Day 4 marks the end of the first half of the Group Stage. Most of the teams have performed at or near the level of expectations coming into Worlds. With that said, let’s cover the last set of games for Group Stage Part 1.
RNG dispatches Fnatic in a tight game, earns second win
Tiebreakers commonly happen at Worlds and if a team beats you twice, an upset against a team with more wins doesn’t matter. That’s why both games against each other are arguably the most important for either team.
With that said, RNG made sure they weren’t going to be part of any Yuumi-related shenanigans. Interestingly, Fnatic drafted a funnel composition with alone carry. It seemed they trust rookie mid laner Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek to carry the game for Fnatic. Whether this is to avoid fighting RNG star ADC Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao on equal terms or just an unnecessary curveball remains to be seen.
The game stayed quiet even for the first 10 minutes or so. However, like clockwork, teams are almost always forced to fight for the Rift Herald when it spawns. Fnatic support Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov couldn’t get a hook on anyone on RNG and they were punished for it. That trend continued for almost the entire game, with Fnatic struggling to keep up in fights because of their lack of reliable damage. This team fight allowed RNG to snowball their lead and take every objective and fight thereafter.
In a desperate attempt to save the game, Fnatic made the bold call to rush Baron. RNG all based after destroying Fnatic’s mid inhibitor but they made it in time to contest the objective. In the ensuing team fight, RNG perfectly denied Fnatic’s win condition, never allowing Martin “Rekkles” Larsson’s Morgana to get a multi-man ultimate. Nemesis tried his best but in the end, Uzi and his mid laner Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao took him down and marched unopposed to Fnatic’s Nexus.
SKT obliterates Clutch Gaming to finish the first week of Groups 3-0
Analysts predicted SKT, RNG, and Fnatic to be the teams in contention for who will advance to the Knockout Stage. SKT have shown flawless form so far, especially Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and jungler Kim “Clid” Tae-min. The two are undoubtedly the best mid-jungle duo in the tournament so far and it’s not even close. Similarly, Clutch Gaming are seemingly outmatched in their group as expected. Clutch Gaming top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon hasn’t shown much against his opponents so far, who previously played for both Fnatic and SKT.
It almost feels like Clutch Gaming are starstruck by the amount of talent they are currently facing. Most low-seed teams in the past get constantly outplayed at Worlds because they respect their opponents too much. However, Clutch Gaming’s opponents are smashing them at almost every aspect of the game. Every play they make seemed forced and telegraphed easily, leading to facepalm-worthy moments.
I don’t even know how to describe this game to you, especially if you’re a North American fan. SKT simply played every part of the game better than CG. Kim “Khan” Dong-ha dunked on Huni in the top lane all game long. Faker did Faker things and even had an eye-popping outplay against the entire CG squad. The play-by-play commentator even ran out of adjectives to describe how hard a beating SKT gave Clutch Gaming.
Bounce back in the second half, Clutch Gaming. Don’t let this be the lasting memory you have of Worlds 2019.
FunPlus Phoenix finally delivered a game worthy of their pre-Worlds hype, wipe out GAM Esports
FunPlus Phoenix didn’t let SKT have all the fun stomping their opponents. After a shocking loss in their first game of Worlds 2019, FPX bounced back in a shaky game against Splyce. However, they finally delivered a convincing win against GAM Esports.
FPX didn’t let GAM’s wild strats take over the game for them. Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang and Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song made plays on every possible opportunity. At 15 minutes, FPX possessed a 7k gold lead and they simply styled on their opponents from start to finish.
This game pushed FPX atop Group A at 2 wins and 1 loss.
J Team continues to surprise Western fans, drops Splyce to earn second win of Groups
Following FPX’s win, J Team felt the need to make a statement saying something like we’re not Flash Wolves but we’re getting out of this group. Despite Splyce’s aggression and slight lead in the early game, J Team did not relent. J Team’s mid laner Chu “FoFo” Chun-Lan played one of his best games of the year, outperforming Splyce’s mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda both in lane and in team fights.
Splyce’s composition was built for Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup to clean up from the back line after his team exhausts all of J Teams cooldowns. However, Splyce allowed J Team to take the lead in the mid-game. When they fell behind the item curve, Splyce’s front line melted against Chen “Lilv” Chin-Han’s Kai’sa. J Team’s jungler Chen “Hana” Chih-Hao did a masterful job separating the members of Splyce, never allowing them to play front to back.
J Team systematically dismantled Splyce’s base using Baron and Elder buff. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Splyce tried to make a last stand but ultimately lost the game to a better team. With the win, J Team moved up the standings and tied their record with FPX at 2-1
Griffin swats Cloud 9’s Sona comp with a Garen-Yuumi combo, climbs to 2-1
What happens when you pit two cancerous strategies against each other? We found out the answer to that question in this game, for better or worse. Cloud 9 brought the dreaded Sona-Tahm Kench bot lane back from the dead against Griffin’s own rendition of Garen-Yuumi.
Whatever your thoughts are about either composition, it’s important to note that these two aren’t playing a “for fun” game. They’re actually playing in the World Championship, for the second seed of their group. Well, it is Season 9, after all. Cheese picks are no longer considered gimmicks. Bot laners aren’t 100% marksmen and marksmen are now literally played at every position in the game without anyone losing their minds.
With that said, the game stayed relatively close for the most part. Both teams were incredibly difficult to pick off, with Yuumi and Sona both pumping out heals every few seconds. In my opinion, any team could’ve easily won this game if they stuck to their win conditions. C9’s top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie kept grouping with his team despite being on Fiora. On the other hand, Griffin didn’t exploit Licorice’s early deficit against their own top laner Choi “Sword” Sung-won. Also, a 4v4 away from both split pushers favored Griffin, because of Gangplank’s global ultimate.
Anyway, Griffin managed to find the right team fights to secure enough objectives they needed to run over Sona and the rest of Cloud 9. Despite their best efforts and valiant defense, a Fiora that cannot threaten the enemy base may just as well be a melee minion. Better luck next time, Cloud 9.
G2 fends off a scrappy Hong Kong Attitude squad, remain undefeated in the Group Stage of Worlds 2019
G2 Esports’s reign of terror in Group A continued for the third straight game as they fended off Hong Kong Attitude on the way to their third straight win at Worlds.
The early game saw both teams trying to one-up each other. HKA tried to stay close by punishing G2’s over-aggression and blatant disrespect of their capabilities. G2 support Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle made numerous blunders, falling to Ling “Kaiwing” Kai Wing’s Thresh hooks repeatedly. Also, Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski constantly disregarded his positioning, victimized and collapsed on multiple times in the enemy jungle. However, the stars of G2, Rasmus “Caps” Winther and Luka “Perkz” Perkovic more than made up for their teammates’ poor game. Despite being down 8-4 in kills, G2 were even in gold with HKA. Moreover, they had complete control over the map and that allowed them to initiate the fights for crucial objectives.
With both Caps and Perkz massively ahead of anyone else in the game, G2 rolled over the entire LMS squad with the Baron buff and marched onto a commanding 3-0 record in Group A.