The 2018 League of Legends World Championship is fast approaching and it’s time to preview the teams that will be fighting it out in the group stage starting October 10th. Our final look is at Group D. This page will be updated with the final play-in team after the play-in stage is complete.
Pool One: EU LCS first seed
Top: Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau
Top: Paul “sOAZ” Boyer
Jungler: Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen
Mid: Rasmus “Caps” Winther
Bot: Martin “Rekkles” Larsson
Support: Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov
How they got here:
Fnatic have been the dominant team in the EU LCS in 2018. They won the regular season and championship in both splits. Fnatic finished 14-4 in the Spring Split before defeating G2 in the Spring Finals and finished 13-5 in the Summer Split before beating FC Schalke 04 in the Summer Finals. They had a respectable 3/4th place finish at the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational before succumbing to Royal Never Give Up. Fnatic also helped the EU LCS defeat the NA LCS at Rift Rivals 2018.
Player to watch: Caps
Caps may be the most exciting Western player heading into Worlds 2018. He is fresh off being named 1st team All-Pro for both splits in 2018 and was named Most Valuable Player in the EU LCS Summer Split. Caps’ champion pool is massive – he played 11 unique champions in 18 games during the Summer Split regular season and then an incredible 7 unique champions in 8 Summer Playoff games. His matchups with Rookie will be the highlight of this group stage.
It is no longer uncommon for top teams to have substitute players that are actual candidates to play. Giving enemy teams different looks has been shown to be helpful over the course of a series. What is uncommon about Fnatic is that they have a substitute that has shown the ability to play two different roles – top and bot.
To be fair, Bwipo played bot while Rekkles was taking a break and bot lane was open to more bruiser and mage picks. Still, Fnatic performed well with Bwipo bot and it can be seen as a legitimate strategy and concern that other teams will have to contend with. Bwipo and sOAZ have split time top since the return of Rekkles and both have shown the ability to play both carries and tanks in the top lane. How Fnatic chooses to deploy their players will be an interesting decision to monitor throughout the group stage.
Pool Two: NA LCS second seed
Top: Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho
Jungle: Andy “AnDa” Hoang
Mid: Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook
Bot: Cody “Cody Sun” Sun
Bot: Richard “Rikara” Samuel Oh
Support: Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black
How they got here:
100 Thieves burst onto the scene of the NA LCS in 2018 before struggling in the second half of the year. They finished the regular season of the Spring Split in 1st place after a 12-6 record. 100 Thieves then lost to Team Liquid in the Spring Finals to finish 2nd. They struggled harder in the Summer Split, compiling a 10-8 regular season record for 3rd place and falling to 4th in the Summer Playoffs. 100 Thieves were also part of the defeat of the NA LCS to the EU LCS at Rift Rivals 2018, going only 1-3 in the series.
Player to watch: Ssumday
Despite finishing second to Doublelift in the Most Valuable Player in the 2018 NA LCS Summer Split, Ssumday had an exceptional season and is the rock for 100 Thieves. With both tanks and anti-tanks being viable and strong in the meta, it will be fun to watch what Ssumday breaks out in the group stage. He has always been proficient on tanks, but also has a good Gangplank to scale against enemy tank picks and Darius or Gnar to punish tank picks in lane. For 100 Thieves to stand a chance in the group, it may need to be more carry picks than tanks for Ssumday in top lane.
100 Thieves have not been in the form of an expected contender at Worlds 2018. While teams don’t often just put it all together after struggling for an extended period, 100 Thieves do have the veteran presence to make things interesting. Ssumday has been competing at the top level since late 2012, while Ryu and aphromoo made their debuts all the way back in 2011. These players have been in tons of high leverage matches, ranging from regional championships to world championships. Of the North American teams, 100 Thieves seem the least likely to succumb to pressure in the moment.
Ssumday has been playing at a top 5 level player in the world at his position, but Ryu and aphromoo have had their struggles recently. However, it wasn’t too long ago that Ryu and aphromoo were also up there. If 100 Thieves could get them both rolling at a level they have shown themselves capable of reaching earlier in their career, they could make some noise in Group D despite being a large underdog.
