With the first round-robin of the League of Legends World Championship group stage now over, it’s a good time to see how each time has done so far in the tournament and the likeliness (in my eyes anyway), of them qualifying for the knockout stage. With each group being host to some of the most competitive teams from regions across the world, it’s no easy feat for any of these teams to qualify. Some teams have surpassed all expectations laid before them, while others have collapsed under the pressure and fallen flat. With everything on the line, and the chance to engrave their names into League of Legends history, which teams will achieve greatness?
Group A has certainly been something, hasn’t it? T1 stomps EDG, Fnatic stomps T1, and EDG doesn’t necessarily stomp FNC but still gets a pretty convincing win against them. (Cloud 9 gets stomped by everyone but that was expected given this group). But given each team’s performances so far, how can we expect them to fare for the rest of the group?
T1: Group Prediction – 1st
Certainly not the invincible team they were perceived to be in Spring, but even with the terrifying emergence of Gen G, T1 are still a force to be reckoned with. Second in the LCK is nothing to sneer at and an opening game stomp against defending champions EDG certainly doesn’t hurt their chances for the rest of the group games. Faker’s incredible performance on Akali once again reminded anyone who’d forgotten why he’s the greatest player in the history of League of Legends. While questions were raised over Gumayusi’s performances since MSI, overcoming the best bot lane in the world silenced any of the doubters and gave us a taste of what we can expect from him. It took T1 just 22 minutes to defeat the world champions and while a loss to Fnatic put a dampener on their group stage, a convincing win against Cloud 9 kept hopes of not only making it through to the knockouts but topping the group. There’s something about Faker and this team that just makes you believe they’re capable of just about anything.
Edward Gaming: Group Prediction – 2nd
The defending champions haven’t exactly gotten off to the best start at Worlds this year. A rather lacklustre performance against T1 saw them go 0-1 but EDG are World Champions for a reason and the LPL 3rd seed showed exactly why they are a team to be feared when they came up against Fnatic. Viper showed exactly why he’s the best AD Carry in the world, combining with JieJie to get four early kills on Upset and Hylissang, helping EDG get an early game advantage that Fnatic just never managed to recover from. This managed to completely neutralise Upset’s Kallista which relies so heavily on early power. Knowing Fnatic continuously play so heavily towards its botlane, EDG managed to not only recognise this but exploited the reliance on Upset turning the matchup in their favour, and dictating the outcome of the match from the outset. A performance befitting of the current World Champions has thrown Group A entirely up in the air with T1, Fnatic and EDG all on 2-1, but you have to believe that even if it does go to a tiebreak, EDG’s ability to just outplay teams will carry them into the knockouts.
Fnatic: Group Prediction – 3rd
An opening game win against Cloud 9 was nothing less than expected from the LEC ‘super team’, but the following victory over T1 and how it happened came as a surprise to even the most optimistic Fnatic fan. Upset’s dominance in the botlane is nothing new but the recent form of both Razork and Humanoid has propelled Fnatic forwards, topping their group in play-ins and securing nothing short of a stomp against T1. However, when their botlane was put to the test against Viper and Meiko of EDG, they were neutralised before they could even get into the game. If Fnatic are to qualify for knockouts, they must find a way to counteract EDG’s botlane. With the three qualification hopefuls (sorry Cloud 9) all tied on 2-1, it’s entirely possible the LEC 3rd seed could be faced with a BO5 tie-breaker with the defending world champions, and Fnatic will have to pull out all the stops and play like never before if they’re to overcome that hurdle.
Cloud 9: Group Prediction – 4th
After being crowned champions of the LCS, North America had high hopes for Cloud 9 going into Worlds this year. With the tournament being on home soil and thousands of fans turning up to the Hulu Theatre in Madison Square Garden, expectations were high from the NA fans. However, given they had been placed in the same group as T1, EDG and Fnatic, Cloud 9 needed to be at their absolute best to even stand a chance at qualifying from this group and the first three games have already all but ruled out that possibility. Losses to all three of their opponents in convincing fashion have certainly put a dampener on the NA fans’ Worlds experience. Outdrafted outplayed and outclassed at every turn, it’s a good job there are three airports in New York City because it’s all but certain they’re going to be getting a plane back to California by the time the group stage is over.
Group B seems to be going mostly as expected in so far as the LPL and LCK representatives competing in banger games that we’re used to seeing from those regions at Worlds and EU is better than NA. JDG and DWG are in dominant form, with the former getting the edge on the LCK 3rd seed in the first round-robin while G2 have only managed to beat EG who sit bottom of the group on 0-3. While this group now seems a very open-and-shut prediction, it’s worth seeing what it would take for an upset to be caused in this group.
