The second clash between a top Korean and Chinese team, this time between the number one seeds from their respective regions. Despite being the first seeds however, both teams had more than a few stumbles during the group stage. ROX dropped games to CLG and Albus Nox, both times due to a slow early game and poor objective control. Still, that was ROX at their worst, and at their best they’re still a fearsome team. EDG is also a team that dominated their regular season, but fell short of expectations in the group stage. They had their infamous loss at the hands of INTZ, and then went down twice to H2K, also showing poor objective control. Another obstacle that they’ll have to overcome is the loss of their top laner Mouse. Due to a family emergency, Mouse had to return to China, so EDG subbed in Koro1 to the top lane. It remains to be seen how much of an impact this will have on the series.
Game One: Winner, ROX
Both ROX and EDG thrive in mid game team fights, and as such it makes sense that the team that can get ahead in the early game will have a huge advantage. Both made attempts to snowball lanes, with Peanut focusing top lane and Scout roaming with Clearlove for ganks. The difference is that ROX was able to transition their kills into towers, building up their gold lead steadily. Koro1 in particular was punished by ganks, with both Peanut and Kuro focusing the top side of the map. His individual play wasn’t terrible, but he had no impact on the rest of the map, mostly because ROX wouldn’t let him. EDG will have to figure out a way to play around this focus and the majority of that responsibility will fall on Clearlove. Despite being touted as one of the best junglers in the world, Clearlove has had a rough tournament, falling behind other junglers like Jankos and now Peanut. He’ll need to step his game up if EDG want to have a shot at fighting SKT in the semifinals. EDG should also consider taking Aurelion Sol off the table, either by banning or first picking him. Kuro had too much pressure over the entire map on the champion, and EDG didn’t seem to have an answer to it. ROX on the other hand looked much better, with Smeb and Peanut looking like their old selves. If they can keep this up, they should be able to take the rest of the series without incident.
Game Two: Winner, ROX
It seems as though EDG didn’t learn anything from their first game. Or perhaps they thought they could beat ROX’s composition by banning away Smeb’s Jayce. Smeb didn’t seem to care one bit however, as he happily brought back Maokai, giving ROX’s team even more crowd control for their team fights. With a true frontline, PraY and GorillA now had even more freedom during fights, as EDG couldn’t get to them even with a Kennen and a Hecarim. The game was finished almost ten minutes faster than the previous one, and the situation looks bad for EDG. Once again, Koro1 looked out of place, never able to escape Smeb and help his team out. It’s hard to imagine the kind of pressure being placed on him while he’s in an off-role, but he’ll have to push past that and find some way to stay relevant in game three if EDG don’t want to be swept like Cloud9 were. EDG will also need to do something about their draft, as their current strategy obviously isn’t working. As previously mentioned, Aurelion Sol should be a priority target, but it might also help to break up ROX’s bot lane. Zyra and Caitlyn have too much natural power in the lane phase and during extended sieges, and EDG need to get rid of one or both of the champions if they want to break the stranglehold that ROX have on this series. As for ROX, they’ve only revealed one strategy so far, and it’s unlikely that EDG will let them use that same strategy again. Hopefully they have at least one or two more tricks up their sleeves, so that they aren’t completely shut down by a few choice picks or bans.
Game Three: Winner, EDG
I’m not entirely sure what happened during the draft phase for this game, but it could be considered a little questionable from ROX. Despite EDG finally taking Caitlyn away and Aurelion Sol still being open, ROX opted into Ryze for the mid lane. EDG took advantage of this and snatched up the Star Forger for themselves. These two picks ended up being crucial to EDG’s victory, the Caityln in particular, as Deft went wild on her. Going 11/1/9, Deft’s positioning in skirmishing and team fights was immaculate, and he almost single handedly carried his team to victory. Even so, it wasn’t a clean victory, as ROX still controlled most of the early game with Peanut’s superior ganks. One thing that did backfire for ROX was their aggression, which bordered on the arrogant. Even after the team fell behind, Smeb and Peanut continued to go for picks. Sometimes they worked out, but usually they just opened up other areas of the map for EDG to control, which led to them snowballing out of control. This kind of tunnel vision is what led ROX to being beaten during the group stage, and if they fall back on these bad habits again, they’ll continue to drop matches when they don’t have to. It’s unclear as to why they gave up the Aurelion Sol when the rest of their draft was relatively unchanged from the first two games, but there’s no doubt that it cost them. EDG on the other hand looked better, but it’s not enough if they want to pull off the comeback. They won mostly through ROX’s mistakes, rather than their own proactive plays. The rest of the team will need to step up to the same level that Deft was playing at if they want to beat ROX in game four.
Game Four: Winner, ROX
EDG weren’t taking any chance this game and decided to ban both Aurelion Sol and Zyra, first picking Caitlyn for themselves. The strategy itself was sound, but they couldn’t have predicted Peanut going completely ballistic. Sporting an incredible 11/0/5 scoreline, Peanut was all over the map, starting with a triple kill at nine minutes that was set up by PraY and GorillA, and snowballing from there, EDG couldn’t stop the Korean jungler. They had no frontline to deal with the Olaf, and so he just kept getting picks on their squishy lineup. These picks led to towers and dragons, things that ROX hadn’t been able to take in game three, and it made all the difference. Unlike the last game where ROX’s communication had fallen apart at the seams, this time they looked like the number one seed from Korea. Unfortunately for EDG, there wasn’t a whole lot they could do in response, as they were simply outclassed in every position. Once again, Clearlove’s performance must be called into question. He didn’t play badly, but he also didn’t look like the world class jungler that he has shown he can be. All in all, EDG simply fell short, made all the more disappointing by how incredible their regular season was. Still, they made it to the quarterfinals, and that’s something to be proud of. Hopefully they’ll be able to rally during the off season and come back stronger. As for ROX, they look back to their prime form and that should make for a proper semifinals match up against their rivals, SKT. It should make for quite an incredible series.
Three teams have qualified for the semifinals, and unsurprisingly, they are all from Korea. The country’s domination of the international stage has continued through this Worlds tournament, and it will be up to the fourth and final spot to break up the monopoly. That match between H2K and Albus Nox will be played on Sunday and it should be quite the series to watch. As for ROX, they’ll have to start getting ready for their match against SKT. They’ll need to be in their best shape to challenge SKT who have been looking like the best team in the whole tournament. It’s been an impressive quarterfinals so far and we can only hope that the semifinals live up to and even surpass this level of excitement.