All eyes were on the 2015 World Championship Group Draw Saturday, as the each of the tournament's four groups were selected.
After taking some time to reflect on it, Tyler "Fionn" Erzberger and Kelsey Moser share their reactions to the draw and discuss some of the key storylines that we can expect to see play out.
Group A: CLG, Flash Wolves, KOO, paiN
Fionn: Counter Logic Gaming could have either had their faith rewarded with a soft group, or they could be thrown into the Shadow Realm with a group consisting of teams like KT, iG, and Origen. Luckily for the CLG faithful, the luck of the draw fell on their side as they got a group that consists of the Flash Wolves, KOO Tigers, and pain Gaming. Even with the announcement that Huhi will be playing as starting jungle due to Xmithie’s visa issues, this is a group where CLG have no one to blame but themselves if they don’t advance.
Along with CLG, the other big winners of this group are the Tigers….and the Wolves...and paiN. All four teams in this group will feel like they can get out of this group if they play at their optimal level. The hands down favorite of the group, KOO are a team that thrives on preparation and should get first in the pool. But, as we saw at IEM Katowice, they are capable of tilting if things don’t go their way. paiN are possibly the best wildcard team we’ve ever seen come into Worlds and they shouldn’t be overlooked by any of their opponents. Lastly, the Wolves, although disregarded as one of the tournament's weaker teams, have Karsa and Maple, two players that could breakout on the world stage.
Kelsey: Who did CLG have to bribe to get this group? Second seed LMS team, likely the worst attending Korean team, and paiN.
That will make it just that much more embarrassing if they don’t make it out. KOO’s late game team fighting and shot-calling make them seem like an easy favorite, especially since they match up well role-for-role to CLG. Their strengths are in their top and bottom lane, while mid lane keeps both teams stable, and junglers serve as ritual sacrifice to the enemy team. CLG’s advantages may be in their early game, but KOO will punish mid game mistakes. Flash Wolves are the real question mark. I don’t rate them too highly, but as CLG look to find synergy with Huhi, and Karsa enters the fray, that could be all they need to boost themselves.
Group B: Fnatic, iG, ahq, C9
Fionn: My first thought when looking at this group: lots and lots of fun. If there is one group that you don’t want to miss, this is the one that is going to bring the most action. Cloud9 are the clear underdogs and will most likely not get out barring a Disney-like miracle run that forces Riot to create a Hai statue outside their offices, but they’ll be an exciting team to watch. Hai has always been at his best when he is matched up against teams superior than his in terms of talent, and he’ll pick his spots, stretch the map, and try to outwit the stronger teams instead of facing them straight up.
While this isn’t the group they would have hoped for, Fnatic can finally prove their status if they get past this stage. Invictus Gaming and ahq eSports are two teams I’d rank in the Top 8 coming into Worlds, and their mid lanes of Rookie and Westdoor respectively will be a test for Febiven. I’m confident that Invictus Gaming will get through with their heavy hitter trio of Zztai, KaKAO and Rookie, and it’ll come down to Fnatic and ahq for the last spot. Like CLG in Group A, Fnatic have no excuses to go out in the first round even in an incredibly difficult group — if you want to be considered a Top 5 team in the world, you have to prove it.
Kelsey: How good are AHQ really? I’m not going to talk about westdoor because westdoor isn’t the threat in this team. Ziv is the crown jewel top laner of the LMS. AN’s lane transitions from jungle to mid to AD Carry have allowed him to find his calling. They might have the early game prowess to give Fnatic trouble.
Most will favor Fnatic and Invictus Gaming to make it out anyway. When Invictus are on point, they can beat any team in the tournament, but they’ll also crash harder than their other Chinese brethren. Since Group B takes place the first week, iG can ride patch change momentum and topple the others, but Fnatic can snag first seed if iG inexplicably decide to do nothing the way they sometimes do.
