Originally dubbed the “Group of Death” and later nicknamed “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Splyce”, Group D had a lot of talent thrown into it, and people expected a lot of fireworks. That is exactly what they got in every game, whether it was a one-sided blowout or an all-out brawl. Coming into week two, Samsung Galaxy, RNG and TSM were all tied with a 2-1 record, with Splyce trailing behind at 0-3. It was anyone’s game, even Splyce technically (although the odds were not in their favor), which made week two’s games all the more exciting to watch.
Samsung Galaxy vs TSM: Winner, Samsung Galaxy
Easily the closest game from day seven, this match was full of ups and downs for both teams. Crown had a huge impact on his signature Viktor, Doublelift went off on Lucian, and both teams played well up through the mid game. After that however, is when things started to go downhill. While both teams played well mechanically, it was Samsung who executed their composition better. Ruler and Crown combined their ultimates perfectly to wear TSM down and win fights. TSM had their rundown composition with Karma and Zilean to speed everyone up, but faltered on pulling the trigger in multiple team fights. The most important one came at forty-four minutes at the dragon pit when Hauntzer couldn’t find an opening onto the Samsung backline. Ruler was able to get off all four shots of Curtain Call, with the last one actually stealing the Elder Dragon. That buff gave Samsung the extra edge they needed to turn the fight and push in to win the game. For Samsung, this was a great victory, as they showed they were able to fight well even when behind, something they had trouble with in week one. TSM however, had trouble with a team that had minimal crowd control. They relied too heavily on Hauntzer’s ultimate or Bjergsen landing a double Zilean bomb to start fights and it backfired against them. They’ll need to find alternative strategies going into future matches.
Splyce vs RNG: Winner, Splyce
From the beginning, no one expected Splyce to do well in this group. After the first week, no one even expected them to win a game. Despite everything being stacked against them however, Splyce rose to the occasion. They got strong picks, including Sencux’s Malzahar, and they executed the composition immaculately. Kobbe and Mikyx deserve extra praise, as they went toe to toe with Uzi and Mata, widely considered to be one of the strongest bot lane duos at Worlds. To add to the challenge, Uzi was on his fearsome Caitlyn, and yet the Splyce duo persevered, going so far as to beat their opponents in a straight two on two duel. From there, Splyce used their superior poke from Jayce and Jhin to siege down turrets and shut RNG out of the game. This was a Splyce that could compete with the top teams in the world and could make it out of the group stage. As for RNG, they looked a little lost, failing to make the same aggressive, proactive plays they had in previous games. Whether this was because of a bad mindset or a lack of champions with hard engage, it’s hard to tell for sure. Either way, RNG will need to find a solution if they still want a shot at the bracket stage.
TSM vs Splyce: Winner, TSM
Learning from the mistakes in their loss against Samsung, TSM loaded up their team with some form of crowd control in every lane. The most important pick was Bjergsen getting Syndra. From the beginning, it was this pick that determined the course of the match. Whether it was roaming top lane for a gank or blowing up an unaware target before they could respond, Bjergsen was everywhere on the map, and Splyce had no answer. While the rest of the team certainly did their part to contribute to the win, this game was a reminder to everyone that Bjergsen was still the best mid laner in North America, and one of the best in the world. As for Splyce, they fell prey to some bad habits, such as Mikyx wandering around the map with no vision and getting picked off for free. Miscommunications and misplays like that are what cost them most of their matches at Worlds and it’s something that they’ll have to work on for the next regular season. With this loss, Splyce is officially eliminated from bracket contention. Still, they have every reason to be proud, as they made it to Worlds after only a year of professional play and even managed to take a game against China’s second seed team. For TSM, this win kept their hopes alive for a little while longer.
Samsung Galaxy vs RNG: Winner, Samsung Galaxy
Coming into this match up, people expected another slug fest, like in the TSM game. What they didn’t expect to see was Samsung completely dismantle RNG in under twenty-four minutes, making it the fastest game of Worlds so far. The biggest contributing factor to this blowout was the draft phase. Crown once again got his Viktor and looked even more dominant on him than he did against TSM. CoreJJ also got his hands on Zyra, a champion that TSM had banned away from him, and Ruler took Uzi’s Caitlyn away. The game started out slowly enough, until around ten minutes when Samsung picked up four kills and the dragon. This fight showed the difference in coordination between the two teams, with Samsung working as a cohesive unit and using there are of effect crowd control to great success in the narrow jungle corridors. RNG on the other hand didn’t seem to be on the same page, with Looper teleporting too far from the fight and the rest of the team not backing Mlxg up when he engaged. In fact, RNG looked a little lost the entire match, unable to rotate properly to defend their turrets or group up in order to team fight. This RNG was a far cry from the one we saw during week one, and if they don’t want to get eliminated, RNG will have to return to that form very quickly. With this win, Samsung Galaxy qualified for a spot in the bracket stage.
Splyce vs Samsung Galaxy: Winner, Samsung Galaxy
Some teams would be proud to have a sub twenty-four minute victory, and they would be content to leave it at that. Samsung Galaxy is not one of those teams. They went into their match against Splyce saying, “hey, let’s see if we can shave a few more seconds off that time” and that’s exactly what they did. Winning their game a whole eleven seconds faster than the match against RNG, Samsung made a huge statement coming out of Group D. Not only were they the only team at Worlds to come out with a 5-1 record so far, they had also dominated their group the hardest. None of that tiebreaker nonsense for Samsung. There isn’t much else to say about the victory, Samsung simply outplayed Splyce at every opportunity. Crown didn’t get his Victor, but he showed that he was just as comfortable on Ryze, using the ultimate to flank fleeing members of Splyce. Combine that with the Tahm Kench ultimate, and Splyce had a rough time disengaging fights. To their credit though, Splyce tried their best to make proactive plays, such as diving CuVee and getting picks onto CoreJJ. It just wasn’t enough, as they could never convert those kills into objectives and eventually Samsung just steamrolled them. With this win, Samsung Galaxy secured the first seed coming out of Group D, meaning that the second seed would come down to a final match between RNG and TSM.
RNG vs TSM: Winner, RNG
A truly heartbreaking game to watch for North American fans, TSM just didn’t look comfortable in their final match against RNG. Part of this I think had to do with the draft. Throughout the course of the tournament, Hauntzer has looked more comfortable and has been the most effective on playmaking, teamfighting champions such as Rumble, Kennen, Poppy, and Gnar. However, despite all four of those champions being left open, TSM elected to first pick Jayce for him, a champion that he had minimal impact with. The other important pick was Xiaohu taking Aurelion Sol. TSM had been most successful when Bjergsen could roam and make plays, and an Aurelion Sol neutralized that by constantly shoving in the wave and roaming more effectively than Bjergsen could. These ingredients, combined with a dive in the bot lane that gave Uzi a triple kill at seven minutes were what led to TSM’s eventual defeat. They did put up a fight, with Bjergsen almost single handedly turning the game multiple times on his Ryze, but in the end it wasn’t enough. TSM didn’t show the same kind of coordination they had in previous games, with Doublelift reverting to his bad habits of dashing in aggressively without backup and Svenskeren not making an impact in the early game. RNG on the other hand looked more like they did in week one, with Uzi going wild and the rest of his team there to follow up on the aggression. With this win, RNG held the head to head record against TSM, and therefore didn’t need a tiebreaker to advance. RNG took the second seed from Group D, while TSM was eliminated from the tournament.
While it was heartbreaking to see TSM defeated in such a painful way, it’s important to remember that there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes at Worlds. We as spectators aren’t privy to the players’ mindsets, how they’re feeling on a day-by-day or match-by-match basis. We can only watch them play and make conjectures about what might be happening. While TSM did look much better during the Summer Split, it’s important to remember that that was technically their first split together as a team. They obviously still have some communication issues to work out, but hopefully they’ll come back all the stronger next year. The same goes for the young European team Splyce, who could very well turn into a powerhouse brand like Fnatic. As for Samsung Galaxy and RNG, congratulations are in order as they join H2K, EDG, Albus Nox Luna and ROX Tigers in advancing to the bracket stage. There are only two spots open now, only one day of the group stage left, and it’s sure to be a great one.