On September 23, fans around the world tuned in to watch Lee “Flame” Ho-jong, the legendary top laner for NA LCS’ FlyQuest, decide the fate of 24 teams by randomly drawing teams into four groups for both the Play-In and Main Event of Worlds 2018.
Let’s take a look at what the Main Event has in store.
Group A contains three teams from different regions from the East: Flash Wolves from LMS, Afreeca Freecs from LCK, and Phong Vũ Buffalo from VCS. At a glance, western audience might only be familiar with the strong Flash Wolves, but this group is packed with strong contenders.
Flash Wolves were the first team to qualify for Worlds since August 4, but sat comfortably in Pool 1 a month later. They were undefeated this entire Summer season and did not lose a single game in the playoffs. They defeated MAD Team to gain the first seed. During Rift Rivals 2018 between LCK, LPL and LMS, Flash Wolves tried their hardest to win for their region. They defeated RNG and Kingzone, but they fell to SKT in the semifinals of the bracket stage. Despite this, Flash Wolves are hungry and is eager to tear Group A apart.
Despite this being the first time they qualified for Worlds, Afreeca Freecs are ready to show the world why they represent LCK this year. Afreeca acquired the second seed by having the most championship points. Afreeca struggled to qualify for the LCK 2018 Summer Playoffs after finishing 5th in the LCK 2018 Summer season, but they proved themselves after a great playoff run. Afreeca defeated Gen.G and Kingzone DragonX, but they fell to the newcomers Griffin. Thankfully, kt Rolster defeated Griffin and helped Afreeca qualify the second seed.
The VCS representative is Phong Vũ Buffalo, a team that was named Young Generation last year. If this name seems familiar to you, it was the same team that took a game off of Fnatic during the Play-In in Worlds 2017. Phong had a decent season during spring, but they had a surge of confidence for VCS 2018 Summer. They finished with a 12-2 record and an average of 18.2 kills per game, the buffalos are aggressive and ready to prove to not underestimate the VCS league.
For the third year in a row, Royal Never Give Up and Gen.G are in the same group. With the hype building around RNG this year, it is up to Gen.G and Vitality to stop the behemoth Uzi from gaining his fourth trophy this year. As for RNG, this group will be just a stepping stone for winning their region their first World Championship.
Sitting in the Pool 1 slot is the LPL team RNG, the favorites of this tournament. The team finished 2nd place in the East Region of the LPL 2018 Summer Season with a 14-5 record. Despite being behind Invictus Gaming in the region, RNG met iG in the finals of the LPL 2018 Summer Playoffs and defeated them in a 3-2 fashion to gain the first seed. With this tight victory, the world is in an agreement that RNG looks like the team that will end LCK dominance and win a World Championship for China.
Despite the name change, Gen.G are the previous World Champions. The roster contains the same players with Fly being the second mid laner for the team. Gen.G had many trials to overcome this year, but they always qualify for Worlds in the Gauntlet. Their 4th place finish in the LCK 2018 Summer split seems mediocre until you realize that they tied with three other teams for 1st place with a 13-5 record. Unfortunately, this was short lived as afreeca Freecs defeated Gen.G in the first round of the summer playoffs. However, Gen.G always gets stronger during the gauntlet when everything is on the line. With a surge of strength and confidence, Gen.G took the LCK Gauntlet by storm and defeated SK Telecom, Griffin and Kingzone DragonX within five days. Now, they’re back and ready to defend their trophy.
After years of failure, Vitality have finally qualified for Worlds… only to be placed with the toughest and notorious group members. Vitality has been consistently one of the top 4 strongest EU teams this year. They placed 2nd in the EU LCS 2018 Summer Season and 3rd in the Summer Playoffs, where they got a ticket to Worlds because they had the most championship points. Unlike the other EU teams, none of the players on this roster has been to Worlds before. Jiizuke, Attila and Jactroll started their LCS career this year, and Kikis went 9-1 when he joined Vitality in Week 4. With Cabochard being on the roster since Season 5, the team is eager to prove themselves with their backs against the wall.
For North America fans, Group C is the group of life for Team Liquid. While kt Rolster sits as the LCK first seed representative, this is the first time the MAD Team players have qualified for Worlds. Still, NA fans do not want to jinx Team Liquid’s chances as the players have disappointed on the World stage before.
The reason kt Rolster‘s roster formed at the beginning of the 2017 Season as a superteam to takedown the SK Telecom team and get 1st place. After a poor season last year and fail to go to Worlds four times, kt Rolster made a gambit and stuck with their team. This risky decision paid off as kt Rolster won 1st place in the LCK 2018 Summer Season with a 13-5 record. They were the second team to qualify for Worlds on August 15, but they snatched the first seed after a tough 3-2 victory over Griffin during the LCK 2018 Summer Playoffs. After achieving their dream of hoisting the LCK Trophy proudly over their heads, the next trophy they want to raise together is the Worlds trophy.
The MAD Team roster is entering their first Worlds tournament this year, but the team is ready to make the LMS region proud. Last year, the core roster was on ahq Fighter challenger squad and qualified for the LMS 2018 Spring Season. It was then that MAD Team acquired the roster and had the team compete under their name. The team went from 4th place in the LMS 2018 Spring Split to 3rd place at the Spring Playoffs. MAD Team fought against kt Rolster during Rift Rivals but lost miserably. Afterwards, MAD Team finished 2nd place during the LMS 2018 Summer Season and fought against the Flash Wolves at the playoffs. Despite losing 0-3 against the wolves, they accumulated enough points to gain the second seed for the LMS region.
NA representative Team Liquid is going to Worlds for the first time. With poor performances in the 2017 season, Team Liquid released all of their players and coaching staff and created a superteam with three former Immortals players, Cloud9’s previous top laner and TSM Doublelift. With five high-profile veterans, Team Liquid finished 1st place in the NA LCS 2018 Summer Season with a 12-6 record, and defeated the surging Cloud9 3-0 during the Summer Playoffs to gain the first seed for North America. However, due to their failure to proceed to the playoffs at MSI 2018, Team Liquid did not get slotted into pool 1. With a poor international performance at MSI and Rift Rivals, fans are wondering if disappointment is coming again for the back-to-back NA LCS champions.
Group D is the group to watch this year without a doubt. Invictus Gaming is one of the three teams that fans predict to win Worlds this year and is ready to crush their group this year. However, Fnatic never backs down from a fight and makes upsets every tournament they compete in. While 100 Thieves is the weakest of these three teams, the team can tip the scale in their favor by snatching a victory.
Fnatic is the most famous European teams. Period. At Worlds 2017, Fnatic shocked the world by achieving the impossible and went from a 0-3 week to qualifying for the playoffs. Fnatic has the core roster with them except a change in the Support, but they are ready to go to playoffs once again. They consistently won 1st place in the EU LCS 2018 Spring Split and Summer Season, and Fnatic defeated FC Schalke 04 Esports 3-1 at the EU LCS 2018 Summer Playoffs. Their international performance at MSI was decent as the finished 4-6, but the roster took a game off the LCK representative Kingzone DragonX and won the tiebreaker against Team Liquid. Fnatic competed in Rift Rivals and defeated the NA LCS squad 3-1 in the finals. With the hype building around Fnatic, it is exciting to see the magic the team will create once again.
Franchising was established in North America at the beginning of Season 8, and 100 Thieves was created by Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag and became affiliated wth the NBA team Cleveland Cavaliers. After swapping the roster, the 100 Thieves roster is ready to prove themselves at Worlds. The team got 1st place in the NA LCS 2018 Spring Split, but lost to Team Liquid during the Spring Playoffs. Their performance was disappointing at Rift Rivals where they only won against Splyce from the EU LCS side and every other match. 100 Thieves went 10-8 in the NA LCS 2018 Summer Split and won the tie-breaker against FlyQuest and Echo Fox, but they lost to Team Liquid once again and to Team SoloMid to finish 4th place in the NA LCS 2018 Summer Playoffs. But with Team Liquid’s victory over Cloud9, that meant that 100 Thieves had the most points and proceeded to Worlds as the second seed. Despite being the underdog in this group, 100 Thieves can easily steal games by playing to their style and proceed to playoffs.
The second seed representing the LPL is Invictus Gaming, and they are ready to show the world why they are favored to win this entire tournament. The iG team finished the LPL 2018 Spring Season with an 18-1 record and were favored to represent the LPL at MSI. However, iG’s top laner injured himself and could not play in the playoffs. The team finished 4th place but were ready to win once again. Invictus Gaming represented the LPL during the Rift Rivals tournament and beat Machi E-Sports and SK Telecom, but lost to kt Rolster during the Finals. This tournament didn’t hinder Invictus Gaming during the split, and they finished 18-1 once again during the LPL 2018 Summer Season. They played against Road Warriors and squeezed out a victory 3-2 to compete against RNG at the LPL 2018 Summer Playoffs. Despite a close match, RNG took the trophy with a 3-2 victory. Invictus Gaming qualified for Worlds via championship points and took the second seed. With hype building around this team, other teams will scout what their weaknesses are, but Invictus Gaming will show the world why they will take the trophy home.
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