The best League of Legends players in the world played in front of a sold-out crowd in Paris’s Le Zénith arena yesterday in the first of a four-day all-stars event. And the teams now at the top of the table shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Korean team SK Telecom T1 K, last year’s world champions, sit atop the table with a 2-0 record. But Chinese team Oh My God (OMG) is right with them at 2-0.
The Invitational features the best team from each of five regions worldwide in a round robin bracket. The winner of the whole shebang takes home $50,000.
SKT and OMG topped the standings after nabbing two wins each, while European entrant Fnatic and the Taiwaneses terrors Taipei Assassins ended the day 0-2. American team Cloud 9, playing with substitute mid laner Austin “LiNK” Shin, managed a 1-1 record.
OMG opened today’s set with a solid victory over Fnatic.
Heading into the game the story was whether Fnatic mid lane superstar Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez could handle Hu “xiyang” Bin in lane, the Chinese player with a reputation for building huge leads in the one-on-one matchup, especially on his signature Syndra.
Fnatic banned out Syndra to avoid a problem and chose a poke team, featuring Nidalee, Lucian, and Karma to counter the Chinese penchant for team fights. The problem is, Fnatic likes to brawl nearly as much as their Chinese foes, and they got sucked into OMG’s pace, skirmishing across the map. While Fnatic managed to stay even for some of the game, OMG pulled ahead, forcing Fnatic’s poke lineup into fights they didn’t want to take, leading to an OMG win.
The next match pitted Season Two World Champions TPA against Season Three winners SKT.
While TPA managed to shut down the world’s best mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyoek early, it wasn’t enough to establish a lead. SKT simply showed better map awareness and out-flanked and out-rotated their foes, leading to a win when TPA left their front door in top lane open for and SKT push.
That led into Cloud 9 versus Fnatic, one of the most anticipated games of the tournament.
This was the fourth time the two teams have met in international play, and Fnatic held the series lead, winning two of three. But Cloud 9 fought back, despite missing mid laner Hai Lam, sidelined by a collapsed lung.
The game was full of action, a bit different from the methodical play usually exhibited by the American team. Fnatic managed to pull fights across the map, winning some early advantages with picks in the C9 jungle. But a huge brawl at the 18 minute mark turned the game a bit, as Fnatic overstayed their welcome near C9’s blue buff and the Americans grabbed a lead.
With better scaling champions like Lulu, Trundle, and especially Twitch, Cloud 9 became a lategame monster too strong for Fnatic to handle.
OMG and TPA followed that act with an action-packed romp through the Summoner’s Rift.
The game started with action and it wouldn’t stop, as OMG’s Annie pushed into TPA’s jungle at level one and landed a three man stun, before being blown up by the entire TPA team.
Unlike Fnatic though, TPA didn’t ban out Bin’s Syndra, and the results were disastrous. He took a massive lead in lane against TPA’s Lulu early, bullying the poor Lulu out of the lane with precision. That forced TPA to try and make plays elsewhere on the map, leading to complete carnage as the two teams clashed all over the map in a fast paced affair.
OMG eventually became too strong, in large part to Bin’s dominating Syndra, and blitzed TPA in their base, spawn killing the hapless Taiwanese over and over before winning
The final game of the day was also the most one-sided. SKT obliterated Cloud 9 with ridiculous displays on their signature champions.
While the champions select seemed to go Cloud 9’s way, with the team getting the nice scaling and support composition they used to beat Fnatic earlier in the day, their picks left open two lethal weapons for SKT: Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s Leblanc and Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin’s Vayne.
SKT has a 7-0 record when Lee gets his Leblanc, while Chae is 23-6 with his favorite Vayne. They showed why against Cloud 9, though they had help thanks to a smart level one play that left the Americans reeling without their regular shot-caller, Hai Lam.
While Cloud 9 went for a blue buff steal at level one, SKT used their jungle Evelynn’s invisibility to sneak both of Cloud 9’s buffs. The led to a tenuous situation where C9 wasn’t sure if they should fast push down the top lane and where to place their lanes.
They ended up in a bad situation with top laner An “Balls” Le battling SKT’s duo lane, and SKT’s Jung “Impacy” Eon-yeong freezing the top lane with his Shyvana. That prevented Le from ever getting into the game leaving a weakness that SKT was all too happy to exploit.
Still, despite getting stomped, Cloud 9 had smiles on their faces at the end of the match.
After the match, Le tweeted about how honored he was just to play the world champions.
— An Le (@C9Balls) May 8, 2014
In a post-game interview, Faker himself said that he was happy he had the chance to play Cloud 9, though he believes the lack of regular midlaner Hai hurt their opponents. But he also added that he was glad it didn’t stop Cloud 9 from enjoying the game.
The festivities kicked off, however, with straight up show matches. Yesterday saw the first of a series of all-star matches pitting Team Ice, captained by Alliance mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and Team Fire, led by Gamit Gaming’s jungler Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov, against each other. The teams are filled with the top international talent from each region as voted on by the fans.
Yesterday’s match featured the Ultra Rapid Fire (URF) game mode, where ability costs and cooldown are reduced leading to ridiculous fast-paced gameplay.
The North American LCS MVP, Team SoloMid’s “Bjergsen”, stole the show on Ezreal. Both teams were required to pick their marksman based ona fan vote. Apparently the vote turned out poorly for Team Fire, since Team Ice’s Bjerg posted an astronomic 24/3/9 KDA backed by a 180 creep score, nearly twice the mark of the second player, Chinese mid lane star Gao “WeiXiao” Xuecheng, with 93 on his Lulu.
Bjerg posted a solo double kill that looked like the play of the day, until he topped it with a triple kill just a few minutes later.
The URF mode match puts Team Ice ahead in the All-Star Challenge. The two All-Star lineups earn points for each event, leading to an eventual victor at the end of the Invitational. Tomorrow will feature a Hexakill match, where each team will put six players instead of the usual five onto the Summoner’s Rift. The weekend will see 1v1 and 2v2 battles, with a fan vote determining 1v1 participants.
At its heart, the All-Star Invitational is a celebration of League, so there’s nothing but to be happy, especially in front of the outstanding crowd in Paris. And it got off to a great start today.
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube