After 6 incredible games on Day 1 of the League of Legends World Championship, a few upsets along the way, the standings definitely didn’t represent the favoured results. The GIGABYTE Marines pulled off an unconventional defeat of former World Champions Fnatic, contributing to North America and Europe going a collective 0-4 on Day 1 with only EU upstarts Misfits and NA’s hopes and dreams in TSM left to play their first games.
AHQ, the second seed from the LMS took down Chinese hometown favourite in LPL champions Edward Gaming (EDG) to tie with 3-time World Champions SKT atop Group A. Group C played out as expected, with RNG and Samsung Galaxy both picking up wins against 1907 Fenerbahce eSpor and G2 eSports respectively. Only Group D were left to play, with NA and LMS champions TSM and Flash Wolves were set to face off in the first game of the day.
Team SoloMid and Flash Wolves met up in the first game of the day in what many said could be a fight for first, with only China’s Team WE regarded as contenders for that spot. With FW on the blue side and TSM on the red, champion select started with Flash Wolves taking away Kog’Maw, Jarvan and Xayah as they tried to make sure Doublelift couldn’t get a comfort pick and Svenskeren couldn’t capitalise on that with a very gank-heavy champion. TSM countered with split bans, opting to remove Ryze, Ezreal and Kalista.
Sejuani opened the picks from the LMS champions, a comfort champion for Karsa as it was something he’d frequently played during the Summer Split. Lulu and Gragas were quickly countered, after Svenskeren decided to roll cheekily through his entire champion pool. Varus and Taric for FW’s bot lane in Betty and SwordArt were next up, before a Tristana pickup for Doublelift finished off round one of picks. Kassadin and Jayce were locked away by FW and TSM opted to ban Ezreal and Galio to target the two lanes that TSM hadn’t picked for. Syndra was snagged for Bjergsen and Corki and Cho’Gath were taken by FW. Gnar for Hauntzer was the final pick of the draft and the teams were onto the Rift
The game started with little fuss, but when TSM tried to push the Flash Wolves off of Rift Herald the Taiwanese representatives turned around and leapt onto Svenskeren, with MMD chomping down on him for First Blood. Deja vu was the name of the game only 3 minutes later as Svenskeren was again picked off as Flash Wolves went for Rift Herald a second time, with Karsa’s Sejuani taking him out as well as Doublelift for a Double Kill before MMD feasted on Bjergsen to take a 4-0 lead.
A stunning outplay by Hauntzer on Gnar in the botlane turned a 2v1 by MMD and Maple into TSM’s toplaner getting away with a kill onto Cho’Gath and his healthbar mostly intact. An initiation by Flash Wolves in the midlane onto Svenskeren gave the Gragas his third death of the game, but a retreating Bjergsen managed to snipe SwordArt with his ultimate to disengage the fight and allow TSM to reset before their next fight
The game ticking over to half an hour heralded a teamfight at Flash Wolves’ inhibitor turret, and seconds after the turret crumbled into dust, Hauntzer continued his fantastic Gnar play and leapt into to get an ultimate onto the entire of the Flash Wolves team. However, they only managed to pick up a kill onto SwordArt as well as the inhibitor in reparation for the legendary initiation. As the game dragged on and reached 43 minutes, a fight in the botlane led to Biofrost’s first death as well as Svenskeren’s fourth to flip the momentum onto the side of Flash Wolves.
3 minutes later, Svenskeren again was sent to a grey screen but respawned just in time for TSM to take the Baron a few minutes later and head along to Elder Dragon to try and secure the 1-2 punch. Taking down the Dragon, Doublelift sprinted through the jungle to pick off Betty’s Varus with Svenskeren catapulting MMD back into the rest of TSM for the second kill of the fight and it was enough for them to storm down mid lane and shatter the nexus for NA and EU’s first win at Worlds 2017
The second game of Group D was Team WE, coming off a dominant performance in the Play-In stage, against Misfits Gaming who had a fairytale run through finals, relegating two EU stalwarts in Fnatic and H2K to battle it out in the Regional Qualifier for Europe’s last spot at Worlds. WE definitely came in as the favourite, and champion select began with China’s third seed banning Orianna, a target ban towards IgNar’s speciality in Blitzcrank and a Gnar ban against Alphari. Misfits continued the 100% pick/ban rate for Kalista, as well as taking out her deadly counterpart in Rakan and finished off with a Kog’Maw ban
WE made the easy decision to take Jarvan for the Son of Baron, Condi himself, while Misfits secured their botlane early on when they picked up Tristana and Lulu for Hans Sama and IgNar. Xayah followed for Mystic and Ben got ready to abuse the power of Ardent Censer as WE picked him up Janna with their last pick of round 1, and Misfits opted for Sejuani for Maxlore. Midlane bans reigned aplenty with Cassiopeia, Syndra, Lucian and Galio being taken away from playability. Corki was locked in for PowerofEvil while Maokai and LeBlanc were picked for 957 and xiye to complete WE’s team composition, while Cho’Gath was the last pick of champion select for Misfits for Alphari in the top lane
Quietly the game started, until IgNar overextended on his Lulu and Condi leapt in with his Cataclysm to leave Mystic on Xayah free to pick up First Blood. Minutes later xiye dashed over the botlane wall to catch out IgNar for the second time of the game. As the game reached 20 minutes, xiye almost caught out IgNar again right from under the nose of Hans Sama but a clutch Wild Growth got the Lulu away with pixels of health.
