It's the final day of the group stage, and there are two final spots up for grabs. The results so far have been less than expected, with the rise of Cloud9 and the struggles of Fnatic, but today is a new day and anything can yet happen.
Six games, four teams, two spots left, to the winners go the spoils.
Here are five questions for Group B in Week 2.
What’s up with Huni?
The EU LCS Spring Split's Outstanding Rookie hasn’t quite looked like himself, and that’s cause for concern for Fnatic.
Unlike in the LCS where Fnatic would invest a heavy amount of resources into getting feeding their top lane carry, the complexity of lane-swaps at Worlds has left Huni at a bit more of a disadvantage. The problem is that he is still playing like he’s fed, and as such has been getting out of position and is playing too overagressive for his own good.
Although in an interview Fnatic coach Deilor did state that Huni has been largely following calls as directed, it doesn’t change the fact that it looks like he has been forcing it a little bit and appears to be on a different page than his teammates.
Huni needs to take a breath, slow down a bit and play with a bit more of a calculated approach. Fnatic completed the perfect season not through reckless aggression, but through a patient, measured style. Huni needs to remember that.
Can Invictus Gaming find their consistency?
iG are a bit of a conundrum, because they can be so good one game and so bad the next.
When they are on form, iG are a machine that smashes their opponents under the weight of KaKAO, Rookie and Zz1tai. But when they falter, they look incapable of making any correct decision.
First and foremost, KaKAO needs to become more active on the map, and he cannot fall back into the farming tendencies he had in the LPL. His worst game of the event so far was the opener against Fnatic, where his Skarner did nothing but hit creeps as Fnatic slowly but surely took over the map. He needs to rekindle the synergy with Rookie to get his carry fed. As a result of KaKAO's inaction, iG is a fourth worst average of 828 gold behind at 15 minutes. In their losses, they lose control of the map too quickly to have a solid foothold from which to recover.
There are flashes of brilliance in iG’s play. They just need to come more often and at a more consistent pace, or else they’ll receive the dubious honour of being the second Chinese team to fail to make it out of groups.
Is Cloud9 the real deal?
Who would have predicted that Cloud9, relegation-bound just a few short weeks ago, would not only make it to Worlds, but now be sitting comfortably atop Group B with a clean sheet 3-0 record?
C9 have finally found the composure that made them great for the past two years, allowing cooler heads to prevail when in a jam and utilizing their great mid and late game coordination to shine through. C9 has always been a brains over brawn team, and it’s showing more and more as they gain momentum. Their drafts have been solid, and they’ve been trusting in their compositions and playing them out correctly. Their vision denial, spearheaded by LemonNation and Hai, has been top notch (they lead the event in percentage of opponent wards cleared at 39.8%), setting up the mid and late game fights in which they thrive.
In terms of weaknesses, Cloud9’s laneswaps have been a little awkward, especially against Invictus Gaming. In this sense, Cloud9 seems to be similar to Origen: a little bit of a tighter early game combined with their already potent mid and late game would could make this the most competitive iteration of Cloud9 yet.
Which mid laner reigns supreme?
Every year, the best and brightest shine at the World Championship. And while in the past, it’s been mid laners stealing this show, this time it’s all been about the top laners, with names like MaRin, Ssumday and Smeb leading the fearsome top lane class of 2015.
However, Group B has a particularly potent crop of mid lane talent which have the ability to make or break their team’s success: Rookie, Febiven and Incarnati0n are all in the top 5 damage contributors for mid laners at the event. As such, eyes normally glued to the top lane will now be firmly fixed on the middle of the map.
Febiven, despite Fnatic’s recent struggles, has played an absolutely phenomenal Worlds. His team fight positioning has almost saved Fnatic on several occasions, and his laning has been dominant. He’s truly proving that he is a world class talent. Fnatic need him to maintain this level of play if they are to make it out of the group given their rocky start.
Incarnati0n has also been impressive. His growth since the addition of Hai in the jungle has been astronomical, and he’s been playing more and more confident with each passing game. His role on C9 is slightly less significant than Febiven on Fnatic, but he still contributes more than his fair share of damage (35.8%, third among all mids) and is involved in almost everything the team does (84.4% average kill participation).
Invictus Gaming’s Rookie has been their main carry all year and iG’s focus at this event, and it shows in the numbers. Only Bjergsen received more gold, but Rookie rewards his team by dishing out a ridiculous average 41% of iG’s damage. If iG is to thrive (see above), then they need to continue to set Rookie up to succeed.
Finally, we have westdoor. Although ahq have begun to move beyond the westdoor-centric mentality which has defined the team for years, there are still some growing pains. westdoor needs to prove he can do more than just play assassins, and if he is to continue to be a central pillar of his team, provide a bit more reliable damage. His laning in a straight up 1v1 has also been questionable, and he is a second worst -14 average cs down at 10 minutes. That needs to change.
Can ahq rise to the occasion?
After watching their LMS colleagues, the Flash Wolves, surpass expectation and take first seed in Group A, the pressure is on ahq to match the feat. With three teams at 1-2, the door is open for ahq to do what they couldn’t last year, and make it out of groups.
As was said, part of the issue is that the team is still partially locked in the westdoor mentality, but that’s not the only issue plaguing ahq. Their mid game decision making has been mediocre at best, seemingly unable to turn their early advantages into any further control. For example, against Cloud9 Mountain and westdoor’s Rengar-Fizz combo secured an early First Blood onto Incarnati0n’s immobile Veigar, but other than the initial kill nothing came of it.
The time is now for ahq to solve their problems and officially put the westdoor mentality behind them. AN and Ziv are more than capable of taking on the carry burden, and in the long run ahq will be a better team for it. Just do it.
Stats compiled and provided by Oracle's Elixir.
Nic Doucet is a News Editor for theScore eSports. You can follow him on Twitter.