Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Worlds 2017 - Play-In Knockout Stage Predictions

     I'm going to keep these relatively brief because I honestly don't think there is too much to say but I'll package some of my thoughts on the mini group stage action into it and give a possible angle for how the underdogs could manage an upset.

     Before the predictions, however, I'd like to mention something that was brought up on the cast on day one that I definitely didn't factor in as much but will moving forward. It's important to stick to your guns sometimes but other times you have to adjust accordingly. What I'm talking about is the effect the current state of the game can have on the potential for underdog victories. Patch 7.18 is wide open for the most part but it seems to have been settled on by the majority of the Worlds contenders that, sort of like in Season 2, the big, apocalytpic team fight compositions are king. Scaling carries like Tristana, Kog'maw, Xayah and others along with massive engage tools and often two frontliners make tradition 2-core compositions extremely strong right now and with lane swaps more or less out of the game you're pretty much forced to have some way to deal with these comps or to play them yourself. The thing I didn't weigh enough was that since you can't really ban out all of the strong team fighters there's going to be a lot of compositional and draft parity in this tournament. A team might "win" the draft but champion depth and versatility will likely be less of a deciding factor than is has in the past. It certainly still matters but much less so and what this does is create game states where 1) Leads matter slightly less and 2) Team fights can swing back and forth because they're closer to 50-50 than they were before. This team fight factor combined with the actual compositions (2 tanks most times and a hyper carry) can lead to seemingly "out of nowhere" game wins off of a single teamfight win.

TL:DR - This patch is going to make for a lot of even, competitive games and teams that traditionally have massive draft advantages will not have that as much in this tournament unless something further develops. In other words, UPSETS ARE WAY MORE LIKELY.

Now onto knockout predictions...

Lyon Gaming (2) vs Cloud 9 (1): 

     Unlike World Elite and Fnatic who played very cautiously against their wildcard opponents Cloud 9 put their opponents down fast with a confidence that says to me that they're ready to play with the big boys. Despite World Elite playing as cautiously as they did and sort of playing the SKT style of "wait for our enemies to mess up" Lyon Gaming still impressed me. Ultimately they lost to the more important opponents but they played confidently and with a certain swagger that actually has me admitting that they are significantly better than I thought. Take it as someone that's played on the Latin America North servers, it's not that competitive.

How can Lyon Gaming pull the upset? Cloud 9 would have to either get too aggressive and Lyon absorbs that blow while having a heavier scaling team (such as with WhiteLotus' Kog'maw which I'm assuming will be priority picked/banned) or they'd have to win some coin-flip team fights with both teams running heavy scaling.

Lyon showed well and vastly overperformed my expectations even considering the World Elite was playing very timid but Cloud 9 simply outclasses them and unlike the more passive teams isn't going to give them any room to breathe. I'd say this is 95% a 3-0 for C9, 4% 3-1, and 1% or less for the other possible outcomes.

Cloud 9 wins 3-0

Fnatic (1) vs Hong Kong Attitude (2):

     Fnatic looked more or less like themselves and, much like World Elite. took the wildcard competition very seriously. Perhaps too seriously. They stuck to their tried and true roots and didn't have to show anything. Hong Kong Attitude, while feisty, just don't really have the tools to deal with Fnatic on an individual or team level. If they showed more capability to snowball games perhaps I'd have some hope but this isn't MSI Gigabyte.

How can HKA win? In the past Soaz and Caps have had long and extreme slumps and the occassional dumpster fire of a game. If one of those happens and Rekkless can be limited to even somehow then MAYBE HKA can steal a game. That or Caps could find some weird pick that he fancies and it doesn't work so they'll lose one and then tilt into two more... It's pretty farfetched.

Fnatic wins 3-0

1907 Fenerbahce (1) vs Team oNe (2)

    Ahh Brazil vs Turkey. Traditionally the two strongest wild card regions (shut up season 2 TPA you don't count... and neither do you Gama Bears). Going into the Play-In I had Gambit and Fenerbahce as the only wildcard teams I could see having any real impact at this years tournament and after the draw I had Fenerbahce escaping their easy group. Gambit was a massive bust and Lyon overperformed but Fenerbahce delivered on what I thought they'd be even with the substitution of Move for Crash (he's a god... how is he not signed somewhere). They weren't really challenged so it's hard to say "they haven't missed a beat" so I'll hold off on that narrative.

