The 2018 League of Legends World Championships approaches and teams from around the world will be vying to best each other on Summoner’s Rift. First blood of the tournament will be had at the Play-In stage, as teams that did well without ascending to the pinnacle of their regions fight it out for the last four sports in the group stage. Now comes a rare opportunity for regional styles to clash and hypothetical matchups to be tested in the crucible of combat. This year has seen many great teams of old fall as fresh lineups brashly assert their right to hoist the Summoner’s Cup in Incheon, South Korea. Below is an insight into the teams’ current forms and how they stack up heading into the Play-In:
EDward Gaming – Dire Wolves – Infinity Gaming
EDward Gaming are coming in strong after winning the LPL regional finals a few weeks back. They dished out a decisive 3-1 win over Rogue Warriors (the hottest team in the second half of the LPL Summer split), who were favoured by a few analysts to win the Regional Final. An easy group draw and strong form should make this a nice warm up for EDG. With more skill than Infinity Gaming, their main stumbling block could be dropping games to Dire Wolves. EDward Gaming are the favorite for group A.
Dire Wolves are the plucky upstarts from down under, representing SEA. Despite being the third seed in group A the Dire Wolves are not out of the running to advance to the next group. This line up has not had their mettle tested on the big stage but other unknown teams have played the spoiler in the past. The roster competed at MSI where they placed 11th and also in Rift Rivals taking first in Japan’s professional League and for Southeast Asia. Dire Wolves are currently the best that OCE has to offer as to natural talent and is the only team with a deep bench of junglers. Changing how they match up these junglers to their opponents could decide how they perform at the Play-in. Dire Wolves should make it out of this Group as the second seem.
Infinity Gaming coming from the Latin America North League are not talked about in the same breath as other top tier League of Legends teams. Infinity Gaming advanced into the Play-In without having to face the strongest team in Latin America and will probably not win a single game unless they are very fortunate.
G2 – Supermassive – Ascension Gaming
G2 are coming off a hot streak with wins over FC Shalke and Splyce, G2 are ready to play. These big hitters of the EU LCS are ready for any challenges that stand in their way to join their counterparts that have already qualified for the main stage. G2 looked sharp in the regional finals and more importantly, they have dominated in the solo queue games and scrims. The expectations for G2 are high and they should meet them by coming out of the first state on top.
Supermassive are the Turkish Champions League’s representatives and despite this region being small compared to the major League’s they have managed to field some stand out players. Supermassive are head and shoulders above the rest of the teams in Turkey and have proven it with a smashing 3-1 victory over Royal Bandits in the summer finals. This team is a dark horse, here is a world where they shock the fans by smashing all the teams in their group. But what makes the dark horse victory special is how rarely it happens. The big game to watch is their match against G2, that will decide how they fair in the rest of this play-in. Come in with tepid expectations and if they lose douse them completely. Watch for Supermassive to take the big scalps if the stars align.
Ascension Gaming are the South East Asia Tour Champions and have drawn another tough group. Ascension is a team sitting on the knife’s edge as to if they perform or not. They could achieve something here if they manage to win some games or they can fail to launch and lose horrendously. If they fail badly signs point to a big roster mixup after worlds. Low expectations for this third seeded team.
Cloud 9 – Kabum – Detonation Focusme
Cloud 9 have been the hottest North American LCS team from summer split. Cloud 9 is headlining group C and eager for their chance to shine. Their lineup is in flux with GoldenGlue and Svenskeren’s spots as starters in question. They have had inconsistency in middle and bottom lanes but also flashes of brilliance. If everything aligns for them they will command control of their group now and also could be players later on on the bigger stages.
Kabum are the Brazilian team famed for playing spoiler to the then fan favorites Alliance at the 2014 Words group stage, but this year they have only been strong domestically. They have an easier group thanks to drawing Detonation but don’t put a lot of stock in them outplaying Cloud 9 for a top seeding.
Detonation Focusme are Japan’s only hope for glory in this years Play-In and was the best team in the Summer Split of LJL. Their go-to strategy is a confusing mashup of random champion picks and weird builds, expect some insanity from these players. The cheese can be real, or it can just be smelly.
Kaos Latin Gamers – G-Rex – Gambit
Kaos Latin Gamers are coming back after getting battered at MSI seeking a chance at redemption. The strongest team in both the Spring and Summer split of the Latin American League Kaos Latin Gamers are looking for some blood. Unfortunately for them the probability is that only blood they will see in their own as they’re a pretty average team compared the other international squads.
Gambit is another MSI Play-In stage team with a chance to make it with the big boys. Gambit had a pretty easy run through ht LCS Summer stage. Expect them to play close to KLG and outperform G-Rex during this group play.
G-Rex are probably the biggest shock team in the play-in stage. Smashing J team in a dominant 3-0 fashion in the Thailand Regional Finals to take this spot in the Play-in stage. Expect them to play close to the other teams in their group. They will struggle with the current meta as they have not adapted as fast as other teams.