This World Championship has been hectic and full of surprises. We saw 2 Chinese teams expected to possibly make finals exit the tournament in the first round, a team previously in danger of being relegated from one of the weakest regions hardly even got into the tournament and went 3-0 in the first week, defeating the best teams from EU and TW as well one of the Chinese teams, and (possibly the biggest surprise of all) the 3rd place European team nearly took first seed in their group – and put up a good fight against the undefeated tournament favorite in the semifinals.
Now that the tournament is behind us, we can take a look back at the teams who performed well, and those who didn’t. Note, this is not a power ranking of the teams in general (highs, lows, consistency, etc.), but rather a ranking of the teams’ performances relative to other teams, and within the context of this tournament and what was expected.
#1 SK Telecom T1
Coming into the tournament, experts and viewers alike anticipated a close tournament with multiple teams having a chance to take the Summoner’s Cup. While some of the expected contenders have fallen flat, SKT have dominated the tournament with relative ease and a lot of swagger. Despite SKT having the most legendary player in League of Legends as their mid laner and only playing him in 12 of their 16 games, they only dropped 1 game throughout the entire tournament. They were challenged in game 1 of their Origen series and in parts of the KOO series, but SKT closed them out and won both series convincingly. This team has looked as close to invincible as any team in LoL ever has, probably even closer than Samsung White.
They had so many things going for them and were by far the most flexible team at the tournament, likely even in the entire world. We’ve seen their many strengths – gaining even the slightest of leads in the early game and choking the life out of opponents, being patient and intelligent in finding openings in the opposing team when behind, and controlling the map through superior warding and map pressure, to name a few.
The scariest thing about this team for many opponents was the fact that they could hide their strategies and still be successful. This is simply because they hadn’t needed to use anything different. SKT has some of the best coaching staff in history and undoubtedly had hidden picks and strategies up their sleeves – yet had not been forced to play them, putting other teams on edge when planning against them. There simply isn’t another team that can win so dominantly in the same fashion SKT has. We saw teams like EDG and Fnatic showing all their strategies and picks early in the tournament and still struggling; SKT didn’t do that and it was still smooth sailing.
SKT has proven themselves without a doubt to be the best. They crushed everyone in their group, quickly disposed of AHQ in the quarterfinals, decimated Origen in the semifinals, and only dropped one game to their Korean brethren KOO Tigers in the final. They are a team who had been criticized as only being at the top of Champions Korea because of the region becoming weaker, and now they are, without a doubt, the best team in the world.
#2 KOO Tigers
If this tournament had an underdog story, it would be the KOO Tigers’. The so-called rejects from IM and NaJin have proven themselves on the world stage.
KOO were embarrassed at this year’s IEM World Championship by China’s Team WE, a team who was struggling to compete at the bottom of China’s LPL. KOO played poorly and were taken down in a best-of-3, against a team who went on to the finals just to be swept by North America’s TSM. They’ve come a long way since then, and have gradually improved as they’ve played throughout the Spring and Summer.
One of the big talking points for why KOO were not going to go far was that they were beaten by KT Rolster in the semifinals of Champions Korea. But people seem to have forgotten how close it was; it went the full 5 games and some of them were nail-biters. The first game was a 25 minute surrender by KT, and the second ended with an insane backdoor from Nagne. This series could have gone either way, and it very well could have been KOO that faced SKT in the playoff finals, so KOO performing well isn’t a total surprise, it’s just that no one expected them to reach such heights.
Not only were none of KOO’s players featured in Riot’s infamous Worlds Top 20 Players List, but many even predicted both Counter Logic Gaming and Flash Wolves (and some went as far as expecting paiN Gaming) to exit Group A over them. KOO even faltered during groups, going down 0-2 against Flash Wolves and falling to 2nd seed coming out of the group. Nevertheless, this team has impressed. KOO won their rematch against KT Rolster in the quarterfinals in a convincing 3-1 series, showcasing many of their strengths in the process. They went into the semifinals against Fnatic with much speculation as to who would win the best-of-5 series. Both teams seemed evenly matched and Fnatic were on a hot streak, having gone undefeated since the 2nd day of groups.
