As we quickly approach the Play-In Stage, where Fnatic, Cloud9, Team WE, and Hong Kong Attitudes are going to be placed in the Group Stage is on everyone’s minds. However, before those teams are drawn, they must play against the best teams in their own Wildcard regions in order to proceed.
It is entirely possible for an upset to occur, in fact it has happened in the past with Kabum beating Alliance and INTZ beating EDG. While no one can know how each of these teams will perform on stage, here are some of the strongest Wildcard teams to look out for entering the Play-Ins.
Coming from the OPL Region, the Dire Wolves are ready to maul both Cloud9 and Team oNe in Group B.
The wolves finished 1st in the spring season and won playoffs in the OPL region, but had a disappointing performance at the Mid-Season Invitational Group Stage, finishing 2-4 overall. Deciding not to make a roster swap, the team dominated their region once again by finishing 1st in the Summer Split and winning Playoffs.
Dire Wolves may seem like an arrogant team that will trash talk their opponents, but they have the bite to match their bark.
Dire Wolves feature top laner Chippys, jungler Shernfire, mid laner Phantiks, AD carry k1ng, and support Destiny. Shernfire used to play on the NA CS team Dream Team with both IMT Cody Sun and TSM Biofrost. Phantiks is regarded as another strong Wildcard mid laner emerging, and it shows as both Shernfire and Phantiks have an incredibly strong mid-jungle synergy that the team emphasizes in its play. With Chippys tweeting and saying that he will destroy Impact, the world is ready to see how the Dire Wolves perform when it matters most.
1907 Fenerbahçe Esports
Turkish team 1907 Fenerbahçe Esports emerges from the TCL region and prepared to play in Group D with Hong Kong Attitude and Rampage. Fenerbahçe had a rough year after having a poor Spring Split, and not going far in the Playoffs, but the team replaced their jungler and proceeded to dominate the TCL in the Summer. They finished 1st in the Summer Split and were undefeated in their Playoffs run.
1907 Fenerbahçe Esports is a strong squad that learns and adapts quickly. Their lineup features top laner Thaldrin, jungler Move, mid laner Frozen, AD carry padden, and support JAPONE. The most dangerous members of Fenerbahçe are Move and Frozen.
NA and EU fans recognize Move as the previous jungler for Gravity in Season 5, and Unicorns of Love in Season 6, but he was never able to make it to Worlds until he reached the TCL. Frozen was the previous mid laner for Longzhu Gaming, and he may be the strongest mid laner in Group D. The team emphasizes its mid-jungle synergy, but also has an AD and top laner who have shown the ability to carry games.
How they perform against the rising Hong Kong Attitude is the key question as all eyes will focus on LCK veteran Frozen vs. the aggressive M1ssion.
Gambit Esports represents the CIS Region and is prepared to take on Group A with Team WE and Lyon Gaming.
Easily the most popular Wildcard team coming into the play-ins, the team was previously known as Gambit Gaming and Moscow 5, and have been to Worlds in the past.
The team had to deal with some visa issues during their time in the EU LCS, and the Gambit organization decided to be located in the CIS region instead, changing its name to Gambit Esports.
Years later, iconic jungler Diamondprox decided to return to the organization and construct a team around himself as the team captain. Unfortunately, the team did not perform well in the spring season of Season 7 and did not even make it to playoffs. Diamondprox decided to start fresh with the roster once again.
This time, the team won the Summer Split convincingly, but still struggled during playoffs.
Gambit Esports has some of the strongest group members in each role on their team. Their lineup consists of top laner PvP Stejos, jungler Diamondprox, mid laner Kira, AD carry Blasting, and support Edward. Worlds is familiar territory for the members of Gambit Esports, as PvP Stejos and Kira were on Albus NoX Luna the previous season. They surprised the world by taking a game off of Counter Logic Gaming, G2 Esports, and even the ROX Tigers.
Diamondprox and Edward were teammates years ago and managed to get to semi-finals in the second season of Worlds before being eliminated by the Taipei Assassins, leaving Blasting as the only member new to Worlds, but he’s a strong laner in the LCL.
The team is going to have to play Team WE, who was ranked 4 on the ESPN Power Rankings.
How Gambit is going to approach tackling this behemoth is what everyone will be watching for.
Dire Wolves, 1907 Fenerbahçe and Gambit Esports have been preparing themselves meet their respective major regions’ third seeds. It is entirely possible for these teams to get out of Play-In stage by securing at least second place in order to proceed to the second round, and beating their opponents in a best of 5 match.
But, whether they make it or not is up to how much they’re prepared to translate their strengths to the biggest stage of them all.
If you think there’s another Wildcard team worth mentioning, let us know in the comments below!
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