Personally I’ve been fully devoted to prep and research about the Worlds 2016 teams, as have many of my co-casters. This year we will be doing four Group previews. I wrote this one (Group A), Rusty from the LPL will do Group B, Deficio and Krepo from the EU LCS are tag-teaming Group C, and my fellow NA LCS caster Kobe will round it out with a Group D guide. Now, without further ado, Group A!
ROX, G2, CLG, ANX
The first thing that jumps out to me in this Group is that all of the participants have been champions of their respective leagues within the calendar year (ROX Summer, CLG Spring, G2 Spring + Summer, ANX Spring + Summer).
I also think this Group falls right in the middle of the spectrum between ‘hard group’ and ‘easy group’. I did a super rough power rankings of all the teams at Worlds (which may still change as Worlds approaches) and used the ranking to see the overall strength of Groups. The best team at Worlds is worth 1 point, and the lowest ranked team at worlds is worth 16 points. The Group with the lowest point total becomes the ‘hardest’ Group, and the Group with the highest point total becomes the ‘easiest’ Group. This is what it looks like:
You may be asking yourself, did Jatt just tank his entire article by listing his personal power rankings at the very beginning without explaining himself? To that, I answer: maybe. This is far from a perfect or accurate system. What I want to highlight here is that Group A has one powerhouse team, two teams likely to battle for the No. 2 seed, and an underdog team in ANX. Plus, I get to see how many people read the whole article vs. decide to argue and flame based on a table at the start!
With that, let’s get into the teams.
- Top: Smeb
- Jungle: Peanut
- Mid: Kuro
- ADC: Pray
- Support: Gorilla
How did they qualify? #1 seed from Korea’s LCK. Summer Split Champions.
I think you would be hard pressed to find an analyst who doesn’t think ROX is the strongest team in the world heading into this tournament. First off, this team has been dominating the LCK for most of 2016. They went 16-2 in the Spring Split and 15-3 in the Summer, with their only failure being a Spring Split Finals loss to SKTelecom T1 -- which prevented ROX from attending MSI.
Add that to the fact that they finished 2nd at the World Championship last year, improved since then by adding their jungler, Peanut, and slowly perfected their style throughout the year.
ROX plays a fast game in an otherwise slow region. They average 35:30 for game time, and .71 combined kills per minute (CKPM). This is #1 in LCK for both stats. What’s impressive to me isn’t the flat 35:30 average (NA as a region averages 35:22) but rather how much faster ROX plays when compared to their regional average of 38:24. ROX finish games on average 2 minutes and 56 seconds faster than the LCK average. Likewise, with CKPM, Korea’s regional average is .56 CKPM (which would be lower than every team in NA) but ROX still manages to accelerate their games (again, to the tune of .71 CKPM).
Aside from playing fast, ROX does a great job of playing the whole map. Smeb crushes the top lane and has won the LCK MVP in both Spring and Summer Splits. I also think their bot lane is extremely strong. Pray averages the highest CSD @10 (+4.8) of any ADC in Korea, and Gorilla is the best support in the world in my opinion. They roam well. They lane well. They team fight well. And they do it fast. ROX is a monster. If this team has a weakness it resides in the mid-lane.
Let’s talk about Jungle proximity:
As you can see, when compared to other LCK teams at worlds, Kuro actually gets more jungler attention than Faker or Crown, yet has worse numbers. In fact, Kuro’s laning is an actual red flag. He averages - 5.0 CSD@10, which is worst in the entire region for mid laners with >20 games.
Aside from that, ROX feels unstoppable and are the favorites in the Group.
How ROX finish 1st
- By carrying their momentum from the LCK into Groups and going 6-0
- Let’s be honest, these guys are giant favorites. They have the best top laner in the world in Smeb, one of the best junglers in Peanut, and one of the best bottom lanes in Pray and Gorilla. It will be difficult for anyone in Group A to match their teamplay OR their individual skill, and ROX will win the Group just by performing to their normal level.
How ROX finish 2nd
- If G2 or CLG live up to their ‘potential’ and ROX under-perform
- As stated earlier, ROX have the best individual play as well as the best teamplay in this Group. With that being said, if CLG perform, their teamplay can compete, and G2 has a chance of competing on an individual level thanks to Trick, Zven, and Mithy. If G2 or CLG over-perform there is a slight chance they can edge ROX and push them to 2nd in the Group.
