After barely surviving a week of upsets in the second round of worlds, Eugenia Woo regains her composure and sorts the gold from the silt in the chaotic quarterfinals of the 2016 League of Legends Worlds.
I was pretty fragile coming into the Quarterfinals after trying and failing to recover from the Darkest Timeline of last week. I think my flatmates were seriously considering an intervention if these latest games went pear-shaped and I had another adverse reaction to a top team being unseated. Thankfully, everything went according to schedule this week with my expected picks making it through to the Semifinals, so I’m safe from gaming rehab at least until the ROX Tigers lose to SK Telecom T1.
And did the predictable results for this stage make for boring League of Legends? Hell no.
Day One of Quarters – Cloud 9 v Samsung Galaxy
The Good: As the clear winners of this set by a goddamn mile, the MVP will have to be drawn from Samsung. Remember when I was 100% certain that Viktor was worth a ban and then some? After having to sit through three games of C9 getting their asses handed to them, I’ve changed my mind – it’s not Viktor that needs to be banned, it’s Lee “Crown” Minho himself. Crown drew a Viktor ban every single game and outperformed each time. God-tier Cassiopeia? Check. God-tier Orianna? Check. C9 were so fixated on keeping him out of the game that it gave his teammates the chance to really shine, with Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin stepping up and delivering the smackdown (literally) in the match point game as Poppy.
The Bad: Even though I feel a twinge of guilt about kicking a team that’s already down, I’ve gotta be honest here. You know your team’s in a shit spot when the tanky enemy support got more kills in one game than your botlane did during the entire 3-game series. C9 limped their way into the Quarterfinals and ended up crawling home after this week, rounding off a pretty disappointing showing from North America. They get props for doing better than the other teams from the region, but they were completely outclassed and it showed.
Looking to the Semis: Samsung will have the privilege of facing off against H2K, the last team from Europe remaining at Worlds. After having crushed the dreams of NA’s last hope, I’d say that their tried and true method of curbstomping the other regions into submission looks to succeed yet again.
Day Two of Quarters – SK Telecom T1 v Royal Never Give Up
The Good: As usual, SKT dominated the competition. While Royal seemed poised to push the series to its full 5 games on the back of their performance in the Group stages and Uzi’s spirited challenge to H2K, they were ultimately steamrolled after winning Game One by the dynamic duo of Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. However, if I had to pick one player that really showed their strengths this series, it’d be Royal’s Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok. Even though SKT played with near-runaway leads for most of the games, Looper was instrumental in netting his team their single victory; while Faker was busy slaughtering his teammates left, right and centre, he was taking the fight to the SKT top laner, bullying him out of lane and being an absolute menace. Looper fought til the very end and showed that he can stand toe to toe with one of the world’s best, and that’s enough for me.
The Bad: Special mention goes to SKT’s top laner, Lee “Duke” Ho-Seong for having some of the most pointless and useless teleports of the Quarterfinals in their first game against Royal. While Looper was a formidable appointment, it took a good two games for Duke to get his shit together and actually make a noticeable contribution in teamfights. Another pro who lost the plot was Royal’s Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong. A veteran Worlds champion himself, he fumbled his way through a series of unfortunate events (including taking the wrong masteries for a game) that contributed to his team’s overall loss – how well could Royal really have done with their main shotcaller tilted off the face of the earth? The answer: “Horrifically”.
Looking to the Semis: SKT will be facing off against the ROX Tigers, the same team that took a game off them at last year’s Worlds Finals. While the gap between the Korean teams is closing, it’s going to take some real innovation and more than a handful of good luck to pry the Summoner’s Cup from Faker’s grasp.
Day Three of Quarters – Edward Gaming v ROX Tigers
The Good: After seeing my favourite teams get chewed up and spat out by the meat grinder that was the Worlds Group stages, I’m pretty chuffed that ROX have lived up to their reputation and smashed their way into the Semis. I’m also pretty chuffed about naming Han “Peanut” Wang-ho the best thing about this entire series. Lots of people thought that this set was going to be close because both EDG and ROX had underperformed during the split, but the uncertainty and questionable shot-calling that marred last week’s performances were nowhere to be seen. Song “Smeb” Kyung-Ho deserves a shout-out but since he’s already won so many MVP awards in Korea, it’s only fair that I pin the badge on Peanut – if you can style on your opponents by playing their champions better than they can, there’s no question that you’re the star.
The Bad: I know that I ragged on Looper for having bad teleports, but if we’re talking about someone who’s taken the cake for a showing that made fans go “What the actual fuck?!” then I’d be an idiot for not mentioning Ming “Clearlove” Kai. The only thing worse than a player who tilts in-game is a player who might as well not have even been there, and Clearlove was both of those things in one. Being shown up on one of his own jungle picks by Peanut was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back, but judging from his performance in earlier games, his form was poor from the get-go. Whether it was a total lack of synergy with their substitute top laner Tong “koro1” Yang or the fact that he got up on the wrong side of bed that morning and rolled right into the gutter where his playmaking skill was cowering, he was impressively invisible. Some fans have even shed a tear for the poor guy; I’m just sad that I had to watch his dismal performance.
Looking to the Semis: ROX looked strong against EDG and it hurts me to say this as a fan, but it may be inaccurate to attribute their decisive victory to just pure skill. We have to acknowledge that the Chinese team was struggling with a substitute, and that ROX had some difficulty initially closing out the games. SKT will be a much tougher opponent, and ROX’s odds won’t be that great unless they can capitalise on their aggressive playstyle when it counts.
Day 4 of Quarters – H2K v Albus NoX Luna
The Good: Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou is one of the best trash-talkers in competitive League of Legends, but he put his money where his mouth is this week and blew ANX away to help his team claim a well-deserved victory. His consistency, smart macro play, and the ability to always be where his team needs him to be were qualities that served him extremely well throughout the set. However, the person who made the biggest splash (possibly of the week) in the Quarters pool was arguably H2K’s top laner Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu – the Romanian god to FORG1VEN’s Mars. With some incredible teamfights and game-changing ults, Odoamne outshone his opponents and nearly single-handedly crippled ANX with some crucial snipes as Jayce. H2K were a well-oiled mechanical machine, and it definitely showed.
The Bad: While the Wildcard team from CIS were in my sights for a while, both my affection and ANX’s ability to deliver consistently good League of Legends proved fleeting. ANX burned bright but fizzled out in a less-than-spectacular fashion as they stumbled through 3 games of pick/ban phases that made no sense to fans and probably even less sense to them. Gone were the risky and creative plays that got them this far in the tournament. They failed to read H2K’s strategies and while I’d usually commend a team for sticking to their guns, their stubbornness cost them any semblance of victory.
Looking to the Semis: H2K gave ANX the spanking that we were all anticipating, but considering that they face up against Samsung next, my hopes aren’t too high. While the team that was once maligned in their home region has made impressive strides, FORG1VEN and Odoamne are going to have to go super-Saiyan against Crown & Co to have a chance at success.
Tweet me @ginnywoes during the Semifinals (Saturday the 22nd and Sunday the 23rd from 11AM) with your predictions! Will Faker cement his place as the best player in the World by taming the Tigers? Will we have yet another Korean final? Regardless of the outcome, I’ll see you on the Rift.
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