KOO defeated Fnatic in a convincing 3-0, making a statement to the critics who ridiculed them for the IEM gaffe or the Korean playoff fumble. KOO showed a strong early game presence, something they haven’t traditionally been known for, and were able to come back even when Fnatic gained early leads. This is surprising considering everyone thought they were pretty evenly matched, and both teams had glaring strengths and weaknesses.
While Hojin can definitely be a weakness of KOO, he hasn’t been exposed much during this tournament (the exceptions would be by Bengi, and Reignover to an extent but even then he played the late game teamfights well and ultimately won). Smeb defeated Huni in both favorable and weak matchups, while KurO held his own in the mid lane and his bot lane went ham. KurO actually played a lot better than expected; he held the 3rd highest KDA of starting mid laners and the highest amount of assists by far (123, next closest was Faker at 77) as well as the highest amount of kills (83, next closest was Faker at 55). PraY played some of the best League of Legends we’ve seen him play since Spring, and GorillA played the way you would expect from one of the best supports in the world; he was solid and only had the odd one or two games where he didn’t perform well.
The most notable aspect going into the finals for me was Smeb in the KT series having outperformed Ssumday, one of the elite top laners in the world. Smeb, Ssumday, and SKT’s MaRin are likely the best top laners in the world right now, and it’s no coincidence their teams are likely the three best in the world. The amount of impact top laners can have is tremendous at the moment in League of Legends. Smeb has taken down Ssumday and thoroughly outclassed Huni and ZionSpartan, the EU and NA LCS, respectively, star top laners. Because of this, going into the finals the featured matchup was most definitely in the top lane. Sadly for Smeb, MaRin is on the best team in the world. Smeb hardly had the chance to 1v1 him because MaRin’s team was constantly in the top lane diving and denying him. Smeb was unable to establish himself as the best top laner in the world, and was thoroughly shut down by MaRin and SKT. Luckily for him, they are from the same region. He’ll have plenty of chances to prove himself when they get back to Korea.
Origen, the 3rd seed from the EU LCS, made it to top 4 in the World Championship. From a team in the challenger series during the Spring to top 4 in the world in Summer is a ridiculous feat. Origen were expected to go fail in groups, and their success was partially because of the fall of LGD. That said, they had a hell of an impressive run through the tournament. They have had some great games throughout Worlds, especially an amazing match in their first game vs KT Rolster. Origen played the double Teleport strategy very well, which was a classic for them even back when they were on Fnatic and the strat wasn’t common. Origen’s rookie ADC Niels surprised everyone with a great performance in his first big tournament, with the highest kill participation percentage of all the ADCs in the tournament.
Despite their improvements, Origen still showed a lot of the same flaws that they had throughout the year. Sometimes SoAZ looks like a world class top laner, other times he dies 9 times and loses the game for his team. Unfortunately for Origen, SKT is very good at executing dives and denying enemy top laners. As a result of this, SoAZ was exposed heavily during their series and often became a liability for his team. Origen played well for most of the tournament, albeit a loss to KT and LGD, as well as some sloppy games against Flash Wolves and basically a thrashing by SKT, but to be fair everyone got thrashed by SKT.
I initially had Origen above KOO, but after some more thought I came to the conclusion that their strong performance isn’t too unexpected. Most people discredited them because of their fairly sloppy regular split and their near-loss against Team ROCCAT. In reality, they were the 2nd best team in EU, and they were nearly the #1 team because of the close series against Fnatic. The improvements they made during their bootcamp are undeniable, but even those aren’t too unexpected. SoAZ and xPeke have lasted this long as pros because they can adapt and improve. Not only that, but the Worlds meta fit them both. That combined with solid play from Amazing and Mithy, plus Niels being one of the top performing rookies of the year, it’s not hard to see how Origen were able to pull such a great performance at this tournament.
#4 Flash Wolves
No one really knew how the Taiwanese teams would stack up against the other teams at Worlds coming into the tournament. We heard mixed rumors about their scrim records, which only made it harder to predict how they would do.
