The Dark Horses of Groups
More often than not, the group stages of World Championships serve as confirmation of what most people have expected. The esteemed teams make it through, while the minnows simply enjoy the opportunity to compete against top-class opposition.
However, the beauty of the group stages is that they can provide delightful upsets. Who can forget the infamous victory of Kabuum over Alliance, which sent the European outfit crashing out of the group stages.
The Season 5 LoL World Championship has been touted as one of the most competitive iterations of the event since its conception. There are at least three genuine title-contenders in SKT, EDG and LGD, yet there are a plethora of teams who on their day could give all three of those outfits a run for their money.
However, perhaps the most significant reason for these World Championships being so exciting is the fact that the 'lesser' teams appear to be much more competitive than in previous seasons. This article will highlight three teams that could cause a surprise in their respective groups.
1. paiN Gaming
paiN gaming are the pride of Brazilian League of Legends. There has never been as much hype surrounding a wildcard team as has been evident in a build up to this event. Led by perhaps the best player in Brazil - Kami - this outfit is an avalanche of emotion and passion waiting to step up on the biggest stage.
The hype surrounding paiN is amplified by the fact that they have perhaps the best possible group they could hope for. If they were in any of the other groups, the best they could hope for would be a victory or two. However, they are in a group that contains a CLG outfit that is unstable due to switching between junglers in the build up to the event, and a Flash Wolves team that fails to appear particularly daunting. While the most likely result for paiN is 4th place, there is certainly an opportunity for them to step up and shock the world.
Much of the discussion around Group C has toyed between the ideas of Fnatic and Invictus Gaming winning the group. Much less attention has been paid to the idea that ahq could squeeze into the quarter finals ahead of either of the aforementioned outfits.
Ahq stepped up at MSI, beating both TSM and, crucially, Fnatic in the group stages. So much hype has been placed upon this Fnatic roster that it is easy to forget that they are the ones who have faired worse when these line-ups have met in the past.
Of course, the Fnatic side that lost to AHQ has since replaced its Steelback with Rekkles, and has looked significantly stronger ever since. However, the ability of ahq to beat both Fnatic and TSM at MSI shows that ahq are at the very least at a similar level to the top western outfits. It is by no means a foregone conclusion that Fnatic will beat ahq, and given that Fnatic vs Invictus is at the very least debatable as a match-up, there is a good chance that ahq can give Invictus a run for their money as well.
The World Championships start in just a few days, and all questions will be answered then. Until then, we can only salivate at the prospect of the potential upsets that will take place.
Pictures courtesy of lolesports.com
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