LoL 2015 World Championship: get ready for the group stage

Ahri

Group C – Attack on Titans

SKT T1

SKT t1


Members: MaRin, Bengi, Faker, Bang, Wolf
Origin: South Korea
Notable Champions: Evelynn, Ahri, Vayne
Biggest champion pool: Faker

Hail to the kings, long may they reign. SKT T1 is once again the best team in South Korea—with serious claims to being the most elite on the planet. "Things Faker Does" has transcended from meme to supernatural law: the world's best mid laner will somehow, some way, find a way to lay the hammer down on your team.

Or will they? Though their central team philosophy still works in Korea (that of four consistent role players built around the mid lane as a mainspring) it was tested and found wanting back during the Mid-Season Invitational. It was bad enough for the KOO Tigers to drop an international tournament, but EDG's victory over SKT T1 a few months ago was a resounding thunderclap. There is no disputing that Faker's one of the very best players in the world—even a cursory examination of his capabilities attests to it—but EDG proved that it is totally possible to entrap him in a chain of bad decisions, even before the game actually starts. And without their mainspring, Coach Kkoma's carefully-constructed clockwork team loses a bit of their legendary momentum.

Edward Gaming

Edward Gaming


Members: Koro1, Clearlove, Pawn, Deft, Meiko
Origin: China
Notable Champions: Shen, Rek'sai, Corki
Most likely to steal Fizz from Westdoor: Pawn

For most of the year, EDG were expected to easily take China's first seed position. The MSI winners had proven themselves to be the indomitable masters of the 2015 metagame—a perfect fusion of Chinese relentlessness and Korean-style map play into a singular engine of conquest. Though it would take a rematch against SKT T1 to solidify that claim, they anticipated no difficulties for either team to make it through the group stage and into an eventual playoff confrontation. And then EDG tripped, and the crown landed on LGD instead. Oops.

But make no mistake: the single most successful Chinese team, trained by the single most successful League of Legends coach of all time, is still a powerhouse and favorite for the 2015 world title. The fact that they get to duke it out with SKT T1 in the group stage is to the audience's favor: we don't need to wait through mediocre games for a clash of this year's titans, and get to skip straight to the meat of the action.

H2K

H2K


Members: Odoamne, loulex, Ryu, Hjarnan, KaSing
Origin: Europe
Notable Champions: Thresh, Ahri, Tristana
What's "Exhaust?": KaSing almost exclusively runs Ignite/Flash

SKT T1 versus Edward Gaming is a clash of titans. SKT T1 vs H2K, in contrast, is a trip down memory lane for long-time fans. H2K's Korean mid laner Ryu was once easily the second-best mid laner in the world—a single autoattack or spell away from defeating Faker during their respective 2013 primes. The OnGameNet Champions Summer grand finals between SKT T1 and KT Rolster Bullets that year is one of the very best games ever, and it culminated with a Zed on Zed mirror match between Faker and Ryu for all the glory.

Of course, Faker stayed in Korea, and Ryu is a European player now—lots can change in two years. Even Ryu's famously stoic face has broken out into the occasional grin. But that lightheartedness might have come at the cost of his killer instinct. Certainly, H2K and even Ryu hasn't performed to the level of his old KT Bullets days, holding a tenuous second seed position as Europe's representatives. They're overshadowed by the true titans of their group.

Bangkok Titans

BangKok Titans


Members: Warl0ck, 007x, G4, Lloyd, Moss
Origin: Southeast Asia
Notable Champions: Hecarim, Gragas, Lucian
Odds of winning Worlds: like a snowball next to a volcano

Speaking of a team called Titans... well, maybe nothing can be said at all. Southeast Asia's Thailand representatives were not nearly as dominant in their International Wild Card Qualifier series as PaiN Gaming. Though much of it can be placed on the greater overall competitiveness of the first qualifier series, with Australia and Turkey boasting their own weekly league to foster talent, none of those compare to the threats that BKT now face on the world stage.

Lloyd and G4, their AD and mid lane carries respectively, shoulder heavy burdens. They're mechanically adept, sure, but being able to win their lane isn't the same as winning the game at the Worlds level. While they've sharply improved—it was only a year ago that the Bangkok Titans were among the very worst teams in the most disregarded of the premier regions—their last bout against the Taiwanese teams back at IEM Taipei proved that an overwhelming gap still exists between premier and wildcard regions. Given their team history, it's an accomplishment to have made it to Worlds in the first place, but the challenges they face now is far beyond the Garena Premier League.

On the next page: Group D – Press D to Die!