Throughout the history of Worlds, there has always been a group of death. Filled with teams that could make it out of other groups, it puts pressure on the teams to rapidly improve. Failure to climb faster than your opponents leads to strong teams and tournament favorites being eliminated before they even get a chance to play a best of five.
For this year, that group is Group C. It holds a team from every major region and who will make it out is anyone’s guess. On one hand you must beat the strongest teams in the world, but on the other hand, they have to play the same teams. In a group like this each individual game matters less, but having a consistent showing is key. Only if a team plays on form game after game will they have any hope of escaping the clutches of the group of death.
SK Telecom T1 (“SKT”)
Struggles in the Summer split plagued this team. A dominant Spring split finish left fans hopeful that the team would only continue to improve but they fell off a cliff after their MSI run. But failure is not an option for this historic dynasty. They clawed their way back playoff contention and ran through the entire Korean playoffs with dominant performances. Finally, they were up against Griffin, a team they crushed in Spring split. Nothing had changed in the matchup, SKT dominated with a 3-1 victory and took the Korean first seed.
SKT is a tournament favorite. Taking G2 to five games at MSI, this team has shown international strength this year. To build the hype of a potential rematch even more, this organization has gotten better at Worlds every year it has attended. The worst World’s performance this team has ever brought was second place. Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok is back to bring the title to Korea, and he’s brought Kim "Clid" Tae-min and General Park "Teddy" Jin-seong with him. Each of these players is easily on of the best in the world at their role, but together they bring game winning plays from all over the map.
Weakness in this team will be found in the top and support roles. Kim "Khan" Dong-ha was considered the best top laner and player in the world in 2017. Unfortunately, as soon as he hit the international stage, he quickly lost that title. He will need to keep his aggression in check to keep himself from throwing games. Since MSI, the team has replaced Cho "Mata" Se-hyeong with Lee "Effort" Sang-ho. While the change led to playoff contention in the regular season, this will be the first time Effort has been to the international stage. If all of their players play to form, SKT should dominate the group and challenge for the title. However, the group of death is merciless. If Khan pushes too hard or Effort cracks under the pressure, they’ll be eliminated within the first games of the tournament.
Playing catch-up to G2 all split has pushed FNC past their previous limitations. While they were decidedly behind G2, being beaten in two back-to-back best of fives, they have steadily improved all year. Crushing Splyce with a 3-0, the team qualified as the LEC's second seed. This team is hungry to prove they don’t need Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winthers to replicate their 2018 World performance.
This team doesn’t play through any specific lane, but they play through specific picks. Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau's Aatrox and Jax are strong enough to carry games by themselves. Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek brings to the stage his AD Twisted Fate has only lost once. He’s shown FNC's ability to raise mid lane talent and has solidified himself as a legitimate threat on the team. If opposing teams don’t do their homework and leave any of these picks open then FNC is certain to take them and leverage them into an easy win. What’s even more frightening is that they’ve had time to boot camp and practice new picks. If they bring more champions up to this level then FNC will be one of the most dominant teams in the tournament.
Trouble for this team starts when those picks are banned. While they’re never going to drop games against worse teams, there is a sizeable difference between Bwipo on Jax and Bwipo on Ornn. Additionally, their support player Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov has shown a habit of randomly dying. He’s constantly pushing forward aggressively and if he isn’t playing perfectly, he’ll lose his team control of the game. FNC should be competitive in this group and any more signature champions could mean success in the Knockout Stage.
Royal Never Give Up (“RNG”)
Finishing their playoff run with a 3-1 loss against Fun Plus Phoenix, RNG qualified as China's second seed. They’ve kept the same strategy for years; they’re going to forget their solo laners are strong players and dump all of their resources into Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao. With the strength of their opposition, RNG will be truly defining if a solo carry is still viable.
Uzi has been widely considered the best ADC in the world for years. He plays extremely aggressively in the laning phase, challenging his opposition for every minion. When mid-game comes, he begins to take jungle camps and farm from other lanes, taking as much gold as possible. Funnel compositions have been nerfed but RNG brings the modern version of the strategy.
While Uzi has been the best, times have changed. Too many resources on one player is seen as a huge setback to a team. Luka “Perkz” Perković has taken the title of best ADC in the eyes of many analysts and casters. Flexible picks and low economy play is highly valued in the bottom lane at the moment. Success for RNG in this group will either come from a diversification of their play, or through the sheer power of Uzi. Either way, if they make it out then it will have huge implications for the rest of the tournament.
Clutch Gaming (“CG”)
Rounding out the group, CG comes in as North America's third seed. Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon is back on the world stage and, for the first time ever, he’s made it with NA. Coming in through play-ins, this team is warmed up and ready to upset teams in the beginning.
Sun "Cody" "Cody Sun" Yu adds depth to the team that Huni teams have lacked in the past. He’s arguably the second-best ADC from NA and he’s proven himself as solid late-game insurance. CG gains its leads through, with aggressive play from Huni, Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo and Tanner "Damonte" Damonte. Teamfighting also brings the team easy leads with excellent vision control and position leading to flanks that can turn a certain loss to an easy win in an instant.
Despite being their strength, their aggressiveness is also their weakness. Huni has been known for his hyper-aggressive teams for years, and that means people know what to expect. Questions also surround Damonte, whether he will be able to stand against the best mid laners in the world or if he’ll fall like other NA mids. Map assignments are also a weak point with the team often struggling to play side lanes well. If they manage to make it out of the group then fans should be ready; the rest of Worlds will be broadcast in Tanner time.
Worlds Broadcast Information
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