With the League of Legends World Championships 2016 fast approaching, here’s our preview of Group A.
Group A is the only group at this year’s Summoner’s Cup with two automatic qualifiers, ROX Tigers and G2 Esports. Alongside them we have Counter Logic Gaming, the MSI’s runner up, and International qualifiers Albus Nox Luna. You could be forgiven for thinking this group is a little tighter than it is.
Whilst ROX and G2 both won automatic qualification, there is a huge gulf of talent between the regions at the minute. Counter Logic Gaming are a shadow of the team that won the NA LCS spring split and produced a fantastic display at the MSI. Take a look at our preview of the Group A teams:
Expected Lineup: Smeb (Top), Peanut (Jungle), kurO (Mid), PraY (AD), GorillA (Support)
The bridesmaid has finally become the bride. The perennial second place team won this year’s coveted LCK Summer Split, convincingly. Their supreme form is partly down to Song “Smeb“ Kyung-ho, the best top laner in the game. When Smeb is on form, ROX look unstoppable, even the mighty SKT failed to derail their push for the automatic qualification – although SKT did beat ROX twice throughout the split. Their playoff final win came against fellow Korean qualifiers KT Rolster, 3-2.
ROX are the favourites to win the tournament therefore logic dictates their advance from this group should be a formality. They are known for their consistency, they almost always beat the teams you’d expect them to, it’s SKT that seems to be their major problem. They lost both the 2015 World Championships final and the 2016 LCK Spring Split Playoff final to SKT. Although they won the LCK Summer Split Playoffs, many argue that had SKT not lost to KT Rolster in the semis, ROX would probably have lost again. That’s hyperbole though, we can only deal with facts and the fact is ROX are coming here as the no.1 seed from Korea. They are to be feared. Whatever your thoughts on their chances in the latter stages, you’ll be hard-pushed to disagree that they realistically shouldn’t be losing a game in this group.
ESTO’s prediction: 1st
Tournament Odds: 7/4
Expected Lineup: Expect (Top), Trick (Jungle), PerkZ (Mid), Zven (AD), Mithy (Support)
G2 enter the World Championships in fine form, unbeaten throughout the EU LCS Summer Split & Playoffs. As I mentioned above, whilst on paper they might look good to challenge ROX, G2 are some way off challenging the Korean powerhouses. Their Summer Split form was 10-8-0, meaning they drew almost half of their matches. In the EU’s weakened state, this is hardly the achievement it sounds. In fairness to G2, they have done all they could with the opponents put in front of them. They have shown that they are clearly a cut above their opposition and could be forgiven for coasting to the auto qualification spot.
Kang-yoon “Trick” Kim’s form has earned him the EU LCS Summer Split MVP award, his supplementary play will be key to any success they hope to achieve. My main worry for G2 is their MSI performance, where they finished 5th (out of 6) winning their only games against SuperMassive Esports – the international qualifier. That was their first major international tournament, so I’m not going to put too much stock into their performance. The experience, however bad, should put them on better footing for this tournament. Leaked information from a pre-tournament scrim against Royal Never Give Up suggests they have improved. Winning 1-0 against the no.2 Chinese seeds. We can’t put too much emphasis on one scrim, but it’s a better start than most G2 fans could have hoped for back in May.
ESTO’s prediction: 2nd
Tournament Odds: 20/1
Expected Lineup: Darshan (Top), Xmithie (Jungle), HuHi (Mid), Stixxay (AD), Aphrommo (Support)
Counter Logic Gaming secured their Summoner’s Cup spot by virtue of a surprising victory from Cloud9, against Immortals. Hardly the start of a fairy-tale story, but I’ve heard worse. CLG finished the 2016 NA LCS Spring Split in fine form, securing the playoff final win against Team SoloMid. They then went on to surprise everyone with their MSI performance. They finished second in the group stage, taking games off Royal Never Give Up and SK Telecom T1. They then went on to beat Flash Wolves in the semifinals before losing to SKT in the final, 3-0.
Their performance means that they should enter this tournament unafraid of the competition, which will be key to them advancing beyond the group. The real battle in this group will be between CLG and G2 for the second spot. CLG’s form at the back-end of the Summer Split was improved, they looked a little like the team we saw from March to May. Will this be enough to see them beyond the group stages? I personally don’t think so. Over the last few months they have shown weakness against tough opposition, losing 2-0 to both IMT and TSM. I see no reason to think their results against G2 might be any better, even though they will start the more confident team.
ESTO’s prediction: 3rd
Tournament Odds: 80/1
Expected Lineup: Smurf (Top), PvPStejos (Jungle), Kira (Mid), aMiracle (AD), Likkrit (Support)
ANX have done extremely well to get this far. The Russian team finished 4th out of 8 in the group stages of the International Wildcard event, though their 5-2 record was equal to 2nd place INTZ e-Sports. They then went on to beat the first placed team, and favourites for qualification, Lyon Gaming, which secured their World Championships spot. They won the LCL Summer Split with a 13-1 record and went on to win the playoff final against Vega Squadron, 3-2. Yet, as we all know, there is a world of difference between the LCL and the World Championships and unfortunately for ANX, history isn’t on their side.
International qualifiers have a historically poor record at World Championships. Whilst their past performances in the Russian/CIS leagues has been impressive, on an international stage they have been far from impressive. In my opinion if Likkrit plays as well as he did in the International Wildcard event, ANX might sneak a game off an underperforming G2/GLG, but I think that’s the best they can hope for.
ESTO’s prediction: 4th
Tournament Odds: 2000/1
Group A Fixtures
|Date||Fixture (Game 1)||Time (PDT)||Date||Time (Game 2)||Time (PDT)|
|09/29/16||G2 vs CLG||16:30||06/10/16||G2 vs ROX||16:00|
|09/29/16||ROX vs ANX||17:30||06/10/16||ANX vs CLG||17:00|
|10/01/16||CLG vs ANX||16:00||06/10/16||CLG vs G2||18:00|
|10/01/16||ROX vs G2||17:00||06/10/16||ANX vs ROX||19:00|
|10/02/16||ANX vs G2||18:00||06/10/16||G2 vs ANX||20:00|
|10/02/16||ROX vs CLG||19:00||06/10/16||ROX vs CLG||21:00|
Keep up-to-date with all the results, analysis and gossip from this year’s League of Legends World Championships right here at ESTO.