JDG Intel Esports Club: Group Prediction – 1st
One of the only teams to have a perfect record so far in the Group Stage, the LPL Summer Champions have shown exactly the type of form we’ve come to expect from this team. While wins against EG and G2 weren’t exactly stomps, they were certainly deserved given the quality of plays from JDG produced in those matchups. However, it was their victory over DWG that cemented them as the favourites to win Group B and one of the teams that could go on to win Worlds in its entirety. A flurry of exhilarating team fights made up what has arguably been the best game in Worlds 2022 so far with Dragon steals on both sides before a third dragon fight proved to be the difference. Kanavi managed to take down the Hextech Drake before 369 fell to Deokdam’s Varus and for a moment it looked like DWG could gain the upper hand. However, JDG took the opportunity to show exactly why they’re the LPL 1st seed. A triple kill from Hope’s Kaisa, along with kills from both Kanavi’s Graves and Yagao’s exemplary performance on Azir ace’d DWG and earned them a hard-fought victory against a DWG side that looked as strong as they ever have. With qualification for knockouts all but secured for JDG, they’ve shown that they are a worthy adversary for whoever they come up against after the Group Stage has come to a close.
DWG Kia: Group Prediction 2nd
The 2020 World Champions and last year’s runners-up have performed as well as you’d imagine of a team of their calibre. Their loss against JDG was by the finest of margins and their victories over Evil Geniuses and G2 showed why they are still such an incredible force in League of Legends. Their performance against G2 was nothing short of dominant. While an Azir vs Seraphine matchup was never going to go in the favour of the LEC representatives, Showmaker continued to prove why he’s simply one of the best midlaners around, finding insane picks on his Azir, cultivating in a shuffle on the Herald fight that resulted in an ace against G2 that came off the back of Canyon flashing away from Caps’ missed Seraphine ult and ultimately spelt the end for the LEC team. If DWG continues to take advantage of their opponents’ mistakes, not only will they qualify for knockouts, but they stand a pretty good chance of reclaiming the Worlds trophy.
G2 Esports: Group Prediction – 3rd
A shock 3-0 loss in the LEC Finals at the hands of Rogue was seen as a blip that the G2 would surely get over quickly, but the Worlds group stage seems to be largely more of the same vein of form. Falling victim to a stomp at the hands of DWG was the worst possible start to the tournament for the LEC outfit. A poor draft made things challenging from the outset, but none could have predicted just how outclassed G2 were at the hands of the 2020 World Champions. A win against Evil Geniuses left a question of whether the LEC Spring Champions had got their mojo back or was it just a case of region gapping NA? Their final game of the first round robin proved it to be the latter. Deciding to leave Yuumi open in draft proved fatal, with JDG managing to utilise a lethal Sivir Yuumi botlane that G2 just couldn’t compete with. There were avenues for G2 to win the game, an Alister pick for Targamas had the potential to be an excellent roaming pick, but for some unknown reason, they decided to try to match the Sivir Yuumi lane in a 2v2 with Seraphine and Alister. Within 12 minutes G2’s botlane had given away four kills, feeding Hope’s Sivir and allowing the JDG AD Carry to scale all the quicker. A valiant comeback from G2 was outdone due to a slaughter in the midlane at the hands of Hope who G2 had given everything the JDG could have wanted. If the former ‘Kings of Europe’ are to have any hopes of qualifying for the knockouts of Worlds, a serious turnaround is needed. They will need to win all their remaining games to even have a shot at getting out of groups. Otherwise, serious questions need to be asked about whether this team has what it takes to bring G2 success.
Evil Geniuses: Group Prediction – 4th
If G2 have to climb mountains to reach the knockout stage, the Evil Geniuses have to move them. Going 0-3 so far in Group B has their chances of qualification at slim to none, and while they continue to talk a big game, they have precious little to show for it. Like the rest of the NA teams, it’s very much a case of all bark and no bite, which given Worlds is being hosted by their region, you’d hope for a little more from them. Their opening game against JDG showed a lot of promise, but EG just weren’t clinical enough when it mattered. While they have been placed in one of the tournament’s toughest groups, they haven’t shown anything worth writing home about, unfortunately, given they are a side with a lot of potential. Nothing short of a miracle will get them out of the group stage.
Potentially the group that’s produced the most shocks in the tournament, Group C has given rise to some real threats to the LPL dominance that’s been so prevalent at Worlds. TOP Esports have massively underperformed, being handed defeats by two teams that many have not been given the praise they deserve for their outstanding performances. DRX have shown they have a lot more to show than they’ve been given credit for, while LEC champions Rogue have given us some of the best League of Legends play we’ve seen at Worlds so far. With their performances and the potential for GAM Esports to cause a few upsets, there may be some more shocks to come out of this group yet.
