It’s that time of the year, the leaves are turning from green to red and orange, the weather is a bit chilly, and teams have been flying from all over the world to attend the finale in China for the League of Legends World Championship 2017. While 24 teams have entered, only 1 will reign supreme with the strong possibility that they are from South Korea. And even still, 4 teams will be heading home a lot sooner than the rest. There are a lot of teams that have been projected as the favorites for the play-ins, there are those few that have been projected as the passengers on the first flight out.
Analyzing the League of Legends World Championship 2017 Underdogs
We could talk about Team WE, Cloud 9, Fnatic, Gambit, and so many more, but there are so many articles that describe these teams and have a lot of coverage already. Instead, we will dive into the teams that many ignore, thinking that they can’t keep up with the competition. While it is true that not everyone can be winners, these teams made it to World’s and that is no small feat. Even if they might not measure up to the competition fully, these aren’t teams to gloss over as they could just be dark horses.
LLN – Lyon Gaming
Let’s go in order from groups A-D. That means starting with talking about Lyon Gaming. This might sound like a strange pick at first, but when you see names like Team WE and Gambit, this puts Lyon Gaming in a bit of a pickle. On the one hand, they have the team many consider to be a favorite to, not only make it out of the play-ins but, make it to the quarterfinals. The other hand holds Gambit, the team many fans are excited to see especially after a dominant season and their victory over another crowd favorite, M19.
This begs the question, is Lyon Gaming a bad team? Their history on the international stage can only be traced through this year. At MSI, they didn’t perform horribly and only didn’t make it out of the play-ins due to their pairing with Gigabyte Marines, the only team to beat them. It could be argued that if they were in the other group that they might have been able to fight against TSM and GAM there.
And to continue on their history, both Spring and Summer proved that Lyon is well ahead of the other teams in the LLN. In Spring they only lost a single game, while in Summer they did drop 4 games. Nonetheless, they were the best team by miles. Oddie, LYN’s jungler, received the best KDA for junglers in the latter half of the summer split. Seiya was considered the best mid laner of the LLN along with WhiteLotus being the best ADC. Add on that Genthix allowed for WhiteLotus to be extremely aggressive and you have a grand team.
Yet with all of this, they are still placed at the bottom. In order for LYN to be able to make it out, it would be more about GMB playing poorly than LYN playing well. GMB have the talent to take down teams like WE, C9, and TSM, but have fallen to some of the worst teams, like Na’Vi. WE, meanwhile, does have a few red flags risen as they lost to Snake eSports several times, placed 4th in Summer LPL split, and barely made it to Worlds. A lot of pressure on WE could allow for LYN to pull off a couple miracles off the back of Seiya and WhiteLotus. It is a long shot, but keep an eye out for this underdog as the best odds are in their favor.
OPL – LG Dire Wolves
This year has been absolutely incredible for DW. They made it to MSI after a great Spring split and now are making it to World’s after a great finish to Summer as well. What people don’t realize is that this is a team that had a history of always finishing second to Chiefs Gaming and Legacy Gaming. And throughout another successful split, they only lost a single series to LGC halfway through.
However, the success for DW in Spring was brought to an abrupt halt when they could only manage to win two games. Granted, one of the wins was an upset over RED Canids to stop the Brazilian dreams to make it out of play-ins and ending the tie SuperMassive and RED had had prior. That was a glimmer of hope for DW, but the rest of their games lacked much to be desired. They had gone 1-1 with Rampage, a team that only picked up that one win, and looked outclassed by RED and SUP in all other games.
