LOL World Championship Play-Ins: September 28 (Worlds 1)
Christopher Troeh guides you through the League of Legends North American (LCS) & European (LEC) World Championship Play-Ins for esports DFS contests!
The first set of games on 9/28 feature the two teams at the top of group B: TL and SUP facing off for top spot. Meanwhile, MAD looks to regain their form against Australian representative LGC
Team Liquid has come to play this worlds, and each player has looked promising in their own right, Impact is a solid top laner, Broxah had a brilliant game against LGC, Tactical is likely the best player on his team despite being the youngest, and CoreJJ is a mastermind support. Jensen himself had a solid game against MAD’s Humanoid on Twisted Fate, and while Tactical has been the center of attention, Jensen’s Orianna absolutely curbstomped LGC despite being in an unfavorable match-up versus Lucian. Between Tactical and Jensen for captain, I think Jensen is the better choice, due to being able to pick up a second mid laner and the fact that Zeitnot is a relatively big carry on Supermassive, while Bolulu spends a lot of his time on control & utility mages. I think a pick like Akali would allow Jensen to run Bolulu down and snowball the game for Liquid, and it helps that Akali is one of Jensen’s signature champions. Tactical is a fine option too, but I feel like he will face more resistance against Snowflower and Zeitnot as opposed to Jensen’s relatively free lane against Bolulu
Alternatives to consider: Tactical ($11,100)
In my opinion, Armut is just a weaker version of Impact: they’re both solid tank players, but just like how Solo showed to be a stronger version of Impact, I similarly believe that Impact is just a stronger version of Armut. They share very similar pools: Ornn, Shen, and other tanks like Sion. However, while Armut generally sports low deaths, he is often times given fewer resources and is consequentially down CS as the game progresses. Meanwhile, Impact is known for smashing top laners in these disadvantageous match-ups through pure mechanical advantage. If Armut isn’t even capable of showing up against domestic talent on these picks and being stuck on a utility role, I doubt Impact will be any different for Armut, who is consistently doing better against higher tier competition. My other pick for top lane is Orome, I think both Topoon and Orome have been relatively weak for their teams this worlds, but I think Orome is still the overall better player. Lions are slumping though, and I don’t want to put faith on a mediocre top lane pick. Definitely choose Impact, but Orome may actually start playing the game.
Alternatives to consider: Orome ($6,800)
Jungle is extremely difficult on the day, as each player is relatively inconsistent as opposed to KaKAO, who has to play against laner deficit. I think Babip is the best choice for a few reasons: I think MAD is playing relatively poorly, especially from side lanes, and Shad0w himself has looked lost for weeks now. Babip got crushed by Broxah when LGC faced TL, but I think LGC is poor stylistically into TL by virtue of TL’s strong laning phase and LGC were incapable of punishing their lack of synergy and inert nature. Meanwhile, I think Babip and Tally have the potential to be one of the better 2v2s in their group: Shad0w looks lost, Bolulu is a slave for KaKAO, Jensen and Broxah lack synergy, and Envy is trying to carry the corpse of Shini. Babip being cheap lends credence to my decision, as he allows us to pursue better choices elsewhere. That being said, I think Shad0w is worth it if you have the money too: I wouldn’t gamble on KaKAO versus Broxah, Broxah isn’t worth taking a TL spot, and KaKAO gets too much out of Bolulu. I just don’t think Shad0w is worth the money investment due to his terrible worlds performances so far.
Alternatives to consider: Shad0w ($7,200)
Despite Tally playing well versus Envy, I think Humanoid is the only real player in MAD Lions that looks “there” aside from Kaiser. Carzzy looks nervous, Shad0w looks uncomfortable on the new meta of champions, and Orome looks like his very exploitable spring form. While I think the new set of meta mid laners could cause suspicion for Humanoid, I think he’s good enough at picks like Orianna for those changes to not matter. He’s a stereotypical Azir, Syndra, and Ryze player but control mages as a class are diverse enough to make sure his pool is relatively evergreen. I don’t think Tally will be capable of punishing Humanoid like he did against Envy. Otherwise, if you haven’t picked up Jensen, make sure to do so now: Bolulu just seems like a very bad pick, and I wouldn’t waste a mid lane spot on Tally.
Alternatives to consider: Jensen ($7,400)
Tactical has proven himself domestically against the top of his region: while Doublelift did get the best of him in play-offs, he performed solidly against FBI and Wildturtle. Internationally, he played fearlessly against MAD Lions and Legacy. On the other hand, Zeitnot appears to be a tough nut to crack, alongside Korean import Snowflower. I give the edge to Team Liquid due to facing tougher competition domestically relative to the TCL representatives. Snowflower individually is at the top of his league in Turkey, but looked abysmal when he was on 2019’s KT Rolster. I think Zeitnot is tough competition relative to what Tactical is used to, but I’m not really willing to bet on Raes versus Carzzy at this point: both ADCs were hyped up into the tournament, and neither met anything close to expectations. I do think Carzzy is the objectively better player, but after MAD’s performance against SUP I genuinely have no faith in the squad. I’ll give it to Carzzy because he clearly has potential, even internationally, while I think Raes may have only remained competitive domestically.
