Rejoice League of Legends fans, the 2017 World Championship has begun—sort of. Last night marked the beginning of the play-in stage, where the third seeds from the major regions—except Korea—as well as the top teams from the emerging regions went head to head for a spot at the main tournament.
With 12 teams divided into four groups in the play-in stage, day one featured the six teams in Groups A and B—Lyon Gaming, Gambit Esports, Team WE, Dire Wolves, Team oNe Esports, and Cloud9.
Related: Do Cloud9 have a shot at Worlds?
For Cloud9, who had previously attended the last six World Championships without fail, the play-in was to be taken with the utmost seriousness. In order to keep their pristine attendance in tact, Cloud9 came into the first day of the play-in ready to win.
And for the OPL’s Dire Wolves, and CBLoL’s Team oNe Esports—Cloud9’s two opponents last night—this was terrifying news.
Cloud9 were relentless in their pursuit for victory. From start to finish, the North American third seed kept total control of both the map and their opponents.
Cloud9’s jungler, Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia, whose teammates had won their lanes handily, could roam the map as he pleased, facilitating leads for C9, while denying the opposing jungler experience through invades.
With total control of the map, Cloud9 easily found picks. Picks translated into major objectives, like the Baron. And with Baron, came game wins.
Although Lyon Gaming didn’t end day one 2-0 like Cloud9, they still wowed fans with impressive skirmishing and teamfighting in the other play-in group.
Against China’s Team WE to open the play-in, Lyon were faced with an almost impossible task—defeat the play-in favorite.
But as the game progressed, that task seemed more and more doable. Lyon, unafraid to take on their Chinese adversaries, repeatedly punished WE’s objective attempts through kills. These kills slowly added up to the point where Lyon was ahead seven to two.
But unfortunately for Lyon, their macro play couldn’t match their opponent’s, and WE slowly came back to win the game through better map movement.
Although they lost against WE, Lyon went on to beat fellow Group A opponent Gambit Gaming, showcasing the same high level skirmish play.
Cloud9 and Lyon hit the Rift again on Sept. 23, when they will play their final play-in group stage matches.