The first week of the Riot World Championship is over. As the biggest tournament in League of Legends history leaves Taiwan, we now know two of the quarterfinals matchups scheduled two weeks from now in Korea.
Those matchups were expected after the third day of group matches—three of those teams had already clinched those playoff spots, with the third heavily favored to make it through. But the fourth day of play quickly threw a wrench into expectations, leading to a thrilling climax even if it got us right where we expected.
These are some of the things we learned from the end of Groups A and B.
1) SK Gaming really did miss Svenskeren
The third seed from Europe had a disastrous start to the competition while missing their coach and star jungler. The team lost four games in a row, but recovered with Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen back in the lineup, beating Taipei Assassins and Team SoloMid in their final two matches.
Johnsen in particular played an important factor in both games, providing playmaking ability and damage that the team was missing earlier in the tournament.
Their final match was a dagger in the heart of Team SoloMid, ensuring the Americans will face Samsung Galaxy White in the quarterfinals. While it ended SK Gaming’s tournament on a positive note, leaving many wondering what could have been, that game was really SK Gaming’s to lose—SoloMid threw the match with a poor late game decision.
Still, SK Gaming proved that they in fact did belong on the world stage, and that they could have contended for the group title if they had entered the event at full strength. Johnsen will need to re-evaluate his attitude considering how dearly it cost his team. Riot Games’ punishment was harsh and certainly effective in that it got results, but did the punishment fit the crime? Is it worth throwing away a year’s worth of effort from four players and the expectations of fans to punish one man, when punishment could have in theory been delayed? That’s something we will always be left to wonder.
2) Will the real Edward Gaming step up?
The top team from China this year, Edward Gaming was hyped as the Chinese team with the Chinese level of skill that didn’t fall into the trap of “typical Chinese aggression,” instead playing a methodical style focused on outlasting opponents in the late game.
The team left a lot to be desired through three days in the tournament, with even star player Zhu “NaMei” Jia-Wen failing to make a big impact in lane against weaker foes like the Turkish team Dark Passage. Today, disaster struck: ahq e-Sports club upset the titans, turning around a match in the late game thanks to two amazing Thresh hooks, and two uncharacteristic mistakes by Zhu.
The Chinese team recovered to decimate ahq in the tie breaker, ensuring they will advance to play local rivals Star Horn Royal Club in the semifinal, but losing a match to a weaker team like ahq raise even more questions about Edward Gaming.
Will the NaMei hyped as the best ADC in the world show up? Is his average performance merely a product of his supposed illness? Or did Edward Gaming simply choke in their first international tournament?
Whatever the case, they did manage to advance, avoiding the fate of Samsung Ozone in 2013. If they win in the quarterfinals, all this criticism will be quickly forgotten.
3) Team SoloMid still has shot calling problems
In typical Team SoloMid fashion, the squad gave their passionate fans just enough hope to make the inevitable crushing failure that much more bitter.
Team SoloMid opened the day with an emphatic statement, beating Chinese team Royal Club at their own game. SoloMid avoided letting “Uzi” stomp them in the late game before taking control of the match through winning two team fights, using the power of Rumble and Tristana to clean up a Star Horn Royal Club team that’s usually immaculate in five-on-five situations.
The win proves that the Western teams are on a similar level to China, something in question after the initial games with Royal Club.
But instead of using that win to catapult into a tie breaker against Royal Club, and potentially a better quarterfinal matchup, Team SoloMid threw it all away against SK Gaming. After outlasting the powerful Vayne split push utilized by the Europeans, SoloMid had control of the game. But then at one point they rushed into the enemy base behind the SK Gaming team, trapping themselves in poor position. SK Gaming wiped SoloMid and ended the game off those kills.
So while Team SoloMid continues to show improvement in many facets, like picks and bans, executing their team compositions, and their laning performances, they still have problems. Their shot calling is improved over the regular season, but inconsistent, and a game losing mistake like this one is unacceptable.
4) GreenTea really is amazing
We called ahq e-Sports club support Sa “GreenTea” Shang-Ching the first breakout player of the tournament on day one, but after a nice performance to open things he ended up as the leader Blitzcrank cheese machine as the team tried to steal wins from Samsung Galaxy White any way they could. He had a couple nice grabs, but things weren’t working out so well.
Then today, he did it again. On Thresh, his best champion, Sa carried the game against Edward Gaming. He pulled off two clutch Thresh hooks, picking off and killing Edward Gaming star NaMei to initiate and win two late game team fights that lead to the biggest upset of the tournament so far.
5) Samsung Galaxy White really are gods of League of Legends
We already knew this coming in to the tournament, but they’ve been more dominant than anyone could ever expect. The team posted a 2032.37 Gold Per Minute through their group. That’s nearly 300 gold better than teams leading the League Championship Series. In theri 24-4 season, for example, Cloud9’s GPM barely topped 1800. This season, Alliance dominated Europe with a 1707.92 GPM.
Granted, Samsung White had an easy group—the easiest of the tournament. But their supposed competition, another actual contender for the World title, was also a pushover against the Koreans. Samsung White posted a 1921.53 GPM against Edward Gaming, embarrassing them in the final match of the group.
Samsung Galaxy White has shown exactly why they are the most feared team entering this tournament. They are on a mission to make up for their disappointing group stage exit at the tournament last year. If they keep playing the way they have so far, an undefeated tournament isn’t even out of the questions, and that’s ridiculous at such a stacked event.
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube