This is not a list of the best players in Quarterfinals. This is not a list of the players with the biggest name recognition. This is a list of the most important players whose performance is crucial to a good showing from the team. These players are responsible for their team’s success or failure. This list will focus on players who are instrumental to their team winning through their extended efforts. Some players perform extremely well every game and are thus not on the list because their success is normal.
Important note: Faker is not on this list. .
Coming in at the first spot on the list is Origen captain Xpeke. Xpeke edges out Soaz for this spot based on role in team fights. Whereas Soaz can flip through carry, peel, and tank Xpeke was only on control mages in the group stage. In the games Origen won Xpeke farmed at insane levels and was able to contribute effectively in team fights either landing important shockwaves on Orianna or peeling for Niels to win a team fight on champs like Twisted Fate or Viktor. In the games Origen lost Xpeke remained on his mid lane island and was unable to contribute anything meaningful in term of peel or damage. Niels will have a solid performance every game making Xpeke the OG man to watch to secure an Origen win over the Flash Wolves. FW mid laner Maple may have an impressive KDA (7.4), almost double that of Xpeke’s(3.6), but Xpeke is not relied on to kill the enemy in lane or team fights. This makes it even more important for him to be able to have a presence in the mid and late game as both an AP carry and Niels safety valve. If Xpeke cannot make himself relevant in the game FW may do to OG what KT did in game 2 of their group split and rotate the entire map around Xpeke leaving him with nothing but the consolation prize of cs per minute.
In a recent article I wrote about how important SwordArt is to the success of Flash Wolves and the ability of ADC NL to stay alive in team fights. That idea has carried through to this list with the FW support coming in at No.9. Playing on a team with a heavy warding jungler (Karsa 1.2 wards per min) and well as the aforementioned bloodthirsty Maple, SwordArt does not need to make the aggressive plays to help FW win. Instead he needs to keep up his warding in tandem with Karsa’s to provide a protective blanket against the roams of Soaz and Amazing as well as his most important job, peeling for NL. In the group stages NL did excellent on Jinx and middling on Kalista and Varus. The bulk of his success can be attributed largely to the excellence of SwortArt’s Morgana, Thresh, Annie and Braum. NL is prone to some positional errors as well as intense focus from the enemy team. SwordArt is often able to negate much of this dive with an impeccable black shield or a perfectly times Glacial Fissure. Keeping his team alive to get damage off will be key to a Flash Wolves victory over Origen. SwordArt’s shot calling will also be tested against the objective focused Origen as they have shown an ability to completely fluster their opponents into getting free barons or turrets. SwordArt will be able to provide great wards and protection but his in game direction may be the most important contribution he can make in the quarterfinals.
Huni is one of the most popular players in the League of Legends scene right now. For good reason as his Rumble, Hecarim, and Riven have made highlight plays for the Spring and Summer season into Worlds. Huni pushes the pace relentlessly and his acts of aggression making him a fan favorite and an outplay asset for Fnatic. However, as shown against Cloud9 and AHQ in the group stage this aggression has been capitalized on easily, with a notable occurrence in the second game against AHQ as Huni on Ekko dove into the enemy red side jungle with no vision and was immediately killed by three members of AHQ. Fnatic was able to trade Huni’s life for an objective in dragon but there are several instances of this not being the case. Huni’s penchant for aggression leaves him and Fnatic in some uncomfortable spots as there were times in the all-important game where Fnatic hung on by the skin of their teeth after a Huni overextension led to an AHQ positional advantage. Then on the flip side his Riven in an earlier game against Invictus was rewarded and became an unstoppable force for Fnatic from the 10 minute mark. Huni is matched against Steak for the quarterfinals, an opponent many would agree he outclasses. But the Flash Wolves are not a team that will let Huni get away with being overly aggressive. For Fnatic to win Huni must be on point with his damage carry champions. There is little to no chance of him playing a straight tank and even on a tanker Gnar must watch his hops and skips lest he cost Fnatic important positioning around crucial objectives.
This is not a Riot sponsored list. The KOO Tigers will have two appearances on this list. The KOO jungler is the first with a huge matchup against KT’s Score on his plate right away. This has the makings of a thrilling matchup as the two teams know each other exceedingly well from the LCK Spring and Summer split seasons as well as the recent playoffs with KT squeaking a 3-2 over the Tigers in the semifinals. The jungle was a critizied point for KOO coming into the group stage and Hojin did much to stand up agains those critiques with a 8.4 KDA. However, many of these statistics come against CLG and PAIN gaming so there is an asterisk attached to those performances. There is still no denying his impact on the game when he gets a lane an early advantage through a gank. Looking to their last meeting with KT when KOO wins Hojin is involved early and often, setting picks with Gorilla and tracking Score through his jungle. But when KOO loses it is often because Hojin has been nullified with a counter-gank or spotted through wards. In their wins Hojin has an impressive stat line and racks up assists all across the map. In the losses it is as if he stayed on the summoner platform and has barely anything credited to his name. Hojin usually is able to out ward his opponent in his games (1.08 wpm) but unless he is able to capitalize on the vision he provides KOO is doomed to play out the summer split playoffs again. Every lane that KOO has is able to take an advantage to victory if Hojin can help them attain it. I firmly believe Hojin can be the director of a sweep or the scapegoat of a sweep. KOO needs the Hojin that played against CLG and PAIN racking up a 36 KDA on Elise and getting each lane some form of an advantage. If at least some form of that man shows up KOO has a great chance at reversing the narrative. But Ssumday and crew will not make it easy and Hojin needs this series to prove the criticism directed at his jungle performance is no longer a talking point going forward.
