With another week concluded in the road to worlds we have seen dreams shattered, David and Goliath upsets, and the battle to become the best League of Legends team in the world still within grasp for some. As predicted, Groups C & D provided us with numerous nerve-racking, nail-biting games. Unfortunately, only four teams could advance onto the quarterfinals: (Najin White Shield, OMG, Samsung Blue, and Cloud 9.) Here is a breakdown of each team; pointing out both their strengths and weakness going into the quarterfinals, best of 5 matches.
Samsung Blue (5-1) (OGN)
Samsung Blue came into the tournament being considered one of the best teams in the world. But, always overshadowed by their sister team Samsung White. Since the move of Dade from White to Blue, Blue has captured OGN‘s Champions Spring 2014 title and finishing a close second behind KT Rolster in OGN’s Champions Summer 2014. Now would be a better then any for Samsung Blue to come out of the shadow of White and claim the title of World Champion.
Strengths: Where to begin? Samsung Blue had a fantastic showing in group stages coming out 5-1 against a group some considered the most difficult of the four. Korea has always been known for their in-game knowledge and superior map control, Samsung Blue proved this time and time again, one instance they secured Dragon at three minutes. With this same map control Samsung Blue took more dragons than any other team because let’s face it Blue will just beat you in team fights and take your towers so why not secure early game spawning objectives. The scariest thing from Samsung Blue so far is the capability of playing non-meta champions such as Dade’s Kassadin and Deft’s Twitch in which they both found great success. Without having to reveal much in groups like for Samsung Blue to have a few more tricks up their sleeve with they face off against Cloud 9.
Weaknesses: The theme that seems to be circulating among Korean teams is that “we are better then you for the simple fact that we are Korean, we will demolish you with pure skill alone.” There isn’t a better example of this than their AD Carry, Deft. Deft has always been known for his superior positioning but, that is also his weakness. At times, we have seen him flash into 1v5 or found himself piled onto after trying to 1v3 at the enemy inhibitor towers. At this level of play, look for teams to continue to punish Samsung Blue for these mistakes.
Cloud 9 (4-2) (NA LCS)
Since their induction into the LCS, Cloud 9 has been the most dominant team in NA, some would argue the only NA team able to compete with the Korean or Chinese regions. Cloud 9 is led by veterans Hai and LemonNation. With them at helm, Cloud 9 has secured back to back NA LCS Championships and a Top 8 finish at 2013 World Championship.
After a stunning upset by TSM at the Summer NA LCS, Cloud 9 will continue to look to Hai’s masterful shot calling and LemonNation’s patent notebook in their battle with Samsung Blue in order to regain their title of the most dominant team in NA.
Strengths: Meteos, time and time again showed up for Cloud 9 during the group stage and almost lead Cloud 9 to a first place finish coming out of groups. Meteos sported a 4-1 record on Kha’Zix and Lee Sin. Cloud 9 will rely on Meteos and the synergy he has created with Hai to gain an early game advantage and roaming potential for Hai. With Korea being a heavy Lee Sin and Rengar region, Meteos should have no problem getting his hands on Kha’Zix.
Balls, has been considered the most dominant top laner NA has to offer. Even though Ball’s hasn’t performed to the expectations that everyone is used to seeing thus far at Worlds, Cloud 9 knows they will be able to depend on him to be that solid top laner that can hold his own and allow Meteos to focus his attention on the bottom side of the map.
Weakness: Despite jumping out to an early 2-0 start in groups, Cloud 9’s advancement could be thanked in part to the Wild Card team from Brazil, Kabum, who defeated Alliance and secured a place for Cloud 9 in the quarterfinals. Their two loses in groups could be attributed to the fact Cloud 9 loves running late-game focused team comps that have featured such champs as Tristana, Ryze, Kayle, and Xerath; an exploit Korean teams could punish with early game aggression.
Also, LemonNation has never been known for his strong mechanics. Even though this hasn’t been a problem thus far in the tournament he will be put to the test when faces off against arguably the best bot lane in the world has to offer in Heart/Deft. While Samsung Blue has shown superb vision placement, LemonNation and Cloud 9 has shown very lackluster vision placement through groups. If they want to excel in a late-game team comp and have any chance of beating Samsung Blue they’ll have to up their ward buying.
Najin White Shield (4-2) (OGN)
Coming into the tournament, Najin White Shield completed the “gauntlet” going 9-1 and besting 2013 World Champion’s SKT-1 for the finally spot at this year’s Worlds. Their resolve has already been put to the test by Cloud 9 forcing a tiebreaker game for the number one seed in group D and dropping games to both Alliance and Cloud 9. Fortunately, Najin White Shield has two-time Worlds veteran Watch in the jungle. Shield will look to him for leadership as they continue their journey against OMG and inevitable series against either Samsung White or Blue.
Strengths: There’s no doubt about it when looking at Najin White Shields last seven group matches GorillA has been the most dominant member of Najin White Shield so far. His Thresh play has been god-like, sporting a 3-0 record. Opposing teams have two options when squaring off against GorillA, ban Thresh or fear the Flash/Hook or Flash/Flay combo all game. I feel if GorillA can keep up the pressure and continue to target bans his this will allow Save and Ggoong more freedom during pick/ban phase.
Also, when speaking on the strengths of Najin White Shield one must talk about their top laner, Save. He is said to be the “Last of the Carry Top Laners.” One who can single handily carry his team to victory if given the opportunity. Now, Save hasn’t lived up to his title so far during groups. But, what he has lacked in carry potential he has made up for in targeted bans and extreme amounts of pressure top lane from the enemy junglers. This pressure will continue to open up tons of advantages around the map. Najin White Shield must use that to gain the slightest advantage over their opponents and snowball from there.
Weaknesses: As stated before, Najin White Sword dropped two games during groups (most out of any Korean team in groups), both being to Western teams. This issue must be addressed by Najin White Sword for fact one of their defeats they fell into a 0-7, 7k gold deficit to Alliance. Even though they came out with the win, it took them 45 mins to do it. You simply can’t fall that far behind against teams such as OMG or either one of the Samsung teams.
OMG (3-3) (LPL)
OMG comes out of China’s LPL as the second seed. They’re a world class team with a plethora of experience under their belt, placing 5th in last year’s World Championship. They feature several of the best players at their positions in Cool, Loveling, and Gogoing. This year OMG look to stop Najin White Shield in their tracks and force a rematch from last year against Star Horn Royal Club.
Strengths: Once OMG were able to shake off the early group jitters they were able to insert their Chinese aggression play-style into a 3-1 showing. Also, two out of their three wins came at 35 mins. They were able to accomplish this with strong pick/ban phases. One instance they were able to grab up Ryze, Zed, and Kha’Zix. Not to mention, Loveling has been an absolute monster on Kha’Zix and he will need to be able to continue that trend and help both Gogoing and Cool gain a lead in lane.
OMG’s Mid laner Cool has been slow to pick up the pace during the regular season of LPL. Luckily for OMG he seems to have found his stride exiting the group stage, finding wins on Orianna, Zilean, and Zed. OMG will need Cool to continue his strong laning phase and team fight prowess when they face off against Najin White Shield.
Weaknesses: Over the course of the group stage, when you talk about weakness and OMG one name stands out, Dada777. Undoubtedly, the past few games has been the worse for him. He has continually been caught out of position, failed to handle tower aggro during dives correctly, and missed skill shots on key champions such as Nami has hurt OMG to the point where they almost didn’t make it out of group stage. Now it’s do or die for Dada777 and see if he can turn things around for OMGs sake.