How ROX finish 3rd
- If both G2 and CLG play extraordinarily well, and ROX play like they did at IEM Katowice.
- It was a year and a half ago, but it happened. ROX went into an international event as the #1 seeded team in Korea and failed to even reach the Finals. It was IEM Katowice in 2015, where ROX lost to team WE (then the #11 team in the LPL). Because of that, ROX will have that memory in the back of their minds every time they step on an international stage.
How ROX finish 4th
- Hard to imagine, but if they suffer a total collapse or suffer a DQ of some kind.
- I know. Kind of a lame reason. It’s just incredibly hard to imagine a world in which ROX finish dead last in a Group. Even LGD (who suffered the largest collapse in recent Worlds history) didn’t finish last in their Group in 2015. This would require ROX choking hard as well as an otherworldly performance from ANX.
My prediction: 1st
- I think ROX is the best team heading into the 2016 World Championship. I can’t wait to see their aggressive and clean play thrive in Group A.
- Top: Expect
- Jungle: Trick
- Mid: Perkz
- ADC: Zven
- Support: Mithy
How did they qualify? #1 seed from Europe. Summer Split Champions.
Far and away the best team in Europe. Spring Split champs. Summer Split champs. If it wasn’t for their performance at MSI this would have been a Pool 1 team. Unfortunately, they didn’t exactly carry momentum from Spring into Summer. What they did do was switch out their top laner and their entire bottom lane and still look like they are trying to gel as a team.
To me, G2 is a bit of an enigma. They have the back to back EU LCS MVP in the jungle with Trick, and they have the best bottom lane in the region by far in Zven and Mithy. Yet very few people are excited about this team and expectations are low. Why? Well, MSI was horrid, and they looked very inconsistent in EU even though they were ‘technically undefeated’ thanks to their 10 win, 8 tie record in the Summer Split.
This team should not be judged on their MSI performance. They switched out 3/5ths of their roster and looked much different in the Summer Split and the most recent Playoffs.
Mithy and Zven are the most important acquisitions between Spring and Summer Split. They were the biggest strength of Origen last year and they have only gotten better since then. It’s hard to explain their biggest strengths, since they are generally good at everything. They know how to play ‘right’ based on the matchup. They know when to push, they know when to let themselves be shoved in, they know when to play aggressive, etc. They are always on the same page and they display a tremendous understanding of the support and ADC role. Together they are a deadly force.
A worry for the team could be Perkz. Perkz looked promising in the Spring but reverted back on some bad tendencies in the Summer. He often disrespects his lane opponent and is punished for it. When farming side-lanes he's often caught because he’s not respecting the lack of vision that he's trying to push with. Summer Split Perkz feels like a more reckless and less effective version of Spring Split Perkz who excelled in the assassin meta.
How G2 finish 1st
- By delivering on the potential of their individual talent and combining it with great meta-understanding and teamplay.
- Trick, Mithy, and Zven perform like world class players for G2.
- If G2 can step up in the mid and top lane and play the fast paced and aggressive style that got them known in the first place, there is a chance they take this Group entirely.
How G2 finish 2nd
- By continuing their inconsistent play from Summer and getting by on talent and laning.
- As mentioned above, G2 has some top notch players. They also weren’t exactly a mess in the Summer Split. Their game record was 28-8 and then they were 6-2 in Playoffs.
- Trick is also key for this team. He trusts his lanes greatly and has extremely efficient pathing. This usually results in him pulling ahead of his opponent in the mid game.
- If G2 merely maintain their level of play they should finish 2nd in the Group.
How G2 finish 3rd
- By getting pressured by the international stage and falling to CLG’s teamplay.
- As much as teams are in control of their own destiny, the level at which the other teams in the Group show up matters greatly. CLG has more recent experience than G2 and a more successful international track record. Therefore, a couple of things could push G2 down in this group. Either CLG performs at an elite level, or G2 fail to come together as a team and their individual skill isn’t enough to carry.
- Additionally, G2 haven’t displayed the ability to play around the top side of the map. If a top lane focused meta emerges at Worlds they could fall to ROX and CLG who have much more experience playing around their top side.
How G2 finish 4th
- If they really are a Wild Card region. Kappa.
