Team WE 1-0 Misfits
With the top seed in Group D at stake, Chinese squad Team WE beat Misfits in a seesawing matchup to take the top seed out of Group D of the League of Legends World Championship on Saturday in Wuhan, China.
As the hometown favorites, WE wanted to put on a show for fans. Perhaps Jin Sung "Mystic" Jun let the energy of the crowd get to him a little too much as he was extremely aggressive early in the laning phase, giving up his life much too easily on Kog'Maw while trying to force plays. By the 12-minute mark, he was down almost 2,000 gold, an early game mark players rarely overcome.
But after the early struggles, Mystic rebounded and took a 30-creep advantage 28 minutes in. Mystic's individual prowess was not the only notable individual performance, though. Misfits' jungler Nubar "Maxlore" Sarafian had a great game on Rek'Sai while opting to play the little-seen full-damage build. The decision hurt the team's late game, as Misfits was down a tank, but the team would not have made it that far if it were not for the extra AD Maxlore provided through mid game.
WE was able to win the match despite a 6,000-gold deficit in the mid game thanks to its vastly superior teamfighting. As one of the top teams from the League of Legends Pro League region, WE was not uncomfortable when asked to fight its way out of a hole. Positioning and more accurate skill shots tipped the scale as WE was able to finally break the Misfits Nexus in the longest game of the day at 44 minutes and forced Misfits into a winner-takes-second match against Team SoloMid.
-- Britton Hess
Tiebreaker: Misfits 1-0 TSM
Misfits became the second European team to eliminate a North American rival and claim a No. 2 seed at Worlds with its 1-0 tiebreaker victory against Team SoloMid on Saturday to close out Group D.
The game started extremely passively, with no real meaningful action taking place until the mid game. TSM top laner Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell opted to play the carry of Jayce in the top lane, which should've presented early bloodshed. However, his selection was rendered useless due to excellent jungle presence by Nubar "Maxlore" Sarafian's Sejuani. Instead of letting the Jayce player build a lead in hopes of reaching a mid-game snowball, Maxlore's proximity meant Hauntzer was always on the back foot and fell behind in creep score in a winning matchup versus Cho'Gath.
TSM's star mid laner, Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg, was unable to make much of a difference in the game as Ryze. Simply put, the decision by TSM to put its best player on a safe utility champion instead of one with more carry potential was likely what cost the team a chance to go to the knockout stage.
Misfits, on the other hand, is playing its best League of Legends of the year at the right time. The European side controlled the game from the outside. It didn't use aggressive dives or overzealous overstays, but instead was able to dominate the map through superior vision control and movement. When Misfits built a lead, it slowed down and let the win come to it rather than forcing the issue. As it was sieging the TSM base, the opposite side was begging for an overcommit, but the opportunity never came.
And the improvement of Lee "Hans Sama" Dong-geun over the past two weeks should be a great source of excitement for Misfit fans moving onto the next round. His superior positioning in team fights was instrumental in the side taking a sub-31-minute victory with a 10-2 kill advantage.
-- Britton Hess
Misfits 1-0 Flash Wolves
With an incredible comeback victory, Misfits eliminated Flash Wolves from the League of Legends World Championship on Saturday in Wuhan, China.
Misfits made a bold decision in champion select, giving over Rakan to Flash Wolves with Janna and Lulu banned in favor of a first-pick Xayah. This left Misfits support Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun on Thresh and Misfits without an Ardent Censer champion. Given this choice, when the European squad fell behind in the mid game, it seemed like victory was certain for the Flash Wolves.
After grabbing first blood in a jungle fight thanks to an ultimate from top laner Yu "MMD" Li-Hong on Shen, as well as trading Flashes 1-for-4, Flash Wolves cultivated its lead through objective control. Despite giving up Rift Herald, Flash Wolves obtained every elemental drake in the game, three of which were the coveted Infernal Drakes. Finally, the game broke wide open at 26 minutes, when Flash Wolves found two picks off the back of a brilliant engage from support Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Jie on Rakan, which led to a Baron secure.
With a 1-3-1 split-push, Flash Wolves systematically took towers and pushed toward Misfits' base with the buff, but the aggressors were stopped just short of an inhibitor take when mid laner Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang was caught out of position on Ryze. Without the crucial super minions, Flash Wolves' map pressure quickly crumbled, and in its greed to secure the final Infernal Drake, it fumbled its Baron pressure and gave the buff and momentum over to Misfits.
From then on, SwordArt simply couldn't find an engage, and Flash Wolves was repeatedly picked off to give over objectives. After being put in a nearly impossible position, Misfits came back to take the game in 40 minutes.
The tragic nature of this loss is only compounded by the fact that it eliminates Flash Wolves from contention for a quarterfinals spot, but it will still have a chance to play spoiler.
-- Brendan Hickey
Team WE 1-0 Team SoloMid
Team WE dominated Team SoloMid in a one-sided 25-minute victory.
