October 11, 2019

Five take-aways from Worlds Play-Ins

Play-Ins have come and gone, and we’ve been left with a taste of what the League of Legends World Championship will bring. Champions have been flexed around the map game after game. Even more surprisingly, it isn’t limited to the better teams of the tournament.

Weaker teams that participated in Play-Ins have shown no resistance to breaking out new picks on the Worlds stage to gain an edge over their opponents. Five main insights can be drawn from this to the Main Stage, and they’re certain to keep popping up throughout the tournament.

1. Early Game vs. Mid Game

Beginning Worlds, the first day of Play-Ins showcased aggressive play across the map from the start. But the second day brought something else.

Damwon Gaming debuted on the Worlds stage in a way that shocked fans. Instead of forcing early plays, they sat back and as soon as they hit their item breakpoints, they struck. They then took objective after objective and closed the game soon after forcing Baron in both their games.

Whether the early game or the mid game is better will be decided on the Main Stage. Skill discrepancies between teams are far too high to definitively say in Play-Ins.

2. Every region is competitive

In all international competitions prior to last year, Korea dominated. China took an MSI title every couple of years or so but come Worlds it was a Korea vs Korea finale. Last year marked the end of that dominance.

While SK Telecom T1 is certainly a tournament favorite, so is G2 Esports. Fun Plus Phoenix or Invictus Gaming could make a run for the title. Even North America has hope with Team Liquid’s deep run at MSI and Cloud9’s 2018 performance.

For the first time ever, the Victor of the tournament is wide open, meaning only one thing: This Worlds is a must-watch event if you care about competition; Pick ’ems are doomed and Worlds will be a bloodbath.

3. Bottom Lane mages… They’re back

Prior to the beginning of Worlds, Bottom Lane was dominated by Kai’sa and Xayah. G2 Esports was one of the only teams to bring out something new, using Syndra to clinch a game five win against Fnatic. The rest of the world took this to heart.

Syndra and Heimerdinger have become common in the Bottom Lane, and that’s only scratching the surface. Spellthief-Targon bottom lanes are viable again as a result of this. AD top and miss can be picked together now.

What the best teams in the world will do with this information remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Expect bot mages to increase in popularity as the tournament continues.

4. Draft flexibility is at an all-time high

As the LoL professional scene develops, champion limitations are beginning to blue. While not every team is G2, they certainly try to be. Flex picks are being taken or banned in almost every game. For teams under practiced on this strategy, it’s a double-edged sword.

Flexes such as Pyke top and Nocturne mid are being used to throw off enemies, but they aren’t bringing success. On the other hand, Syndra and Tristana have brought success with them wherever they go.

As we move forward into the tournament, teams will become smarter with their drafts. They won’t over force with picks that don’t make sense with their players and practice. Instead, we’ll see revolutionary picks that will shape the metas of each group.

5. Upsets are going to happen

Looking at the Play-In Knockout Stage, we see teams dropping games where they shouldn’t. Extra flexibility in the draft in addition to an increased pool of viable champions makes more and more high-execution strategies viable.

Unicorns of Love almost beat Splyce using unexpected picks, winning mid to late game fights in sizeable deficits. Damwon Gaming dropped the first game of their series against Lowkey Esports due to a lane swap Tristana strategy.

When the individual player skill gets closer and closer as the tournament progresses, no team should feel safe with their preparation.

With these five points in mind, Fans should stay alert for historical plays and games. 2019 will bring the best World Championship to date.

Written by Jaamesmichael Bellinghausen

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