The last day of the Group Stage of Worlds 2019 had just concluded. The entire tournament was filled with ups and downs for almost everyone, despite this Worlds arguably the most stacked ever. At the end of the day, the teams better equipped and prepared were well rewarded with a spot in the Quarterfinals. Without further ado, let’s dive in on the last games of the final group.
1. AHQ vs Invictus Gaming (Winner: Invictus Gaming)
AHQ spent the first half of Group Stage looking for a win. Although they almost had one against Team Liquid, they ultimately fell short. In order to keep their hopes alive, they must win all three games for the day. However, standing in their way are the defending champions Invictus Gaming. IG came into this tournament, not as the de facto favorite. Why? It’s because they slumped hard in the summer, when star mid laner Rookie had to take time off and jungler Ning had internal issues with the team. Fortunately, they seemed to have found their groove and are peaking at the right time.
As expected, the skill difference of opposing solo laners became evident early on. Despite good ganks and rotations by AHQ’s jungler Alex, AHQ still found themselves at huge cs deficits. After a while, Invictus Gaming realized that AHQ’s carries aren’t pumping out damage and walked the Rift Herald right into their top inhibitor, only 17 minutes into the game.
A good indicator of a team outclassing a team well below their level is the generation of organic leads. Even without big team fights or plenty of kills, fundamentally better teams will consistently find leads and grow them. By the 27th minute, IG already owned the entire map area outside AHQ’s base. They then took two inhibitors without a fight. Afterward, they pulled back and set up a trap near Baron. Another pick on Alex allowed them to take Baron for free and with that, they took the last few objectives and into AHQ’s base. At this point, fighting IG is already a lose-lose situation and despite their best efforts, AHQ fell to 0-4 record.
2. Team Liquid vs Damwon Gaming (Winner: Damwon Gaming)
Team Liquid beat Damwon Gaming in a close game in Day 1. However, Damwon Gaming also beat Invictus Gaming the next day, who beat Team Liquid prior to that game. That should have meant any team can beat each other, right? Right? Well… no. Although Team Liquid showed a lot of improvement since last year’s Worlds and this year’s MSI, neither of their 2 wins are convincing enough. Sure, they beat Damwon in the first day, but only because Nuguri played so disrespectfully of Impact. Don’t get me wrong, I’m saying this as a Liquid fan. Moreover, TL almost dropped to AHQ in their first half match-up, winning through the skin of their teeth against a winless team.
Determined to win the game at all costs, Team Liquid pull out a lane swap strat right out of the gate and confused Damwon Gaming to gain a slight lead in the early game. However, an ill-advised dragon play nullified all the effort they did in the first five minutes. They were then forced to play from behind for the rest of the game. By the 27th minute, Damwon farmed three ocean drakes and two infernals on top of a massive 10k gold lead. Damwon then played patiently and they slowly choked Team Liquid until they forced them into a no-win scenario. 32 minutes into the game, they completely dismantled the last North American team and took first place in Group D.
3. Team Liquid vs AHQ (Winner: Team Liquid)
If Team Liquid wants to advance to the Knockout Stage, they absolutely cannot lose another game. AHQ are out of contention already but don’t be surprised to see them try to get at least one win in the tournament. Worlds 2019 showed us how far both North America and Taiwan are from the rest of the major regions.
As a Liquid fan, I’m quite disappointed with how disjointed TL looked the entire tournament. They were light-years away from the TL that beat IG back in MSI. Exhibit A: Three and a half minutes into the game, both junglers and bot laners contested the bottom scuttle crab. Team Liquid drafted Xayah-Rakan against AHQ’s Ezreal-Yuumi, so they naturally have bot priority. However, Xmithie took too long taking the crab. AHQ jumped at the opportunity to attack the TL bot lane duo with a pincer move but Doublelift and CoreJJ flashed over the dragon pit,. However, Jensen somehow lost priority in mid, allowing Rainbow to collapse in and finish off the two.
Fortunately, Doublelift and CoreJJ stayed calm and collected despite the tragic early game deficit. When AHQ tried to dive the duo under their turret, they masterfully outplayed the 4-man AHQ gank squad. Jensen’s Leblanc then cleaned up the mess. This outplay gave Doublelift the cushion he needed to carry his team in later team fights. TL won every fight thereafter and at 31 minutes, finally made it past the finish line. This crucial win kept their Knockout Stage hopes alive.
4. Damwon Gaming vs Invictus Gaming (Winner: Damwon Gaming)
The last time these two teams played, Damwon Gaming brought the pain onto the defending champions in a showcase of their immense talent. Damwon’s bot laner Nuclear, in particular, had a monstrous game on Kai’sa, even getting a solo kill on his counterpart JackeyLove. If Damwon wins this game, they’re basically a lock for 1st seed. I don’t see them dropping their last game to AHQ. For IG, this is the perfect opportunity for them to regain their form and avoid the stronger teams in the Quarterfinals.
IG tried to stop the bleeding in the bot lane by putting JackeyLove on Syndra and just make him try to stay alive. However, Canyon played his best game of the tournament so far and still managed to put Nuclear’s Kai’sa ahead. However, that wasn’t even IG’s biggest problem this game. The main carry for Damwon was their mid laner Showmaker. He delivered a wonderful performance against Rookie. He used the pressure IG put on Nuguri on the top side and used it to his advantage. A botched dive on Nuguri allowed Showmaker to earn an early triple kill that set him up to carry the rest of the way.
In the mid-game fights, you can tell both teams are just equally matched. IG’s top laner kept exuding pressure on Nuguri, while Showmaker made the rest of IG look like they were made of paper. However, there has to come a time when then balance falls apart. At the 31 minute mark, a pincer move by Damwon Gaming allowed them to corner all five IG members in the tight corridor near Damwon’s outer mid turret. In a blur, the LCK’s #3 seed wiped IG off the face of the map and set themselves up for the first seed of the group.
5. Damwon Gaming vs AHQ (Winner: Damwon Gaming)
Not much to say here. Both teams probably knew what would happen in this game. AHQ even fielded their substitutes to give them international experience, albeit in a non-bearing game.
23 minutes in, Damwon Gaming pretty much destroyed AHQ in every facet of the game. They had a 12k gold lead, 4-0 turret score, 8-0 kill score, and a Baron buff. They finally ended the game in roughly 30 minutes.
6. Invictus Gaming vs Team Liquid (Winner: Invictus Gaming)
This is it. This is the last chance for both teams to take the last spot in the Knockout Stage. Historically, North America failed to send at least one team to the Knockout Stage last 2015. Additionally, Team Liquid’s Doublelift finished his 4 previous Worlds appearances with a 3-3 record, finishing third in his group each time. This was supposed to be his best chance for redemption. Sadly, Invictus Gaming had other plans. Of course, the defending champions had to defend their title in the Knockout Stage and avenge their MSI loss along the way.
If it wasn’t apparent by now, this game cemented how far ahead Rookie and TheShy are compared to Team Liquid’s solo laners. Rookie broke the game wide open after solo-killing Jensen. After the kill, he instantly bought mobi boots and bee-lined towards the top lane where he killed Impact. Doublelift and CoreJJ tried to make up for the deficit but it wasn’t enough. IG played right at the edge of their limits the entire game, almost taunting Team Liquid. Slowly but surely, they choked the life out of Team Liquid and the entire North American region. IG didn’t even take 25 minutes to send the final North American team home. GG Team Liquid.
With this win, IG advances to the Knockout Stage as the second seed, ready to defend their title while Damwon Gaming takes the 1st seed out of Group D.
The Group Stage of Worlds 2019 has officially wrapped up. Stay tuned for our recap of the Knockout Stage draw, as well as our predictions and more.