Both Taiwanese representatives played very well during this tournament. Flash Wolves started off with a loss to CLG, in a game they would’ve won had it not been for a positional mistake by their substitute AD Carry KKramer. For the rest of their games, they subbed NL back in to fill the ADC role, and they proceeded to top the group with an impressive 4-2 record; and 2 of those wins were taken from KOO Tigers. FW definitely overperformed in this tournament.
Their top laner Steak, who had been seen as the weak point of the team in a meta that favors teams with strong top laners, played much, much better than he normally does during this tournament. In the LMS, he was one of the weakest top laners. Here at Worlds, he matched up against some pretty good ones – ZionSpartan, SoAZ, and (arguably the best in the world) Smeb – and he did well. In the jungle, Karsa was seen as among the best in the LMS, and he showed that coming into Worlds. Granted, there weren’t necessarily great junglers in his group, but that’s still an accomplishment for an internationally unproven player. NL played a lot better than he did during the regular split; he was known as one of the weaker AD carries, and KKramer was even considered better than him in the LMS. As for SwordArt, we’ve come to expect good performances from him, and I had no qualms with his play during their run. The star of this team in this tournament, however, has been Maple. This guy made a case for himself during this tournament as one of the best mid laners in the world. Of all the starting mid laners Maple had the 2nd highest KDA, behind only Faker. He shut down all the talk of Westdoor being the premier mid laner from the LMS, and earned the respect of a lot of international viewers.
Despite falling to Origen in a 3-1 series, and a loss to paiN Gaming, they were impressive in groups and did not give Origen an easy ride to the semifinals. In Season 3 FW (with a different jungler) fell to the eventual champions SK Telecom T1 in a crushing 2-0 defeat. This year they delivered a good performance. They did not make it easy for anyone they faced. Flash Wolves can consider this Worlds a success for them, and I expect they will come back even stronger next year.
Cloud9 threw a wrench in the predictions of an already hard to predict Group B. They were at the bottom of the NA LCS, only above the team that started the first half of their split with substitutes, and they worked their way up to top of Group B. They went 3-0 in the first week, defeating each of the teams in their group once. After their phenomenal first week, many expected Cloud9 to win the group, or at least come in 2nd and progress to the bracket stage.
Sadly, it was not to be, and Cloud9 went 0-4 in the 2nd week. All they had to do was win a single game to progress to the quarterfinals, but they just couldn’t do it. The reasons behind their failure to escape groups are fairly obvious, unlike with some other teams. Cloud9 had literally one strategy. That’s it. They had one strategy that they executed very well from NA Regionals through Worlds. They would pick Tristana and a strong AoE mid laner (rarely Incarnati0n would pick Yasuo or Diana) and they would fast-push towers early. They had the most predictable level 1 strategy of all teams (I go into more detail about this here) and they were simply a one-trick pony. By the 2nd week of Worlds, teams had figured them out, and C9 had no responses to any of the teams they played.
Nevertheless, nobody expected anything from this team. The general consensus was that maybe they could cheese a game off a team like IG who are inconsistent or AHQ since we didn’t know how strong Taiwan was, but nothing more than that. C9 went undefeated for 3 games straight and blew our predictions out of the water. C9’s Hai was new to the jungle role and had a very shallow champion pool, and was honestly pretty bad as a jungler throughout Regionals. Balls hasn’t been the same dominant world class top laner for about a year now, and it was very clear that LemonNation was on the verge of retirement. C9 seemed like a team of 3/5 washed up players and 2 carries who weren’t good enough to make up for it. Because of this, they are definitely one of the top overperformers at Worlds.
While a lot of fans seem to be disappointed in Fnatic’s 3rd-4th place finish, this achievement is actually very big for Fnatic. KOO Tigers are a very good team and losing to them is nothing to be ashamed of; I understand fans being more interested in the narrative of FNC vs SKT, but narrative doesn’t actually have any substance to it when it comes to actual gameplay.
Fnatic set the precedent for their next year’s performance. Their strengths and weaknesses are plain as day and they will have the task of fixing them in the coming year. They showed that they can do very well with prep time and they excelled at preparation outside of the game. In game they were the kings of first blood, getting it in every game up until the semifinals. They were good at getting leads, but they had a big issue with keeping them. Fnatic would consistently throw leads, mainly through being too greedy and pushing for too much. They had some failed dives that in no situation would have worked, some badly played teamfights and objective calls. They also had problems with mental fortitude in their KOO series. Chalk these up to overworking for the last couple of months, lack of Best-of series experience, poor preparation… it really doesn’t matter. The fact remains that they had one of the best Worlds performances of any western team since Season 2.