- It was a popular meme at MSI this year, but G2 actually didn’t lose any games to Turkey’s SuperMassive. With that, the possibility would exist that they choke on an international stage or that ANX is much better than people expect thanks to the growth and development of the LCL. These things are unlikely, but if G2 were to finish 4th this could be the reason.
My prediction: 2nd
- I had G2 predicted for 3rd place overall at MSI and I feel like they’ve only improved their roster since then. I think they are taking Worlds very seriously this year and Zven and Mithy have the international experience to make it work. No more vacation memes, I think G2 is going to take 2nd in Group A.
COUNTER LOGIC GAMING
- Top: Darshan
- Jungle: Xmithie
- Mid: Huhi
- ADC: Stixxay
- Support: Aphromoo
How did they qualify? #2 seed from NA. Spring Split champions, Summer Split 4th place. Qualified via Championship Points.
CLG have had a very strange year. They changed out two starters from 2015 to 2016 by adding Huhi and Stixxay to the starting lineup (in favor of Pobelter and Doublelift) and were expected to be weaker heading into Spring. To the surprise of many, they weren’t. They defended their title, beat TSM in the Spring Finals, and to top it all off, finished 2nd at MSI (the best finish ever for an NA team).
You would think, then, since the team made no roster changes heading into Summer that they would be set up to dominate. Well, that definitely didn’t happen. CLG struggled mightily in the Summer Split. They finished 4th in the regular season and then also finished 4th in the Playoffs. Thanks to their Championship Points from the Spring they were able to qualify for worlds as the No. 2 seed.
So, following that logic, the ‘4th’ best team in NA shouldn’t be able to compete in a Group consisting of the #1 EU and #1 KR teams. This isn’t logic though, it’s CLG. For whatever reason, they never perform to expectations. They have tremendous teamwork and a huge amount of trust in one another. Honestly, I have no idea what to truly expect from this team heading into Worlds.
There's also a surprise edition for CLG's bootcamp: Immortals' Spring Split MVP jungler Reignover will be joining them for their bootcamp in Korea. His focus will be on figuring out the new jungle meta and helping Xmithie with the early game.
How CLG finish 1st
- By having an incredible bootcamp and finding their success from Spring/MSI.
- Stixxay and Aphromoo had amazing success against international bot lanes at MSI. If they can best Pray/Gorilla and Mithy/Zven it gives CLG a chance at success.
- If Huhi can find success in the mid lane against Kuro, Perkz, and Kira. Compared to the bottom lane strength in this Group the mid laners are much weaker. Even though Huhi has been heavily criticized this year for CLG, he has shown steady improvement throughout the Summer Split. If CLG can continue to build around him they have a chance.
- Darshan also needs to step up for CLG to finish 1st. Summer Split Darshan was a shadow of the Darshan we saw in the Spring Split who often carried CLG to victory. If the top lane meta sees even a minor shift and Darshan picks up the champions, it will improve CLG’s chances.
- Due to being in a Group with ROX, I feel like all of these things need to happen for CLG to grab 1st place. They can combine their tremendous teamplay and coaching with strong individual performances.
How CLG finish 2nd
- By building on their strong foundation of teamwork and staying cool under the pressure of Worlds.
- To me, one of CLG’s greatest assets is their experience. This team has been the same five people for all of 2016 (unlike G2) and they also have the knowledge that they can do well internationally.
- At MSI, where they finished 2nd, it’s not like they played flawlessly or without error. They made plenty of mistakes. What allowed them to thrive at MSI was how they recovered from their mistakes and never lost faith in each other.
- If CLG can play teams even in the laning phase and not fall behind early, I fully believe that their teamplay and ability to stay savvy under pressure can place them 2nd in this Group.
How CLG finish 3rd
- By performing to expectations and playing like they did in the Summer Split.
- CLG didn’t look that good during the Summer Split. They failed to find a consistent strategy and seemed to constantly bounce between re-inventing themselves and falling back on what they knew. Neither worked great and they ended up 4th in NA. If this continues into Worlds they will most likely finish 3rd.
How CLG finish 4th
- We’ve been down this road before. In 2015 CLG actually tied for last place in the Group with paiN Gaming and that was AFTER they went 2-1 in the first week of Groups.
- At Worlds, Group Stage is extremely punishing. If CLG have a bad bootcamp or fail to find a system that works for them in the current meta, they would be one slip-up against ANX away from losing a game and ending up last place in the Group. It’s unlikely, but it could definitely happen.
