Upsets, disappointment, elation, devastation: Week 1 of Worlds 2016 had it all, including the introduction of some new and returning picks as the world’s greatest teams played their first games on the 6.18 patch. Whether you’re a fan of ingratiating inventors or the craziest curmudgeon to curse his way through Summoner’s Rift, players pulled out some of the newest, most hyped picks to grace the competitive scene in months.
HOLY S#!T, WHERE ARE WE?!
We’d be remiss to not kick this off without first introducing the newest champion to grace the Rift in competitive play as Kled, the Cantankerous Cavalier made his grand entrance, along with his trusty Drakalops Skaarl. Or, in Wunder’s case, not so trusty. Kled was dismounted more often than not as the Splyce top laner struggled to handle Cuvee’s Super (Samsung) Galaxy Rumble in the top lane. While we watched every “Chaaaaaaaarge!!!” with baited breath, more often than not Wunder’s “Chaaaaaaaarge!!!” ended with some extra gold in SSG’s pockets.
Let’s hope that this isn’t the last we see of Lord Colonel Major Centurion Kled at Worlds. Splyce’s mid laner Sencux reassured us it was still a good pick despite Thursday’s loss, but it’s clear that the Forward Admiral Major needs a better supporting cast to his lunacy, aside from Skaarl that is. Splyce struggled to follow up on Wunder's engages, as champions like Cassiopeia and Tahm Kench tend to focus more on disengage than hard engage. With the right partners in crime, we could see Kled make a triumphant return, if only so we can keep saying “Chaaaaaaaarge!!!
BRING DOWN THE HAMMER
A beneficiary of a series of buffs, mostly to his Hammer Stance mana costs and various damage buffs, Jayce, the Defender of Tomorrow finally made his return to competitive play after a long hiatus. First played by Expect in the top lane in G2’s defeat to CLG, followed by Kuro in the mid lane in ROX Tigers’ victory over ANX, Jayce had a mixed first day back in the fray. To be fair to Expect, he did his best to carry an out of sorts G2 by first-blooding Darshan with an accelerated Shock Blast to the face, and dealt 29% of his team’s damage. Piltover’s Defender was also banned by INTZ against EDG’s PawN in their shock upset, and by TSM against RNG in their loss to the Chinese no. 2 seed.
Unlike Kled, Jayce is likely to be one of the most popular picks as the tournament progresses, or one of the most popular bans if Jayce mains manage to progress to the Knockout Stages. It remains to be seen whether PawN will continue in the mid lane for EDG following their loss, but if he does we can expect more Jayce bans to be levied at the former Worlds winner, and maybe the odd pick or two if he’s allowed to have it. Also of interest is what position Jayce settles in as the tournament goes on; we’ve seen it appear in both top and mid, and our instincts indicate he’ll be more popular in mid than top, but theres always a chance a Jayce top god pulls out the pocket pick.
DEATH BY STEEL
It’s hard to imagine few things in this world, or in the world of Runeterra, scarier than a rampaging Olaf tearing through your team, attempting to make you the next victim of his vikilling spree. When CLG closed in around Zven for the bot lane dive in their game against G2, I felt sorry for Zven knowing he was about to taste the steel of Xmithie’s axe. Turns out he wasn’t the only G2 member to feel the Pentakill drummer’s instruments in their facial area, as Xmithie left nobody alive in his bid to conquer the Rift.
AHQ’s Mountain wasn’t quite as spectacular on the Berserker, but he did pick up Olaf’s second win of the tournament in their victory over H2K. The LMS jungler made some questionable engages, but like most of AHQ was solid enough to allow AN and Ziv to carry the game on Jinx and Rumble respectively. Olaf looks a menace on the 6.18 patch, and considering his success yesterday one can imagine many teams scrambling to add him to their arsenal, especially with the jungle meta still being in flux after only day of competition.
WELCOME TO THE DEEP END
Nami, the Tidecaller, earns the award for most picks on Day 1 of Worlds, after 5 teams picked her up for her bot lane dominance. With a 60% win rate she lives or dies by the quality of the team, and the once again CLG determined how the tide would flow with Aphromoo’s proficient performance. He blessed Stixxay with his presence, ensuring the ebb and flow of teamfights trended towards CLG with clutch bubbles.
He was surpassed only by Samsung’s support Wraith, who showed why he was included in their starting lineup over CoreJJ. His mechanics are awesome, and his bubble accuracy rate was frustratingly high for Splyce as they struggled to escape the ocean’s fury. Nami is guaranteed to be a staple support pick throughout the tournament, which also guarantees Braum’s continued popularity as his shield is desirable for breaking a team fight Tidal Wave. Whether the Freljord or the ocean comes out on top is up the the stars of Worlds.
Let’s take a moment to mention the top two stinkers from Day 1: Graves and Jhin. Both finished the day with three picks and three losses each, for a 0% win rate. Doublelift, Zven and aMiracle all struggled on Jhin, particularly against hard engage. Doublelift was repeatedly sent back to the fountain thanks to Mata’s Alistar, and Zven’s Jhin could not cut through CLG’s frontline of Poppy and Olaf. Graves shares the same record as Jhin and was equally ineffective on Day 1.
No game highlights that better than INTZ vs EDG, as Revolta’s Lee Sin made Clearlove look like the Wildcard on Graves. ANX were once again guilty of a sub-optimal pick phase, and the delta between ROX Tigers and the LCL team was obvious as ROX recovered from an early deficit to dominate ANX across a number of dimensions.
While the meta is more stable at Worlds 2016 than it was after the introduction of juggernauts at last year’s tournament, we’re still seeing plenty of unique picks. Day 2 already provided some additions to the roster, and while we may not see a Teemo this year, there are still clearly some surprises left in store!