LCK shows life as KT Rolster rolls to 2-0, Gen.G grabs first win at LoL Worlds

KT Rolster rolled to a 2-0 record after a decisive victory over Mad Team on Friday in the League of Legends World Championship group stage. Courtesy of Riot Games

KT Rolster 1, MAD Team 0

KT Rolster reinvigorated the hopes of South Korean fans across the world when it smashed MAD Team during its second day of play at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship in Busan, South Korea.

While the objective and kill numbers would suggest this game was a blowout, the most striking aspect was how close both teams were to one another throughout the first 15 minutes. KT Rolster's dominance in the LCK was largely predicated on its blistering early game that fed into the best mid-game shotcalling in the world, but that dominance was nowhere to be found against MAD, who held its own. Most impressive was Liang "Liang" Te Wu, the top laner for MAD, who managed to hold KT's top laner Song "Smeb" Kyung-ho at bay for the majority of the early game, even going so far as to win the lane outright.

Everything came crashing down come the mid game, however, where KT Rolster's superior team mechanics led it to an insurmountable lead. At 15 minutes the game was all but even, but by 20 minutes KT Rolster had found a bevy of kills and a Baron, and by 25 minutes MAD was reduced to defending ruins where once it defended towers. Few teams in the world can compare to KT Rolster when it comes to finding and expanding leads after the laning phase, and with every game at worlds it plays, it looks increasingly unlikely that any team in Group C will be able to challenge KT. MAD's sudden defeat stands as a cold testament to KT Rolster's ruthless effectiveness, but that the side merely survived to see past the laning phase far outstripped expectations, and speaks well for its chances in future matches.

-- James Bates

Edward Gaming 1, Team Liquid 0

Edward Gaming continued China's dominant run at the world championship by blowing away Team Liquid in a 27-minute stomp in the second game of the day.

EDG didn't begin the game in the dominant position that it ended in, however, as it was actually Team Liquid that was allowed to largely dictate the pace of the early game after a disastrous attempt to tower-dive TL's ADC, Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng, blew up. Eugene "Pobelter" Park's Galio was able to clean up the tail end of the dive, and while Doublelift did eventually fall, EDG paid the blood price with their entire bottom lane for the privilege. For the next five minutes Team Liquid largely had its run of the map, but the dominance was painfully short lived.

Team Liquid learned firsthand just how effective the engage-heavy draft from the side of EDG could be after a fight by the dragon pit. An impeccable Pulverize from Tian "Meiko" Ye, the support for EDG, lined up all of Team Liquid for a devastating chain of engage and damage from the side of EDG, all of which culminated in a brilliant application of Emperor's Divide from Lee "Scout" Ya-chan, the mid laner for EDG, who was armed with his trademark Azir. It was a turnabout that more or less ended the game, as EDG would never again have the terms of the game dictated to them, much to the misfortune of Team Liquid who simply didn't have the tools to challenge Scout's dominance on Azir. Another pair of teamfights both went in the favor of EDG, and before Team Liquid knew it, Baron-empowered minions were infiltrating its base, promptly crumbling the Nexus soon after. By the end of the contest, EDG's 11-kill advantage over Team Liquid was the second largest deficit at the 2018 LoL World Championships, capping off what has been impeccable 19-2 record for the Chinese squad at Worlds when registering 16 or more kills in a given contest.

The win marks EDG's third 2-0 start to pool play at worlds in its five stints at the pivotal tournament. The previous two times resulted in quarterfinal appearances, back in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

-- James Bates

Invictus Gaming 1, Fnatic 0

Invictus Gaming toppled Fnatic on Friday during its second day of play at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship in Busan, South Korea.

Aggression was the name of the game for both Fnatic and Invictus Gaming as the Chinese team focused on ganking the enemy bottom lane repeatedly early on. Although Fnatic attempted to go blow for blow with the team to begin the game, it simply could not keep up with the mechanics and teamfighting ability of IG's AD Carry Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo, playing on Kai'Sa, who finished with an 11/1/8 KDA (kills/deaths/assists).

The contest could have possibly extended longer if not for an ill-fated attempt at Baron by Fnatic. Attempting to capitalize off one of its few teamfight victories in the contest, Fnatic greedily maneuvered over to the Baron, only to be unable to whittle down the objective and subsequently get aced in the process. Predictably, Fnatic was unable to rebound from the fatal blunder, as Invictus Gaming would quickly topple the Nexus soon after. After registering the highest kill advantage in its first game of the group stage, Friday's loss now saddles Fnatic with the second-worst kill deficit in its group, highlighting the distinct difference between the skill level between these two teams.

