The Season 5 Worlds group draw is this weekend and fans from around the world are all wondering the same thing, who will their favourite players have to overcome to reach the knockout stages in London’s Wembley Arena.
Since its induction the tournament’s prize pool has gone from a mere $99,500 to an impressive $2,130,000 (as of last year). The initial World Championship was won by Fnatic, as the prize money has gone up, the success of western teams has diminished. Last year saw only two western teams, North American powerhouses Team Solo Mid and Cloud9, progress out of the group stage only to be convincingly beaten (3-1) by Samsung White and Blue respectively. Not a single european team progressed out of the group stages last year, something which hadn’t happened in the history of the tournament.
I decided to look at the best case scenario for as many western teams as possible to progress out of the group stage. Here’s what I came up with.
Group A – Necessary Sacrifice
Teams: Fnatic, Invictus Gaming, KOO Tigers, Cloud 9
Going through: Fnatic, Invictus Gaming
Explanation: When writing an article on how to get the most western teams through groups it may come as a surprise that I put Cloud 9 in such a difficult group, the reasoning for this is I don’t see any scenario in which they will make in to the knockout stage. Putting C9 along with 3 other strong teams eliminates one western teams and two strong asian teams who would pose problems to the likes of CLG, Origen etc.
C9 are effectively a free win in this group, I would fully expect them to go 0-6 leaving Fnatic the challenge of taking games from iG and KOO. I believe Fnatic is the strongest team in this group and would take the #1 seed, KOO have shown a few examples over the year, such as IEM Katowice, of choking at important moments and I think Fnatic and iG’s experience under pressure would be enough to see them through the group.
Result: 1. FNC 2. iG 3. KOO 4. C9
Group B – The Luck of the Draw
Teams: Counter Logic Gaming, H2k, Flash Wolves, Bangkok Titans
Going through: Counter Logic Gaming, H2k
Explanation: This is the only group in which two western teams can progress. In theory this group is the weakest possible group that could arise in this year’s tournament. BKT are, as with most wildcard teams going into the tournament, expected to finish the group stage without winning a game. This guarantees that either CLG or H2k will take a spot in the quarter finals, for both to qualify they simply have to beat out Flash Wolves in a head to head. Although LMS as a region has showed extreme improvement over the last year, with AHQ having an impressive performance at MSI and FW taking unexpected games from TSM and SK at IEM Katowice, I still believe at their best both CLG and H2k can beat them.
Result: 1. CLG 2. H2k 3. FW 4. BKT
Group C – The Group of Death
Team: SK Telecom, Edward Gaming, ahq e-Sports Club, Origen
Going through: SK Telecom, Edward Gaming
Explanation: Although I think Origen is the 2nd best EU team heading into the World Championship, this is a group in which they have very little chance to progress. Origen were affected heavily by missing the Spring Split and taking the 3rd seed despite ending 2nd in the EU LCS playoffs. There are very few groups, just as is the case with Cloud 9, that I can see them progressing through. The logic behind putting them in the group of death is that is frees up easier groups for the other western teams with better seeds. I think SKT will win the group and although Origen has the potential to take a game or two against the two powerhouses of this group, as well as beat out AHQ, I don’t believe they can sustain a level of play high enough to escape this group.
Result: 1. SKT 2. EDG 3. OG 4. AHQ
Group D – The Best of the Rest
Teams: LGD, KT Rolster, Team Solo Mid, paiN Gaming
Going through: LGD, KT Rolster
Explanation: Keeping LGD and KT in the same group, as well as SKT and EDG, was the only way I could envisage more than two western teams advancing to the quarter finals in Wembley. This group is the most one sided in the tournament with the top two teams having very little chance of dropping a game, other than to each other. Although TSM should take both games over paiN they should also lose all 4 to LGD, my pick to win the tournament, and KT Rolster.
Result: 1. LGD 2. KT 3. TSM 4. paiN