League of Legends 2017 World Championship: Quarterfinals Preview
Take a dive into the major storylines for the League of Legends 2017 World Championship Quarterfinals
By Matt Samuelson
For the past 3 weeks, 24 of the best teams in the world have gathered in Wuhan, China to test their mental fortitude, strategy, and speed behind a mouse and keyboard. After 3 weeks of intense competition, epic plays, and heartbreaking tournament exits, 8 teams remain to compete for the Summoner’s Cup. Here are the major storylines for the 4 matches coming up this week as the tournament moves to Guangzhou Gymnasium in Guangzhou, China.
Team WE vs. Cloud9
Oct. 22nd, 1 AM PST/4 AM EST on www.twitch.tv/riotgames
Both Team WE and Cloud9 have made a dream run coming from the play-in Stage all the way to the top 8. For both of these teams, they received the easiest draw. Team WE showed a lot of weaknesses throughout both stages of the tournament. They’ve faltered in many early games and the reason they’re here is because Mystic carried them through many of their games. The rest of the lineup needs to step up if they want to find success, and they are by far the weakest 1st seed coming out of the group stage. With that said, Cloud9 is probably one of the two weakest teams left in the tournament. Cloud9 went 3-3 in their group, with only one dominant game in the group stage after stomping through the play-in stage.
Both of these teams are playing with something to prove for their region. Team WE is playing in front of their Chinese home crowd, and they want nothing more than to make it to the semifinals and make the audience roar. Cloud9, despite being the lowest seed from the NA LCS, is the only North American team left in the tournament. They’re playing for the pride of their region as well, as making the semifinals would save the entire region from seeing 2017 as a complete failure on the international stage.
Longzhu Gaming vs. Samsung Galaxy
Oct. 19th, 1 AM PST/4 AM EST on www.twitch.tv/riotgames
If you’re only able to watch one of these four matches, you’re going to want to tune into this one. Longzhu Gaming’s roster was built only 5 months ago. Now, they’re the top seed in the toughest region in League of Legends, and dominated the group stage as they ran the table in group B going 6-0. Not only did they win 6-0, they styled on their opponents winning in the shortest average game time in the group stage, including a 20 minute victory with Khan playing Nasus. However, the tournament favorites face another Korean team in Samsung Galaxy.
Samsung Galaxy was supposed to win their group, but a hot Royal Never Give Up took the top seed in front of a home crowd. Samsung finds themselves in a much different scenario. Last year, Samsung Galaxy had an easy road to the finals and ended up surprising fans when they lost to SK Telecom in 5 games. Now, Samsung is up against the tournament favorites which was a bad draw for them and for Longzhu as well. This likely would’ve been a semifinals matchup, however we get to see it in the quarterfinals now. Can the young studs in Longzhu Gaming beat the experienced Samsung Galaxy in a best of 5? Should be a fantastic match the watch.
SK Telecom T1 vs. Misfits Gaming
Oct. 20th, 1 AM PST/4 AM EST on www.twitch.tv/riotgames
This matchup is the present day incarnation of David vs. Goliath. SK Telecom has hoisted the Summoner’s Cup 3 times. In January Alphari, Hans Sama, and Maxlore made their debut in the EU LCS. Let me make this clear: Misfits was the last team everyone was expecting to be here. They were supposed to take last in their group, and if they won even 2 games most fans would’ve been impressed. That being said, they knocked off TSM, the largest western brand in League of Legends and the top seed from the NA LCS, to make it into the quarterfinals. Their run has been nothing but outstanding and impressive as their fundamental play has been sound.
This is probably the weakest version of SK Telecom we’ve seen at the League of Legends World Championship. SKT is looking for an unprecedented 3rd consecutive title, giving them 4 championships throughout the 7 years the World Championships have existed. However, they’ve shown many weaknesses in their early game. They’ve found themselves down over 10k gold at the 29 minute mark with multiple inhibitors being taken.
The piece of the puzzle I didn’t mention is that they won these games. SKT has shown the resilience and the impeccable teamfighting and rotational play needed to win these games. Their execution from behind has been nothing short of extraordinary, and they’ve won games that anyone else would consider over. That being said, they cannot afford to give up these leads and expect to win from behind every game. Misfits is playing with no expectations and nothing to lose, and it will be a fun series to watch and see if David can take down Goliath.
Royal Never Give Up vs. Fnatic
Oct. 21st, 1 AM PST/4 AM EST on www.twitch.tv/riotgames
The big storyline for this matchup is in the botlane. Legendary marksman Uzi and Rekkles get to go toe-to-toe to the viewers pleasure. Uzi is starting to be called the “bridesmaid, but never the bride.” Uzi has been a runner-up twice at the World Championship and doesn’t have a domestic title in China despite many runner-ups there as well. Uzi finds himself up against Rekkles, the summer split MVP of the EU LCS and a veteran, international talent in himself. In a meta where teams funnel many resources into late game hyper carries, it might just come down to which of these two players can carry their teams harder.
The other storyline is that RNG is the only all-chinese lineup and they’re playing in China. In interviews, Uzi and the rest of the members of RNG have expressed how much they want to perform in front of the audience and bask in their cheers. RNG has a good chance to advance against Fnatic, the fan favorites from the EU LCS.
RNG looked dominant as they went 5-1 in the toughest group in the group stage, while Fnatic is here based on a miracle. After starting week 1 0-3, they were able to go 2-1 in the 2nd week of the group stage putting them in a 3-way tie for 2nd. They then beat Immortals and Gigabyte Marines in tiebreaker matches, granting them a well-deserved spot in the top 8. Between the play-in stage and the group stage, Fnatic has played the most matches out of any team at the World Championship. We will see if this experience can help them against the hometown heroes in Royal Never Give Up.
Matt Samuelson is the co-founder of the Miami University Varsity Esports Program and has been a student analyst and substitute for the university’s League of Legends team for the past 2 years. You can follow him on Twitter @Cubbyxx