The 24th Nexus has fallen, and we’re already halfway through the Worlds 2019 Group Stage. As always at this stage of the competition, there have been a few upsets, leaving everyone to lament their Pick’ems. On the other hand, plenty of teams are right where they expected to be after Week One.
As for the European teams, who were expected to do extremely well this year, there have been some ups and downs. Everything can change as we head into Week Two, however, but as it stands right now, only one LEC team is going through to the Knockout Stage. So, how did we get here?
G2 doing G2 things
LEC Summer champions G2 Esports have certainly not disappointed, going 3-0 during the first week of the Group Stage. Group A isn’t exactly an easy one either, as they’ve been up against Griffin, Cloud9, and Hong Kong Attitude.
G2 were in control for the majority of their first match of Worlds 2019 against Korea’s second seed Griffin. While kills remained even, G2 took over the map, got a gold lead, and extended it through for a win. Griffin’s bot lane struggled in particular, as Luka “Perkz” Perkovic on Kai’Sa and Rasmus “Caps” Winther on Orianna combined to carry their team to a 30 minute victory. It was cool, calm, and collected, but their next couple of games were a little more chaotic.
“I ran it down and I still won the game,” shouted a jovial Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski after a quick, bloody game against North America’s second seed Cloud9. He died five times on Qiyana, but that was nothing compared to their opponents. G2 managed 26 kills in 24 minutes, once again shutting down the enemy bot lane, with Perkz and Caps once again completely taking over. It was messy, but it was over fast, and at times looked more like a solo queue game than a Worlds showpiece match.
Surprisingly, it was the LMS representative Hong Kong Attitude who gave the best account of themselves in the early goings of their match against G2. Kills and gold remained fairly even for the first 20 minutes, with HKA even going slightly ahead for a few minutes. However, G2 suddenly turned it on, almost as if they were toying with their prey and waiting for the right moment to strike. They simply pushed the lanes, took the Baron, and wiped the floor with their opponents as they steamrolled towards the Nexus a few minutes later.
Key match: If you’re looking for a quick burst of excitement, check out G2 vs Cloud9
Fnatic’s tricky bot lane picks
It’s been harder for Fnatic, as everyone knew it would be when Europe’s second seed were drawn into the “Group of Death” alongside SK Telecom T1, Royal Never Give Up, and Clutch Gaming. They’ve gone 1-2, but of course, it’s not over yet. Fnatic will simply have to activate their “second week of Groups” buff to make it to the knockout stages.
The story so far has been Martin “Rekkles” Larsson and his picks in the bot lane. We’ve seen plenty of Kai’Sa and Xayah from other teams, but Rekkles is still yet to play a traditional AD Carry champion so far at Worlds 2019. Fnatic have played Garen and Yuumi bot twice, and even tried out an experimental Morgana and Blitzcrank against RNG.
Fnatic kept the gold difference down to under 2k against SKT for 28 minutes in the first match of the tournament, but the scaling power of Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s Tristana and Park “Teddy” Jin-seong’s Kayle became too much to handle. Fnatic found it hard to contest objectives, and eventually had to concede defeat.
Things looked to be going from bad to worse for Fnatic, as they fell to a pretty hefty gold deficit against Clutch Gaming after some good early map control and kill pressure from Lira on Elise. However, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek dragged their team back into the game and didn’t look back, taking Elder Dragon and winning a big team fight to end the game and get that all important first win on the board.
The struggles returned against RNG though, who played an extremely clean game and were able to successfully shut down Fnatic’s Blitz/Morg bot lane. Rekkles and Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov went a combined 0/8/7, so we’re unlikely to see that particular partnership again at this tournament. RNG took a Baron around 28 minutes and turned that into a huge gold lead, while Fnatic simply lacked the damage to do anything about it.
Key match: Check out the big comeback against Fnatic vs Clutch
Splyce and the new Group of Death?
Of course Group C was going to be the hardest to get out of, but no one predicted the tough times the teams in Group B would be having at Worlds 2019. Chinese powerhouse FunPlus Phoenix and Europe’s third seed Splyce were expected to breeze through to the knockout stage, but J Team and GAM Esports have certainly thrown a spanner in the works so far.
After J Team pulled off the shock result of the tournament so far by beating FPX on Day One, Splyce must have thought they’d be in control of the group after picking up a controlled win against GAM. Things looked even better when they outmuscled FPX in the early goings of their match.
A simple Baron take and it would all be over, but it was not to be. Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang jumped in on Lee Sin and stole the buff, and FPX got a clean ace on Splyce, picking up bounties across the board for an almost instant 4k gold swing. By the time the buff ran out, FPX had run up a 9k gold Baron Power Play, and they defeated Splyce a few minutes later.
Then, on Day Four, J Team did it again. Chu “FoFo” Chun-Lan had a monster game on LeBlanc, as did Chen “Lilv” Chin-Han on Kai’Sa as the LMS team started to run away with the game. Splyce held on to drag the game out, but a Baron followed by an Elder Dragon was the nail in the coffin as the LEC third seed fell to 1-2. They, much like Fnatic, will need to improve as the second week of the Group Stage begins.
Key match: It might be painful, but the Baron steal is well worth a watch in Splyce vs FPX
What’s next for Europe?
As we head into Week Two of Groups, G2 simply need to keep doing what they’ve been doing – one or two more wins should be enough for the LEC champions to make it through. Meanwhile, Fnatic will have to find a way against either RNG or SKT and ensure they don’t slip up again, otherwise, the 2018 finalists may be facing an early exit this year. As for Splyce, they will need to rectify a few mistakes and look for revenge against J Team, while picking up another win against GAM in order to progress.