LOL World Championship Group Stage: October 4 (Worlds)
Christopher Troeh guides you through the League of Legends North American (LCS) & European (LEC) World Championship Group Stages for esports DFS contests!
The second day of worlds heats up on 10/4, featuring headline matches like LGD vs FNC, and TSM vs Gen.G, amongst others. Furthermore, strong tournament contenders DWG and JDG face off against RGE and PSG respectively, both teams that seem weaker relative to others in the tournament. Let’s get into picks!
Damwon Gaming surged into their first LCK Championship off of the back of their superstar solo laners: top laner Nuguri and mid laner Showmaker. Both players were at the top of the league, toppling giants like Chovy, Kiin, BDD, and even Faker. On the other side of the lane of Showmaker is Larssen- a very talented player in his own right, but if Showmaker is capable of defeating the legendary mid laners of Korea, while Larssen is challenged by players like Humanoid, and defeated convincingly by Caps, I will hedge my bets with the Damwon mid laner. Showmaker is one of the best mid laners in the tournament, and he will be a solid pick no matter who he’s playing against. Otherwise, I would recommend Yagao, who is facing off against Tank on PSG, a player that has appeared to be a downgrade to mid laner Uniboy, albeit with a sample size of one. Neither of these picks are bad, just choose one or the other between Yagao and Showmaker.
Alternatives to consider: Yagao ($11,700)
It’s no secret that the Team Liquid top laner popped off in play-ins, and was likely the best top laner in that phase of the tournament. Historically, Impact has stepped up when it came to international events, famously besting Nuguri at the last world championship. This worlds, he looks to face off against PK who people may recognize from the GRX squad at 2018 worlds who fell in play-ins without acquiring a single win. Indeed, the rest of Machi’s squad appears very closely to that GRX roster: PK, Koala are joined by M1ssion from the HKA squad who similarly went winless in groups in 2019. Added are jungler Gemini and Bruce from GRX’s 2019 squad who didn’t qualify for the event. This context is to set the stage for later picks: but PK appeared to be one of the weaker players on the GRX squad in 2018, and while things are capable of changing, I’d recommend sticking with Impact for top lane: he has looked fantastic so far in the event. For a different top lane pick, feel free to cash out with Nuguri; I don’t think Finn will be capable of handling him, similar to what we saw from Solo against 369
Alternatives to consider: Nuguri ($7,200)
Team Liquid players are insanely cheap, and while I still am not yet convinced by Broxah’s suddenly good performance at worlds so far, I don’t think Gemini will be a much steeper challenge than KaKAO was. Furthermore, Gemini wasn’t even the best jungler in his region: Kongyue was, who had been brought low once before by the Russian AHaHaCiK in play-ins. Broxah’s price tag is a big factor in this decision, alongside the weakness of PCS as a region. We don’t need Broxah to pop off, only to win against Gemini, which he’s very likely to do considering the relative strength of NA compared to PCS. If you’re looking for a harder hitting jungler, I’d recommend Selfmade: Peanut didn’t look stellar against Gen.G’s Clid, while Selfmade has been one of the biggest carries for FNC this season.
Alternatives to consider: Selfmade ($6,800)
Showmaker and Yagao are the two mid laners that I think are truly worth picking up on the day: M1ssion is the bright spot for MCX, Xiye versus Nemesis is too impacted by their team, and while I think Caps is better than Angel, Jankos hasn’t looked great on the new meta junglers. Yagao however has been a consistent factor for JDG as far back as his acquisition in 2018. While he may be overshadowed by his teammates, he is one of the most underrated players coming into the event, and he’s even bested superstars such as Knight in the past: back to back finals appearances (with one being a championship!) is no fluke, and in the LPL, that’s impossible with a bad mid laner. Furthermore, his opponent Tank doesn’t appear to be anything special: he’s a solid control mage player, but compared to the strength we’ve seen from JDG, and Yagao, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to match up well in the mid lane. Otherwise, there’s two other options for mid lane: go for safe and expensive with Showmaker, or slightly cheaper and more risky with Caps. Caps can definitely beat Angel, but SofM is the original jungle prodigy, despite being a relatively mediocre teams throughout his career. I’d recommend shelling out extra for Showmaker.
Alternatives to consider: Showmaker ($8,000)
Back to Liquid, hope you didn’t miss them. Tactical has been the prince of Team Liquid, replacing Doublelift and turning a team that finished 9th in the regular season in Spring, to 1st in Summer. While Liquid fell short in play-offs due to weak jungle performances from Broxah, Tactical made a case for being the best ADC in North America, and Team Liquid over all having the best bottom lane in the league. Across the rift is Bruce and Koala: Koala is a relatively known quantity, and he looked pretty poor the last time we saw him on GRX; he was perhaps the worst support in the tournament. Bruce is a wildcard, and while he put up some good performances in the PCS, one only needs to think back to how Stitch played in 2018 GRX: best in the LMS, but one of the worst ADs at the tournament. I think TL’s bottom lane has a big advantage over the PCS first place representatives. If you’re looking for a different choice, I’d try to snag SN’s huanfeng. He’s an incredible AD, and Mikyx has looked off his game as of late, despite the fact Perkz is still strong.
Alternatives to consider: huanfeng ($7,200)
Finally rounding out our Liquid roster aside from mid lane is the support CoreJJ. If you’re familiar with these articles, Core needs no introduction: 2017 world champion, and hasn’t missed a world championship since. He’s a fantastic support, and isn’t stylistically limited. I’m excited to see his Alistar, one of his signature champions as it has just swung back into the meta at the beginning of this event. As stated previously, Koala hasn’t seemed impressive to me, and his previous international failures has stained his perception in my mind: while other teams have faced failure at worlds, the PCS’s routine of not picking up a single win in group stage is much more impactful than North America’s tendency to lose tiebreakers. All and all, CoreJJ is a solid pick, he’s accredited, he’s dominated his region (both in Korea and North America), and his pool suits the meta very well. For a different support pick, I would recommend grabbing SwordArt, who’s been a superstar on SN. Nothing against Mikyx, but his recent performances have been uninspiring. Additionally, SwordArt comes in cheap, which is to the benefit of someone trying to pick up JDG or DWG players for more valuable roles.
Alternatives to consider: SwordArt ($4,800)
DAMWON Gaming ($6,000)
While the JDG vs PSG game may be faster, I think what Damwon has shown so far has been enough for me to say they’re the safer bet. Damwon crushed JDG on Saturday, and they’re one of the top picks in the entire tournament. I don’t think Rogue is the worst, but their group is a hard sell, and I don’t see a world where Rogue gets out over JDG or heaven forbid, DWG. Rogue’s success has surprised me since their roster lacks firepower: their bottom lane is good, above average but not fantastic, Larssen is obviously a prodigy, their jungler is above average, and their top laner is above average. However, they lack exemplary players outside of mid laners such as Alphari, Selfmade, Rekkles, or Kaiser. But I digress, this game should be easy for DWG.,
Alternatives to consider: JD Gaming ($6,200)
SofM & huangfeng (& SwordArt)
I’m generally going to try to keep stacks towards picks that are solid but I don’t have the time to talk about elsewhere: the SN jungle and AD are amazing picks for their roles. Furthermore, they target the weaknesses on G2’s roster. SofM and huangfeng are considered young prodigies (at least, early in their career- SofM is 22 now). These two players are also facilitated by SN’s support SwordArt, from Flash Wolves fame. G2 vs SN will be an exciting match-up, since the teams have such different strengths, but if you’re looking for picks that aren’t Liquid for these roles, I highly recommend them.
Zoom & Kanavi
Truthfully, any JDG player is a good pick up, although PSG’s bottom lane does appear to be the strongest part of the roster. Zoom is one of, if not the best top laner in the world contested by only Nuguri. Kanavi is a coinflip player, but due to the jungler’s reliance on the solo lanes (particularly mid lane) we can expect Kanavi to smash River, due to the skill advantage being on the side of Yagao in the middle lane. Both of these players are world class, and fantastic choices.
Caps & Perkz
The superstar “mid laners” of G2 are their highest mechanically ceiling players, and their versatility between both of them being capable of playing both ADC and mid lane has lend them unique champion pools, and understanding of the game. Between Suning and G2, both teams have clear win conditions: G2 has Perkz and Caps, and Suning has SofM and huangfeng. G2 couldn’t have won LEC without these two, and now it’s time for them to once again march onto the worlds stage. This year is more competitive than any other considering the compensations made in the format following the cancellation of MSI, but these two players are likely championship caliber.
Top Picks: Zoom, Showmaker, Nuguri
Damwon players are surethings, but the team has a bit of a weak point in the bottom lane. Ghost and BeryL are solid, but aren’t of the same pedigree as players such as LvMao or Jackeylove. However, Showmaker and Nuguri are simply that good. They don’t need a superstar ADC or support to win them the Korean Championship. Canyon isn’t half bad either, and is likely the best jungler in Korea- but he doesn’t have the level of dominance his solo laners have. Zoom on the other hand is one of the best top laners in the world alongside Nuguri, however top laner’s tendency to not output the point value that picks like ADCs or Mid laners dissuades me from making one a captain in order to pick up both Nuguri and Zoom.
Top Value: Tactical, Impact, SwordArt
Coming from play-ins is both a curse and a blessing: Team Liquid showed a level of dominance above the other play-in teams, on the other hand, they’ve exposed some of their strategies to the teams in their group, and the teams they’ve played against aren’t at the caliber they’ll be facing later in the tournament. Fortunately for us though, coming from play-ins has tanked their cost for us, so these relatively solid players are available for cheap. The odd man out here is SwordArt, the support for Suning. He’s one of the cheapest picks at only $4,800 for support, and he punches far above his weight class. He forms a formidable bottom lane with huangfeng, and Mikyx’s recent performances have been uninspiring outside of his finals match versus FNC. He’s a solid pick, and he comes in cheap.