WE disrupted the meta in draft by bringing out Caitlyn at the AD carry position for Jin Sung "Mystic" Jun. Mystic did not disappoint as he dominated lane, built a substantial gold and gathered a creep score lead that neared 50 in the mid-game. The key to the early pressure was proactive jungling by Xiang Ren "Condi" Jie on Sejuani. Condi took control of TSM's bottom side jungle early on, and that transitioned into insurmountable tower pressure.
With bottom lane unlocked, WE's duo was able to rotate to top lane and put some heat there. TSM's stalwart mid laner, Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg, was stymied from the start as he was forced to play into an early-damage-spiking Jayce.
TSM was never able to build map pressure, Team WE was able to snowball after taking the first tower gold. By the 18-minute mark, WE had seven turrets taken to zero as well as four kills to none, and the Chinese squad finished off the win in 25 minutes with a 13-3 kill advantage.
-- Britton Hess
Team WE 1-0 Flash Wolves
Although already eliminated from the knockout stage, Flash Wolves had a shot at some redemption by taking a win off Group D leaders Team WE. Unfortunately for the underdogs, an upset was not in the cards as Team WE was able to put together another quick victory.
Team WE again selected Caitlyn in bot lane with an AD mid lane champion in Corki. AD carry Jin Sung "Mystic" Jun dominated on the lane-focused Caitlyn, out-trading the opposition's Xayah in nearly every skirmish and building a 60 creep farm difference by the 17-minute mark. Although WE ceded first blood, it was traded for the game's first Infernal Drake, which was a pivotal power point for its AD-heavy composition.
Meanwhile, WE mid laner Su Han "Xiye" Wei owned his lane with the Corki pick. The key to his power was that he seemingly never missed a skill shot, allowing him to consistently hold an HP advantage over his lane opponent. The lane pressure allowed him to roam and threaten bot lane, indirectly speeding up Mystic's snowball. Overall, WE played this game on the front foot which was reflected in the short game time of just over 27 minutes and the kill score of 12 to Flash Wolves' 5. There looks to be little that can stand in the way of WE and the first seed of Group D.
-- Britton Hess
Team SoloMid 1-0 Misfits
In a do-or-die situation for Team SoloMid, North America's No. 1 seed stayed alive with a win over Misfits on Saturday in Wuhan, China.
Misfits gave TSM fans anxiety from the pick/ban phase, drafting Yasuo for top laner Barney "Alphari" Morris to counter TSM top laner Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell's Gnar, as well as giving support Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun his signature champion in Blitzcrank. The early pressure from Misfits worked wonders as it picked up first blood at just three minutes and rotated around the map to build a 3,000-gold lead 11 minutes in. TSM's scaling composition looked like it would get flat-out run over by Misfits' aggression, but mid lane ace Soren "Bjergsen" Bjerg kept his team alive with clutch plays in the mid game.
Bjergsen's Cassiopeia was on fire after Misfits' hot start, and he led TSM back from a large gold deficit with a 4/0/4 KDA (kills/deaths/assists) for 100 percent kill participation around the 27-minute mark. With TSM securing a Baron buff to gain some crucial map control, Misfits couldn't find any answers to devastating engages coming out of TSM support Vincent "Biofrost" Wang, who set TSM up for easy teamfight wins with his Rakan.
TSM took its time in closing out the game and waited for a second Baron buff at 34 minutes before completing the comeback in just under 40 minutes to stay alive in the fight for a quarterfinals berth.
-- Noah Waltzer
Team SoloMid 0-1 Flash Wolves
Despite earlier results, a previously winless Flash Wolves finally rose to its pre-tournament expectations and destroyed North American No. 1 seed Team SoloMid in a match with crucial implications on Group D.
Flash Wolves jungler Huang "Karsa" Hua-Hsuan is perhaps the most hyped player on the roster but put together a pretty disappointing Worlds through his team's first five games -- all losses. It was clear, however, that Karsa had put the previous games behind him as he fearlessly pressured the map on Sejuani, most notably through the top lane.
Karsa teamed up with top laner Lihong "MMD" Yu's Renekton to secure first blood and a top side of the map advantage that would snowball in a major way. By the 11-minute mark, MMD was up on his lane opponent by 45 creep score and an insurmountable 2,000 individual gold lead. With a Renekton top laner completely unlocked, Karsa was free to assist the other lanes, which he did spectacularly, repeatedly finding himself in position to swat away bot lane aggression.
TSM's strategy was apparently to try and stall until late game, but Flash Wolves had other plans. For the first time in the tournament, the Taiwanese side did not give an inch after a strong early game. The team moved around the map, taking tower after tower and winning every skirmish as evidenced by the 18 to 3 kill differential by game's end.
TSM's wait-til-late strategy never came close to reaching fruition, as the game was officially finished in just over 24 minutes.
-- Britton Hess