The second day of the 2018 League of Legends World Championship’s group stage has concluded, and China’s representatives remain undefeated. On the other hand, Korean squads not named KT Rolster are at a 0:4 record — a matter that is unheard of since Korea’s arrival in competitive League of Legends in 2012.
Afreeca Freecs’ woes continue as they lost to the Flash Wolves in a manner that showed a lack of planning at draft level. One can wonder what they had planned with Akali top lane, Olaf jungle and Vel’Koz mid without enough setups and/or a front line; but the same cannot be said about the calculative Flash Wolves, who used mid lane Sion and top lane Urgot to create picks, provide front line shredding and cover for Betty’s Kai’Sa (8/0/2 KDA). With team fights secured at draft, Flash Wolves’ sole mission was to play at a steady pace, a matter that netted them towers, inhibitors, victorious skirmishes, and the victory.
Europe had entered the day after a strong Day 1 showing, but they left it with question marks. Phong Vũ Buffalo built a balanced team composition (with team fighting and sieging capabilities) to thwart G2 Esports’ split push centric one. As PVB neutralized Jankos, G2 were unable to acquire leads during the laning phase, a matter that spiraled into PVB’s ability to skirmish around the map off solid vision control. G2 Esports were unable to reverse the tide, merely delay it when catching opponents overextended and isolated. However, such occurrence was fairly rare — too rare for G2.
Unlike the other groups, Group D was upset proof on its first day as Fnatic trounced 100 Thieves, and Caps signaled his arrival to the tournament with a devastating Irelia (8/0/2 KDA) showcase against Ryu’s Syndra (0/5/0). Caps parlayed his lead into presence within roaming parties alongside Broxah’s Olaf (5/0/4) and Hylissang's Rakan (0/0/10), and 100 Thieves were unable to do much besides watch as their structures collapsed around them.
In the other game of Group D, G-Rex’s mid laner, Candy, tempted fate by picking Syndra into Invictus Gaming RooKie’s Irelia, despite Caps's demonstration in the previous game. To Candy’s credit, he was not responsible for the loss, as he conceded very little ground. However, Ning (on Zac, 0/0/10) was on a mission: allow JackeyLove’s Kai’Sa (5/2/7) to thrive in the bottom lane through ganks, and invite Rookie (6/0/7) to secure a gold advantage away from a seemingly stale mid lane, then have both carries spiral their leads to oblivion. The dust settled after 28 minutes of action, with iG powering through mid lane structures using Baron buff.
The most spectacular games were left for last, as Team Vitality nearly turned a botched draft into a victory through team fighting and Jiizuke’s mechanical prowess on LeBlanc (4/2/6, with the two deaths occurring in the waning moments of the game). Cloud9 secured leads in the top lane and set Licorice’s Ornn on the path to becoming nearly unkillable as his 2/1/10 KDA proved.
However, Vitality struck back through skirmishing around Jactroll’s Thresh hooks, long enough for Jiizuke to prey upon Sneaky’s Kai’Sa (6/3/7) and Svenskeren’s Taliyah (3/3/10). Cloud9’s composition, however, held a significant edge at team fighting, should one target be under crowd control (CC) effects; down the stretch, Licorice was able to CC Jiizuke after he failed to isolate Svenskeren, then led his team to secure Elder Dragon and Baron Nashor buffs, then to victory in 48 minutes of back-and-forth action.
The final game of the day delivered on its Match of the Day promise as Gen.G played to their strengths (CuVee and Ruler on Camille and Xayah, with Crown’s Lulu for assistance), and as they seemed to stall well enough against Royal Never Give Up to enable their winning conditions. By minute 18 (and Haru’s Olaf scoring first blood on Karsa’s Lee Sin), the two teams had one dragon each, and RNG only had a single tower takedown up top.
However, the first blood opened hostilities on all fronts. Gen.G secured small victories in the first two team fights, but lost the game-deciding one as Sion’s LetMe hit gold when his ultimate caught Ruler, and as RNG clinically closed the game within a minute of scoring the kill — in a fashion reminiscent of their victory against Kingzone DragonX at the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational, where their calculated skirmishing helped them land a vulnerable PraY.
Following Day Two, Korea holds the worst regional record despite playing it on home soil, and there are several reasons why it is happening. Here is a quick breakdown of all records:
— China – 4:0
— Europe – 3:2
— Taiwan – 2:2
— Vietnam – 1:1
— North America – 1:3
— South Korea – 1:4
The 2018 World Championship action resumes on Oct. 12 as KT Rolster seek to improve Korea’s standing as they face MAD Team at 1 a.m. PT / 10:00 CET / 17:00 KST, and you can watch it live on the hub!