This article is part of our Additional Recaps series.
When the first day of the League of Legends 2017 World Championship
group stages kicked off last night, everyone had a pretty good idea of
what to expect. The two Korean teams, Longzhu Gaming and SKT
Telecom T1, were going to smash their opposite numbers, while teams
like Royal Never Give Up and Fnatic would make short work of their
minor region opponents. All eyes were on the two only “real” matchups
of the night, Samsung versus G2 Esports, and ahq e-Sports Club
against EDward Gaming.
For much of the night, all suspicions seemed confirmed. Both of the
Korean teams triumphed against their hapless North American foes,
while 1907 Fenerbahce fell before the might of Royal Never Give Up,
though the latter team surprised everyone when they abandoned their
traditional early game style in favor of a late game Ardent Censor-centric
composition. Samsung obliterated G2 Esports, a fact that when
combined with Royal’s awkward game against Fenerbahce lent much
legitimacy to Samsung’s claim that they would once again fight their way
to the finals.
Two games, however, did not go as planned. The first at least had the
decency to defy expectations without breaking suspension of disbelief,
as ahq pulled off an upset win against the regional heroes EDward
Gaming at the end of a grueling 55-minute game -- an upset that was
unexpected, to be sure, but still sane.
The other upset, however, was nothing of the sort. The Gigabyte
Marines spit all over the “established metagame” when they faced off
against Fnatic, and the result was easily the most exhilarating game of
League of Legends to ever grace Worlds. The game featured a lane
swap, an artifact of a meta long thought dead, 12 kills in the first 10
minutes of gameplay, and a Nocturne that managed to power level to
level 6 in a unimaginable 5 minutes of game time. One could hardly
blame Fnatic for falling before what was, frankly, one of the most
unexpected and creative gameplans ever executed in a game of
professional League of Legends history that hearkened back to GSG’s
legendary ARAM strategy. Any fan of professional play would be doing
themselves a disservice were they to not go back and review this game.
If an unexpected and unprecedented strategy like this has already
succeeded on the first day of the tournament then there can be no doubt
that 2017 is going to have a Worlds like no other, especially since the
Head Coach of the Gigabyte Marines reportedly claimed that when his
team faces off against Longzhu Gaming they will deploy a strategy
“unlike anything ever seen in League of Legends.” Only time will tell
what other delights await ardent fans of League of Legends, as you can
be sure of one thing: if the Marines start finding success with their
unorthodox strategies, it won’t be long before the entire tournament
transforms into a cheese-tasting competition like no other.