Rolling right behind Hojin is KOO Tiger top laner Smeb. Smeb is here for one very important reason, his matchup against Final Boss Ssumday. Now I do not think we will get to see very much of Smeb against Ssumday in a 1 v 1 laning matchup but the reason he is on this list and Ssumday is not is simple. Ssumday has provided game winning impact each and every game (even in the OG loss) where Smeb has not. One is a proven threat on any champion and is therefore not as essential to the team gaining an advantage. Even if unable to lane against Ssumday the question will be, can Smeb match his impact on the map? Whether it is through Teleport plays or straight team-fighting Smeb has the champion pool to fit any role in any comp KOO may throw at KT. Will Smeb peel for PraY like Ssumday does for Arrow? Will Smeb be able to effectively neutralize a KT tank line on a CC carry? There is no question Smeb has the talent to do well and help KOO carry a game. But Ssumday has yet to stumble and Smeb needs to be his first hurdle at worlds. Like Hojin, Smeb’s best games came against CLG and PAIN both teams that allowed him to farm fairly well in a lane swap scenario and let him run rampant in the back lines. Finding that opportunity against KT will be much harder. Still his damage percentage share on the team trails only Marin for best at Worlds (24.2 to 23.9). I think KOO has a decent pick and ban phase to get Smeb a Darius, Gnar, or Kennen and if he can show up on those champions I think the script can be easily flipped on KT.
Gamespot recently released an interview with Piccaboo after the group stage and Piccaboo stated his confidence in being able to play SKT and beat them. Being drawn on the opposite side of the bracket gives him a difficult path to reach them in addition in his confidence in being able to “crush them all”. In order to beat KOO again he will need to keep up his stellar play from groups. KT’s continued success will hinge on Ssumday’s continued dominance, Nagne being able to contribute a little more overall, and Piccaboo facilitating vision and picks. The only game KT lost was to OG in the first week of groups and it was a preventable loss. While Piccaboo didn’t perform terribly in any sense, there were some definite mechanicals mess-ups such as the deliverance of Xpeke’s Twisted Fate to safety over the baron wall. In order to reach his goal of beating SKT those types of plays cannot happen as OG kept all 5 baron buffs and TF was able to get a good split on. Piccaboo leads all players in wards per minute at 1.56.This affords KT the luxury of always operating with a bubble of wards around any objective they choose to engage in. When you get to that many wards placed per minutes the question of the value of the wards placed arises. I do not believe this applies to Piccaboo as he and KT are always setting up for a map play in advance meaning the value of vision is always changing in accordance to the new gameplan. He showed a great support pool in groups with good games on Janna, Braum, and Thresh showing an aptitude for peel and pick. The Shen pick against OG in the rematch was absolutely filthy and essentially flawless with great use of Stand United to save teammates, gank across the map and get himself into important vision areas. The only hiccup really comes with the Alistar but to think Piccaboo would perform similarly again on the champion would be naive. For KT to move past their regional rival Piccaboo needs to keep doing what allows Arrow and Ssumday to carry games: providing the ever moving vision bubbles, keeping Arrow’s hyper carry alive and keeping Gorilla from being able to have a huge impact in the vision game by tracking his wards. I expect the lane swap to be in full force throughout the series and Piccaboo may end up laning with Ssumday and the potential for duo lane kills will be an exciting prospect.
This placement may seem odd to many people due to Albis’s fairly low support statistics across the board. In terms of wards per minutes, kill participation, assists and wards cleared Albis is lower on the spectrum. However, despite the hype that Westdoor gets AHQ is a team centered on AN. Albis is the guy keeping him relevant all game. I will not sugar coat it. AHQ faces an up mountain battle. Bang and Wolf wrecked anyone they came across and if AHQ has any chance of winning this series they will need Albis to protect AN like family. The only support lower than Albis in terms of warding is Wolf and I believe if Albis can capitalize on this and get his wards in place to protect AN whilst farming AHQ has a shot at winning. When you watch both of the AHQ v FNC games Albis played Tahm Kench with Jinx and made both games a nightmare for Fnatic by keeping Jinx safe from burst and death. If SKT lets Albis get Tahm they will be faced with an AN who gets 9 lives instead of one. This is perhaps the steepest challenge anyone on this list will face. Albis will need to break out of his lane centric mindset and get some vision in place to negate any roams from Marin or Bengi. AHQ will go for a team fighting series win as Mountain has some weakness in establishing early game rotations especially against Bengi. If Albis can ensure AHQ is even or slightly behind heading into some fights the chaotic team fighting of AHQ around AN may pay off. Westdoor and Ziv will play their usual roles and be dependable but the ability to win lies on Albis and his tasks of protective warding, keeping AN alive, and effectively being able to force SKT into team fighting and not let them build huge leads before the first dragon fight.