My prediction: 3rd
- With everything considered, I can’t look past how poor some of CLG's performances have looked this Split. I also have to look at the two teams I have placing above them in this group (ROX and G2) and their level of individual talent. There are very good reasons both ROX and G2 won their respective regions. It’s hard for me to justify placing the 4th place NA team above the 1st place team from EU or KR, therefore, I have CLG at 3rd for Group A.
ALBUS NOX LUNA
- Top: Smurf
- Jungle: PvPStejos
- Mid: Kira
- ADC: aMiracle
- Support: Likkrit
How did they qualify: Through the IWCQ. #1 team from the LCL
This brings us to Albus Nox Luna, the Wild Card team from the CIS region. Since 2014, Wild Card teams have a combined record of 3-21 in the Group stage, with paiN having the best showing last year at 2-4. It’s an uphill battle. Every year the Wild Card teams try to come into Worlds and flip the script, but they have to know going in how difficult the road will be.
Even in the IWCQ, ANX was playing from behind on average @15 minutes. When I was talking with Edward (formerly of M5 and Gambit) and also someone who played against them in the Finals, he told me that ANX isn’t a strong early game team but instead beats people because they know how to play the map and team fight well.
Unfortunately, if they are playing behind in the LCL, I don’t think that will transition well against the likes of ROX, G2, and CLG.
Since many are unfamiliar with the players, here’s a quick rundown:
- Shows a good understanding of meta picks. Generally a solid top laner who occasionally can ‘1v9’ a game. Had a very strong showing at the IWCQ.
- Shotcaller of the team. Very good at closing out the game once a lead is gained, but struggles when he is the focus of the enemy team.
- While many will point to the All-Star 1v1 tournament as the highlight of Kira’s career, it doesn’t transfer over very well into 5v5 gameplay. Kira is definitely good; however, going up against international teams is a whole new beast. Kira has typically played mages like Anivia, Viktor, and Vladimir.
- Solid lane player who is strong in team fights. I know, there’s a ton of ADCs who play pro that can be described like this. aMiracle is generally stable and it works to neutralize the chaos that comes from Likkrit.
At one point was the rank 1 player on EUW. He is also considered by many to be the best player on the team. He plays recklessly and roams frequently. Often the reason the team wins, often the reason the team loses.
How ANX finish 1st/2nd
- By playing out of their minds, carrying with support Brand, and witnessing the internal collapse of ROX, CLG, and G2 as they try to cope with defeat.
- So, this most likely isn’t going to happen, but a team needs to have high aspirations coming into a tournament if they want to have a chance. For ANX they need to focus on playing their game.
How ANX finish 3rd
- By controlling their nerves, surprising the Group with their picks, and successfully attacking the weaknesses of CLG or G2.
- Once again, since the best a Wild Card team has done at Worlds is a 2-4 Group stage, a 3rd place finish by ANX is unlikely. However, there are some holes in G2’s teamplay and CLG can occasionally be exploited in the laning phase. If ANX could overperform and attack CLG or G2 in those areas, they might be able to finish 3rd in Groups.
How ANX finish 4th
- Unfortunately this is the likely scenario. While I do think that ANX was the best team at the IWCQ, I still don’t think it can transition to success in the Worlds Group Stage.
- Most likely ANX will be punished in the early game, and while their map-play and teamwork were what carried them in the LCL, I feel like the teams in this Group may be even better at it than ANX. This gives ANX very few windows to win a game, and could land them in 4th.
My prediction: 4th
- It’s incredibly difficult to rank a Wild Card region anywhere above 4th. It would require them to completely dominate the IWCQ, which ANX did not. While they are good, they did little to differentiate themselves from the expectation of an IWC team. Therefore, I have them at 4th.
That’ll do it for Group A. Like I said at the top, this Group will likely be a battle for 2nd place between CLG and G2. With that in mind, I don’t think any Worlds Group Stage has ever gone exactly to expectations. Teams have a month to prepare, the game jumps forward three patches, and it can lead to some unpredictable outcomes.
As always, we have to wait for the games to happen to find out who moves on. Ultimately legacies are defined by what happens on the rift, not by what is written about players beforehand.
Stay tuned in the coming days for our other guides to the Worlds Groups. We'll see you when the competition begins on September 29 in San Francisco.