Round 1 of the 2019 World Championship Play-In stage is in the books, and it’s so far so good for European fans: Splyce have made it through to Round 2, putting them one step closer to reaching the Worlds main event. It almost went without a hitch, as Splyce picked up three wins to top their group, although they may be disappointed at their final day loss to ruin their perfect record. Here’s how it all went down.
Things got off to a great start for Splyce against the Japanese team DetonatioN FocusMe, baiting in the enemy bot lane and picking up First Blood early on thanks to a gank from Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir. He popped up again in the top lane not long after to give the Europeans an early lead. It looked like curtains for DFM even before the 10 minute mark, as a big fight back on the bot side went in favour of Splyce. And indeed, by 25 minutes, Splyce were breaking open their opponents’ base with a huge 10k gold lead.
With that important win under their belt, Splyce went into the game against Isurus Gaming with confidence. Unfortunately, it was the South Americans who started strongly, with Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss getting solo killed in the top lane early on. He looked to be getting away with it too, juking around the follow up from Xerxe. But a cheeky Jarvan IV flag ended his hopes of getting out clean. That set the wheels in motion, and from there, Splyce took control. They grabbed three infernal drakes, a handful of kills, and Vizicsacsi even returned the favour with a solo kill of his own on their way to another comfortable victory.
Day three difficulties
Their heads held high with an undefeated record, Splyce went into day three to do it all over again. Unfortunately, this time DFM were out for revenge, determined not to go home from Worlds without a win. They picked up First Blood, and Vizicsacsi went down alone in the top lane again as DFM stepped up the aggression. Splyce kept it even for a while, but the combo of Nocturne and Galio was able to quickly turn fights in their favour all over the map, especially when used with an Ashe ultimate. Eventually, it was a fight around the Baron pit that put DFM in the ascendancy, and they played well to end the game off the back of it.
Even though they were licking their wounds, Splyce were still in control of their own fate, and looked to bounce back and solidify their position in the group with a final win over Isurus. It was a bloody game in the early goings, but Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup came out on top, picking up four kills. But on the other side of the map, Mateo “Buggax” Aroztegui was getting plenty of kills of his own, creating a worry for the Europeans. However, they played the macro game well, getting Baron and then punishing Isurus’ overextension in response.
Against the odds, Isurus did manage to survive and tried to make a comeback into the game; Splyce needed to grab another Baron under pressure in order to close out the win. It was closer than they might have liked, but they were heading into Round 2 as the number one seed from their group.
They would be up against an opponent from the hotly contested Group A, which contained Clutch Gaming from North America, the Australians Mammoth, and Unicorns of Love from CIS. Each of these teams finished on a record of 2-2, so Splyce would have to wait through their tiebreaker games to see who they’d be facing. Unicorns of Love made it past Mammoth, but lost to Clutch, setting up an intriguing match for Round 2.
There’s definitely some history there, as Splyce will be going up against a team who once held a spot in Europe, not to mention a team who Xerxe once played for back in 2017. Unicorns of Love will be looking to prove they’re still able to hang with the bigger teams. In fact, they’ve already done so, showing they can best Clutch Gaming in a best-of-one. However, Round 2 will have best-of-five games, so Splyce will be looking to use the advantage of their quality over a longer series, with a helpful bit of room for error.
Rest of the world
Elsewhere in the Play-In Stage, we’ll have Korean side Damwon Gaming vs LowKey Gaming, in what will be a very tough matchup for the Vietnamese team. Damwon went undefeated in Round 1, and are seen as a team that can stand up to most of the rosters in the Main Event too.
Clutch Gaming will be up against Royal Youth in their Round 2 match. The Americans should fancy their chances against the Turkish team, who only managed to get one win in their tricky group, but Royal Youth will still pose a threat.
Hong Kong Attitude will take on Isurus Gaming, in what is likely to be an interesting match. Analysts won’t put much weight behind either of these teams making it past the Main Event Group Stage, but fans will be treated to some exciting League of Legends nonetheless.
The teams that win their matches will be going through to the 2019 Worlds Group Stage. Thanks to rules about regions not being able to play against each other, Splyce will be put into either Group B or D if they make it past Unicorns of Love. This means they’ve skipped out on the “Group of Death,” but will still face a stiff challenge against either FunPlus Phoenix, J Team, and GAM Esports, or against Team Liquid, ahq e-Sports Club, and Invictus Gaming.