League of Legends Worlds 2016: Groups Preview

It’s been a good 4-5 weeks since the best teams in the world flocked to Korea to boot camp and test themselves in the hyperbolic time chamber that is Korean solo q, but the wait for worlds is nearly up. In just a mere few days we will see the best players from around the world compete for the chance to become League of Legend season 6 world champions. But first of all, team must make it out of the hellish group stages. Let’s take a look at how I think each region will do in their respective groups.

Group A

Rox Tigers, G2, Counter Logic Gaming, Albus Nox

Group A contains the current LCK champions and hot favourites to take the whole World Championship, Rox Tigers. This is likely to remain the case in this group, as Rox Tigers should have no trouble going through groups without a hiccup. Sure the potential for G2 to sneak a game off them is there, but its highly unlikely, especially considering the meta changes leading up to worlds fit Rox Tigers potentially more than any team in the tournament. Smeb, Rox Tigers top lane, Korean MVP and debatably the current best player in the world is looking to have an easy time in groups stages.

Counter Logic Gamings toplaner Darshan had a shaky summer split and G2’s top Expect is undeniably their weakest player. With the first spot in this group all but locked up (unless a miracle occurs) the group turns into a fight for second place. G2 logically is the pick here to take second place with their strong jungler Trick and bot lane combo in Mithy and Zven. However, I feel CLG are being underrated by many just as they were at the Mid Season Invitational earlier this year. Under Aphromoo’s leadership it’s entirely possible CLG rally coming into worlds, but with Darshans underwhelming play and Huhi’s all too often mistakes its unlikely they upset G2 or Rox.

Finally, in group A is Albus Nox Luna, the wild card team from Russia. Like most of the wild card teams in this tournament, Albus Nox will struggle to find much success. I do however believe if any wild card team is going to make an upset it might be Albus Nox. The team often plays on the EU servers, meaning they are not foreign to playing against high elo European plays. Also the teams mid laner Kira is no chump, winning the all-star 1v1 tournament last year. For this to happen however it would take large mistakes and underestimations by either G2 or CLG to give Nox any window of opportunity.

Teams advancing: Rox Tigers, G2

Group B

SK Telecom T1, Cloud 9, I May, Flash Wolves

Despite being the first seed in Group B Taiwanese team Flash Wolves are arguably the weakest team in group B. This isn’t to say they are weak at all, it’s just that group B is so close to call. Any team besides SKT could find themselves at the bottom of the group come crunch. Defending world Champions SKT looked lost last split, even losing to KT Rolster who failed to even qualify for worlds. The team is also still suffering from their indecisive roster pick in regards to the Jungle slot, often swapping back and forth between the inconsistent Blank and the veteran Bengi. From me brief description I’m guessing you can tell who I think they should run. Regardless SKT will most likely find themselves coming out on top in this group, its simply what SKT do. The Korean old guard seem to thrive on the international stage and might have fixed their issues in the lead up to worlds. Look to see Bang to shine for SKT in group stages, who died only once in last year’s group stage.

Cloud 9 who I believe will take second spot in this group come into worlds looking great. Their top laner and former world champ and SKT member Impact has never been better and I expect him to continue this phenomenal play in this group. Cloud 9 also possesses SKT’s former coach Reapered, who undoubtedly worked close with Faker during his time on the team. Picks 3 and 4 for group B is where things get messy. I could sit here and go over each player and their stats from their individual splits and try and come to a definite conclusion, but I’d honestly only be lying to you. Both The Flash Wolves and I May have the potential to take 3rd or even 2nd place in group B. Flash Wolves jungle mid combination of Karsa and Maple is a potent one, but I MAY have also displayed they do well under pressure, coming back from heavy gold deficits multiple times during their split. Their mid laner Athena was also a member of the Korean Challenger team Ever, who most remember as the team that surprisingly defeated SKT after their dominant worlds victory last year.

Teams Advancing: SKT, Cloud 9

Group C

Edward gaming, H2K, ahq E-sports Club, INTZ E-Sports

EDG have what other professionals would call a ‘freelo’ group. They had an insane run through the LPL, even making pretty simple work of RNG. They also have the best attack damage carry in the world at the moment with Deft, who I expect to show off during groups. This should be an easy group for EDG who simply shouldn’t drop a game in this group. Now most people here speculate that Europe’s 3rd seed H2K will take second place in this group, but I would argue there is potential for an upset, because after all this is worlds.

Perhaps I have more faith in AHQ’s midlaner Westdoor than most, but I truly believe there is a chance for AHQ to overcome the Europeans. The veteran that is Westdoor had an average LMS split coming into worlds, and his famed assassin picks like Fizz aren’t looking too strong at the moment, but I believe H2K’s inexperience on the world stage may play into ahq’s favour. Nevertheless this may very well not be the case, and H2K will look to use their dominant early jungle pressure in Jankos to cease any victory ahq may see.

INTZ E-sports is the wild card from Brazil in this group, and if we can all remember what Kabuum did to another European teams group stage a few years ago. It’s entirely possible INTZ take a game from H2K, spoiling their advancement, but they still nothing more than a team to throw a spanner in the works.

Teams Advancing: EDG, H2K

Group D

How adequate that the group of death be group D. This group includes the best rendition of a North American team ever, RNG the Chinese powerhouse who fell short in a tough final to EDG, Korea’s Samsung Galaxy and Splyce. Again this is a group where spot 2 will be incredibly tight. TSM theoretically should be able to take first seed in their group, controlling RNG’s insane sometimes over the top aggression and Samsung Galaxy’s predictable play. This group will be dictated by the bot lane and Doublelift and Biofrost seem to be on fire coming off the summer split of the NA LCS.

With most eyes on LPL’s EDG, Royal Never Gives Up’s Mata and Uzi are looking to start worlds with something to prove.  Samsung Galaxy made an admirable run to worlds, upsetting KT Rolster, but their worlds run will end in groups. Corejj and Ruler seem vastly weaker than their counterparts and I believe most teams will have scouted their play by now. Lastly and unfortunately least is SPlyce, who will struggle to make any impact in group D at all. IF group D was a hard draw for the best team in North American, it’s a hellish draw for the young European side.

Teams Advancing: TSM, Royal Never Give Up

Check out the games on Riot Games Twitch.

Brad Weston a.k.a Westy - League of Legends contributor.

RELATED BY