One thing that was uncharacteristically poor were some of Fnatic’s drafts. They had some weird picks & bans, like in game 2 against KOO, where KOO were able to get their hands on Fiora, Veigar, Kalista and Tahm Kench. That’s pretty ridiculous considering those are some of the strongest champions in the game, with some of the highest pick & ban rates. They also played too heavily around Huni, who during the regular split was a guy who could be very flexible. He could play Lulu and let his team carry, or he could pick Riven or Ekko and put the team on his back. During this tournament, he only was able to do the latter, and it often backfired.
Another problem was that Rekkles throughout the tournament hardly played anything he could hard-carry on, except 2 Jinx games against EDG which he did very well in. Fnatic seemed to tunnel on keeping Rekkles on a utility ADC for most of the tournament, even when it’s not practical. For instance, in their first game against KOO Tigers, Rekkles picks Kennen. This is expected, but what’s not expected is Huni picks Hecarim, a champ who isn’t much of a heavy damage threat, especially with how tanky Huni built him. Fnatic seemed to have a hold of this game, but in teamfights things would go terribly. Febiven was on Leblanc, a champion who really does not thrive in close 5v5 interactions because she can be locked down and killed. In a situation like that, Rekkles would’ve needed to be the main damage threat, but he simply couldn’t be. An AD Kennen does not do enough damage, and KOO would start teamfights poorly only to return huge burst onto FNC’s entire team to win the teamfight.
While these issues were a big reason they were unable to reach the finals, Fnatic’s performance up until the semis cannot be ignored. They did not have an easy group by any means; Cloud9’s great first week, Invictus Gaming’s improvement in week 2, and AHQ’s consistently solid performance throughout the group were all tough obstacles. Despite that, Fnatic bodied Invictus Gaming in their first game, slumped for the next 2 games only to come back swinging in the next week. They 3-0’d EDward Gaming with relative ease, despite the very close game 1, and then lost to an impressive KOO Tigers. Overall, Fnatic had a strong performance and deserve their top 4 finish in this tournament. They got farther than most expected at the start of the tournament. Their flaws are things that can be ironed out in time and I have no doubt they’ll come back strong next year.
#7 KT Rolster
KT are difficult to place on this list. They were probably the 3rd or 4th best team in the tournament, but given the underperforming Chinese teams, this was to be expected. What wasn’t expected is how sloppy they were in some parts of groups, and most importantly against KOO, a team they beat in the semifinals of Korea. They played well for most of the tournament, despite a loss to Origen and their unexpected 3-1 defeat at the hands of KOO Tigers. In their wins they were fairly convincing; they basically played the way you’d expect of them. My gripe with them is I feel their star players underperformed. No one expected anything spectacular from Nagne or Arrow, but Ssumday and Piccaboo have been fairly disappointing, particularly Piccaboo. He had played for SKT previously in Korea before going to KT, in which he was hyped as one of the best supports in the world. We expected to see him roam with Score throughout the map, dominating the early game through superior jungle-support synergy. This happened sometimes, but other times they were simply beaten in the early game by teams whose jungle and support roles are much weaker. KT lost the early game to TSM, a team with a infamously weak jungler and a support who hasn’t played well in nearly a year. You can almost forgive them for being beaten by Amazing and Mithy, but even then no one thought Amazing and Mithy were a world class duo before the tournament (and it’s still arguable if they are). Their shotcalling wasn’t the best either, and they were sloppy which led to them taking bad fights. They just looked off their game in this tournament. Losing to SKT in the Korean finals is one thing, but you expect more from them than going down in the semifinals, even if it was to KOO Tigers.
Yet we can’t discount their talent despite their stumbles during the tournament. They were beaten by KOO Tigers, a team who has played well throughout the bracket stage and gave SKT their only loss. Ssumday remains one of the best top laners in the world, despite a weaker performance against Smeb, and Piccaboo remains one of the most talented supports in the world. KT Rolster will have their shot at vengeance against both KOO Tigers and the champions SKT when they return to Korea for the KeSPA Cup.
