Group A had without a doubt the biggest upsets in League of Legends history. Not only did a wild card team make it out of groups for the first time in the history of Worlds, but they dominated most of their group opponents too.
Nobody would have expected this group to be as competitive as it was. Every team in this group had a performance that no one thought was possible. By the end of the fifth day, almost every power ranking and pick’em challenge was thrown out the window. This group showed the world that just about any team can make it to the quarterfinals.
First Place: ROX Tigers
Match Score: 5-2
For the team projected to win the whole tournament, the ROX Tigers had a very disappointing performance in the group stage. The ROX Tigers came into this tournament without any semblance of how to play the early game. They gave up first blood in all but their final two games in Group A. Every other team in Group A was able to exploit their early game weakness, resulting in ROX having a major gold deficit by 20 minutes in almost every one of their games. For someone who was nicknamed the first blood king in Korea, Han “Peanut” Wang-ho did not seem like the same player who won the LCK finals just over a month ago.
The ROX Tigers salvaged most of their games through their outstanding team fighting, and repeatedly stealing Baron from the other teams. The Tigers played off the many sporadic Baron attempts the other teams made, and they were able to steal most Barons. It is important to note that while almost every other Rox Tigers member had an uncharacteristic performance, their AD Carry Kim “PraY” Jong-in played phenomenally in almost every game. PraY’s spacing in relation to his damage output in team fights was arguably the best out of all the AD Carries in the tournament.
Coming into the quarterfinals, the ROX Tigers need to fix their early game. If they leave their play the way it is and get matched against someone like Team SoloMid, a team known for easily converting their early game leads into match wins, the ROX Tigers could possibly exit the tournament in the quarterfinals.
Second Place: Albus NoX Luna
Match Score: 4-3
For this CIS region team, the group stage was their Cinderella story. Coming into this tournament with most predicting ANX not to win a single game, ANX were the complete underdogs, thus making their wins against every other team in their group so incredible.
At the end of the first week, many people still discounted ANX, saying that they could only win through cheese picks or plays. ANX then proceeded to prove all those people wrong by beating both Counter Logic Gaming and the ROX Tigers in the second week with very conventional picks. ANX proved that they had a strong early game, and that once they got a lead, they could hold onto it. ANX would play a slower mid to late game to make sure that they didn’t throw away their lead.
ANX’s very aggressive early game, and very creative plays (like Vladimir almost soloing Elder Dragon) was very reminiscent of the legendary Russian team, Moscow 5. In their final game against G2, though, it was revealed that ANX has a really hard time playing from behind, especially when the enemy pushes the map in a 1 – 3 – 1 formation.
In addition to making history by being the first wild card team to make it out of the group stage, ANX made almost everybody a fan of their team. In every one of their post-game interviews, ANX’s members, but especially their support Kirill “Likkrit” Malofeyev, would make heartfelt statements. At this point, it doesn’t matter how ANX finishes this tournament, they have already made history and created many new fans.
Third Place: Counter Logic Gaming
Match Score: 3-3
This group stage exit is very heartbreaking for North America’s Counter Logic Gaming. After finishing the first week with a very dominating victory over the ROX Tigers, CLG was poised to make it into the quarterfinals. But in the second week when other teams started banning Aurelion Sol and Vladimir, CLG looked much weaker. Without those two champions, Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun seemed to have a lot less of an impact on games.
Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black, CLG’s support and captain also seemed to have a very lackluster performance on ranged supports. Aphromoo’s only standout performances in the group stage came from melee supports, such as Alistar and Braum. In almost every one of their losses, all of CLG’s lanes were behind their counterparts. After this very disappointing Worlds finish, it seems possible that CLG will make roster changes coming into season seven.
Fourth Place: G2 Esports
Match Score: 1-5
G2’s horrible performance in the group stage came out of nowhere for everybody. For a team most people predicted to make it into the quarterfinals, G2’s single win finish at Worlds was shocking. With 2015 LGD-esque performance, most people are wondering how the back-to-back EU LCS champions could do so poorly.
In all of their games in the group stage, G2 lived or died by how their jungler, Kim “Trick” Gang-yun, performed. If Trick did not crush the early game, G2 would just crumble and die. Even when Trick would have a spectacular early game, G2 would always manage to throw away the game. G2 looked disjointed and uncoordinated throughout the group stage, and their bot lane, who was considered the best in the west, performed very poorly in the laning phase.
With a combined match score of 3-18 in both international events they played this year, it has become apparent that G2 has a problem playing internationally. Whether it has to do with nerves or the overwhelming pressure from their region, G2’s players have a mental block they cannot overcome when playing internationally. G2 as an organization need to invest into finding a solution for this mental block, or else G2’s horrible international performances will continue to exist.
What was your favorite moment from Group A at Worlds? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.
Photos courtesy of LoL Esports
Article by Malcolm Abbas. Follow him on twitter @SmashhLoL.