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Pira's Postmortem: What we learned from Week 2 in Wuhan

As the dust settles from the Group stages, I sat down to record some thoughts and opinions on what went down in Wuhan.

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1. Fnatic’s Endurance and Determination knows no bounds

While this Worlds has been anything but short on heart attacks, one fight-to-the-finish stands out above the rest. Fnatic came into Week 2 in Wuhan utterly dejected, after failing to win a single game in their first week of play. After losing to Longzhu once more, there was only a desperate chance for Europe’s old kings to advance: Win out, and have Longzhu help them create a 3-way tiebreaker. Someway, somehow, the stars aligned, and Fnatic hung on to produce a 2-4 record, beating Immortals, then the GIGABYTE Marines, and creating the needed tie between all three. With destiny in their hands, Fnatic ran the gauntlet, taking out IMT a second time and overcoming GAM in a 43 minute thriller to cap off the most miraculous group run I’ve ever seen at Worlds.

 

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2. GIGABYTE Marines are this year’s most entertaining team

The GIGABYTE Marines might just be the most interesting team to grace the Worlds stage in years. Although they narrowly missed out on a Quarterfinal run, their groups stage performance will stand as a shining example of creativity and fearlessness. Utilizing picks like Mordekaiser, Nocturne, and even Urgot (Yes, you should go back and watch that if you haven’t), GAM proved to fans that even the Worlds meta isn’t set in stone. Oh, and that Rengar/Zilean combo vs Longzhu? I don’t think we’ve seen a team this bold in a long time. I’m already looking forward to 2018, just thinking about it.

 

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3. Misfits keep growing, exceeding expectations

Misfits came into Worlds as a team many, including myself, wouldn’t have given much chance at advancing past the group stage. Of course, before qualifying, it also seemed unlikely that they’d be one of the teams to represent EU on the international stage. Yet here they are, knocking out NA-favorites TSM to make it into the Quarterfinals. Not too shabby for a team that was in Challenger this time last year. At every turn, they’ve defied the odds, and grown stronger as a team in the process. The 1-year plan was to make Worlds, and now it’s time to further their destiny. Up against the Korean Dynasty that is SKT, Misfits face a monumental challenge, but they’ve got more experience than most at being the underdogs.

 

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4. Kalista needs a Prisoner skin, she’s been locked up in bans

Kalista has been occupying the red side first ban space so long, she ought to be paying rent. In all 51 games of the Worlds 2017 Group Stage, the Spear of Vengeance hasn’t been allowed a single appearance. In her forced absence, teams have been instead focusing their Marksmen picks onto a short list of late game Hypercarries: Tristana, Xayah, Twitch and Kog’Maw have all put in overtime this tournament, accounting for a whopping 80.3% of the bot lane champion picks. But there’s still hope for Kalista in Bo5’s. With so many unbelievable things happening this year, perhaps the biggest surprise yet would be for a team to actually leave her open.

 

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5. Chinese Crowds are Incredible

This one is probably a no-brainer, but it bears stating all the same. If I throw my mind back to MSI 2016, I can still feel the goosebumps I got from hearing the roar of the Shanghai audience. This year’s crowd in Wuhan has been no less spectacular, the tumultuous torrent of their cheers echoing brilliantly even on stream. The Chinese fans are at their loudest and wildest for their hometown LPL favorites, cheering ecstatically for Teams WE, EDG, and of course Royal Never Give Up. Want proof? When up against Samsung Galaxy, RNG’s fans were downright deafening. But on top of all this obvious passion, the home crowd always seems welcome to visiting teams, with a sizeable number of NA/EU/KR team signs visible, and no shortage of cheers for an accompanying big play or victory.

 

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6. PerkZ keeps his promises

Although G2 Esports fell tragically short of their bracket-stage ambitions last week, the 4-time defending EU LCS champions decided to put on one more show for the fans. Hearkening back to an on-stream promise made before the start of the Summer Split, PerkZ hit the lock button on Yasuo, to the delight of fans around the world. Up against TCL champs 1907 Fenerbahçe with no way forward in the tournament, it would be easy to assume this was a troll pick, but nothing could be further from the truth. PerkZ took his Turkish opponents to task, kicking off the game with a nearly-solo kill on Frozen in the mid lane. He would go on to find picks across the map, and led G2 to one final victory, putting up a score of 6/3/11 in the process.

 

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7. DO NOT taunt a wounded SKT, it only makes them mad

Oh boy, iBoy. The rookie EDG Marksman had an incredible debut on the Worlds Stage, racking up big kills and going nearly deathless in his bouts against AHQ and Cloud9. After a dismal showing in Week 1 for EDG, the team seemed revitalized and well on their way to the bracket stage, with iBoy looking like the team’s MVP. But then came the fall. In a snowballing run against SKT, EDward Gaming found themselves inside the base of their Korean foes at 27 minutes, looking to end and force a tiebreaker game with Cloud9. As the team beat back every attempt to defend bot inhib, iBoy flashed his team Emote in the faces of SKT. What happened next is history. Within a matter of minutes, SKT had won fight after fight, picking up a Baron and ultimately ending EDG’s run at the Summoner’s Cup.

 

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8. Everything is close, Nothing is set in stone

This could be one of the least predictable Worlds in many years. With half the groups being settled by tiebreaker, and potential 3rd that was derailed by an SKT comeback, things seem much less certain than they did last year, or even in 2015. Speaking of SKT, despite their wins, they’ve looked somewhat shaky, having to come back from staggering deficits to close out games. Longzhu look incredible, but with fellow Korean team Samsung Galaxy in their QF bracket, who knows what could happen? And C9 vs WE could certainly be a toss-up series. Simply put, we’ve already had more than our fair share of surprises and shocks this time around, and I think we’ll have at least few more before the sun sets on Worlds 2017.

 

What stuck with you from the Group Stages? Leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter.