This article is part of our LoL Previews series.
We wait all year for the World Championships and as fast as SK Telecom T1 Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok flashing away from a Rek’sai ultimate, Week 1 of the 2017 World Championships has come and gone. There’s been plenty of exciting moments, but let’s take a look back at a few surprises and disappointments during the opening week of the group stages.
Misfits: This has been one of the biggest surprises of Week 1. After a stellar Summer Split culminating in a second place finish in Europe, Misfits earned their way to the organization’s first World Championships appearance in their first year in the LCS. While it was a fine story making the tournament, not much was expected out of this team. After excellent performances during the group stages, including a near perfect win over Flash Wolves and an equally impressive win over TSM, Misfits find themselves in a three way tie for first place in Group D. Led by carries Steven “Hans sama” Liv and Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, it’ll be interesting to see who eventually earns a spot for the playoff portion of the bracket, but for now Misfits have put teams on notice after excellent Week 1 play.
Gigabyte Marines: Sure they’ve only won one game and are unlikely to reach the quarterfinals, but every time this team takes the Rift something surprising happens. Their stunning strategy to lane swap in their opening game of the tournament helped upset Fnatic, while picking Mordekaiser and trying to double jungle exploded into an absolute dumpster fire of a loss to Longzhu Gaming. They probably aren’t a good team, but as far as surprising? Yeah, they’ve turned into must-see TV. It’s probably good we won’t get to watch them in any best-of-series, as the shock factor likely wouldn’t work across multiple games, especially against smarter competition, but in best-of-ones they may be able to sneak out another win in the group stages.
Royal Never Give Up’s dominance: While it’s not necessarily that surprising to see RNG lead Group C with a 3-0 record, their dominance has been impressive to say the least. RNG crushed the competition in Week 1 and starlets Shi “Ming” Senming (33.0 KDA), Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao (30 KDA), and superstar AD Carry Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao, who leads the tournament with 18 kills, all sit atop the KDA leaderboard heading into Week 2. RNG look like one of the legitimate threats to fight for the Summoner’s Cup heading into Week 2.
EDward Gaming and Clearlove: Simply put, when you come in as a major region’s No. 1 seed, an 0-3 start has to be a disappointment. In truth, the record probably looks worse, as EDG lost a close game against ahq E-Sports Club before throwing away a huge early game lead against SKT in Game 2, and then got dominated by Cloud9 in the final game of the opening week. Expect some regression to the mean in Week 2, but it’s going to be awfully tough to qualify out of this group. Ming “Clearlove” Kai’s poor Worlds performances continues, and in front of his hometown fans, it’ll sting just that much more if EDG fail to reach the knockout round.
EU LCS teams not named Misfits: Both G2 and Fnatic have been awful so far this tournament with a 1-5 record between them. Sure, not much may have been expected out of Fnatic, but after a 1-2 week in Group C where their only win came against wild card region team 1907 Fenerbahçe, G2 have also disappointed after one week. It seems fairly clear that the EU LCS is a rather poor training ground for Worlds preparation as the top teams don’t see much competition in their home league during the regular season. As it stands, it’d be a major shock to see either team qualify for the quarterfinals. Paul “sOAZ” Boyer is the most disappointing of the European players, as he sits with an awful 2/16/6 KDA heading into Week 2. Expect Fnatic to make major changes during the offseason.
Flash Wolves: Flash Wolves 0-3 week comes as a pretty big shock. Qualifying for the tournament as the League of Legends Master Series’ (LMS) first seed, Flash Wolves have disappointed pundits mightily by not winning a single game in Week 1. After impressing internationally for years, much was expected out of the team placed in the only group without a Korean team. It’s funny to say, but as the one team that consistently takes out SKT in group stages, maybe having no Korean team in their group actually hurts Flash Wolves. Expect them to bounce back somewhat, but it’s a tough task to qualify for the knockout stages after their terrible start.
Svenskeren: After playing quite well for Team SoloMid at the 2016 World Championships, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen’s paltry 0/10/15 KDA after Week 1 leaves a lot to be desired. The good news is that TSM sits at 2-1 heading into Week 2, but with still everything on the line in terms of bracket play, Svenskeren will need to step up his play to ensure TSM reach the knockout stages.