When Group B was set just a little over every week in the past in Seoul, South Korea, on the 2018 League of Legends World Championship, every part appeared simple. The defending world champion, Gen.G, would get by to the bracket stage following their spectacular victory within the South Korean regional. The event favourite and reigning Mid-Season Invitational winner, Royal By no means Give Up of China, who has gained each event they’ve entered this yr, would be a part of Gen. G. The pair of western groups drawn into the group with them, the scrappy however sloppy Group Vitality of Europe and the inexperienced younger core of Cloud9 from North America who narrowly averted catastrophe within the play-in qualifiers, have been cannon fodder.
Gen.G, previously underneath the Samsung Galaxy model, and RNG had been drawn into the identical worlds group the earlier two years. Every time, they superior to the knockout rounds with comparatively little resistance from their western counterparts. This yr, it was alleged to be the identical story instructed with new background characters, as the 2 groups would battle in teams after which presumably be matched up within the closing in Incheon.
Whereas RNG shall be making its approach to the quarterfinals, Gen.G, the world champion, won’t, succumbing to the worst efficiency of any South Korean group in worlds historical past, ending the event with an total 1-5 document. Of their stead, USA’s Cloud9 shall be shifting onto the knockout rounds for the fifth time in six years, the group solely failing to make it to the quarterfinals in 2015 when it fell in a tiebreaker to AHQ Esports of Taiwan. Group Vitality, who pressed the gasoline pedal till the ultimate second, completed third, forward of the defending world champion.
So, how did C9 do it?
They did the alternative of what North America as a area has completed for its existence at worlds.
Let me break it down for you. For years, the NA LCS has come into worlds and completed nicely within the first half of the double-round robin group stage. This is not a coincidence or some type of magic. Nearly yearly, NA LCS groups include a ready model or a single technique they’re good at, deploy it in its first three video games, get a number of wins, after which go into the second half of the group with little motivation to adapt or change. Through the days off, the opposing groups analyze their tunnel imaginative and prescient, exploit their weaknesses, and eliminate them once they meet once more.
In 2015, the one yr of C9’s existence in League of Legends through which they did not make the quarterfinals at worlds, the group bought off to by far its finest begin of any world championship, going 3-Zero within the first week earlier than crashing again right down to earth in Week 2 with 4 straight losses. The previous two years, all three NA LCS groups have completed the primary week with 2-1 information. Each years, solely C9 clawed their approach out of the group levels, with the likes of Group SoloMid, Immortals and Counter Logic Gaming unable to evolve their play from the primary three video games to the final three.
This yr, C9 was flat-footed up till their closing video games of Group B. The play-in stage was a near-disaster. Japan’s Detonation FocusMe nearly beat them twice. Within the knockout match with LCL’s Gambit Esports to get into the group levels, the group nearly bought eradicated earlier than even making it to Busan, surviving 3-2. And whereas they stole a win from Group Vitality within the first set of video games in Group B to salvage at the very least one win, it did not really feel like a whole victory — the win felt extra like Vitality dropping the sport by overeagerness than C9 successful.
On Sunday, the group who didn’t make it out of teams, Group Vitality, could be those who really helped C9 probably the most to maneuver into the knockout stage. By means of the primary half of the group levels, a normal meta had established itself with champions like Urgot and Kai’sa turning into staples of practically each sport. Group Vitality, sick and bored with single-damage comps or boring farm fests within the high lane, bucked the development, falling again to their all-out aggressive model to take out Gen. G within the first set of video games and open the eyes of C9 who felt they have been too passive of their first few video games.
Coming into the ultimate three video games, C9 adopted the method Group Vitality had delivered to South Korea: Combat. It would not matter in case your mind is telling you one factor and your coronary heart is telling you one other — combat.
And combat they did. As an alternative of enjoying champions which have been “meta” this occasion, C9 performed to their strengths and quickened their play. Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, the group’s burgeoning rookie celebrity, performed 4 totally different champions in 4 video games with Hecarim, Poppy, Shen, and Singed. Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen bought his palms on his signature Zilean. From high to backside, the group’s mindset was to let every part out on Summoner’s Rift, and be it a win or a loss, like Group Vitality, they might not go down with out taking a number of of the opposing group with them.
The outcome was the perfect single-day efficiency in North American historical past at worlds. In succession, C9 bested Gen. G, romped tournament-favorite RNG, after which, in the most effective worlds matches of the previous couple of years, defeated Group Vitality to qualify for the quarterfinals, the 2 progressive western sides each choosing their pocket picks like Zilean and Ekko to see which area’s taste was higher on the day. Vitality, choosing an early-game composition, could not get a big sufficient lead round their core Draven, and earlier than too lengthy, C9 was sprinting their approach to the top-8, turning into the primary NA LCS group to mightily enhance from the primary half of the group stage to the following.
Gen.G, the world champion, was the right standardized group. Within the face of mages and different wacky champions turning into meta within the backside lane within the early a part of the summer time, Gen. G by no means flinched. They continued enjoying their normal methods. It did not matter in the event that they did not have the perfect early sport or the perfect laners. Gen.G knew in the long run, once they bought to their candy spot, no group might defeat them.
That mindset is what killed the king. Vitality set the tone of a brand new meta at worlds, and C9 adopted swimsuit. RNG, who was toppled of their first two video games of Sunday’s slate, finally tailored as nicely by the ultimate tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed within the group with C9, besting the NA group in one other nail-biter. The one group to not evolve all through the event, Gen.G, completed with just one win.
Adapt or die is the brand new title of the sport in South Korea.
Group B has modified your entire really feel of the event and different groups will nearly assuredly observe the brand new meta set. In what has develop into an arms race to see which group can play the quickest and be the tempo-setters of every sport, will probably be right down to which groups can evolve the quickest to see who will be a part of C9 and RNG for the quarterfinals this weekend.
Group Vitality may need not made it to the quarterfinals, however the tone they set by their swagger and aptitude in how they method the sport undoubtedly will. C9 will make certain of it.