Rogue: Group Prediction – 1st
Rogue has met every challenge that’s come their way like it’s just another Tuesday. Malrang strongly impressed in the LEC finals and the Korean Jungler has continued his sublime form, the ganks he’s become known for now causing problems for teams at Worlds with GAM, DRX and now even TOP Esports falling victim to the former DWG player’s picks. While a Baron steal made things dicey for a while against GAM, securing Dragon Soul and the subsequent Baron showed the team’s resilience and qualification for knockouts was beginning to look more likely. Surprisingly, that’s the only time they looked remotely shaky. Facing up against TES was the game that most people had concerns over, but Trymbi and co. showed everyone their worries were unwarranted, with Rogue’s Support being dubbed “Secret Agent Trymbi” by casters due to his constant ability to find flanking angles out of nowhere and setting up the rest of his team to punish TES. Malrang’s impressive form continues with the Korean Jungler’s philosophy of “I just go in” working out far better than anyone could have predicted. How far they can go remains to be seen, with Comp and Trymbi almost certain to have to face the best bot lanes in the world should they make it out of groups. But with their synergy, Larssen’s capabilities to outplay some of the best Midlaners around, Malrang’s vision and the leadership of Odoamne, there is no end to the potential of this roster. The World Championship could very well come to Europe this year, but the favourites from the LEC aren’t Fnatic. It’s not G2. Rogue’s time may have finally come. They could go all the way, carrying the hopes of Europe on their backs.
DRX: Group Prediction – 2nd
It’s not an exaggeration to say that people have been sleeping on DRX. The LCK 4th seed stormed through play-ins, beating every team in their way, including RNG to top their group and secure qualification for the group stage. DRX AD Carry Deft is competing in his 7th Worlds this year, a monumental achievement he didn’t even think he’d make this year. How far he and his team would be able to go has been in question, but a shock win against Top Esports has put them in a strong position to qualify for knockouts. For a team that many have said isn’t that good, they managed to overwhelm and outplay a team that has been one of the favourites to go on and win the whole tournament. TES saw an early gank attempt turned on its head by DRX, with Pyosik and Zeka combining to eviscerate TES’ botlane 10 minutes into the game. Several finely executed picks and sublime teamfights later, DRX not only managed to completely neutralise Jackeylove’s famous Draven but only suffered two deaths the entire game as they showed complete dominance over the LPL Finals runners-up. It looks like that maybe, just maybe, the never-say-die fans who have never stopped believing in DRX will be rewarded for their unwavering faith.
Top Esports: Group Prediction – 3rd
Many people expected TOP Esports to shine at this year’s World Championship, with some not only expecting them to qualify from groups but to go on and win the whole thing. Unfortunately, it seems the disappointment of not being able to take it all the way against JDG in the LPL Summer Finals has bled into Worlds, with the LPL 2nd seed only able to claim 1 win from 3, and that was against the VCS representatives, GAM Esports. Getting dominated by both DRX and Rogue came as a shock to most, especially with Tian talking such a big game about not seeing Rogue as their biggest opponent and not caring about facing them. An array of misplays against both Rogue and DRX showed a certain overconfidence from TES that was exploited and punished by teams who have been nothing short of ruthless. If they are to survive the group stage, a swift turnaround is needed. Otherwise, they will suffer the same fate they experienced in the LPL finals – disappointment and failure.
GAM Esports: Group Prediction – 4th
It’s been 3 years since we’ve seen the VCS representatives at Worlds so naturally, there was a lot of excitement to see what GAM would bring this year. Unfortunately, a first-game stomp at the hands of TOP Esports hasn’t inspired much confidence, and while they put up a fight against Rogue (including a phenomenal Baron steal from Levi), sitting at 0-2 means they have some serious work to do if they are to have any shot of making it through to the knockouts. However, if history tells us anything, the VCS and GAM Esports, in particular, are not to be underestimated. It remains to be seen if their heroics at the 2017 MSI can ever be repeated, but an aggressive playstyle that’s certainly given teams cause to worry could still cause the greatest upset in Worlds history if only GAM can find a way to unlock their full potential.
This group seemed to be a fairly open-and-shut case, with Gen G looking nothing short of unstoppable in their own region and questions being raised RNG due to their arguably shaky play-ins run, how Group D has played out is not how most expected it to, well not exactly. 100 Thieves haven’t won a single game and CTBC Flying Oyster have fought valiantly against the titans of the LCK and LPL, even managing to find victory against 100 Thieves. While it seems fairly certain that Gen G and RNG will qualify, we may yet find ourselves looking at a surprising final group table by the time all games have been played.