Pool Two: LPL second seed
Top: Lee “Duke” Ho-seong
Top: Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok
Jungler: Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning
Mid: Song “Rookie” Eui-jin
Bot: Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo
Support: Wang “Baolan” Liu-Yi
How they got here:
Invictus Gaming was absolutely dominant in LPL regular season play in 2018. They finished with 18-1 records in both the Spring and Summer Splits, good for 1st place in the LPL East. Unfortunately, Invictus Gaming could not translate that success to the playoffs. They ended 4th in the Spring Playoffs before finishing 2nd to Royal Never Give Up in the Summer Finals. Taking one of the presumptive favorites in Royal Never Give Up to five games is impressive, even if they could not close the series out.
Player to watch: Rookie
In a ranking of best mid laner in the world to attend 2018 Worlds, Rookie would be a near-unanimous choice at the top. He’s that good. Rookie won Most Valuable Player in the LPL for both the Spring and Summer Splits and was also named 1st team All-Pro. He has been especially dominant with mages like Orianna, Syndra, Zoe, and Ryze when his team needs damage. What separates him from other mid laners, though, is his ability to also dominate when put on more supportive options like Galio and Lulu. Either way, you expect him to win lane every game and he almost always delivers.
X-Factor: Team fighting
Invictus Gaming will not be an underdog in laning against anyone in the entire world. They have immense mechanical talent at all positions, led by Rookie. How far they go in the tournament, however, will be based on how well their team fighting comes together. They gathered such large early leads in the LPL that they did not have a ton of practice on stage against teams on equal footing later in the game.
In the Summer Finals against Royal Never Give Up, that inexperience was visible in the series. Invictus Gaming could take early leads, but it seemed like Royal Never Give Up had the ability to pick and execute the proper fights later in the game. It was still an incredibly close series against one of the best teams in the world, but the margins between being a World Champion and an also-ran are slim. Invictus Gaming has the talent to win it all, but we must see improved team fighting from them in the group stage.
Top: Hsieh “PK” Yu-Ting
Jungler: Anson “Empt2y” Leung
Mid: Kim “Candy” Seung-ju
Bot: Lee “Stitch” Seung-ju
Support: Lin “Koala” Chih-Chiang
How they got here:
G-Rex beat SuperMassive eSports 3-1 in the Play-in Knockouts to earn their way into the 2018 Worlds Main Event. They were the clear 2nd best team in the LMS during the Spring Split, going 12-2 in the regular season before losing to Flash Wolves 3-0 in the Spring Finals. The Summer Split was a struggle for G-Rex, stumbling to a 6-8 regular season record and not making the playoffs. They rebounded in the Taiwan Regional Finals to sweep J Team 3-0 to make it to Worlds 2018 as the LMS 3rd seed.
Player to watch: Stitch
Although Candy had an unreal outplay in game 3 of the Play-in Knockouts against SuperMassive, Stitch was the star of Play-ins for G-Rex. In his 8 games, he racked up a 55/13/45 K/D/A and averaged over 10 kills in his 3 Kai’Sa games. He is a flexible player too – he played 11 unique bot laners in 22 Summer Split regular season games for G-Rex. He landed in a group that isn’t quite as scary for bot laners, so he’ll have the chance to make an impact in the group stage.
The Play-ins for G-Rex were eerily similar to their 2018 season. They started off strong – finishing the group stage 4-0 – like their Summer Split. Then they looked to be falling apart as they did in the Spring Split in their series against SuperMassive before pulling it together. Bouncing back from losses and disappointment is an important trait, especially for an underdog. We’ve seen teams struggle early in Worlds play in years past that became demoralized and never put up a fight again.
This might be especially important for G-Rex as their opening game is against Invictus Gaming. G-Rex will not be favored, but even if they lose, they’ve shown the ability to recover. Their second game against 100 Thieves will be mandatory for them to have any hope of advancement. Over the course of the group stage there will be momentum swings, and G-Rex looks equipped to put any losses behind them as they prepare for the next game.