The League of Legends World Championship began this week with the play-in stage. Japan’s DetonatioN FocusMe and China’s LNG Esports have already advanced to the main event group stage, while Russia’s Unicorns of Love and Latin America’s Infinity Esports were eliminated. Two more teams will advance to the main event this weekend, and to get you ready, here’s a short preview of the four best-of-five matches this weekend.
Galatasaray vs. Beyond Gaming: Friday, 7 a.m. ET
Galatasaray beat Beyond Gaming, but this should be a fairly even matchup. Both teams have talented players with previous international experience. On Galatasaray, Onur Can “Bolulu” Demirol was on the SuperMassive team that upset Europe’s MAD Lions at last year’s Worlds. Beyond’s Chiu "Doggo" Tzu-Chuan played on loan with fellow PCS team PSG Talon during the Mid-Season Invitational.
Although the PCS is generally considered to be a stronger region than Turkey, Galatasaray’s victory over Beyond shows that this should be a close matchup. In the game they played against each other, Galatasaray’s top laner Kim "Crazy" Jae-hee proved to be the difference with a 6/3/8 K/D/A and over 5,000 more gold difference compared to Beyond’s top laner. Whoever wins this best-of-five will move on to play Hanwha Life Esports for a chance to advance to the main event.
PEACE vs. Red Canids: Friday, 12 p.m. ET
Photo credit: Riot Games
PEACE and Red Canids were the two lowest ranked teams in our power rankings heading into Worlds, yet they were not among the first two teams eliminated. Both teams beat Infinity Esports, and the difference between them was PEACE beat Red Canids in their group matchup.
Brazilian teams tend to underwhelm at Worlds, and a victory over Infinity does little to give hope to Red Canids prospects at this tournament. For Oceania’s PEACE, there are reasons to be both optimistic and pessimistic.
Oceania proved to be a region not to be taken lightly after Pentanet beat North America’s Cloud9 at the Mid-Season Invitational. Plus, with so many OCE players like Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami finding success in NA, the region clearly has talented players who can compete at the international level. Yet, PEACE are playing at this tournament with two stand-ins, Kiss "Vizicsacsi" Tamás and Tristan "Lived" Fulcher, so if they hadn’t picked up any wins, lack of synergy and time to play together could have easily been blamed.
The winner of this matchup will move on to play Cloud9 with a chance to qualify for the main event. Given PEACE beat Red Canids in their previous matchup, the slight edge would have to go to them, but in a best-of-five, either of these teams could come out on top.
Hanwha Life Esports vs. TBD: Saturday, 7 a.m. ET
During the play-ins group stage, Hawha Life’s only loss was to Chinese team LNG Esports, which was to be expected. Of all the play-in teams, LNG were considered the strongest (we had them ranked sixth overall in our power rankings). After LNG, HLE are in that next tier of teams that should advance to the main event. We had them ranked 14th, so solidly middle of the pack.
Among the players with the top KDAs in the play-in group stage, HLE’s Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu and Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon rank pretty high, just behind several LNG and DetonatioN FocusMe players as well as Beyond’s Doggo and Cloud9’s Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen. Regardless of whether they face Galatasaray or Beyond, HLE should win and move on to the main event.
Cloud9 vs. TBD: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Things were looking so promising for Cloud9 and NA after three games. C9 were 3-0, with one of those wins against DetonatioN FocusMe, a team that beat them once at the Mid-Season Invitational. They were in the driver’s seat of their group and would move on to the main event with a win against Unicorns of Love on Thursday -- a winless UoL, I should add. The hopium was high.
Of course, they lost, and then they lost a tiebreaker to DetonatioN FocusMe to put them in a spot where they need to win a best-of-five to move on.
Regardless of who they face -- Red Canids or PEACE -- they should move on. However, if they face Oceania’s PEACE, let’s not forget C9’s loss to Pentanet at MSI. Surely, C9 haven’t forgotten either and will be extra well-prepared should they face PEACE. The difference is they lost one game to Pentanet, and this will be a best-of-five, and they would be facing a team playing with two stand-ins.
Again, C9 should win. If they face Red Canids, the match should only go three or four games, but if they face PEACE, don’t be surprised if it takes five games.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games