Alternatives to consider: Carzzy ($7,800)
Saving the final spot for TL is Kaiser, who has remained mechanically impressive internationally. Between the international representatives of Europe, I still believe Kaiser to be at the top of his class despite Carzzy’s mediocre gameplay, likely due to his confidence being shattered early at the event. Kaiser plays engage supports fearlessly, and despite being on a role typically known for their high death counts, Kaiser on the other hand is typically capable of minimizing his deaths, and therefore maximizing his KDA. At worlds so far, he holds a 2.66 KDA and I don’t think Legacy’s Isles will be a tough match up for Kaiser considering the international form of LGC. MAD’s victory against INTZ practically assures they’ll be able to proceeds to the qualifying rounds, and I think the lack of pressure will do the rookies on MAD well. I highly expect for MAD to bounce back any second now. However, I do think the ultimately safer choice is CoreJJ. TL and SUP both have their strengths in bottom lane, but TL has overcame mountains SUP are yet to climb, and this accreditation convinces me that they will win on the day.
Alternatives to consider: CoreJJ ($5,400)
Team Liquid ($5,200)
As mentioned before, I think Team Liquid has faced stiffer competition than SUP, who played- and went to 5 games- against 5Ronin in the TCL grand finals. It’s hard to contextualize Turkish League of Legends, but 5Ronin were by no means expected to make grand finals in TCL, and recent controversy around player payment has rocked the region. Supermassive have a solid roster for Turkey, and KaKAO looked decent the last time he was seen in Korean competition, but I don’t think Snowflower is a world class support, and SUP’s solo laners are glaring weaknesses relative to their opponents in TL. I think the two winners on the day will be MAD and TL, but LGC are more likely to beat MAD than SUP are to beat TL in my mind.
Alternatives to consider: Legacy Esports ($4,200)
Jensen & Tactical
I’m a big fan of mid/ADC pairings, and my recommendation for today are the Team Liquid carries, Jensen and Tactical. While mid/jungle has been a glaring weakness for Liquid, Bolulu’s style looks more like a cute, cuddly kitten as opposed to a menacing 2v2 that looks to facilitate the rest of SUP. Tactical faces stiff competition in the bottom lane, but with CoreJJ by his side, Snowflower should be completely inert in the laning phase. Tactical has stepped up so far, and he should continue to do so against the Turkish representative.
Kaiser & Humanoid
Mid support is an underrated duo, since support match-up indirectly has a decent amount of impact on mid match-up; not as much as jungle, but definitely tangible. Honestly, it’s hard to say who will actually step up for MAD Lions next, but Humanoid and Kaiser are the two players that look internationally competitive so far, and unfortunately each have been shackled with the corpse of their partner: Shad0w and Carzzy, respectively. I think Carzzy has a higher chance of reviving before Shad0w, but until then I would recommend to pair these two together for any MAD Lion hopeful. At the very least, I think these two are enough to bring a win over LGC.
KaKAO & Bolulu
I just wanted to talk about these guys before moving on, since I don’t think I’ll be able to talk about them again: KaKAO is the definition of a carry jungler, and Bolulu will play champions that gain priority in order to facilitate the agency of KaKAO. KaKAO is the face of Supermassive, and the team will make moves in order to make sure he’s in the drivers seat. If Supermassive are capable of beating Team Liquid, it’ll be off of KaKAO gapping Broxah in the jungle.
Top Picks: Tactical, Jensen, Impact
Tactical and Impact are two evergreen picks: I think Impact is simply the best top laner in play-ins, and his versatility lends TL a lot of options in draft. BOSS is solid, but he has weird champion pool limitations as shown by his game against R7, where R7 B1’d Camille, and BOSS answered with… Wukong. Tactical has just been fantastic so far this worlds, and his aggression hasn’t backed down in the slightest, he’s the same kid who completely changed the game against both FlyQuest and Immortals, and brought a lost game to a victory. Jensen is a solid mid laner who is leaps and bounds above wildcard caliber aside from perhaps Nomanz. Overall, I have this Team Liquid core winning convincingly over their Turkish counterparts.
Top Value: Babip, KaKAO, Jensen
Truthfully, Jensen is a copout. There’s four teams on the day, I can’t really choose a 3rd “value” player with these teams. The two jungle picks make sense to me: Babip is playing against a Shad0w who has looked estranged to his own role after the switching of meta champions. I think if LGC is capable of just preventing him from acquiring his signature Lee sin, the game is winnable for the Australians. KaKAO reminds me of Closer in the regard that his entire team has full faith in him lending them a fighting chance against any team, and are willing to give him whatever he needs to help them succeed. KaKAO wields a lot of power, so choosing him lends you a lot of flexibility if SUP do manage to overcome Liquid, as unlikely as that is in my eyes.