Royal Never Give Up: Group Prediction – 1st
It’s been a year of ups and downs for RNG. Winning the LPL Spring Split and subsequent MSI, you would have been forgiven for thinking they would continue that vein of form going into Summer Split. However, what followed MSI was somewhat more inconsistent in terms of performance. Finishing 5th in the regular season secured them playoffs but only afforded them a 4th place finish overall, securing the final LPL spot for Worlds. People had concerns that continued into Worlds Play-Ins. Losing their opening game to DRX didn’t inspire much confidence but the MSI champions soon picked up their form, despite prioritising comfort picks in the draft as supposed to adapting to the current meta. A first-game loss in their BO5 matchup against DFM was soon overcome to secure qualification for groups and RNG have looked unstoppable ever since. One of the only 3 teams to be undefeated in the Group Stage so far, even beating LCK Champions and tournament favourites Gen G. An unconventional draft from Gen G played right into RNG’s hands, the LPL 4th seed ruthless in their destruction of the tournament favourites. Not so much losing a single Dragon fight, and finishing the game with almost a 10k gold lead, heroic performances from Wei and Gala proved exactly what an incredible team RNG can be. If they can keep this form up in the knockout stages, there’s nothing to suggest they couldn’t go all the way.
Gen G: Group Prediction – 2nd
After RNG took just 30 minutes to take a win against the LCK champions, a win against 100 Thieves was vital for Gen G to get their Worlds run back on track. While fans of the LCK 1st seed would have expected their team to easily dispatch the LCS outfit, there was little between the two teams for the majority of the match. Peanut managed to steal the Mountain Drake for Gen G at 18 minutes, but losing the subsequent team fight raised many questions on whether this Gen G tea was as terrifying as their LCK form had led us all to believe. But Gen G isn’t the team to collapse under pressure. A fight in the midlane gave Gen G their opening, wiping the floor with 100 Thieves and securing Mountain Soul proved to be the turning point in the match. Patience, precision and discipline prevailed but some questions still hang over the heads of one of the tournament favourites. They’re certainly not the invincible team they were touted to be before the start of Worlds.
CTBC Flying Oyster: Group Prediction – 3rd
Taking their name from their sponsor’s slogan “We Are Family” and “飛(Fei) 牡蠣 (Mu Li)” meaning flying oyster in Chinese, it’s not an exaggeration to say that CTBC Flying Oyster have stolen the hearts of many at Worlds so far. The PCS champions have exceeded expectations so far, making both RNG and Gen G fight hard for their victories against CFO, the LCK champions, in particular, having to fight for 40 minutes before getting the win. Their day 1 performance against 100 Thieves, showed exactly what the PCS is capable of, a terrifying dive comp that was executed fearlessly. A team known for building gold leads in their own region followed through into this game against the LCS 2nd seed, making sure they were equipped to control the pace of the game and even in situations where 100 Thieves were able to gain the slightest of advantages, CFO were able to win the team fights when they mattered most. While it’s unlikely they’ll proceed to the knockout stage given RNG and Gen G are all but assured to qualify, the PCS 1st seed have been stellar representatives for their region and have certainly given fans something to cheer for.
100 Thieves: Group Prediction – 4th
To say it’s been a poor Worlds showing for North America this year is like saying leaving Yuumi unbanned is probably not a great idea – it’s a true statement but it completely misses the gravity of the situation. No LCS team has won so much as a single game at Worlds this year, with 100 Thieves looking every bit as unconvincing as NA’s other teams. Look, no one expected them to beat Gen G or RNG. These are two of the best teams in the world right now, but it’s how they’ve lost, combined with their lack of ability to threaten CTBC Flying Oyster that’s been the cause of so much dismay for fans of North America. When your region is hosting Worlds, you want to make your fans proud and give them something to sing about on home soil. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to be a 0-6 for 100 Thieves in Group D as they have no chance of winning a single game in their current form.
Coming into Worlds this year, while I secretly hoped G2 would pull it out of the bag and refind that form that defined them so heavily in 2019, my realistic expectation was that nobody would be able to stop Gen G. However, the group stage has already completely turned my expectations on its head. Gen G have faltered, and while JDG haven’t dropped a single game, they do not look as unstoppable as you would expect from the LPL first seed. For the first time in 3 years, it looks like Europe has a chance to go on and win everything. I know we say this every year, but with Rogue at the helm, this very much could be Europe’s year. How fitting would it be if the team that so few believed in, ended up being the team to bring glory and success to the LEC? While there’s a long way to go, for the first time in quite some time Europe fans have something to smile about at Worlds.