It’s week 2 of Worlds and who better to recap the action and rank the players than Eugenia Woo, The Spinoff’s own LoL correspondent.
(If you’re new to LoL Worlds and need a steer, try Eugenia’s handy beginner’s guide.)
This was a bit of a jam-packed week for Worlds because a bunch of things almost considered universally improbable happened. I’m still a little traumatised by the events of Day 7 in particular, when TSM got roundhouse-kicked out of contention for the Summoner’s Cup. However, instead of taking to Reddit and being wildly disrespectful to those who made it to the Quarterfinals (seriously, TSM fans, stop being jerks), I’m here to give you the highlight of the week, and to rank the playmakers.
Playmakers of the week
Lee “Crown” Minho – Samsung Galaxy (SSG)
Coming into the tournament, Crown wasn’t ranked very highly by analysts foreign to the Korean scene. While SSG reached monumental heights in its previous iteration at Worlds, the exodus of top-performing players to China (higher pay, less stress, better dumplings) that took place shortly after the team peaked was widely considered the straw that broke the camel’s back. These guys were on a 19 game losing streak before Crown gave everyone a motivational slap to the ass and skyrocketed the team into Worlds contention.
Carrying his team on his shoulders aside, Crown’s one of my playmakers of the week because of his absolutely dominant performance in the mid-lane on Viktor. When he took to the stage against Bjergsen I thought, “Whatever. Bjerg’s stomped Viktors all season long in North America, what difference is this going to make?” Like the moron that I am, I watched the match in almost complete silence as Bjergsen was out-traded, out-damaged, solo-killed, and shat on by Crown. That’s when I knew that he was a tier above the rest, and even though it pained me to admit it at the time, he delivered a healthy dose of reality along with a can of Whoop Ass to everyone who had consistently underestimated SSG.
Jian “Uzi” Zi Hao – Royal Never Give Up (RNG)
Uzi and Doublelift are cut from the same cloth. They were both considered giants in their respective regions when the hard carry ADC meta was in full swing, and it wasn’t just because of their big personalities. Unlike Doublelift, however, Uzi was the prodigal rookie of the Chinese league, joining the original Royal Club when he was 15. When it came to vibing with teammates, it was more of a F0rgiven situation than anything else. For two entire seasons, he respected no other support than Wong “Tabe” Pak Kan, and he built up a reputation for being a Grade A asshole to his teammates.
Fastforward to 2016, however, and both RNG and Uzi have clearly grown up. The current squad has both Korean and Chinese laners as a result of the same exodus that shook up SSG’s scene, and communication issues have run rife within most Chinese teams in their situation, arguably putting them on the back foot compared to their competitors. Despite the odds and a less-than-riveting Week 1 at Worlds, RNG battled their way through the teams in their group, looking stronger and stronger with each passing match. Uzi’s even given a shoutout to H2K’s favourite anti-hero: “I want to meet you at the final”. If his performance this week has been anything to go by, RNG have a real chance of fulfilling their end of the challenge.
Honourable mention – the entire IMay team (IM)
IMay, formerly known as Incredible Miracle, definitely pulled off one hell of a miracle performance this week against the Flash Wolves. After having their support suddenly suspended for 1 game due to bad behaviour, popular opinion was that they were going to crash and burn in the tournament. However, in what people thought was originally an error during the pick and ban phase, they swapped their jungler Fan “Avoidless” Zeon Wai into the botlane as support and had their substitute Kang “Athena” Ha-Woon take over in the jungle instead. When the picks were locked in, fans and analysts alike were confused. Maybe IM didn’t care anymore. Maybe this was a secret strategy to get a playmaking edge by having two Korean players in pivotal roles. Maybe they’d just completely lost the plot.
Whatever the reason was for the unconventional strategy, it bloody worked. IM dominated the Flash Wolves and demonstrated synergy that we never even knew they had. They had their backs to the wall after the suspension and must have been under immense pressure when executing this unexpected role swap, but it never showed. Even though IM didn’t end up making it to the Quarterfinals on the back of that cheese strategy, it was amazing to watch. Life may have given them lemons, but they definitely made some next-level lemonade.
Highlight of the week
Kirill ‘Likkrit’ Malofeev (from ANX) featured in my Week 1 round-up but I’d be remiss to not include him again. He made it in this week not because of his incredible Brand play, or the fact that he’d been struggling with chickenpox for weeks and still played his ass off to net his team a spot in the Quarterfinals, but because he demonstrated some exemplary sportsmanship when facing off against G2 Esports.
Europe has had a hard run at Worlds. With almost all of their teams knocked out of contention, and G2 copping probably the most flak since they were the region’s shining star, things were looking pretty dire when ANX went up against them towards the end of Day 5. Despite being disqualified from entering the next round of the tournament because of their losses, G2 handily beat ANX. When Likkrit had something to say about it during the post-game interview, everyone waited with bated breath for him to deliver a verbal thrashing. What ensued, however, was quite the opposite. If you teared up a little during the Independence Day speech, or you thought that Lord of the Rings had some incredibly emotional rallying cries, then this is the interview for you to watch.
I’ll be back next week, so tweet me @ginnywoes on game days (Friday – Sunday) to tell me who you think deserves to be crowned Playmaker, and what your favourite moment of the upcoming Quarterfinal matches will be. See you on the Rift!