- The long wait for Worlds is over. The most anticipated tournament of the year starts now, and here is how Day 1 played out.
Worlds 2019 – Play-ins Day 1 Recap
Last year, the Play-ins for the Worlds 2018 gave us plenty of upsets and explosive, on-the-edge matches. This year, fans are hoping for more. Over the past years, the meta (most effective tactic available) has shifted towards aggressive early game and frequent skirmishes and team fights. This year, Riot raised the stakes even more with the introduction of turret plating. This feature pushed players to play more aggressively to get an early lead and snowball the game. The snooze-fest of past seasons are long gone. Games are much faster and more frantic. This style gives pros and cons depending on a particular team or region’s style of play. With that said, let’s make sense of the chaotic Day 1 of Worlds 2019
Game 1: Clutch Gaming (NA #3) vs Unicorns of Love (LCL/Russia)
UoL certainly did their homework, taking away an early game power pick (Pantheon) and two comfort picks (GP and Rumble) away from Clutch’s top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon . Meanwhile, Clutch surprisingly banned away the Qiyana, a comfort pick for Tanner “Damonte” Damonte. Clutch then first picked Renekton, supposedly a power pick for Huni, but they end up swapping it to mid for Damonte. The only other curveball in the draft was the Heimerdinger for Nihat “Innaxe” Aliev in the bot lane. Do note that Ekko is a powerful jungle pick in this patch, having consecutive buffs in the previous patch, as well as Rek’sai.
To be honest, the game plan for UoL was straightforward: Don’t feed Huni. They picked a safe, ranged laner in Neeko and picked a ranged mid vs the Renekton. Meanwhile, their bot lane’s strategy is to try to keep shoving the lane so the Morgana can roam and make plays for the cc-less Tristana.
For Clutch, they picked Xayah-Rakan for bot priority while Ekko spams ganks for the solo lanes. Later on, they can play a 1-3-1 with Huni on their strong lane.
The game-breaking moment for Clutch Gaming came at around the 22nd minute, when a mountain drake spawned. Without any other objective within reach for either team, neither wanted to give it up for free. Clutch managed to setup vision control in the bot side river and position to take the dragon. While Huni was still pushing the wave in the bot lane and Lira away from the team, AHaHaCiK engaged on Clutch and they get three kills, the dragon and the Baron. Clutch was pretty much shut out of the rest of the game after that. Although the game went on for quite a while, Clutch didn’t try to use Rakan engages to force teamfights because Huni and Damonte were behind in gold. Additionally, the safety of Tristana and Heimerdinger as well as Neeko’s ultimate prevented Huni and Lira from engaging on the Unicorns’ back line.
Winner: Unicorns of Love
Player of the Game: Lev “Nomanz” Yakshin (Mid)
It’s quite difficult to pinpoint which of the Unicorns deserve the most credit. BOSS did a great job containing Huni and absorbing pressure up top. AHaHaCiK also had great pathing and was always on-time for counter ganks. For me, however, it was Nomanz who effectively made the game a 4v5 by never allowing Damonte’s Renekton to have any impact on the game whatsoever.
Game 2: DetonatioN FocusMe (LJL/Japan) vs Splyce (EU #3)
The Qiyana was again banned on blue side this game, as well as a red side Pantheon ban. Also, we’re going to see a lot of Syndra bans this tournament, as it is a powerful flex pick for mid/bot. There’s also a respect ban on Ceros’ Heimerdinger. Splyce opted to give Gnar over to Shunsuke “Evi” Murase (11-0) and matched it with Kennen for Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss. Ekko was picked again and was matched with a Hecarim for Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir.
The minor regions are certainly coming to play this tournament, as they seem to come with plenty of pocket picks. DFM’s mid laner Kyohei “Ceros” Yoshida pulled out a Nocturne mid. The rest of the draft was quite standard as Splyce opted for a Ryze comfort pick for mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda
Splyce’s playstyle is simple: trust in ADC Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup to carry in late game team fights. This game, they picked a Xayah-Rakan which should go at least even against Lucian-Thresh. However, that’s not to say they are a one-dimensional team. Xerxe and Humanoid are a potent jungle-mid duo and if they can get Splyce ahead early, it’ll be difficult to take this team apart. Their composition this game is built for 5v5 team fights which Splyce are excellent at. They can also 1-3-1 in a pinch, but Gnar will eventually outscale Kennen.
For DetonatioN FocusMe, most of their plays go through mid lane. Ceros is one of their best players, known for utility mages, facilitating his team and getting them leads.. They’ll probably try to brute force mid lane priority to give Ceros roaming opportunities for his Nocturne. Their composition is also built for 5v5 team fights.
Game Breaking Moment
I don’t think there was one individual play that turned the tide of the game. Splyce, particularly Xerxe and Kobbe, just played better individually and collectively.
Player of the Game: Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir (Jungle)
His Hecarim was always a step or two ahead of Moon “Steal” Geon-yeong’s Ekko all throughout the game. His first two ganks in the early game put Splyce permanently in the driver’s seat.
Game 3: MAMMOTH(OPL/Oceania) vs Unicorns of Love (LCL/Russia)
This is the third blue side Qiyana ban in a row. It might be a power pick teams have been scrimming with but not worthy of using first pick on. We also saw a Kayle ban, which is OP again, thanks to a mini-rework. For red side, Pantheon is turning to be a must ban as well. As expected, Mammoth first picks Syndra as a flex. UoL answers with Renekton and Ekko, a powerful duo. We then see Gangplank uncorked this game as well. With the meta focused around early objectives and team fighting, it’s no surprise that teams are drafting 5v5 comps every game.
Like we’ve seen earlier in Game 1, Unicorns of Love mid laner Nomanz will use mid lane priority to shut down the opposing mid laner. With their comp pretty standard this game, their aim is to just 5v5 team fight at their power spikes: Renekton’s Spear of Shojin, Corki’s Trinity Force and Kai’sa’s upgraded Q and E.
I’m not exactly familiar with how the OPL plays, but based on their draft, they want to let top and bot to scale. Meanwhile, they’ll use Skarner, Nautilus and Syndra ult to make picks early on when they’re weaker in 5v5 team fights. “Skarner tax” will also negate some of the gold lead UoL might accrue in the early game.
Game Breaking Moment
In minute 36, after a lengthy Baron dance, Mammoth baits UoL to the Baron pit. BOSS teleports into a ward near top blue blasting cone. He ends up staring at all 5 members of Mammoth, barely surviving but taking him out of the equation. Mammoth’s 8k gold lead allowed them to ace UoL and win the game. What an upset and what a relief for the OPL.
Player of the Game: Stephen “Triple” Li (Mid)
Honestly, I wanted to give this to Fudge initially because he absorbed so much pressure in the early game from those repeated dives but Triple’s clean Syndra game deserves the most credit. His damage output, as well as target selection, was insane.
Game 4: DetonatioN FocusMe (LJL/Japan) vs Isurus Gaming (LATAM/Latin America)
No Syndra and Qiyana bans this game. DFM opted to ban Yasuo, Irelia and Lucian. For Isurus Gaming, they banned Ceros’ Heimer as well as Pantheon for being OP and Thresh for… Gaeng, maybe? Xayah Rakan is a staple for teams wanting to have a stable bot lane that can shove waves easily and rotate to top lane first. We see Kayle picked for the first time for Evi and Ceros opts for comfort pick Karma. For Isurus, they drafted Gnar for top laner Mateo “Buggax” Aroztegui, which should pressure Evi enough to stay even.
DetonatioN FocusMe decided to play the side lane game this time around, drafting a hyper carry for Evi and a strong duo in the bot lane. For them to win this game, Steal will have to make sure Ceros can shove his waves without getting ganked and roam to the side lanes. In team fights, Karma shield, Ekko shield and Kayle heal+ult should allow them to engage and not got blown up.
Isurus Gaming drafted a standard front-to-back team fighting comp. Star mid laner Édgar “Seiya ” Bracamontes should be able to get mid priority against nerfed Karma. In team fights, their comp is much easier to execute compared to DFM’s.
Game Breaking Moment
After almost an eternity of.. nothing much happening, a Baron fight erupted at around the 35 minute mark. Buggax is the first casualty, but it costs Yutapon his flash, GA and his life. Meanwhile, Isurus Gaming ADC Fabián “Warangelus” Llanos sniped Evi during Yutapon’s GA animation. That left DFM without a damage dealer and they were swept up and away by the remaining members of Isurus Gaming. That led to Baron for Isurus Gaming and a siege in the bottom lane gave them the opening to finish off DFM.
Winner: Isurus Gaming
Player of the Game: Fabián “Warangelus” Llanos (ADC)
His Ezreal game was on point today, landing skill shot after skill shot.
Game 5: MAMMOTH(OPL/Oceania) vs Clutch Gaming (LCL/Russia)
Mammoth banned Damonte’s Qiyana, Huni’s Rumble and Cody Sun’s Xayah. Clutch aptly banned Triple’s Syndra, Pantheon and Vladimir. It was a little surprising to see Kai’sa first picked, but Kai’sa is one of the best blind pick ADC’s in the current meta. Clutch picked Lira’s comfort champ Elise, as well as a pushing lane for bot. Moreover, they put Huni on Tristana top, showing how much trust they put in their main carry.
Clutch Gaming do not have tanks of any kind. They will either get ahead or get instantly deleted in team fights. However, if they get even slightly ahead, the damage they can deal before Mammoth can retaliate is immense. Lira on Elise means they plan to camp one side of the map if they can. Mid game, anyone caught in a Rakan ult/W will just get obliterated. Any plans to maintain lane priority will get dismantled by Sivir, Orianna and Tristana’s wave clear capabilities.
For Mammoth, they don’t want to be in the back seat either. Kai’sa and Azir are late game hyper carries, so if they fall behind, they will stay there until the game reaches 40 minutes or more. If it even gets there at all. To win, they need to make use of Karma and Nocturne’s pick potential to ward off any attempts to dive Azir or Kai’sa. For Mammoth, this would be all about control of the tempo of the game.
Game Breaking Moment
There were plenty of moments that put Clutch ahead so none of them are “game breaking” in a sense. I would have to give this over to Lira and how he out-jungled Babip in every single aspect of the game. As an Elise main (clearly biased), my heart was glad this game.
Winner: Clutch Gaming
Player of the Game: Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo (Jungle)
Game 6: Splyce (EU #3) vs Isurus Gaming (LATAM/Latin America)
Blue side bans: Yuumi, Renekton and Syndra (pretty standard). Red side bans: Qiyana, Akali, Pantheon (pretty standard as well)
Isurus Gaming gave away Xayah-Rakan to Splyce and opted to get Kai’sa-Nautilus, which in my opinion works well if you get jungle attention. Splyce then counter picked the Gangplank with the Gnar. They round up the rest of the draft by picking Leblanc for Humanoid and Jarvan for Xerxe. For Isurus, Lee Sin jungle and a fallen-out-of-favor Lissandra.
Splyce again drafted a 5v5 team fighting team, with Humanoid facilitating the early-mid game with the Leblanc. Vizicsacsi will then contain the Gangplank and should take more tower plates than him 1v1.
For Isurus, the goal of their draft is to not feed Humanoid and Kobbe so the Kai’sa and Gangplank can scale into the late game. Quite straightforward since almost every team has been drafting either front-to-back comps or all-damage comps.
Game Breaking Moment
At the 25-minute mark, Isurus Gaming called for a hail mary Baron play after making consecutive picks on Kobbe and Norskeren. However, they tried to finish baron instead of turning on the outnumbered Splyce members. Vizicsacsi made them pay for the disrespect and made a huge Gnar ult to stop the Baron attempt. They secure Baron for themselves shortly after and march down the Isurus Gaming base and into a 2-0 Day 1.
Player of the Game: Marek “Humanoid” Brázda (Mid)
He shut down Seiya so hard this game. There’s a reason why Lissandra is no longer a priority pick and that’s because her wave clear is not the same anymore. Pre 20 minutes, Humanoid was up by 50 cs, a kill and an assist, not to mention the pressure he put on the side lanes.
Day 1 Standings
- Clutch Gaming 1-1
- Unicorns of Love 1-1
- Mammoth 1-1
- Splyce 2-0
- Detonation FocusMe 0-2
- Isurus Gaming 1-1
Tomorrow, Group C and Group D will play their first games in the League of Legends World Championship 2019