Greetings, my name is SkySailing and I am an avid League of Legends player and watcher. This series of articles will deal with the recently drawn and soon to be played quarterfinal matchups in the World Championship. I will address each matchup individually, highlight some important points, and address what each team needs to do to win.
Quarter Final One Flash Wolves (FW) v Origen (OG)
In our first quarterfinal matchup of the week we have the first seed of group A against the second seed of group D. This has the potential to be an extremely close match with both teams taking turns dominating the strong teams in their respective groups as well as showing clear weaknesses in their losses.
Origen shocked many by upsetting both KT Rolster as well as LGD in the first week of groups. It is in those two matchups that we saw both sides of the OG coin. The first week of groups was impeccable for Origen as they convincingly dominated every other team in their group. Their most important set was the split against KT as I believe it to be the best measuring point of their continued success. In the first game OG was out-rotated and out-warded in the early game but was able to take a 22 minute baron to seize the map and the gold lead. This type of win is risky because without that baron KT’s Kog’maw would have soon been able to take over the game. OG can definitely not rely on plays like that to consistently win in a best of five. In their two losses OG showed some clear weakness in early game rotation that they were unable to overcome even through good team fighting.
The Flash Wolves themselves showed great success in their wins against the Korean second seed KOO Tigers then bewildering losses to PAIN Gaming and CLG. This is a hit or miss FW lineup where CLG exposed some late game shot calling weakness and PAIN showed the ability to drag them into a chaotic game. However, the FW that showed up against KOO showed up big time. The first game KOO let themselves lose the game in pick ban as they let FW get Gangplank and Morgana with no solid way to break the black shield to burst him out. In the second FW just dominated in all aspects with both Maples’ LeBlanc and NL’s Jinx dominating in lane and team fights. In 4 games they demonstrated good map awareness and vision to secure picks and good team fights and in 2 losses they showed shaky late game calls in close games and a tendency to be baited into fights with limited vision.
- Top Lane
- Steak v Soaz
Coming into worlds both Steak and Soaz faced heavy criticism for being the weak links on their team. Many analysts remembered Soaz in last year’s worlds and Steak in various LMS struggles. Both appeared to have shrugged off the doubts and turned in great performances. There is a definite contrast in playstyles as Soaz is usually saved the last pick in draft for a counter carry and Steak is asked to play a more peel oriented style.
Steak on carry champs such as Gnar and Darius has small kill totals but good kill participation and is instrumental in letting NL and Maple get damage off. When not on Gnar or Darius FW puts steak on a peeling tank/kiting machine in Malphite/Lulu. The most crucial aspect of Steak’s group performance is his high assist totals. His 59 assists are the highest for a non-support/jungle in the entire group stage.
Soaz is usually asked to be the third damage threat in the common triple carry comp OG ran in the group stage with games on Vlad, Kennen and Fiora. The numbers may not be gaudy but the split push style he employs is effective in letting OG trade for objectives, best evidenced by the Vladimir split push to end the game while OG kept LGD tied up around the baron. Soaz also contributes about 18 percent of the team damage through the group stage. He has also shown flexibility in playing champions like Lulu and the emerging Malphite(much like Steak).
Advantage – Soaz
There are many similarities between these two laners but the edge goes to Soaz. Soaz draws a tremendous amount of pressure top with his more aggressive playstyle and is certainly capable of carrying a game in a best of five by himself. Steak has not shown a dominating performance yet in groups. Soaz has a better cs lead at 20 with similar lane swap scenarions affecting both laners. This mechanical edge gives Soaz an advantage for the series. I expect Lulu to be a contested pick for both.
- Karsa v Amazing
This matchup, in my opinion, is the closest. The two junglers are among the best at the position in worlds and have shown dominance in their respective regions. However in the group stages they were not tested by their opposing numbers and both Group A and Group D turning in weak performances (outside of KT Score)
Karsa had big shoes to step into after taking over for Winds. If the group stage has shown us anything it is that he has earned that spot. Karsa has shone on mechanically intensive Lee Sin and Nidalee picks helping the Wolves take the top seed. Being able to seamlessly slide in and out of a damage/support jungling style being the most important part of Karsa’s performance is his warding in game, placing about 1.3 wards per minute. With the Flash Wolves playing a much more traditional ADC/Mid centric game he is not needed to do much but peel or pick in team fights. This he does very well and applies map pressure to lanes. However, once found by wards in the jungle he was proven easy to play around and impact fell off in the mid game of several contests.
Amazing is amazing at what he does. The former TSM jungler is able to get a gank off for summoners/kill pre 10 minutes in almost all of his games in the group stage. Of particular note is his Elise, having played it in two of his games with a 3.1 KDA. Despite the loss to KT Amazing still made effective plays around the map and has a definite mastery of the champion. Due to the common Origen strategy of putting Soaz on a carry the bulk of frontline tank falls on Amazing being on any of his jungle champions from Rek’Sai to Gragas. A minor point of concern is the tendency to be slightly out of position on dragon/jungle dancing. On several occasions in both KT/LGD games he was caught or ate significant poke and then forced OG off the objective. Whether this is a lapse of team comms or individual misplay there is a definite cause for concern.
Advantage – Karsa
The two junglers play very similar roles within their teams. However it is Karsas’ warding that puts him over the top (1.3 to .9 per minute) as well as the possibility for him to be on a carry style jungle. As previously mentioned Amazing does tend to take some poke around important objectives. With him providing much of OGs tank if this were to continue there is no doubt Karsa will capitalize on this. Both junglers are expected to peel for the damage dealers of the team but Karsa has shown to be better at this as Amazing looks for the big play a little too often.
- Maple v Xpeke
Definitely the featured matchup for the quarterfinal. Xpeke is going strong with his worlds buff and Maple is fresh off some dominating performances at the expense of the KOO Tigers. This will also be a clash of styles with Xpeke playing exclusively control mages and Maple shining on the assassins Leblanc and Ahri.
Maple is dwarfed by Xpeke when it comes to fans and recognition. Indeed he isn’t even the biggest star of his own team. But when it comes to the group stages Maple showed some dominating performances, especially a 12/1 Leblanc game against Kuro and KOO. His KDA is an impressive 7.4. Placing him 11th at worlds thus far. Maple trades roaming for kill for cs in lane, part of his deficit in cs at 10 and 20 minutes. When he gets kills the snowball starts rolling, if he does not he occasionally seems lost in the game until a fight occurs.
Xpeke faced a ton of criticism coming into worlds. His dependence on heavy wave clear champions in the LCS summer and playoffs had analysts writing him off as a liability to an Origen run in Worlds. But Sexpeke always prevails and delivered a quadra kill on Orianna in a big game against LGD. His KDA (3.6) is not as impressive as Maple’s but he is number one in cs per minute. His matchup with Maple will rely on being able to effectively capitalize on Maple leaving lane or turning the tables with a TP counter gank. Xpeke frequently is in a minor gold defict at 20 minutes, usually based on holding and clearing mid.
Advantage – Xpeke
Maple has been on almost exclusively assassins and Xpeke has been on exclusively control mages. This matchup will be determined by the individual plays they can make on the map. In this instance I believe Xpeke will control the map far better with a wave clearing TP mid than Maple on an assassin. Origen also team fights around protecting Niels brilliantly so Maple will be stopped in his efforts to effectively control and ADC OG will choose to play. Xpekes farm heavy playstyle will be rewarded by Maples roams and transfer to a nice gold lead for the Spanish veteran. This will be a lane matchup dictated by map plays and not 1 v 1s in the mid lane. And in this meta I believe Xpeke is a force to be reckoned with.
- Duo Lane
- NL/SwordArt v Niels/Mithy
After the disaster that was Kramer in the ADC position NL was inserted and found immediate success. Both bot lanes are incredibly important to the success of the team and both instrumental in carrying team fights against the Korean powerhouse teams. Both teams make active attempts to protect their ADCs until a decent power spike in items. Both SwordArt and Mithy are warding machines and provide high quality high value wards before and after every skirmish and rotation.
NL does damage. Lots of damage. He does almost 40 percent of the teams damage, had the highest damage per minute, and the best kill participation at 88 percent. This does come with an asterisk as a majority of this comes on playing Jinx, a notorious late game high damage threat. But his positioning on Jinx is great and is helped immensely by SwordArt. SwordArt has a large champion pool that he has played at Worlds thus far and his Morgana is flawless. Impeccable black shields help NL get his damage off and carry team fights. SwordArt is also the main shotcaller of FW and if he stays on point the FW bot lane can make plats anywhere. NL is a definite upgrade over Kramer but may have his ADC pool tested by Origen.
Niels is the damage backbone of Origen. While not dealing as much damage as NL much of his success has come on Kalista and Sivir, both valued for their kiting and objective control. Niels is often left to his own devices and is able to escape a 2 v 1 situation with ease while Mithy goes to get his deep wards down. When not warding Mithy’s only job is peeling for Niels and Xpeke and is on par with SwordArt. Watching the ward control through the series will be entertaining and impressive. Mithy plays an excellent Thresh and is able to consistently pick off members with Amazing.
Advantage – Niels/Mithy
This goes to Niels/Mithy on the basis of champion pool and individual skill. NL has only performed really well on Jinx while Niels has shown great performances on Sivir, Kalista, and Kog’Maw. If you take away NL’s Jinx you are left with a disappointing Varus game and a patchy Kalista game. Niel’s control of the lane and dragon is impeccable and is often able to get himself out of bad positions in team fights whereas NL relies heavily on SwordArt’s great mechanics to get him out of trouble and into good damaging positions. The difference between SwordArt and Mithy is negligible and neither is better than the other in any meaningful way. They may well trade Thresh and Braum between games. Origen should be wary of drafting into SwordArt’s Morgana as he may well prevent them from catching anyone around objectives for an entire game.
There is no doubt that Origen had a good draw here. Every player on Origen is either even or ahead of the Flash Wolves. For the Flash Wolves to win they will need to follow the script on their KOO victories. Get Maple rolling on an assassin early and effectively neutralize Soaz, Xpeke, or Niels. KT was able to camp Soaz into a 0/9 Kennen performance. If Karsa and Steak can execute those dives it will do much to hurt OG in the objective game. The Flash Wolves will need to be on point in their late game shot calling as Mithy and Amazing will be able to isolate and find a pick immediately. The big question mark here is whether NL can perform on an ADC that isn’t Jinx as Origen will be able to team fight against his Varus effectively and try to pick Kalista for Niels early in pick and ban. If Steak can peel/protect more effectively than Soaz can damage the Flash Wolves will be able to sustain through any triple threat comp thrown at them.
For Origen to win they need to be week one Origen and not week two Origen. Week one Origen was able to deep ward, get cs leads onto Xpeke and Niels and use those small advantages to use Soaz to threaten towers while they take free dragons and turrets on the opposite side. Niels on Kalista and Sivir allows Origen the flexibility and kiting needed for their impeccable team fighting. Mithy and Amazing showed a great aptitude for tracking and neutralizing the enemy jungler in their wins. Ultimately Origen has great objective control and often uses great mid to late game shot calling to keep themselves in games they have fallen out of.