#8 ahq e-Sports Club
As with Flash Wolves, no one really knew what to expect from AHQ. Scrim rumors were mixed with stories of success and failure, so we just had to wait and see how they did in groups. Well, they were definitely impressive. AHQ took 2nd in their group – a group with the then undefeated Fnatic, the 2nd seed Chinese team Invictus Gaming, and NA’s 3rd place Cloud9. They could have been 1st seed had it not been for Febiven putting on a career performance to bring his team back from the brink of defeat. Unfortunately for them, getting 2nd seed meant they had to face SK Telecom T1 in the quarterfinals. They put up a fight, but ultimately fell to the eventual winners of the event.
The difference between AHQ and FW, and the reason that they aren’t higher on this list, is AHQ have less glaring weaknesses than FW. Not only do AHQ have a very strong top laner in a meta where top lane is very important, but FW’s top laner was expected to be very weak coming into the tournament. AHQ placed 1st in the LMS largely due to Ziv’s dominance. FW also placed in a group with Korea’s KOO Tigers, while AHQ ended up with Cloud9, who no one expected much of, and IG, who showed a rather poor performance in groups.
Despite this, AHQ exceeded expectations. They took Fnatic to a very close game, and they outperformed both NA’s Cloud9 as well as China’s IG. Would they have gone farther if they hadn’t placed against SKT? We’ll never know, but at this point it’s irrelevant. AHQ played well during this tournament and they can be proud to have stood strong against everyone, even in the face of an opponent such as SKT.
#9 paiN Gaming
Brazilian representative paiN Gaming were a big question mark coming into the tournament. They seemed like they could be the strongest wildcard team Worlds has ever had, but we had little to judge them on. As it turned out, paiN delivered, and they won the most games of any wildcard team in all past World Championships. They were able to take 2 games – one against CLG and another vs FW – and made the group more competitive, refusing to go down the way Bangkok Titans did.
I don’t have much to say about paiN’s gameplay. They were often sloppy, and had every issue you would expect from a team expected to be among the worst in the tournament. It was, however, a pleasant surprise to see that they did generally have clean early rotations against CLG and FW, as well as good early objective control. Their creativity in the mid lane with creating or asserting a lead wasn’t great, otherwise they may have done better. Still though, their level of play actually impressed, in my eyes at least. I didn’t have the same “wtf are you doing” reaction to a lot of what they did, as I often would when watching a weaker team.
PaiN showed a good performance overall, and seemed like they might be a playoff-level team in both LCS regions. It’s hard to say if they really played better or worse than expected since we didn’t know what to expect at all, but they were pretty much what we were told they were. They were to be the wildcard team that proved people who claimed Worlds spots for wildcards were a bad idea were wrong, and they did. PaiN were a wildcard team who tied with the #1 NA team in their group, and took games off two of the 3 teams they were grouped with – the only team they didn’t take a game off was KOO, who went all the way to the finals). They had a respectable performance and definitely showed the strength of the Brazilian region.
#10 Bangkok Titans
Bangkok Titans were expected to be the worst team in the tournament hands down… and they were. They were an underdog even in the Wildcard tournament, where they beat the 1st place OCE team, The Chiefs, and then they came to Worlds only to be even bigger underdogs. BKT came into the tournament and were placed in a group with SKT and EDG, 2 teams believed to be the best contenders for the finals, and H2k, the 2nd place European team. They were expected to go 0-6, and they did.
The thing about being a team expected to get destroyed is that it’s very unlikely you’ll disappoint anyone. BKT had a commendable performance; they played a very good game against EDG that could have gone either way. They had a 6k gold lead fairly early and it seemed like EDG were all tapped out, but they came back and were able to beat BKT. This would be disappointing if it were any team other than BKT. A team who should’ve gotten crushed, gone 0-6 and never had a chance nearly beat a team believed to be one of the best in the world. Not only that, but BKT were outmatched in every single lane. EDG has one of the best AD carries and mid laners in history, one of the best and most experienced junglers ever to grace League of Legends, a world class support, and an honestly average top laner (Koro1 was great in Spring, but hasn’t looked the same; AmazingJ was never the same self-sufficient dominant laner Koro1 was in Spring, and was fairly inconsistent). BKT should never have been in the conversation for this entire tournament, and they managed to pull themselves into it. They didn’t underperform, and they even overperformed during their game against EDG. For that, BKT earned themselves a lot of respect.
H2k were placed in a group with what were expected to be 2 of the top contenders to win the whole tournament. H2k were expected to go 2-4, and they did. They had convincing games against BKT, which wouldn’t be an accomplishment really if it weren’t for EDG’s near loss against the same team. H2k’s games were very clean against BKT, whereas EDG had the aforementioned incredibly sloppy game, which was pretty much BKT’s game to lose. H2k also had a fairly close game against EDG. The first ~20 minutes were close, and they were doing well until they over-chased into a terrible teamfight, where they grouped in a choke and were utterly decimated by EDG’s AoE damage.
H2k were also at a disadvantage to begin with because of their weakest link, Loulex. They were in a group with Bengi and Clearlove, possibly the 2 best junglers in the world, and their weakest player by far is their jungler. It showed in their play too; Loulex was thoroughly outclassed by both of them, and H2k were hard-pressed to gain early advantages to the level that they did in the EU LCS.
With that said, there isn’t much else to say about H2k. They were the 3rd best team from Europe, but the other 2 EU representatives played even better than they normally do, whereas H2k played the same way they did in Europe. They would often have a decent early game before being crushed in the mid and late game by a superior team. They weren’t a disappointment, nor did they overperform, but at least they can say they didn’t lose to a wildcard team (looking at you CLG and FW).
#12 Team SoloMid
Many expected TSM to go 0-6 in their group, and for good reason. They were disappointing in the NA Finals, getting 3-0’d by CLG in a fairly one-sided series. They also placed in the most stacked of all the groups, or so we thought. As it turned out, LGD Gaming were a flop, and TSM were able to pick up a win against them. But that was TSM’s only win. LGD were able to take the 2nd game, whereas TSM were beaten 2-0 by both Origen and KT Rolster.
With their 1-5 record in mind, TSM didn’t play terribly. Well, let me back up a bit: they had a lot of issues, but it wasn’t all bad. TSM were able to take early leads in some of their games, but the problem was always keeping the lead when the mid and late game rolled around. This isn’t even a new issue; TSM’s shotcalling has been a huge topic of criticism, and for good reason, but they haven’t really made improvements where they mattered most. They would consistently throw leads through poor engagements and teamfights.
Compared to the rest of their group teams, TSM had the weakest roster by far. They had one strong, reliable player in Bjergsen. Lustboy hasn’t been good since Summer 2014, while WildTurtle and Dyrus haven’t been world class for years. As for Santorin, he was hardly ever considered one of the best junglers in North America, a region that lacks jungle talent, let alone in the entire world. LGD have players who are among the best in the world in every role except the jungle, and even then I can’t in good conscience say TBQ, a very weak jungler by all standards, is worse than Santorin. KT Rolster and Origen also both have fairly solid rosters, with the exception maybe being SoAZ at times (the 0/9/3 Kennen times). This TSM were definitely going to lose in any of the groups, but Group D was probably the worst one for them to be in considering the amount of raw talent in the other teams. The disappointment with TSM is that they had so many opportunities to win, and they fell flat. Whether it was communication issues, bad decision making, or the countless other problems this TSM roster has, their lack of being able to close out games makes them a slight disappointment.
#13 Invictus Gaming
We’re all the way down to #13, and we’ve finally reached the first Chinese team on this list. Invictus Gaming were mostly expected to make it out of Group B, either in 1st or 2nd seed. Instead, they ended up at the bottom of the group, tied with Cloud9. IG were able to take a game each from Cloud9 and AHQ, but that’s it. They got smashed in both games against Fnatic, and were simply not the team we saw in the LPL Playoffs. I said before that I thought KT Rolster’s star players underperformed; that’s nothing compared to the level of disappointment I felt watching KaKAO play. In their first game against Fnatic, KaKAO went 0/0/0 and never made anything happen for his team, even against a jungler who was never dominant in his region. This guy was considered one of the best junglers in the world, yet he spent most of the group stage games playing FarmVille, not making plays and just waiting for his team to lose. KaKAO simply did not deliver in any way, shape, or form.
