After the longest day of the League of Legends World Championship so far, the last two teams qualified for the quarterfinals round at London.
Fnatic and ahq eSports Club managed to survive their 1-2 opening weeks to survive, passing up a Cloud9 team that entered the day in the driver’s seat thanks to a 3-0 record at the start of the day. But Cloud9 lost all three of their matches and then fell one more time to ahq in a tiebreaker, ceding the group to the European and Taiwanese teams.
The top performer today was Fnatic, the European champions who put together a perfect regular season. Many expect them to challenge for the World title itself. They’re one of the most feared teams at the tournament. And today, they played like it, destroying Cloud9 and Invictus Gaming before facing ahq.
After Cloud9’s rash of losses, the Fnatic and ahq game was supremely important: The winner earned the top spot in the group, while the loser would face Cloud9 yet again in a tiebreaker.
“We wanted to win that game real bad, because on the tie breaker we knew we’d be on the purple side, which is bad for picks/bans,” ahq mid laner Liu “Westdoor” Shu-wei said at the end of the day.
Against Fnatic, the Taiwanese team held a gold lead for most of the game. They crushed multiple inhibitors. Fnatic was trapped in their base, defending against an ahq team choking them out. But then the European side won a decisive teamfight, wiping all five ahq players before rushing across the map to secure the victory. A match that looked heavily in ahq’s favor was over with their loss in a blink of an eye.
“It was really upsetting for us to lose in that fashion,” Westdoor said. “When we got off stage, we all sat down and we barely spoke a word for five minutes. After that we got our thoughts together, we regrouped, and we beat Cloud9.”
After losing three straight games running essentially the same fast tower push strategy they had all tournament, Cloud9 pulled out a new composition featuring Yasuo, Malphite, and Twitch. They used it to build a big kill lead, similar to ahq in their earlier meeting. But ahq flipped the script. They used Jinx to push down objectives and kept a gold lead despite falling behind in kills.
If there’s a surprise star at Worlds so far, it has to be ahq’s AD carry Chou “AN” Chun-an. He didn’t play a variety of champions today, but the one he picked in every game was superb. His Jinx dominated every single game, even the one they lost to Fnatic, a match where the Europeans constantly dove him with their entire team but usually only caught missiles in their face.
It was a disappointing failure for Cloud9, who had four chances to win a game to advance from the group, including one against a weak Invictus Gaming. But it’s clear that the two best teams in the group advanced in Fnatic and ahq.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr