The League of Legends World Championships 2016 groups have now been decided.
Anticipation is building for one of the biggest ESporting events of the year. This years tournament, held in North America, starts on 29th September 2016.
The teams will fight in a double round robin group stage, with the top two from each group advancing.
Let’s take a look at what’s happened:
Group A is the best draw ROX Tigers could have hoped for. It sees them face: G2, a team severely beaten at the MSI, CLG, a team that scraped through to the tournament on the laurels of their Spring Split playoff-win and NoX, the Russian hopefuls who have had more ups and downs, this season, than a roller-coaster ride.
It’s not quite as straight cut as you might imagine though. G2 have spent the Summer Split improving, they look a better team than when they went to the MSI. They will have also taken a lot from that tournament, their first top-level tournament since their inception and will likely play with more maturity this time around.
CLG might not have reached the heights of their spring form but they still have that quality hidden away somewhere. They are a team capable of beating anyone on their day and I’m sure there will be no lack of motivation going into this tournament. Any team that finishes second in the beats TSM in a playoff final and places second at the MSI needs to be respected.
NoX have nothing to lose, they are here with no pressure and will enjoy the ride. A team with no pressure or expectation can be a dangerous opponent.
Group B is one tricky group. It sees tournament favourites, and last years winners, SKT up against Flash Wolves, IMAY and Cloud9. Flash Wolves have been imperious in their form throughout the Spring and Summer splits, their only blip was a semifinal defeat to CLG at the MSI. I expect them to offer stiff opposition to SKT in this group.
IMAY are in many areas an unknown entity for the World Championships teams. They were formed after their previous team EDward Esports were promoted to the LPL. There are two things we do know about IMAY. Firstly, they finished third in the LPL playoffs and won the LPL regionals. Secondly, they originate from the same beginnings as Edward Gaming. Both of these points lead me to believe that IMAY are a team to be respected.
Cloud9 are on an amazing run off form. In Impact they have arguably one of the best Top Laners in the world, hitting form just at the right time. Jensen and Meteos have not been far behind either, with some scintillating displays throughout the Summer Split. I expect good things from the North American team.
Edward Gaming will be happy with the teams they have drawn here in Group C. They are up against LMS regional qualifiers, ahq, EU LCS hopefuls, H2k and International Wilcard qualifiers INTZ. ahq e-Sports Club have shown solid form over both the Spring & Summer Splits in the LMS. They may throw a spanner in the works for Edward Gaming and the other World Championship hopefuls.
H2k-Gaming is a solid team that has been strife with controversy, all of which has stemmed around possibly their most talented player, FORG1VEN. I’m not sure if he is just really honest or a real-life troll. Either way he is extremely entertaining. He also happens to be, for my mind at least, their best player at the moment. Since his return, H2k have looked a much stronger and unified force. That being said, they haven’t really shown me anything over the past two splits that suggests they might go on to challenge for the title. As I say though, they are really entertaining so I do hope they prove me wrong.
INTZ are similar to NoX in that they can be really hit and miss. Again, with the exception of maybe taking the scalp of a big name team not on their game, I can’t honestly say I expect much from them. That kind of opinion is why they might prove a scary opposition. As I said above, a team written off, with nothing to lose, can sometimes be extremely dangerous.
This, in my eyes, is the hardest group of the four. Team SoloMid, a team that has dominated for months in North America, Chinese powerhouses RNG, Samsung, a team denied afreeca Freecs & KT Rolster and Splyce, one of the most exciting European teams in a long while.
I’ve been touting TSM to perform well in the World Championships for some time now, so personally I hope they don’t disappoint. They clearly have the talent. As a team they have been ruthless in their domination of the NA LCS during the Summer split. As individuals, they have some of the best talent on offer. In Bjergsen they have the best mid laner in North America, if not the world. This kid is scarily good!
RNG finished second in the LPL, need I say more? They won the LPL Spring Split, topped the MSI group (eventually losing to SKT in the semifinals) and finished second in the Summer Split. They have shown what they can on a domestic and world stage before, I don’t see any reason to doubt them doing the same again here.
Spylce spent weeks as the most fun team to watch in League of Legends, in my opinion. They fight brilliantly as a team and like to take the fight to the opposition. The problem they have had seems to be adjusting to the new meta. They have looked less confident in the last few weeks and as such only just managed to gain the EU third seed. That being said, on their day Splyce would be a worry for any opposition.