G2 looked to give EU fans a win to be excited about as they faced up against LCK champions ROX Tigers in their second game of Group A. G2 were on the rebound after a demoralising loss to North America’s CLG, and what better way to recover from a tough loss than a win against the tournament favourites? Alas, it wasn’t to be as G2’s strong early game couldn’t hand them a victory.
They began with vigor as two-time EU LCS MVP Trick took it to Peanut at level 1, forcing an early flash. That set the tone for the early to mid game, as Trick played like a viking possessed on the powerful Olaf pick, earning multiple summoner spells and kills on his way to giving G2 a strong early lead. Expect once again showed significant improvement, threatening constantly on Gnar and winning the early matchup against Smeb, arguably the best player at Worlds.
A clutch Baron steal by Peanut halted G2’s advance, and from then the Korean champions took over the game. Peanut surprised everyone in pick and bans by locking in Nocturne, as the Eternal Nightmare made its first appearance at Worlds since 2013. The gameplan from the start was obvious: Kuro locks down priority targets with Malzahar ult, full-damage Nocturne ults in to assassinate said target. It worked time and time again, as G2’s mid laner Perkz refused to follow in his teammate Zven’s footsteps and pick up a QSS.
Peanut was probably feeling pretty confident about his chances of picking up play of the game, until Smeb showed why he’s the number 1 player at Worlds. The ROX top laner pulled off perhaps the greatest Kennen ult in League of Legends history, while landing every missile from his Protobelt. An ace for ROX Tigers, an easy Baron, and unfortunately for G2 and European fans, that was all she wrote. Just Smeb things.
It wasn’t all bad for G2, however. Just before their game against ROX the LCL champions Albus NoX Luna pulled off another scalp for the Wildcard teams with an intense victory over CLG. Had G2 won against ROX it may have put the final nail in the coffin for North America’s second seed, but G2 will still feel like they have a good chance of qualifying from groups: a sweep of ANX and a win over CLG will likely see them advance to the Quarters, despite the rough start.
GLIMPSE OF HOPE
It was a night of almosts for EU as Splyce fell in a similar manner to G2 against North America’s top seed TSM. Splyce finally found their first early game lead of the tournament and did well to gradually extend it as the game went on, once again Sencux played his heart out in a tense game, but unfortunately he again could not carry Wunder to victory.
Trashy picked his third jungler in three games, and Splyce perhaps had their best draft of the tournament so far as they secured multiple power picks, strong lanes and a jungler more suited to Trashy’s play style. After playing the first two games on carry-style junglers like Graves and Olaf, he was immediately more comfortable on the habitual Rek’Sai. He commanded the early game on the Void Burrower and stifled TSM’s Svenskeren, TSM’s top performer of the tournament so far.
Splyce pushed TSM to their limits in a close game, and while Smeb showed us what a top-tier Kennen can do when given the right opportunity to succeed, just like Odoamne yesterday, Wunder showed us the flip side. His Kennen was largely impotent, and while some clutch exhausts from TSM’s Biofrost helped keep him in check, he could not impact team fights in the same way more competent and experienced players were able to. TSM simply outlasted Splyce and found advantageous fights thanks to Svenskeren’s Skarner pick, allowing them to close out the game.
Splyce move to a 0-3 record in Group D and it looks almost impossible now for them to make it out of Groups, save for a herculean overturn in fortunes in week 2. Their inexperience at the highest level of competition poses an issue for the team, but the glimpses of talent they showed, and the consistently excellent Sencux, should give Splyce fans some confidence that they can pull out an upset at some point next week, and maybe play spoilsport to some of the top teams in this group.
DO OR DIE
EU fans now set their sights on Day 4, as G2 Esports take on ANX, while H2K face off against China’s no. 1 seed Edward Gaming. It’s unlikely that G2 will falter against ANX, despite the LCL team upsetting CLG, and should pick up their first win of Worlds 2016, which will be a big morale boost going into week 2 of groups. For H2K, victory puts them in a great position to qualify from their group. Should they lose and AHQ beat INTZ, which is the likely outcome, advancement becomes much more difficult.