Will SK Telecom T1 come out swinging? Will Invictus Gaming reclaim their former glory? Will Team Liquid survive the storm? These are the big questions that were posed for Day 1 of Group Stages and so far they’ve been answered with relatively bold periods.
Here we recap the day's games and give some analysis and more specifically, hit on the most important plays in each game which directed the outcome of the match.
Fnatic vs SK Telecom T1
Garen/Yuumi bot, Kayle bot, Tristana mid
SKT would gain a significant advantage this game through their intelligent draft by putting Kayle bot lane and basically having a free lane to scale up against the Garen/Yuumi from Fnatic. Essentially this draft puts FNC on a short time schedule to deal with the scaling problem from SKT.
This game was disappointing in the fact that the early game saw Faker getting first blood at Fnatic’s red buff before lane phase even started with a clever invade from SKT. Exacerbating the early game problems for FNC even further was their play around 11:00, which saw Teddy recall and then TP back to lane with Khan’s Akali following suit to then get a 3 for 0 and Mountain Drake.
Not all was lost for FNC though, as they did show good control near baron, fighting against SKT’s vision and some nerves of steel to keep themselves in the game for as long as they did, but the scaling was just too much from the side of SKT with Kayle and Tristana.
Royal Never Give Up vs Clutch Gaming
Kayle mid, Lucian bot
Multiple big power picks were left up by both teams during this draft, as Xayah, Syndra and Kayle were all unbanned. I would have liked to have seen Lira on one of his signature champions such as Skarner, as the Nocturne pick was severely lacking after a couple of fumbles from Clutch Gaming’s side in the early game.
6:00 Karsa ganks top and Damonte TPs after Huni is guaranteed dead, giving RNG 2 for 0.
This play severely hampers CG’s game because they typically play towards Huni’s side and then allow bot to free push and then lane swap to get Rift Herald afterwards, but against RNG this cannot work, especially since LangX got ahead early. The rest of the game essentially had Uzi farming up heartily, up 70+ CS at 25:00 against Cody Sun.
15:00 was also important as CG were poised out of position near Cloud drake pit, with Huni too far up without Mega Gnar even close to being activated. This allowed RNG to get a 2 for 1 and Cloud drake.
The Blitzcrank pick didn’t work out as great as RNG was probably hoping for, but it still kept CG on their toes and guessing against every potential engage that RNG could muster. I do believe that if CG had played the early game a little better without that TP mishap that they would have stood a decent chance against RNG.
Invictus Gaming vs AHQ e-Sports Club
The early Jayce pick obviously raises some fears as IG’s solo laners can pilot that pick to exceptional heights, but it ends up going mid lane for Rookie. The oddest thing about this draft is that Xayah was not picked by either team, nor was Rakan.
The interesting thing about this game was the early lane phase from Rookie, as he was able to get off multiple recalls which weren’t punished at all from AHQ, allowing him to get good item powerspikes, but Rainbow was also able to match those recalls to get his own items to combat the lethality from Jayce. IG play off of Rainbow’s recalls and Rookie’s ability to control the wave mid lane, which also allowed them to get the first Infernal drake uncontested.
The biggest pivot point this game early on was IG’s choice to go top lane to gank with 3 around 16:50, successfully killing the Gnar (but burning TheShy’s flash to get the kill), but then this allowed AHQ to get both bot tier 1 and 2 uncontested.
The worst aspect coming from AHQ seemed to be their lack of vision control and their ability to set up vision for future plays, which ultimately lead to their demise this game around drakes and baron.
Damwon Gaming vs Team Liquid
Veigar bot, Galio support
The surprising thing coming out of this draft was the J4 and Galio pick from TL, as this hasn't been a significant combo since Spring Split, along with the Aatrox pick after he's been nerfed several times. Combine that with a Yasuo/Gragas combo from DWG and you're looking at a draft which, from the outset, TL have drafted poorly, but the saving grace is that their damage profile is brought up by Kai'sa over Veigar.
The early gank from Xmithie helped Jensen a lot (even though it should have been predicted by DWG as they knew Impact leashed red buff) as he was able to get an early recall and Dark Seal to match his Corrupting Potion. This becomes important later on as he’s able to get mid lane priority and therefore Infernal drake at 6:30. In the mid game, the fight near Mountain drake where Nuguri was able to flank, get chunked by Doublelift yet still make it back into the fight and get DWG a 4 for 2.
The most important part of this game was that Impact was able to compete against Nuguri, actually solo killing him at 22:00, and then TL killing the jungler as well which allowed for an easy baron.
TL had very impressive plays from Impact and vision control near objectives as well as playing off of their solo lane pressure.
J Team vs FunPlus Phoenix
Mordekaiser top, Sion mid
The ban of Lucian may seem perplexing at first, but LWX is 9/1 on Lucian in the Summer Split of LPL. It may also seem weird that Rakan wasn’t picked by J Team and that Nautilus was first picked, and that’s a big question that remains unanswered for me as I look at this draft with minimal knowledge of J Team as a group of 5.
25:00 is where this game turns its ugly head, as both teams are playing neck-and-neck. Both teams are near Infernal drake trying to contest it, but FPX have started it already. FPX get the Infernal drake, but afterwards during the team fight, Akali is allowed to solo kill the enemy ADC and Lilv playing fantastic at kiting and Gimgoon uses his Mordekaiser ult onto the enemy jungler even when the enemy ADC is standing next to him.
JT were great at picking off LWX during teamfights, but this game seemed to be more about the mistakes of FPX rather than the brilliance of JT. With several mispositionings from LWX and bad cohesiveness from FPX as a whole, there are still questions unanswered as to whether FPX can meet expectations and come together as a team.
GAM Esports vs Splyce
Tristana mid, Syndra bot
The draft is pretty normal and expected from both teams, although GAM limit themselves by pressuring Levi to making early plays in order for Kha’Zix to function correctly within this team comp. The largest question mark about these drafts is that neither team picked or banned Kayle.
The play which helped SPY to win this game didn’t happen until 17:55 where they had already used Rift Herald to take top tier 1 and allowed it to push top lane by itself as Infernal drake was already spawning. SPY have the pressure advantage, and then Humanoid gets a pick onto Hieu3 as he’s trying to ward for the potential of Infernal Drake. This allows SPY to get Infernal uncontested and also for Rift Herald to get top tier 2 to less than half hp.
26:25 SPY go for baron as they also see Akali bot lane without TP and get it without a single member dying.
Day 1 was packed with unexpected events and some upsets. We look towards Day 2 to see even more action as Group A gets to see play time.
Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content.
Images courtesy of LoL Esports
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