How can Team oNe win? This one I think is the closest of the four knockout matches but it's still not close. Maybe the lack of experience playing with Crash can come back to bite FB1907 but the team has run the whole season with the Korean Jungle + Mid combination so unless there's some very specific cross-language communication lacking that there wasn't before I doubt that will happen. I mean maybe Brucer just goes off... Aurelion Sol is THE PREMIER UPSET MACHINE and if FB1907 doesn't ban it Brucer could steal games like CLG did last year.

Fenerbahce is clearly the stronger team here but ultimately they are still two wild card teams so they're likely to be a lot less clean than we're used to. That combined with meta and I feel like oNe will take a game but it's unlikely they'll do more than that.

1907 Fenerbahce wins 3-1

Team World Elite (1) vs Young Generation (2)

     Naul had an outstanding performance in the group stage of the play-in and you could make an argument that he was the strongest non-Lyon wildcard player for those games. Now onto World Elite. This is going to be an unpopular opinion but I actually liked the way they approached these games. Everyone is going to come out and say "Oh but Gelati they ALMOST lost to Lyon. How good could they be?" This team plays remarkably similar to SKT. Like scary similar. How many times have you seen SKT behind in gold, behind in kills, still dominating the objective game and just absorbing every possible punch the enemy team throws? The answer? Almost every single game. This team is incredibly disciplined and depsite some underwhelming individual performances from Mystic and Xiye this team as a whole is good. There's chemistry, there's an extremely high skill level on an individual basis, and perhaps most importantly, there's an identity. World Elite know what they are. They're confident in their ability to grind out games and choke opponents out in a battle of attrition which plays a lot better against better competition than it does against wild animals (wildcard teams) that are cornered and flailing. I think WE approached the group stage very cautiously almost to a fault but ultimately they were in control of every single one of these games. This is still one of the stronger teams in this tournament in my opinion.

How can Young Generation win? We just saw WE patiently outwait Lyon despite a seemingly big deficet. I think you just need to go even harder than Lyon did on early and and try to end this. I know the meta-game says you're better off just drafting a big team fighting team and taking the 50-50 in scaling team fight battle later in the game but I just think that's World Elite's modus operandi. You need to make this team comfortable an you need to take Mystic completely out of the game. I'd like to see some Aurelion, Twisted Fate, Ryze, or some higher priority mid lane champion that can roam and get the tempo of this game going fast.

World Elite 3-0... maybe they'll realize the competition they're playing against and come out and style on them but something tells me this team is gonna play this like the killers they are and just grind Young Generation into dust.

That's that for now guys I'll see you again once we know the full four teams in every group!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Worlds 2017 - Play-in Stage Predictions

Play-In Stage 2017 Predictions:

Group A: World Elite 1st, Gambit 2nd
-As much as I want to see Gambit do well (and I do think they can steal a game) they just don't have what it takes to beat what many consider to be China's best team even though they're the 3rd seed.

Group B: Cloud 9 1st, oNe E-sports 2nd
-I think that as disappointed as C9 fans were at their performance this playoffs, the strength of competition in NA is simply leaps and bounds ahead of Brazil and Latin America North. Although Vert is definitely worth watching in the top lane for oNe.

Group C: Fnatic 1st, Young Generation 2nd
-While I think that Europe was significantly weaker this year, Fnatic and G2 have shown relative dominance over their region. If this was any other EU team besides Fnatic or G2 I'd actually give Young Generation a chance of advancing out of this group but as it stands I just don't see it. European teams are fairly adept at dealing with odd, off the wall strategies likely to be employed by wildcard teams.

Group D: 1907 Fenerbahce 1st, Hong Kong Attitude 2nd
- Other than Gambit, who I believe is the best of the wildcard region teams in the entire worlds tournament including Gigabyte Marines, I feel that 1907FB are the next strongest. I kinda wanted to give "homefield" advantage to HKA here but I just think FB are just a bit better although close. Rampage isn't a pushover either and they'll be looking to make a name for Japan in their first ever representation at Worlds. This is going to be the most fun group to watch for sure outside of specifically Gambit vs WE.

So China 3, NA 3, EU 3, and Turkey will be the four teams advancing out of the Play-in tournament but I'll do another post once we see who makes it to knockout stage for the play-in.