At Worlds, their ADC Kid looked god-awful. I’m not even referring to his name when I say kid: this tournament, he may as well have been some random kid picked from the crowd to go play on the biggest stage competitive League of Legends has to offer. That sounds harsh, but you had to watch the games to see that how out of place he looked, especially in a tournament that had some very talented AD carries. The rest of IG’s roster were no exception; Zzitai was expected to be one of the better top laners by many LPL experts, but he was nothing more than average in their games. Kitties was average in the LPL and was pretty much the same at Worlds, and Rookie was probably the 2nd biggest disappointment behind KaKAO. That’s not to say Rookie played terribly, which he didn’t; he had the lowest deaths of all the starting mid laners and the 3rd highest CS per minute. The problem is that he was hyped as one of the best mid laners in the world, possibly even the best. When you’re expected to be the best at your role, failing in groups is likely going to hurt
The one thing saving China from having all 3 teams of their teams at the very bottom of these rankings is IG’s inconsistency. They sometimes play very well and look world class, and other times they just don’t show up. Because of that, their bad performance isn’t unbelievable, but it is still a big let-down.
#14 Counter Logic Gaming
CLG attended and won their first NA LCS Finals in very dominant fashion, and went into worlds with a lot of hype. From the very first day, they were nothing short of disappointing. They took a rather unfulfilling victory vs Flash Wolves in a game they had no business winning, and another win in a convincing game against paiN. CLG got one of, if not the single weakest group in the tournament and still went 2-4.
Some of CLG’s players performed badly, even for their own standards. The player believed to be CLG’s weakest, Xmithie, wasn’t bad statistically; he was in the middle of the pack in most stats, except Kill Participation which he was 3rd of all the junglers in the tournament. He was not the weak point of this team like he used to be, instead it was a combination of the entire team falling apart that caused them to fall to being tied for last in the group. Doublelift didn’t play as well as he did during NA Playoffs, nor did any of the rest of the team really. Zion wasn’t the same dominant top laner that showed up in the NA finals. Aphromoo didn’t reach the great heights we’ve seen him reach before in terms of mechanical skill, but to be fair I don’t think he even did that at all during Summer.
A problem CLG had was pretty much the same problem we saw with C9: they had one strategy. Doublelift played Tristana in 4 of 6 games, and they would try to take down the 3 outer turrets before the enemy team. The issue with this was after they did that, they had no idea what to do. Their teamfighting has always been mediocre, and they were not good at closing out games. These combined made it very difficult for them to pick up any wins after the first week (both their wins were their two first games of the tournament) and they didn’t put up much of a fight.
CLG’s impressive run through the Summer Playoffs gave many people high expectations for their first World Championship in years. Unfortunately, they were unable to deliver, and they joined their fellow NA brethren in falling out of the tournament during the group stages,
#15 LGD Gaming
One of the biggest surprises of this tournament came out of Group D, where the LPL champions LGD Gaming failed to make it out of the group. LGD were hyped since their near-victory in LPL Spring as one of the elite teams in China, and subsequently the world. They had an impressive run through LPL playoffs, winning two 3-1 series before a 3-0 against EDG, then winning a close 3-2 in the finals. They were supposed to be a serious contender for the title. Instead, they went 0-4 in their first four games before getting a win each from Origen and TSM.
LGD had so much going for them coming into the tournament. They, like EDG, had one of the most stacked rosters in the tournament. Imp has looked like the best ADC in the world during the Summer season, and was ranked as 2nd best player at Worlds, as well as GODV, who most experts ranked as one of the three best mid laners in the world. LGD’s top and support, Acorn and Pyl, were also considered among the best in the world at their respective roles. The one weak point this roster had was TBQ, who was definitely a liability if I ever saw one. He had the single lowest kill participation of any jungler at Worlds, and the 2nd lowest KDA, only behind BKT’s jungler. TBQ isn’t a world class jungler, but even then this team should be able to do so much better.