xiye got his revenge, however, by exploding the Misfits botlane at 23 minutes on his way to a triple kill. Now 4k gold and 6 kills up, the lead was firmly in WE’s favour. An attempted initiation onto Condi failed drastically as WE turned right back around as xiye assassinated IgNar again before Mystic snagged Alphari with a Flash over the wall. Not afraid to press their advantage, WE walked up to the turrets and calmly knocked them down as well as the nexus for their first win of the Worlds 2017 Group Stage
A North American or European victory was guaranteed when Immortals and Fnatic met up in game 3 of the day, although Europe were still hunting for their first after TSM took down Flash Wolves earlier in the day. Both teams had pulled off perfect or near perfect splits in recent times, although Immortals had been seeded directly into the Group Stage after reaching the NALCS final but failing to take out TSM, while Fnatic had had to get into the Group Stage the hard way when they fought their way through the Regional Qualifier and then the Play-In stage.
Champion select started off with Galio, Tristana and Xayah being taken away from Fnatic, Immortals obviously throwing caution to the wind when it comes to Rekkles’ versatile champion pool. Fnatic fired right back with bans onto Kalista, Jarvan and Sejuani. Gragas was first picked for Xmithie, and Lulu again proved a priority pick with Jesiz getting her as well as Caps getting one of his favourite champs in Ryze.
Kog’Maw and Janna were picked for the IMT botlane and Twitch was secured for Rekkles, hoping that the hypercarry matchup would come down to skill. Elise, Maokai, Syndra and Renekton were taken away in the second round of bans, before Cho’Gath was taken for sOAZ. Jayce for Flame was picked up, potentially trying to emulate the legendary play from LZ’s Khan. Taliyah for Pobelter was the last pick for Immortals, before Broxah opted to take Lee Sin into the jungle against Xmithie’s Gragas.
First blood came at 3 minutes with a stellarly executed tower dive in the botlane from Fnatic, with Rekkles taking out Cody Sun and all members of Fnatic escaping with pixels of health. The Twitch hypercarry was getting off the ground as Rekkles charged down Xmithie to take him out behind midlane Tier 1 turret with an ill-timed Explosive Cask knocking back the Twitch to safety, and he picked off Jayce to go 4/0 at 20 minutes. A Baron rush minutes later was almost stolen by sOAZ, but Xmithie secured it to equalise the gold lead after they killed sOAZ and Flame had 1v1ed Broxah in the botlane
After taking a few towers with the Baron buff, Immortals fell back behind in gold after Caps flashed over the wall to root up Olleh and allow Rekkles to take the kill before Broxah went down as collateral. By this stage, Rekkles was supremely fed and walked without qualms around midlane waiting for someone to come by before he blew them up. By 30 minutes, he had 5 of Fnatic’s 7 kills, while Immortals had 6 kills and 5 turrets as opposed to FNC’s 6. The Twitch was deleting Immortals members left right and centre.
A teamfight at 40 minutes around Elder Dragon was fruitless, but 10 minutes later Rekkles was too cocky and caught out which allowed Immortals to take 3 kills and they charged down the base to take the comeback victory. The anguish on Fnatic’s faces was clearly visible as they slumped to 0-2 and to last place in their group, as well as continuing Europe’s losing streak.
It was again a battle for first place in Group B as Longzhu Gaming took on underdogs GIGABYTE Marines. Longzhu had disposed of Immortals cleanly, while the Marines had managed to upset Fnatic with some very unconventional strategies. Prior to the game, the Marines’ coach Tinikun had promised that some brand new strats would be unveiled in their match against LZ, and with that, many a keen eye were trained upon this matchup.
