It’s October, which means
Halloween the League of Legends World Championships is back in full swing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Worlds is being held behind closed doors in Shanghai, but the viewership and buzz haven’t suffered at all, with Esports Charts reporting over 1.8 million peak viewers!
For us Pacific Daylight Time-rs, however, most matches are between 1 and 7 AM. I have stayed up to watch a few games, and I usually tune into the replays for the ones I miss. The games I’ve watched have been incredibly hype - especially that back-and-forth match between G2 and Suning. And for me, there are two more reasons to stay up: supporting NA (whose teams are major underdogs) and (in)validating my Pick’ems.
Here I’ll share the reasoning for my Pick’ems, as well as how they’ve fared after one weekend of gameplay:
My initial picks:
- G2 Esports
- Team Liquid
- Machi Esports
G2 are currently tied for first with Suning. These two teams really have looked like the best in the group, with their head-to-head going the distance. But although the standings have kept my pick’ems intact, the group matches have gone much differently than I predicted.
For one, TL just beat G2 last night, which looking back is very G2, beating Suning but disrespecting and losing to TL. The European team triple-banned Impact (Mord, Ornn, Shen) and tried to set up a winning matchup for Wunder with first-pick Renekton, but the former world champion held his own with Volibear. Meanwhile, a level one invade gave early first blood over to Tactical. TL played really well through botside, with Jensen feeling comfortable on the Orianna and CoreJJ making plays with Sett.
If Liquid can maintain this playstyle through groups, they do have a chance, but it’s just so easy to shut them out in draft. Case in point: TL’s terrible composition and execution versus Machi Esports, which resulted in the PCS team’s only win so far. Which means likely G2 and Suning will both advance, although I’m not sure anymore if G2 will claim first.
Suning have looked really good, especially playing through top laner Bin and jungler SofM. Bin has played carry toplaners like Renekton and Jax to great effect in this meta, and SofM has looked great on pretty much any meta jungler this weekend. I really would not be surprised if Suning pip G2 to first place.
My initial picks:
- DAMWON Gaming
- JD Gaming
- PSG Talon
Aside from the hyped up match between DAMWON and JD, during which DAMWON steamrolled China’s second seed, this group has been pretty straightforward. DWG and JDG are miles ahead of Rogue, who is miles ahead of PSG Talon.
A lot of my friends actually put PSG in third because they popped off in play-ins. However, in my opinion the reason they were so clean then was their loanees, Kongyue and Uniboy (from ahq eSports), who would not be playing in Groups. And PSG have notably struggled against some of the better teams in the group, losing all their games so far. Their playstyle is essentially play safe in lane and try to win one big teamfight lategame, which might work in play-ins but not against the likes of LCK’s #1 seed.
I wouldn’t be surprised if JD Gaming or Rogue take one game off of DAMWON, but the Koreans are still heavy favorites in my book to qualify. The meta really fits Nuguri, who looks really good on Lulu and Camille. ShowMaker and Canyon are an impressive mid-jungle duo. On paper, DAMWON look like they can win it all.
My initial picks:
- LGD Gaming
When LGD Gaming won the best of 5 and made it to the main event, they were guaranteed to be put in this group, as the LPL had teams in every other one already. This group was so difficult to predict, and I could definitely see all four teams making it out. Gen.G looked a cut better than the rest, with BDD in contention for best midlaner in the world, but their playstyle is also not really meta. TSM had momentum coming in from the LCS playoffs, but also had players who’ve always underperformed internationally in Bjergsen and Doublelift. Fnatic worlds buff is a thing, even though they were poor in the LEC Summer Split.
I ended up going with the safe choice of Gen.G, as well as picking TSM. As an LCS fan, I wanted to pick at least one team to make it out of groups, and TSM making it out of a volatile group felt more likely than TL and Flyquest making it out of their difficult groups, each with two title contenders (G2/Suning and Top/DRX).
After three games, it’s safe to say that TSM aren’t making it. They have been shambolic, both in drafting and in execution. Practically gifting Evelynn to Selfmade in their first game allowed Fnatic’s jungler to walk all over the Rift. Bjergsen even got his Zilean against Gen.G, but the team were heavily outplayed on the macro level. So, the current LCS champions are sitting at 0-3 in their group. In order for them to advance, either one of Gen.G, Fnatic, or LGD have to lose all three remaining games, or TSM have to win all three.
Fnatic are looking confident and ready, especially in the win against Gen.G. Although I wouldn’t really conclude too much from this match: Gen.G’s support Life took both Ignite and Exhaust on his Rakan and was heavily punished early. It’s likely he won’t ignore Flash, the de facto best summoner spell, in the future. That being said, Fnatic drafted and played well, and I still favor them over LGD in a best of 5, if the group does come down to tiebreakers. Although given how unpredictable this group has been so far, we’re likely going to hear the Silver Scrapes at some point.
My picks were:
- Top Esports
- Unicorns of Love
Like Group B, this group was pretty straightforward, with a significant skill gap between Top Esports and DRX over FlyQuest and UOL. I was super hyped for the Top vs DRX matchup, pitting Knight against Chovy. I rated Top higher because they just looked like title favorites, but I thought DRX had a 30% chance of winning. In the end, an innovative Nocturne pick for Knight was the highlight of that game, but DRX put up a great fight.
I put UOL over FlyQuest purely because of the Unicorns’ flex potential, with “AD Carry” Gadget playing mages in the botlane. I thought UOL and FlyQuest would each beat each other once, so who would place third really depended on the ability to take games off the top two teams. FlyQuest, with their safer, more predictable play, as well as Solo being constantly exploited in LCS playoffs as a weak-side toplaner, didn’t feel like they could win against Top or DRX.
FlyQuest beat UOL the other day, in what was an awesome game for the team. Regardless of how FLY ends up doing, I’m still a big fan of the organization, who launched a Go Green initiative this year in conjunction with new branding. In the 2020 Spring Split, they temporarily rebranded themselves as TreeQuest and promised to plant a tree everytime they got a kill in a game. This was hugely successful, with over 5000 trees planted by FlyQuest along with motivating other LCS teams to donate “friendship trees”. They’ve also announced a meme-friendly initiative to “Save the Wild Turtles”, referencing their beloved AD Carry WildTurtle.
As a smaller, newer LCS franchise, without the storied trophy history and fanbase of teams like TSM, FlyQuest have made impressive strides this year with their new approach. It’s honestly refreshing to see organizations like FLY use their privilege and influence to enact social change, and that has made casual LCS fans like me want to root for them.
Each team has three more games to play, and I’m looking forward to seeing more wins out of North America’s three teams. Team Liquid need to build on their strategy from the G2 game: they are so good at macro when they have a lead in the early game, but they usually never get these leads. TSM need to go back to basics and stabilize the ship. FlyQuest need to win against UOL and hope to take a game off of DRX. I’m super hyped for the rest of Groups, and you’ll hear back from me with predictions and thoughts come the knockout stages. Should be some really exciting games to look forward to!