LGD did manage to win two games at the end, but they were taken from Origen and TSM. Origen was playing well, and I would say that one was fully earned, but TSM was never supposed to even be a challenger in this group. TSM got one win in groups, and it was from LGD. Even after bringing in Flame, LGD were still worse than expected, but they were definitely better. We can’t really blame this on the team as there probably isn’t any way for them to have know they’d do better with Flame than Acorn, who was one of the most versatile and reliable top laners in the world for the past year. The only players I feel played up to their normal standards were Imp and Pyl. Imp had games where he really tried to carry but his team were just too heavy, and Pyl did have some weak games, but he also had great games, but only on Janna and Tahm Kench.
One of the problems LGD had that the other Chinese teams seemed to share was their terrible pick and bans phase. Some of them were just terrible. In their first game against KT Rolster, they picked a full AD team against a Malphite, then picked poke and allowed KT to get the perfect Juggermaw composition and did not counter with engage. LGD gave KT the perfect composition and picked everything they shouldn’t have against it. This is one example, but their drafts in general were poor and they didn’t seem to have a good read on the meta. Some of this was blamed on the departure of LGD’s coach Chris, but in an article written by Kelsey Moser their new coach Firefox talks about how he was always “responsible for preparing most of the team’s draft strategies, even when Chris was their Head Coach“. This rules out even that explanation, so how did it all go so wrong? LGD simply did not have a good read on their drafts coming into the tournament.
#16 EDward Gaming
EDG were one of the most hyped teams in the tournament. They had one of the most stacked rosters in the tournament – possibly the single strongest roster of individual players in the world – and were supposed to be the last hope for China after the other 2 teams exited the tournament in embarrassing fashion; EDG instead followed right behind them after a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Fnatic.
The reason EDG is below LGD is that I don’t understand how EDG failed so badly. LGD had coaching issues at least, which was a contributing factor of their terrible performance, but what is EDG’s excuse? Sure they didn’t have the best performance in Playoffs, but in Regionals they took revenge on IG and seemed like they were back to form. Chinese experts continued to predict games in favor of EDG, most notably their series against Fnatic. EDG looked like they were still a strong contender for the finals. They had a stacked roster, one of the best coaches in LoL, and the momentum of their Regional Finals victory. While they were able to make it out of groups, it was mainly because the only strong team in their group was SKT. H2k were never a phenomenal team even in the EU Playoffs, and nothing was ever expected of Bangkok Titans. EDG were only ever going to get 2nd place in this group, and they did, but that was it for them. Game 1 against Fnatic was competitive, but the rest were entirely Fnatic’s games. They brought a premature end to the World Championship run of a team that has been so dominant in 2015.
It was EDG’s match against BKT that hinted toward their impending exit in the quarterfinals. In their first group stage game, EDG pretty much smashed BKT with no contest. The 2nd game, however, was awful for EDG. They were down about 6k gold and seemed completely out of the game. It was BKT’s game to lose, and they did, but not before thoroughly embarrassing EDG. It was possible that after switching AmazingJ for Koro1 that EDG would start to play better, but it didn’t happen. They were pretty much the same team throughout the tournament, and both AmazingJ and Koro1 had weak performances. You could’ve argued that the BKT game was a single fluke, but when you look their international rivals SKT, there were no flukes. SKT never slipped up to the extent EDG did.
EDG were, in my opinion, the biggest disappointment in this tournament. They won the Mid-Season Invitational over SKT in a close series, and were expected to be an incredibly strong team during this tournament. They even got into a group with SKT, which meant they only had to beat the other 2 teams and they would not have to meet SKT until the finals. They had the path to the finals paved for them, they just had to walk it. Unfortunately, they only made it a few steps before falling, and thus ended the previously incredible EDG’s 2015 season.
I changed these rankings around a lot as I considered and reconsidered the teams, and none of these are really set in stone in my mind. Rankings are strange in that every team’s placement is effected by another team’s, so if there’s just a few teams that are debatable, it can make the whole thing much more complicated, especially when there are this many teams to rank. Obviously this is a very opinionated ranking, so any suggestions and arguments for why you might think a team should be higher or lower are very welcome.
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