Koro1 is the hardest to write about from a statistics perspective as the last game Koro played was over a month ago before being benched during the playoffs for AmazingJ. During his last international appearance at MSI Koro was neck and neck with Marin for the title of best top laner at the tournament. The meta had appeared to suit Koro with many impressive showings on Maokai and Gnar. Koro was top or near the top in gold lead, KDA, assists and was able to team fight for EDG impeccably. With the changes to Fiora and Ganplank hitting China for the worlds qualifier Koro did not seem to adapt well and EDG subbed AmazingJ in to ensure a seeding for Worlds. Koro now back in the match against Fnatic will be huge as AverageJ got demolished by Marin two games in a row and seemed lost without an answer both times. There is no way Koro will come in as bad on the meta he was a month ago. Vintage Koro opens the map enormously for EDG as Clearlove can leave Koro alone either top or bot and focus on getting Pawn or Deft a noticeable advantage. If the lane swaps do not go through Koro will need to punish Huni’s aggression as he did at MSI. Koro is a world class top laner and EDG will need him to hold down top lane and more than likely survive at least one turret dive from Reignover. EDG were huge favorites going into LPL qualifiers and in order to challenge Fnatic and SK Telecom Koro must have Darius, Olaf, and Fiora prepared in addition to his Gnar. If Koro as we know him comes, FNC’s hopes of making it back to semifinals take a huge blow but if Koro shows the same form he did a month ago EDG will bow out early.
This entry will be short and sweet. Marin has absolutely dominated thus far at worlds. He can represent SKT as a whole in his placing here. Bang has a 71 KDA and Bengi effectively rules the map. Marin was able to demolish EDG with his Renekton counter pick into Darius and I have no doubt SKT is prepared for any picks AHQ may bring in their matchup. Marin is number one in top lane damage share and is an average of 16 cs up on his lane opponent in the lane swap meta. His ability to become an unkillable front line tank thus far has propelled SKT past everyone in their group. The reason Marin is on this list as the face of SKT is in his role as primary shotcaller. SKT always takes baron first and established great objective control in dragons, towers and the ability to get first blood. The SKT hype trainV2 is ready to board and Marin is the conductor. I expect the matchup with AHQ to be very one-sided and Marin to be a force in every game.
No. 1 Yellowstar
Yellowstar was always going to be on this list due to his role at Fnatic’s team captain and shot calling hero. The news that Koro was going to be back for EDG rocketed him up the list to number one, a difficult series made even harder. Yellowstar knows FNC cannot afford any mistakes, like those made in the first week of groups, against a team of EDG’s caliber. He is second to only Piccaboo in wards per minute (1.46) with much of the vision bubble strategy coming into play here again. Under his calls, Fnatic has gotten first blood and first tower one hundred percent of the time. One hundred percent. Much like the other supports on this list Yellowstar provides the vision and protection for his team with the important distinction of having to play possibly the toughest quarterfinal matchup. On an impeccable Shen in the groups showed incredible map awareness and a mastery of the champion in the support role. Some analysts have criticized his mechanics as not quite on par with younger supports. I disagree as Yellowstar appears to be at the top of the pack. For Fnatic to win Yellowstar will need to remain constantly vigilant against Pawn and Clearlove’s attempts to snowball Deft. Deft has been a monster this year with huge gold leads over his opponents being built. I expect the ADC’s to be a point of focus in this series and Yellowstar will need to be better at commanding and tracking map movements than Meiko. Both FNC and EDG stumbled in the group stages with some clear weaknesses being exposed. EDG shored up the top lane and I Yellowstar and Reignover will need to keep Clearlove corralled and continue the first blood/tower streak alive. Yellowstar must also contest with keeping Huni calm and collected in a difficult series. He is number one because without him Fnatic has excellent talent but his shotcalling will be the difference between a victorious return to the semifinals or another “what if” year.
This list had 4 supports, 3 top laners, 1 jungler, and 1 mid laner. I was interested by the fact I had no ADCs on the list despite some clear candidates. The conclusion I drew from looking over my list was that ADC was being protected in some way by every person on the list. Adding to that most of the ADCs in quarterfinals have been performing well and are in the position of needing others to help them perform better. You can only be so impressive without needing your team to allow the next step.
Some people may criticize this last and ask where Deft, Ssumday, Febiven, Rekkles, Pawn, and Maple are. This list is meant to be people most important for success in the quarterfinals not generically skilled. For example, Ssumday is important to the success of KT. However, he always performs well despite the final outcome of the game. Thus Piccaboo being able to have map control is more vital to KT beating KOO than Ssumday’s known talent being a constant. Febiven performing well is a must for Fnatic to win but it is more impactful overall if Yellowstar is able to get the team into a position to win through rotations. Deft will always kite well and get good damage off, thus we can assume that will usually happen and look to another member to provide the boost that EDG would need.
Huge credit and thanks to Oracles Elixir for providing all the great data I used to make this article.