Reminiscent of Fnatic’s miracle run through the last half of the group stage at the 2017 League of Legends World Championship, Korea’s second seed Afreeca Freecs climbed from the bottom to the top of their group with three straight wins. With that, Afreeca have become the first Korean team to qualify for the highly-anticipated knockout stage.
For the first half of groups, Afreeca let their fans down in a big way. They came into the main event as the favorites to win the group, and they ended the first three days looking unsure of themselves after dropping losses no one would have expected. To redeem themselves and keep their Worlds dream alive, they couldn’t afford to drop many games when the second half began. Not only did they not drop many matches today, they didn’t end up dropping a single game, closing out their group stage run with a 4-2 record.
To end the day, Afreeca needed to play against G2 Esports, the first team that gave them a thrashing when the group stage began. As if by poetic justice, their victory over the European org guaranteed Afreeca a spot in the playoffs while simultaneously taking G2’s guarantee away from them. G2’s chances aren’t over yet, but they’ll have to play against Flash Wolves for the final slot of the group in a tiebreaker bout.
For Afreeca, this is a time to celebrate, however. They played through the 2018 competitive season as a mostly unheard of team outside of the LCK. They weren’t at MSI and they didn’t win either LCK split. For the most part, international fans had their eyes on SK Telecom T1 to see if they’d be able to make a comeback and on KT Rolster to see if they’d finally win a split title. Afreeca, however, flew under the radar.
Well, luckily for them, they’re officially on the radar. By becoming Korea’s first team to make quarterfinals, they’ve proven that they should be taken seriously despite having a rough couple of days at the start of groups. Their opponent in the quarterfinals has yet to be decided, but the all-important stage of Worlds begins this Friday at 11pm CT.