The play-ins stage was predictably wild, but exceeded even the most outlandish expectations with MAD Lions being eliminated and LGD, the play-ins favorite, only scraping by. Best-of-one formats are always going to lead to more volatility overall, and teams like Unicorns of Love and Legacy Esports took full advantage with aggressive compositions that forced mistakes and provided lots of entertainment.
The group stage will be much more consistent but no less exciting as we have the best teams in the world competing for the grand prize. The storylines here to watch include a vulnerable G2 Esports, who is coming out of the Summer split looking weaker than years past for a true contender, as well as a smurfing Damwon Gaming that lit the LCK on fire and looks to assert that dominance on the world stage.
G2 Esports (-132 to win group, +105 to be eliminated)
- Top- Wunder
- Mid- Caps
- Jungle- Jankos
- Bot- Perkz
- Support- Mikyx
G2 Esports is a perennial contender at Worlds and has a unique playstyle that affords them plenty of chances to take over games at any given point. This year, however, they come into Worlds looking weaker than years past. After finishing the Summer split third in record (11-7) before finishing off a considerably vulnerable Fnatic to win the finals, there are legitimate questions about how potent this squad can be against tougher regions.
It’s worth saying that G2 was very strong in the Summer split playoffs, with a gold advantage at 15 minutes (GD15) of 296 as well as the highest gold spent differential (GSPD) in the LEC at 2.2%. They always had the strongest macro play, with a strong mid and late game win percentage of 10.7% above average. Realistically, There’s no shortcomings to be found in their recent data, but it’s nothing incredible either. Luckily for G2, they drew by far the weakest group and being “Really good but not incredible” should be more than enough to carry them through. The main competition is going to be in Suning, but considering how much stronger Caps is than Angel in the Mid-lane (a key position in the current meta) I see G2 making it out of this group with Relative ease.
Recommended bets: G2 Esports to be win group (-132)
Machi Esports (+1108 to win group, -2210 to be eliminated )
- Top- PK
- Mid- M1ssion
- Jungle- Gemini
- Bot- Bruce
- Support- Koala
Though Machi Esports wasn’t the top of the PCS during the Summer split, they were straight up dominant in the playoffs, with just one series loss to PSG Talon before beating them in the finals. The PCS is a more macro oriented league, with less emphasis on kills and skirmishing and more on objectives and map control, which helps teams like Machi and fellow Worlds competitor PSG Talon when it comes to extended series. Kills are inherently volatile, so Machi may stand a better chance in groups thanks to their focus on objectives.
The Summer playoffs were a clinic from Machi, with a GD15 of 933 (best in the league) and a win rate of 11.7% above average from 15 minutes forward (also best in the league) while securing the first tower 78% of the time. The concern is in the mechanics when facing teams like Suning or G2, where skirmishing isn’t Machi’s strength. Should they be able to scale and maintain objectives across their series they might be able to take a couple games off the favorites, but it’s hard to see this team work deep into the tournament considering we are in a snowballing meta that doesn’t allow scaling.
Recommended bets: None
Suning (+244 to win group, -450 to be eliminated)
- Top- Bin
- Mid- Angel
- Jungle- SofM
- Bot- Huanfeng
- Support- SwordArt
Coming from arguably the strongest region in the world, Suning is the sole competition with G2 to make it out of this group. Huanfeng and Angel took big steps forward towards the end of the Spring split and continued that progress in the Summer split, granting them a ticket to this group stage. However, the team was one of the more inconsistent squads in the LPL, with many macro mistakes and an inability to close out games. Still, the mechanical brilliance of their carries is what got them here and what they will depend on to make it out of this group.
The Summer split playoffs were pretty solid for Suning even though they were eliminated in the semifinals by a little team named Top Esports. They actually ended up with the second highest GD15 at 1020, only behind JD Gaming at 1052, but they ended up throwing those leads as they struggled with macro priority against better squads. Suning might be the most kill-happy team in the LPL, with a combined kills per minute (CKPM) of 1.00, which helps ramp up the volatility in a series. Should they get an early lead over teams like Liquid and Machi, I have no reservations they can close them out. The question is how they deal with G2 Esports, who not only skirmishes very well but closes out games as well as anyone.
Recommended bets: None
Team Liquid (+669 to win group, -1250 to be eliminated)
- Top- Impact
- Mid- Jensen
- Jungle- Broxah
- Bot- Tactical
- Support- CoreJJ
It is slightly surprising that Team Liquid is not the biggest underdog in this group, as North America is by far the weakest region at Worlds each and every year. However, Liquid is a strong team with above average players at Mid and ADC, along with CoreJJ who continues to be underrated as a top Support player in the world. Team Liquid was, in my opinion, the best team in the LCS and deserves this shot as much as anyone.
Now, deserving a shot doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s worth talking about how they got here. The Summer split saw them play to a specific condition: Get the Herald (taken 63% of the time, most in the league) and get first tower (77% rate) and carry that map control advantage into a textbook mid game. They had a good GD15 of 229 and picked their battles which led to them meeting expectations across the board. In the play-in stage of Worlds, they were incredible: 2760 GD15 and a 2.37 KD with just one loss. This team’s win condition is always going to be based on map control and tower dominance, something that has proven to be a winning strategy for them. Should they be able to avoid early skirmishing deaths and focus on textbook mid game play, I believe this team can take advantage of an aggressive group and has a better chance to make it out of the group than the odds give them.
