With the play-ins coming to a close, the main stage groups have been finalized. The final additions to the groups determine whether it will be a cakewalk for the previously selected teams or a struggle to make it out. Group A's latest has made the group more open for the other teams. It also increases the value of each individual game between the top three. Barring any upsets from Hong Kong Attitude, each of the top teams will only have four games to prove their worth and advance to the Knockout Stage of the tournament.
G2 Esports (“G2”)
G2 qualified for Worlds early in the Summer Split due to their year-round dominance of the LEC. While they were guaranteed at least the 3rd seed, the team pushed forward in the Summer Playoffs to secure the first seed. The team won the finals with a close 3-2 series against Fnatic. Unfortunately for their opponent, G2's top laner Martin “Wunder” Nordahl Hansen later revealed they were saving picks for the World stage.
Even with what they’ve shown, G2 is considered the tournament favorite by many. Their hidden picks will only increase their likelihood of victory. Solo lane Pyke came from them at MSI, and nobody can predict what they have in store for the World stage. The team has no glaring weakness, holding the best of Europe in every position. Each of their players is reportedly able to play every champion in the game and they’ve done their best to prove it. Opposing teams should look out for their drafts due to many of their signature picks being capable of flexing to three or four positions.
Although every player has shown excellence, their mid-laner Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winthers has shown inconsistency. As recently as the LEC Finals, Caps has shown that his performance on stage is a coinflip. Additionally, G2's unique playstyle revolves around constant rotations and opens them up to being picked off. Regardless, viewers should expect a dominant Group Stage performance and a deep run into the tournament from this team.
Qualifying through back-to-back first place regular season finishes, GRF is the second seed from Korea. Despite dominating the most competitive region in the world, many analysts predict them to flop. SK Telecom T1 crushed the in the finals both splits and its to GRF being labeled as a team of chokers. To make matters worse, the head coach that has led them since their academy performance has been kicked right before the tournament start.
Self-sufficiency is the name of the game for GRF's laners. This leaves their jungler, considered the best almost unanimously, Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong to play his unique strategy. He takes resources across the map with brilliant pathing and aggressive invades. Mid laner Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon also strikes fear into his opponents. He held a 100 KDA at the beginning of the year and has shown his ability to 2v1 the opponent mid-jungle more than once.
Rookie player Choi "Doran" Hyeon-joon is likely to be a weak point for the team. World-class top laners Wunder and Eric “Licorice” Ritchie are likely to find advantages against him. Preparations must be made by GRF to account for this discrepancy by pushing a fast-paced game to keep Doran out of reach. Regular season dominance may hint towards a strong Group Stage, but constant choking from the team points towards a disappointing showing from the team.
North America's annual last hope, C9's Group Stage blessing will be put to the test. Amazingly, C9 made it out of a group with Royal Never Give Up and Samsung Galaxy last year. But somehow they’ll have to perform an even larger miracle to make it out here. They qualified to Worlds through points, taking a 3rd and 2nd place finish in Spring and Summer, respectively. Each time they were eliminated, they took the series to five games, showing their strength but being unable to close.
Group A is almost impossible for their playstyle; they use their mid-jungle synergy to translate advantages across the map. Every other team in the group uses the same strategy, so it comes down to the players. Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer has proven himself one of the best mid laners in North America. As of now, he’s still unproven on the international stage though. Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, the North American MVP, will have to keep his previous form for the team to have a chance of victory.
The biggest fear for fans should be the bottom lane. Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi has found international success in the past, but his recent domestic performance has been a new low. Despite this, his proven ability to step it up on the Worlds stage should give fans hope. If C9 manages to make it out of this group in a convincing fashion, then they will have surpassed all expectations, and nobody will know their limits.
Hong Kong Attitude (“HKA”)
HKA qualified as the third seed for the LMS and made it through the play-ins, beating Isurus Gaming 3-1. They showed their ability to win a series against a weaker team in the play-ins, but they also showed weaknesses. Mid laner Chen "M1ssion" Hsiao-Hsien and top laner Chen "3z" Han are the primary carries for the team. Unfortunately, in this series they were both solo killed and showed some weaknesses.
There’s little hope for this team to take a single game off their competition. This is mainly because every other team outclasses them in individual talent. Regardless, their strength moving forward will come from their flexibility. Although they aren’t G2 by any means, they’ve shown their willingness to flex picks and play varied strategies. Making it out of groups is nigh impossible. But, if they manage to upset any of the teams and avoid a 0-6 record, they’ll have done their fans proud, as well as thoroughly shaken up the group standings.
Worlds Broadcast Information
Watch the 2019 World Championships, with Group A starting October 13th, here at ESTNN TV. For more information on the tournament, teams, standings, and players, visit www.lolesports.com. Stay tuned here at ESTNN and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more League of Legends news, articles, opinions and more.