-- Chase Geddes

100 Thieves 1, G-Rex 0

100 Thieves found its first win at Worlds during its second day of competition as it defeated G-Rex during the 2018 League of Legends World Championship in Busan, South Korea.

Though the later stages of the game showed 100 Thieves at peak performance, that was not always the case as the team overcame several mistakes to claim victory. After a lackluster laning phase from both parties, 100 Thieves got antsy and misplayed a pair of fights to give G-Rex an opening in the game, allowing the squad the chance to make up for a quiet early game. The mid game quickly became hectic, with both teams trading momentum-swinging plays, with neither able to break away from the other.

At the 25-minute mark, the game was dead even. 100 Thieves finally decided to fully commit to a teamfight with shot-calling support Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black at the helm on Thresh. Initiating at the correct time, he allowed 100 Thieves to catch G-Rex by surprise, forcing them into a full fleshed out teamfight. After eliminating key members of G-Rex, 100 Thieves capitalized, taking Baron and quickly blowing the game wide open. Once ahead, 100 Thieves pinned the enemy team in it's base, securing vision control and beginning it's final march on the opposing Nexus. Though G-Rex did well to push the game an additional handful of minutes, the team found itself on the receiving end of a clean ace, allowing the North American squad to pick up a 38-minute victory.

-- Chase Geddes

Royal Never Give Up 1, Team Vitality 0

Royal Never Give Up continued its undefeated streak as it dominated Vitality during its second day of games during the 2018 League of Legends World Championship in Busan, South Korea.

Moving into the contest against Royal Never Give Up, Vitality wasn't expected to put up much of a fight. Royal Never Give Up dominated in the LPL, indicating that the team would likely mop the floor with the EU LCS representatives. Despite entering with little hope of victory, the European powerhouse kept itself neck and neck with the team favored to win the entire tournament. Throughout the early stages of the game Vitality played respectfully, refusing to give any semblance of an advantage to the enemy team. Most impressive was mid laner Daniele "Jiizuke" di Mauro on Azir who was able to mount a decent lead in lane, both out-farming his opponent and picking up an early kill, giving Vitality a sense of hope early on.

Unfortunately, everything fell apart for Vitality during the mid game as Royal Never Give Up's superior macro play earned a lead that would eventually prove to be insurmountable. After biding time for the team's star AD carry Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao to farm on Tristana, the RNG cranked up the pace, taking it to a level that Vitality simply wasn't equipped to deal with. Baiting a teamfight around Baron at the 22-minute mark, the squad decimated Viatlity, picking up a number of kills that allowed it to secure a Baron buff, and the game shortly thereafter. Few teams have shown the dominance that Royal Never Give Up is currently displaying as the team remains undefeated, becoming the first team to go 3-0 during the 2018 Group Stage. The game's quick turn in Royal Never Give Up's favor is indicative of what will likely happen to future challenger unless a team can finally crack the code to the LPL victor's success.

-- Chase Geddes

Gen.G 1, Cloud9 0

Gen.G picked up its first victory of the 2018 League of Legends World Championship in Busan, South Korea, as the team knocked off Cloud9 to conclude play on Friday.

While the end-game scoreboard is indicative of a one-sided stomp, the game could not have been further from a blowout during much of the early game. With the defending world champions yet to pick up a single win during the tournament, the squad was determined not to make any mistakes that could hand it a third consecutive defeat. On the other side of things, Cloud9 had a lot to prove after a lackluster showing during the team's first loss of the tournament. Up against a Gen.G squad that will take a mile should you give them an inch, the North American's were desperate to find an early lead to get the ball rolling. Unfortunately for them, Gen.G demonstrated, as expected, more discipline during lane, finding small advantages wherever possible to begin amassing a gold lead.

Credit goes to Cloud9 for fighting tooth and nail, as the North American squad started to make a handful of plays in the mid game, trading a single tower of its own for two of Gen.G's to close the gold gap. Unfortunately for Cloud9, the squad became too antsy, forcing a fight near Baron around the 23-minute mark that it simply couldn't finish. Gen.G's coordination proved to be too much, granting the team two kills and a Baron, quickly busting the game wide open. It was an abrupt end to the contest from there, as Gen.G capitalized in the biggest possible fashion, quickly forcing back-to-back skirmishes immediately after. Catching Cloud9 off guard, the team was able to close out the game just four minutes after Cloud9's initial mistake, scoring the fastest win of the 2018 LoL World Championships group stage (24:41).

The victory speaks to Gen.G's perseverance as the team started off its group stage appearance with a pair of devastatingly close losses. The defending champions cannot be content yet as it will need to string together several more victories in order to make it out of the group.

-- Chase Geddes