Now, they are placed in a group against Cloud9 and Team oNe esports. North America and Brazil. While oNe might be a bit of a mystery, C9 is considered a clear favorite to break out of the play-ins. The team that many thought would have been the opponents for TSM in the NA LCS finals. And the matchups swing towards C9 as well for most lanes. The only question mark could be how Contractz fairs against Shernfire, but even then it is heavily skewed towards NA.
oNe, on the other hand, came out of nowhere to take CBLOL by storm. INTZ and RED were the favorites for CBLOL, but both were upset in the playoffs to leave oNe against Pain Gaming, who placed 4th in the regular split. If oNe can play like they did against RED in the playoffs for CBLOL, there is a far greater shot for them to make it out that DW. But DW have been able to defeat RED in the past and could pull off a miracle against oNe to be the most successful Australian team internationally to date.
CLS – Kaos Latin Gamers
If you haven’t seen clips of Phreak pronouncing MANTARRAYA, I highly recommend doing so before watching worlds (here you go – Phreaks Mantarraya Compilation). Might give you a new favorite team and underdog to cheer for. But I’m here to burst the bubble fairly quickly while still showing that there is hope. KLG have had a rough year with a lot of ups and downs along the way. From almost being relegated to a ticket to Worlds. This team has pulled off some amazing feats within just a few months.
But they have had a lot of rough patches on their way to the top. Throughout the split where they actually were on top, they managed to lose games to last place Born 2 Kill, third and fourth place Last Kings and Furious Gaming, and an entire series to Isurus Gaming. These aren’t things that inspire confidence when you look at the performance of ISG at MSI, where they managed only a single win against Virtus.Pro.
Couple all of this with their opponents, Fnatic and Young Generation. The EU darlings, FNC, seemed like they were going to usurp G2 from the title of best in EU many times throughout the season, but fell on hard times to barely qualify for Worlds. However, that doesn’t make them a bad team as they are favored to make it out of the play-ins and to the groups. With talent like sOAZ, Rekkles, and Caps, it would be a massive flop if they fell here.
But the bigger question mark for KLG’s success is how Young Generation might be. In Vietnam, YG were the only team that managed to take a single game off of GAM all season, including playoffs. While it might only be one game, it does show that YG have the capability to play strong enough as a roster to take down the fury that is GAM. ISG certainly couldn’t, so there are doubts to whether KLG can even beat YG here.
The key to the success for KLG boils down to the champions they get. A similar phenomenon happened with FNC when they started to win if Rekkles had Kennen or Kalista, KLG need to be able to draft their staple. In the finals for the CLS, they drafted the, almost, identical team every game and won, granted each game was a slugfest. Maybe that’s what they need to do is delay the game long enough for them to take the bacon home.
LJL – Rampage
Alright, I want to start off with saying that picking between HK Attitude and Rampage was a bit difficult. I could honestly see either of them in this slot, but RPG gain the spot due to a strong finish to the gauntlet from HKA where they beat JTeam and the rising stars Raise Gaming. If you didn’t watch the LMS gauntlet stage, just know that HKA were far from favorites to even make it out of one series, let alone two with those two being against those everyone thought would win.
Enough about HKA, let’s talk a bit about RPG. This isn’t their first time gracing the international stage as they were at MSI, but if you forgot, that’s probably a good idea. They, like ISG in the other group from them, were the last place team with only a single win over DW. Even in that win, it wasn’t the best time for RPG and they looked shaky with their jungler, Tussle, throughout the play-ins.
That’s that right? We can write off the LJL and be on our merry way. GGWP. Well, except for what came next for RPG and the rest of Japan. The introduction of Rift Rivals might have been one of the greatest additions for international play as it gives an insight to the potential that teams can have, and LJL took that in great strides. Beating OPL is one thing, but toppling GPL and the legendary GAM, that’s something else. While RPG might have been the worst performing team from the LJL at the tournament, they still had a positive win rate against GAM at 2-1, which isn’t a feat any team from Vietnam can even say.
The competition for Group D should be pretty intense between HKA and RPG for who can take down the other. Both teams have had strange events and performances that culminated in them both being able to reach the stage at the League of Legends World Championship 2017 in China. While I might have placed HKA a bit higher that RPG, this might be a group with the highest chance of having the last place team be up in the air.