mata barely had any impact on Nami. In order to repeat their previous success, I think that Mata needs to be on play making champions like his Alistar in order to get his carries fed. That’s where RNG will find success in the coming weeks.
We’re almost at the halfway point of the group stages and there are some serious power struggles shaping up. Group C is completely tied up and Group D is a mad three-way dash between Samsung, TSM and RNG. While Group A isn’t as clear cut, all four teams have shown moments of brilliance and failure and as such it becomes harder to predict the end results. Needless to say, I’m enjoying all of this immensely, and I expect more than a few more surprises before we get to the bracket stage.