After a three year wait, Splyce have finally returned to the World Championship stage – the first time since the organisation's debut year. After running the Gauntlet, Splyce have locked in their chance for global glory, but they still have a long journey ahead of them if they want to make it to the Group Stage. The European team will have to navigate its way through the unpredictable Play-Ins Stage with bouts against some of the strongest wildcard teams from around the world.
Worlds is the ultimate goal for every pro player. And for the majority of Splyce's players, this will be their first time reaching that target. Some have managed to get there within just the first or second year of their careers, while others have spent years scratching and clawing their way to finally earning an opportunity to prove themselves internationally.
At times this season, Splyce were neck and neck with Fnatic, and depending on the meta, they could be a serious threat to the other Worlds contenders. However, the inconsistency which plagued them in the Summer Split Playoffs and Regional Gauntlet will be punished even heavier internationally – there will be no room for error. Especially with their late-game focussed playstyle, there will be a queue of aggressive teams at Worlds looking to attack the European third seeds in the laning phase.
The last time Splyce and Kasper "Kobbe" Kobberup attended Worlds, they found themselves dropped straight into a 'group of death' with Royal Never Give Up, Team SoloMid and eventual finalists Samsung Galaxy, which ultimately proved to be far too much for the young side to handle.
This year, the possible groups for Splyce look promising and a place in the Knockout Stages is certainly achievable with how open Group B and D are on paper. However, to get to that point, Splyce will have to get through the Play-Ins – and that's easier said than done. The wildcard teams have earned that name over the years with how unorthodox and unpredictable the teams can be – this will no doubt be the toughest challenge Splyce has faced all year.
DetonatioN FocusMe: Tears of hope
Last year, the League of Legends Japan League’s DetonatioN FocusMe took to the Worlds Play-Ins to represent Japan just two years after the country received its own League of Legends server.
With a group made up of eventual Worlds quarter-finalists North America's Cloud9 and Brazil's KaBuM, infamous for shocking former European champions Alliance, there was very little hope given to DFM.
Yet, after a monumental tiebreaker victory over the Brazilian representatives, DFM made history and took Japan through to Round 2 for the first time in the region's history. The country’s own native casters couldn't hold back their tears as their hearts bursting with pride following such a monumental result.
It’s been a strong year for DFM with new Korean support in Yang “Gaeng” Gwang-woo. They impressed at the Mid-Season Invitational Play-In with 2-0 records over Thailand’s MEGA and Brazil’s INTZ e-Sports and dominated the LJL Summer Split with a 17-4 record in the regular season. This is a team capable of pulling off an upset and they will undoubtedly be hoping to go one step further this time around. Splyce certainly have a challenge on their hands.
Isurus Gaming: Region icons
Isurus Gaming are the last team to join this group and look primed to cause an upset. Mexican mid-laner Édgar Ali "Seiya" Bracamontes Munguía is a legend in Latin America as the region’s most decorated and experienced player. He is an absolute force to be reckoned with, especially when paired with Peruvian jungler Sebastián "Oddie" Alonso Niño Zavaleta who has been his teammate for four years.
The jungler and mid duo have proven to be a lethal combo and a key win condition for the team. They will prove to be a huge test for Splyce’s Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir and Marek "Humanoid" Brázda who will both be competing on a Worlds stage for the first time.
Overall, Isurus could be a real challenge for Splyce as they are a stylistic clash. It’s no secret that Splyce are a powerful late-game team who aren’t very active in the early game. Meanwhile, Isurus are quite similar in that ganking lanes is not their priority. Instead, they make good map plays and macro decisions which has excited LEC caster and analyst Indiana "Froskurinn" Black, who labelled them as a “smart” team during the Group Draw.
Yet, Latin American teams don’t have a great track record internationally. In the previous two Worlds Play-Ins, the Latin representative has finished rock bottom of their group and Isurus did the same at the Mid-Season Invitational Play-Ins earlier this year. Yet, the team has seemingly improved in the latter half of the year and could very possibly cause a huge upset.
Splyce will be waving the European flag heading into battle later today – can they showcase their skills on the world stage?