I wonder if there will be a war over Trundle. YellOwStaR and Zzitai will show us if he’s better top or support—but only if Huni deigns to lower himself enough to play Maokai. How many picks does Zzitai have up his sleeve that can unsettle Fnatic’s Korean wonder? He only needs one, and his name is KaKAO.
Group C: SKT, EDG, H2k, BKT
Fionn: The group of rivalries! Since the summer of 2013, Ryu has been haunted by that Zed vs. Zed play against Faker in the Champions finals that SKT T1 won after falling behind 0-2. No matter how well he plays or places in tournaments, that single moment will always be brought up until he can exact revenge on the man that ruined his pro-gaming career.
From the days as an inexperienced player on Samsung Blue, PawN has always had an upper hand over Faker. He’s eliminated the 2013 Worlds MVP from countless tournaments, and even though I wouldn’t say he’s on the level of a GodV or Rookie, PawN is always at his best when he plays Faker. For Faker, like how Ryu is with him, his career as the best player to ever play the game won’t be definite until he can defeat the one man he’s never been truly able to conquer. SKT and EDG are clear cut favorites to make it into the quarterfinals, and that means if they do make it the top eight, neither team can face each other until the Summoner’s Cup Finals.
The Bangkok Titans are incredibly, massively screwed. There is really no other way of it saying it. Even against H2k, the European’s methodical style should be more than enough to dispatch the Titan’s wild offensive talents that looked sloppy during the qualifiers.
Kelsey: Edward Gaming vs SK Telecom T1. While I favor LGD Gaming to win it all, a lot have EDG and SKT pitted against each other to take the tournament. It’s the MidSeason Invitational rematch, and while EDG careened into a lagoon during their Playoffs, SKT have never looked stronger.
Some wonder if Meiko still haunts Wolf’s nightmares of if the Korean support can pull himself together. This matchup may well fall down to whether Wolf keeps his composure. Edward Gaming’s advantages have come from having the strongest jungle and support synergy in the league, and Meiko’s warding from behind made Wolf’s look a bit embarrassing at MSI.
Most will look at the mid laners in this group, but tell me about the tops. If MaRin gets unsettled, SKT lose some of their punch, and Odoamne and Koro1 may well come up as the unsung heroes of their squads. WarL0cK can come too as long as he promises to hug his tower.
Group D: LGD, KT, TSM, Origen
Fionn: And this is the group where the apple pie died. CLG got one of the best groups they could have hoped for, and in doing so, equivalent exchange had to occur and C9 along with TSM had to get groups that have put them in seemingly impossible situations. TSM’s ‘4-protect-1’ style of playing around Bjergsen into the late-game won’t work against a team like KT Rolster that love to grab vision early in the game, snowball first blood, and have Ssumday run over the rest of the competition with his stellar split pushing.
TSM are in a group where sacrificing Dyrus won’t be an option. LGD have Acorn and Flame, KT have Ssumday, and Origen have Soaz, who outplayed Huni in the recent European finals. It’s a group of top lane monsters that can all take over the game as caries, and with juggernauts and split pushing on the menu for the Worlds patch, TSM will need to vary up their strategies or watch as they’re torn apart by three dangerous squads.
As for the Top 2 in this group, LGD should grab first place. They’re a star studded group where their weakest link, TBQ, is still in the upper half of junglers at the tournament due to a shallow pool at the position. KT are my second pick to get out of the group, but it’ll be on the shoulders of Score/Piccaboo to get the necessary vision in the early-game to fuel their ace Ssumday.
Kelsey: Some call this the Group of Death, but they left out a word or two. This is the Group of TSM’s Death.
LGD and KT will hit a bit harder and faster than TSM expect, and Origen might rebound enough to get a punch in before falling. This group has some of the best supports in the tournament in Pyl, Piccaboo, mithy—even Lustboy, if you take a time machine back to Spring. This Group may also be known as the War of the Wards. A lot of these supports love to roam, and it might all just come down to keeping a 2v2.
But God forbid anyone actually want to face imp and Pyl head-on.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.
Tyler "Fionn" Erzberger is also a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow him on Twitter.