Longzhu started out the pick/ban by removing Galio, Lulu and Janna from play, and GAM targeted Khan’s comfort pick in Jayce while also banning away Kalista and Taliyah. Xayah was taken for Pray and the Marines responded with a Karma pickup for Nevan as well as Cho’Gath for Levi, surprisngly leaving open Rakan to pair up with the Xayah. He and Jarvan were taken with Longzhu’s next picks and Noway was to play Tristana again when that was picked up with the last pick of phase 1. Maokai, Cassiopeia, Sejuani and Syndra vanished for playability and Optimus was to be playing Lucian with the first pick. Ryze and Gragas for Bdd and Cuzz finished off the Longzhu Gaming draft and a surprising pick of Mordekaiser for Archie finished off the Marines’.
A 4-man towerdive onto GAM’s botlane at 3 minutes yielded fruit for Longzhu as Cuzz picked up First Blood onto Archie’s Mordekaiser and a kill onto Nevan followed only seconds later. A foolish attempt to stop the first turret being taken by Archie led to the turret being destroyed and the Mordekaiser getting taken down by 3 members of Longzhu to go 2.5k gold down against the Korean champions. Archie’s Teleport skills again came into question as LZ disengaged from pressure by GAM to pick him off as well as Levi’s Cho’Gath. The Marines finally got onto the board and prevented the perfect game from LZ by taking down Pray to bring their gold deficit back to just inside 10k gold.
However, Longzhu weren’t going to take that lying down, as they charged up midlane to take down Optimus and Levi, and with the numbers advantage turned onto Baron and successfully took it down. With their monstrous gold lead, it was no great trouble for LZ to storm into the base, picking off Marines left right and centre to bring their kill score to 17-2. Breaking down the Nexus with a 17k gold lead and a 9-0 turret score, LZ further secured their berth atop Group B.
North America was looking to make it three from three on Day 2 when Cloud9 went up against ahq e-Sports club. ahq had been the architects of a major upset the day before when they took down LPL champion EDward Gaming, while Cloud9 had been the starting blocks for an obviously strong SKT unit as they were cleanly outplayed across all facets of the game. ahq started their champion select with a Galio ban, then trained the scope onto Smoothie with two target bans on Rakan and Thresh. Cloud9 varied their bans more, taking Kalista away from AN as well as blocking Ziv and Mountain from playing Jayce and Sejuani.
Jarvan was locked in for Mountain with ahq’s first pick, with Cloud9 making sure they had preference over their botlane when they picked up Janna and Xayah for Sneaky and Smoothie. The LMS second seed followed suit as they locked in Lulu and Kog’Maw for AN and Albis, before Cloud9 gave Ezreal over to Contractz in the jungle. Syndra and Cho’Gath were the round 2 bans from ahq and obviously two niche bans came out from C9 in the form of Malzahar and Kha’Zix. Ryze was taken for Jensen and Cassiopeia and Maokai were taken for Westdoor and Ziv to end ahq’s pick phase. Impact’s niche Nautilus polished off C9’s own pick phase and both teams were onto the Rift.
The game meandered until 8 minutes, when Impact teleported onto a retreating Westdoor to secure First Blood with a well-timed Depth Charge. Westdoor got caught out again at the Dragon Pit and traded his life for that of Jensen’s after the Ryze teleported 4 members of his team into the fray, also picking up Mountain on the back end. Ziv got caught out minutes later and Mountain was also a casualty. By the time the game reached 18 minutes ahq had managed to get kills onto Contractz and Impact to shrink their gold deficit to 4k behind as well as bagging themselves an Infernal Drake.
AN and Albis were jumped upon outside the Baron Pit to dispose of any chance that ahq had to contest the Baron. Now 11k gold ahead, it would be very hard for C9 to lose control of the game, and they certainly weren’t planning to when Sneaky got himself a Double Kill in the midlane to force their way into the base and pick up their first victory of their Worlds campaign.
The last game of the day was the battle of the LCK and LPL champions when SK Telecom T1 took on EDward Gaming. It was always going to be hard for EDG, after losing an easily winnable game against ahq to come up against the three-time defending World Champions who’d previously clinically taken out C9. The last champion select for Day 2 started off with EDG banning out Galio, Ryze and Gragas, while SKT opted to take away Kalista, Sejuani and Shen.
Xayah for iBoy was EDG’s first choice, and SKT made sure to split up the lovers when they took Rakan for Wolf as well as Jarvan for Peanut. Clearlove7 got his hands on Rek’Sai while Meiko got to abuse Ardent Censer again as he picked up Janna. Twitch for Bang was secured with the last pick of the first round, and target bans at Faker quickly followed as LeBlanc and Cassiopeia were taken away. SKT went for Mouse, however, banning away Trundle and Renekton. Cho’Gath for Huni was the first pick of the second round, with EDG giving over a midlane counterpick when they took Lucian as well as Rumble into Huni’s Cho’Gath. With the counterpick, Faker went for his traditional Orianna to confirm SKT’s AoE teamfight win condition