By Griffin LaMarche
The League of Legends World Championship has just begun and fans are already making their predictions on who is going to make it out of groups. In the championship, four teams are placed into four groups where they play in a double round robin, and the top two teams advance to the knockout stages. A team’s fate can rest in the group draw, with better and tougher teams potentially seeded into the same group. Others can make it easily with a wildcard team thrown into their group. Either way, the group stage is the do-or-die level of the World Championship. It tests a team’s ability to play as a team in a best-of-one game.
In Group A, there is Korea’s second seed Afreeca Freecs, Taiwan’s first seed Flash Wolves, Vietnam’s first seed Phong Vu Buffalo and China’s third seed EDward Gaming. Phong Vu Buffalo doesn’t seem to be much of a factor in the group, but it is a tight race between Afreeca Freecs, Flash Wolves and EDward Gaming to come out of Group A. Headlined by midlaner Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng, Afreeca Freecs is easily the favorite and will likely take the first seed. As for Flash Wolves, the team had a very poor performance in Worlds 2017 with a 1-5 finish, but a stellar performance at MSI 2018 proves that the Flash Wolves can keep up with the high ranking Chinese and Korean teams.
Group B is what many consider the ‘Group of Death.’ Reigning champions Generation Gaming and this year’s favorites Royal Never Give Up are slotted up against Europe’s second seed, Team Vitality, and North America’s third seed, Cloud9. It is very easy to pencil in Gen.G and RNG going into the knockout stage, but the versatility of Cloud9 toplaner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie and support Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam could pull out a universal upset.
Group C sees the likeness of Korea’s top seed KT Rolster, Taiwan’s second seed MAD Team, North America’s top seed Team Liquid and Europe’s third seed, G2 eSports. KT Rolster is the easy favorite and will likely take the top seed out of this grou and all eyes will be on G2 and Team Liquid as they will be fiercely battling to get out of this group. Team Liquid, led by bot-laner Yillang “Doublelift” Peng and supported by 2013 Worlds champion Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong will face off against jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski and midlaner Luka “Perkz” Perkovic in a classic Rift Rivals battle of NA vs. EU.
Finally, Group D was the perfect draw for Europe’s top seed, Fnatic. They drew North America’s second seed 100 Thieves, China’s second seed Invictus Gaming and wildcard team G-Rex from Taiwan. Fnatic has looked to be the most dominant and strongest Western team and can be expected to finally make semifinals for the first time since 2016 when H2K Gaming lucked out on facing Albus Nox Luna in the quarterfinals. 100 Thieves looks very weak going into Worlds, but improvement around the bot lane with Cody “Cody Sun” Sun and substitute Richard “Rikara” Oh, with addition of playing more around top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-Ho could possibly upset China’s Invictus Gaming.