The unthinkable happened at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship as Europe scored a clean sweep over South Korea on Day 1 of the main event’s group stage. G2 Esports and Team Vitality scored momentous wins against Afreeca Freecs and Gen.G in rather convincing fashion.
The day started well for South Korea, with KT Rolster delivering a clinic on snowballing the slightest advantages against Team Liquid. The Korean team used a level 1 health and summoner spell advantage in the bot lane to pressure Xmithie’s jungle and the map at large. Team Liquid attempted to restore balance in the bot lane, but their investment of Pobelter’s Teleport spell failed to yield a kill on Score, which then spiraled into uncontestable advantages for UcaL and Smeb as Score maintained tempo advantage. Despite Team Liquid’s best attempts to the opposite, KT Rolster closed the game (a macro clinic) at the 32:48 mark following a slight overextension from Impact.
On the other hand, Afreeca Freecs disrespected G2 Esports when they did not ban Heimerdinger, a pick Hjärnan used to unleash hell on his opponents’ hyper scaling solutions. Hjärnan played safely and, with the help of Wadid’s Rakan, thwarted towerdive and gank attempts from Afreeca. Combined with Wunder’s split-pushing Camille coming alive, G2 executed a devastating 1-3-1 pressure scheme that culminated in Afreeca desperately attempting Baron Nashor — losing their inhibitor and a few players in the process. G2 then closed the game in a calculative, slow and steady manner, scoring Europe’s first upset victory at Worlds.
The approach Team Vitality used against Gen.G to score Europe’s second win against Korea was a polar opposite to G2's. Vitality's team’s skirmish-heavy focus (with an Ornn-Nocturne core for team fight engages from undetectable locations) was devastating against a Gen.G collective that was unable to react in time as their players fell in team fights. It only took a few skirmishes for Jiizuke (on Ekko) to take over the game almost single-handedly. Not only did he have Crown’s number, his tower takedowns eventually created a huge vulnerability which Vitality exploited, sending Attila (on a Teleport Kai’Sa) alongside him for a game-winning backdoor push.
China also shone in their first day of action, although their Day 1 representatives performed vastly differently. EDward Gaming particularly struggled against LMS second seed MAD Team as they took 41 minutes (filled with brawling) to overcome their opponent (but not without iBoy showcasing his prowess at the game). Royal Never Give Up met resistance against Cloud9 (especially from Licorice) in the early game, but RNG’s bot-heavy focus allowed Uzi (and his teammates) to annihilate their opponents in team fights, well aided by LetMe’s Shen and xiaohu’s Galio.
As for the Flash Wolves, they showcased a solid grasp of the meta and their stylistic compatibility with it as playmaking support SwordArt and jungler Moojin took over the game in a hurry. Although their Day 1 opponents, Phong Vũ Buffalo, secured a Dragon at the 15:50 mark, they were unable to oppose FW’s map control, a matter that culminated in a blind face-check at the Baron Nashor area (24-minute mark) to Flash Wovles’ delight (a 4-0 skirmish and Baron buff secured). The Taiwanese team then closed the game before Baron Nashor wore out, at the 27:00 mark.
European squads entered the tournament with a bang, and all eyes will be on Fnatic as they prepare to face 100 Thieves for a potential 3:0. You can check them out as well as the entirety of Group D starting Oct. 11 at 10:00 CET / 1 a.m. PT / 17:00 KST live on the event hub!