Recommended bets: G2 Esports to be win group (+669)
DAMWON Gaming (-141 to win group, +115 to be eliminated)
- Top- Nuguri
- Mid- ShowMaker
- Jungle- Canyon
- Bot- Ghost
- Support- BeryL
If it were up to me, we would just hand the Worlds trophy to DAMWON Gaming right now and avoid all the drama. They are without question a top three team in the world and very likely the best all around squad on the planet. They have the best player in the world, ShowMaker, at the most important position, and they just got done dwarfing all the competition in the LCK and sweeping DRX in the Summer split finals. If they were in any other group, they would be a shoe in to finish without a loss.
In the Summer playoffs, DAMWON finished with a 2.57 KD and finished games in unholy fashion, winning games at a 32.1% better rate after 15 minutes than league average. But that was just three games, since they swept their opponent, so how was their full split? Well: A GD15 of 3055 (closest was 1254 by Gen.G) along w2ith a 90% first tower rate and a 77% herald rate to go with a 2.20 KD. they made the most technically sound region in the world look like a North American amatuer server. The big thing here is that the LCK has such incredible macro play overall that any mistakes made are punished harshly with little allowance for comebacks. Yes, JD Gaming is an incredible team with fantastic mechanical prowess, but in focusing on skirmishing you open the door to give up a small lead on a lost team fight at 4 minutes and you can’t come back against DAMWON if that happens. They are the favorite to win this group and it’s more than deserved.
Recommended bets: DAMWON Gaming to win group (-141)
JD Gaming (+142 to win the group, -215 to be eliminated)
- Top- Zoom
- Mid- Yagao
- Jungle- Kanavi
- Bot- LokeN
- Support- LvMao
JD Gaming is either the second or fourth best team in the world depending on how you view the LPL against the LCK, but it’s no question that they are a powerhouse of a team that can take over games at any point. They also have one of the best Top/Jungle combinations at Worlds, though their carries are about on par with the rest of the competition. The question will be if JD Gaming is able to maintain objective control well enough in the early game to establish a baseline to build on in the late game, something they struggled with in the Summer split.
The Summer playoffs were solid for JDG, with a GD15 of 1052 (best in the league) but they struggled with finishing out games and might have put too much emphasis on grabbing kills and not enough on securing neutral objectives. Their first blood rate was fantastic at 78%, but they only grabbed 44% of Heralds and Drakes, which shows that even with early pressure and priority they didn’t push into any real map dominance. The Summer split wasn’t much better, and if not for an insane 20.4% better than average win rate at 15 minutes, they likely would have missed the playoffs entirely. There are questions about this team’s macro identity that can be heavily exploited by better scaling teams and questions about their mechanical prowess than can be exploited by teams that force fights. In another group, it would be easy to see them making it out because the individual talent is incredible, but being grouped with DAMWON and, to a lesser extent, Rogue, who both play incredible macro style League of Legends, I don’t think they can make it out of this stage.
Recommended bets: JD Gaming to be eliminated in groups (-215)
PSG Talon (+2227 to win group, -4500 to be eliminated)
- Top- Hanabi
- Mid- Tank
- Jungle- River
- Bot- Unified
- Support- Kaiwing
Coming from the PCS is actually a bit of a boost to the expectations for me for PSG Talon (And Machi Esports in Group A) since the focus on map control and neutral objectives is a more pure style of gameplay that translates well to a longer series. However, since there is so little skirmishing in leagues that focus on macro there is a natural drop in mechanical skill that can be bad against teams that prefer to duke it out in the early game. Especially considering the current snowball meta, it doesn’t feel like a team like PSG has a leg up on anyone in this group.
After an impressive play-in stage where we saw the PCS wildcard go 4-1, PSG is back to full strength. Multiple members played as substitutes and were still able to find success mostly do to fantastic mid to late game play (33.1% win rate above average) and a focus on gold distribution along with conservative play leading to a play-in best 2.61 KD. However, the GD15 of -316 signals early game issues in a group that has some of the most soul-crushing early game teams in the world in JDG and DAMWON. PSG is arguably the worst team in this group with Rogue being underrated and with all the roster differences and questions about their overall style it’s safe to say they do not make it out.
Recommended bets: None
Rogue (+3120 to win group, -5500 to be eliminated)
- Top- Finn
- Mid- Larssen
- Jungle- Inspired
- Bot- Hans Sama
- Support- Vander
Rogue is built on the premise of winning the Top and Bot lanes while Mid lane scales, which puts them in a position to secure the first tower often and have map priority for the rest of the game. This scaling type of play is beneficial in a longer series where mistakes are more heavily punished and windows are smaller for comebacks, but there’s a talent issue with Rogue that may come into play when against the top teams in the world. It’ll be up to Finn and Hans Sama to step up and control the game if Rogue wants to find any real success.
Rogue was, by all measures, the best team in the LEC in the Summer split. A GD15 of 1298 was more than twice as good as G2 Esports in second with 614, they didn’t throw the lead and won games at an above average level past the 15 minute mark, and their KD ratio of 1.88 was best by far. They carried leads forward exceptionally well with an 89% rate of getting the first three towers when they would begin to suffocate opponents with fantastic vision and objective control. There are no subjective holes in Rogue’s game: They know they want to get first tower, maintain map control, and use macro priority to finish games with few mistakes and they execute it well. The sole problem is where their talent lies, as having a weaker, control oriented mid laner is not the path to success in the current meta. However, the odds are fantastic on a team that knows their identity and doesn’t throw games. Take a shot on them at long odds and enjoy the underdog story.
Recommended bets: Rogue to win group (+3120)