The group stage of Worlds is filled with a sense of wonder that is fuelled by the potential of upsets and it usually delivers in that regard. While that may be less likely to come true in the knockout stage, the possibility is still there. In the last 12 quarterfinals at worlds a top seed has been upset three times.
So what exactly do the under dogs need to do this year to pull off an upset?
This is probably, no definitely, the most unlikely upset potential of the four quarterfinals this year. SKT is looking to three-peat as World Champions, Misfits were in the challenger series last season.
Nonetheless, SKT didn’t look dominant at all in the group stage. They lost a game to AHQ, and suffered massive early gold deficits in both games against EDG and realistically should’ve lost one, if not both games to the top-seeded LPL squad.
Of course, in a best-of-series SKT is a completely different machine and is head and shoulders above Misfits in terms of international experience.
So what can Misfits try to exploit to knock off the titans of the game and deny them their 4th Worlds title?
Well, Maxlore and Alphari completely destroyed TSM in their tiebreaker match and throughout the group stage have looked like a very solid duo.
For SKT, they’ve had so many different combinations of top laners and junglers throughout the season that there’s no way they have the same level of synergy and communication as Misfits on the top side of the map.
Throw in the fact that Huni will seemingly be forever known for his proneness to tilting and he’s their only top lane and camping the top lane might just be the recipe to success for the second seed out of Europe to pull off a historical upset.
You usually don’t expect to see an all LCK match up this early, but thanks to RNG here we are. Samsung was convincingly 2-0’d by RNG and even struggled to close out versus 1907 Fenerbahce. Longzhu went perfect in Group B, but definitely felt the effect of the fiesta that was put on by the 3 teams below them.
The top seed out of Korea engaged in some 45 minute plus slugfests with both Immortals and the Gigabyte Marines. Longzhu’s team fighting looked seriously suspect in several of these games and if it wasn’t for some fantastic play from Pray in those fights, they might not be looking at a perfect record.
If Samsung can clean up their early game and get to these mid-late game team fights and showcase their team fighting coordination, they just might have a shot at knocking off the tournament favourites.
Let’s also not forget that this Longzhu line up has only played one best-of-five series. Of course that one series happened to hand SKT their first ever loss in an LCK final, which is a pretty good start. Samsung however, has played in 3 best-of-fives in this summer season alone and went all the way to a fifth game in the finals of the last world championship.
The next step in Fnatic’s miracle run went according to plan. They avoided SKT. Unfortunately for them, RNG looks like a threat to legitimately challenge SKT and Longzhu.
Obviously if Fnatic plays like they did in week 1 then this series will be quick and painless. For the third seed from Europe to make some noise in this series it will come down to the early game.
When RNG gets out to an early lead they just steamroll the game. That was proven true when they played Samsung. So for Fnatic, their best bet may just be to pick dominant lanes across the map and hope to snowball an advantage.
G2 were the only team to beat RNG and they almost did it twice. Both games they got out to an early lead, shut down Uzi in lane and transitioned that into turrets. They were a bad baron call away from 2-0ing China’s number two seed.
If Fnatic can play smart with early advantage’s and continue to pressure RNG, maybe they can force them into making risky, over aggressive plays. Which of course was one of the biggest weaknesses associated with RNG coming into the tournament.
The hopes of NA lie solely on Cloud 9’s shoulders yet again and they didn’t instil too much confidence,as they stumbled their way into the knockout stage thanks to an SKT win.
World Elite looked like the team everyone was expecting to see after going 3-0 in week 2 to lock up the top spot in Group D.
For North America’s last hope to have a chance in this series they need Contractz to out pressure Condi. C9’s jungler has really only played one tank in 6 group stage games. Yes his Graves was played to varying levels of success, but if he’s able to play aggressively early on these high damage champions he can get the snowball rolling for his team.
If C9 gets ahead early with 3 carry type champions they should be able to take over mid-game team fights before the tanks on World Elite are really able to scale up.
The key will be avoiding those early team fights around Baron where their squishier team composition will really feel the pain output by the big purple worm.
Help them Cloud 9, you’re their only hope.
The chance of upsets may be more unlikely as the knockout stage swings around, but if Fnatic can start 0-4 and claw their way out of groups with 4 straight wins, then surely anything can happen.