Want to watch the biggest eSports event of the year but haven’t been keeping up with the scene? We’ve got you covered.
This weekend, after a long, long road of seasons, qualifiers and group stages, the final stage of the League of Legends World Championships begins in Korea. Arguably the biggest eSports event of the year, this year’s championship brings the best teams of of the world together for a shot at fame, glory, and of course, the $1 million top prize.
The most dedicated eSports fans will already know everything there is to know about the players and teams of the tournament, but what if you’re a League of Legends fan but haven’t been keeping up with the competitive scene? Well then, you’ve come to the right place, my friend. Let me break down exactly who the eight teams that competing for the gold are, tell you a bit about their performances in the group stage, and let you know exactly what to watch out for when the first semi-final begins this Friday.
First up, the teams.
Samsung White (Korea):
Samsung White was the only team to go completely undefeated in the group stage, with a score of 6-0. They are the number two Korean seed, and this year, at least so far, they have proven themselves worthy of that ranking. Imp and Mata in particular, the team’s AD carry and support, have proven themselves to be a near-unstoppable force of teamwork, and mechanical accuracy.
Team Solo Mid (USA):
If you have even the faintest interest in LoL eSports, you’ll have no doubt heard of TSM. Founded back when competitive LoL was still finding its footing, TSM is still going very strong, and have become the American favorites for the tournament (even though only one of their members, Dyrus, is actually American…). TSM is, unfortunately, slated to face Samsung White in the first quarter-final.
Samsung Blue (Korea):
Often living in the shadow of Samsung White, SSB has still managed to make a name for itself, going 5-1 in its own group stage. While they often find themselves stumbling in the early game, SSB’s superior team-fight co-ordination means that they always come around in the late game. If midlaner Dade can lift his game, they could prove to be a legitimate challenge to the undefeated SSW.
Cloud 9 (USA):
Placed in the “group of death,” Cloud 9 had a very punishing group stage, and at one point it looked like they wouldn’t even make it through. However, they managed to overcome European rivals Alliance, and even show Korean favorites Najin White Shield a thing or two, thanks in no small part to Meteos’ flawless jungle ganks. While not quite as bad as SSW, it’s a shame that they have to face Samsung Blue in the second quarter-final…
Star Horn Royal Club (China):
Having just as an impressive group stage as SSB, Star Horn Royal Club has shown that it is in it to win it. Thanks to some particularly ballsy plays from AD carry Imp, and some amazingly fast ganks from jungler InSEC, SHRC’s only loss so far has been to TSM, a team that they won’t have to play again till the finals (assuming both teams win all their quarter- and semi-final matches).
Edward Gaming (China):
Despite being China’s undisputed champion, Edward Gaming faced a pretty brutal group stage, only managing to scrape through to the finals via a tiebreaker round. Their first quarter final is against Star Horn Royal Club, and should be one of the best matches to watch, not just because of the Chinese rivalry, but due to their fiercely different play-styles. SHRC tries to burst through games quickly, winning in the laning phase, while Edward Gaming likes to draw things out and beat their opponents with great picks and team fights.
Najin White Shield (Korea):
Korea’s third seed, NWS probably had the hardest group stage of the Korean teams. Starting off strong and building up a 3-0 game, Alliance was able to break through its armor with a decimating perfect-game victory, and after that, it was anyone’s game. They essentially ended up standing toe-to-toe with Cloud 9 – the only team that figured out it would be a good idea to take Thresh away from Gorilla, who’s perfect hooks had been setting up the majority of his team’s picks.
Like NWS, OMG has been overshadowed by Star Horn Royal Club and Edward gaming… until of course, that game. I am talking about the epic, marathon, 72-minute match against Europe’s Fnatic, in which OMG secured a win after being pushed back to their Nexus, a single auto-attack away from death. On that day, OMG very proudly announced that it would not go quietly into the night.
So, those are the teams that are competing, now, here’s how I think they will play out. First up, while I will be rooting for TSM, I find it doubtful that Samsung White will lose after such a perfect group stage. Similarly, though Samsung Blue is a bit more fallible, I think they will still beat Cloud 9 in the second quarter-final.
Star Horn Royal Club and Edward Gaming will be the quarter-final to watch, as their long-standing rivalry will finally come to a conclusion. It really is anyone’s game, but I would have to give the edge to SHRC, if only slightly.
Najin White Shield and OMG will also be another great match – two “underdogs” fighting for recognition among their more popular national teams. While OMG has certainly showed its tenacity, and even though NWS got shaken up a bit in its group stage, I still have to give it to the Koreans for this one.
That’s pretty much all you need to know for the first four games of the knockout stage. If all goes according to my predictions, we’ll be looking at Samsung White, Samsung Blue, Star Horn Royal Club and Najin White Shield as the four semi-finalists.
Just as a reminder, the first quarter-final match begins this Friday morning at 4:15 AM EDT, with the subsequent matches being held at 1:15 AM EDT Saturday, 1:15 AM EDT Sunday, and 4:15 AM EDT Monday respectively.
Be sure to check in next Friday when I analyze the teams that made it through to the semi-finals!
If you’re looking for more info on the teams or the tournaments, Riot Game’s official League of Legends eSports page has got it.