The groups for the 2022 LoL World Championship have been set. Those who have been around for a while would have spotted something familiar — Cloud9, T1, and EDward Gaming clutched together in group A. Back in 2017, these three teams were drawn to group A and showcased some dramatic matches.
What happened in 2017?
At Worlds 2017, Group A was considered the group of death. EDward Gaming was drawn from pool #1, and SK Telecom T1 and ahq eSports Club were drawn from pool #2 — despite the fact that SKT had won the past two Worlds. Cloud9 destroyed the play-ins and entered group A to make it complete. It was the fifth consecutive Worlds for C9, fourth for EDG and AHQ, and third for SKT. Many fans thought this group would be a slugfest, and that any team could or might not make it out of this group.
Like the fans’ expectations, the group started off with an upset on the first day. The second game of the group was between EDG and AHQ — not many would have anticipated that the LPL champions would lose, especially as EDG was extremely strong against the LMS teams. However, AHQ managed to take the win in a 54-minute game.
The hype for this group continued as the EDG vs. SKT match on day 2 was one of the biggest turnarounds in Worlds history. EDG had played the game well, constantly shaking up Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s Orianna. At the 24-minute mark, EDG already had a near 10K global gold lead, but their huge lead all went to rubble as SKT pulled off one of the most wombo combos in the history of competitive League of Legends. From this point, SKT pulled themselves together and turned the game upside-down to take the win.
The third day featured the clash between C9 and EDG. EDG was at the edge of a cliff — if they lose this game, their hopes to advance to the knockout stage would almost vanish. Most fans thought EDG would win, but C9 simply won lane in the mid and top lanes, and smashed EDG’s hopes. After the first round, SKT was up 3-0, C9 was 2-1, AHQ was 1-2, and EDG was a devastating 0-3.
The upsets weren’t yet over for this group on the last day. Most of the games went as expected, but one of the biggest upsets of this tournament was AHQ blowing away the defending champions, SKT. Although Faker’s Kassadin dealt massive damage, SKT didn’t have an answer to AHQ’s Kog’Maw as they helplessly fell in the late-game teamfights.
For EDG, the last day was a struggle, as they went into the day with three losses behind them. Since AHQ defeated SKT in the previous game, there were no hopes for a three-way tie at 2-4 — EDG had to win all three games, including the last game against SKT, to at least force a tiebreaker.
Despite all the pressure, EDG started to show up. Against C9, EDG’s Jarvan IV-Galio combo picked up kills wherever they went, successfully executing dive after dive, snowballing their lead to a win. EDG managed to stay concentrated through this game and the next, as they faced AHQ right away. Their second game was even quicker, as the game blew into pieces when Lee “Scout” Ye-chan’s Syndra picked up a solo kill on Ryze. EDG capitalized quickly on their lead to keep their hopes up for advancing.
Meanwhile, C9 lost to SKT and defeated AHQ in the following games, making the last game between SKT and EDG more important — if EDG wins, they play a tiebreaker with C9, but if they lose, they would be eliminated.
Like the first round match, EDG took the lead from early. They picked up first blood in the top lane, and the bot lane took first turret in only six minutes. This lead snowballed up to a 7K global gold difference — especially, the gold difference between the two ADCs was 4K. However, SKT was known to pull off splendid teamfights, as they did in the first game. When EDG mingled around outside of SKT’s mid inhibitor for a bit too long, SKT pounced on them to score an Ace and Baron. EDG wasn’t able to do much after this point as they lost the game and were eliminated. With this last game, SKT and C9 advanced to the knockout stage.
Being the only team from NA to survive the group stage, C9 entered the quarterfinals against Team WE, but lost 2-3. SKT went on through the tournament, defeating Misfits and RNG in five games. However, they were swept by Samsung Galaxy in the finals and failed to three-peat.
Reunion in 2022
Whatever happened in the past is in the past, and especially in LoL esports, players move teams often, and the careers of pro players are quite short. As a matter of fact, most of the players that played five years ago are retired. However, a few of the players that showcased the exciting group stage clashes are still active AND are on the same team.
Surprisingly, amidst all the changes in the scene, all three mid laners are still there. While SKT rebranded to T1, Faker is still the main player and leader of the team. EDG mid laner Scout and support Tian “Meiko” Ye have never left the team as they won Worlds 2022. Ming “Clearlove” Kai also played in 2017 — he is now a supervisor of EDG. Nikolaj “Jensen” Jensen had been on another team for three years and even had a break for a season, but he has returned to be C9’s mid laner again, and to play in his eighth consecutive Worlds.
The three teams have met again, forming another group of death — if both LEC teams make it out of the play-ins, one of them has to be in group A, which will mean teams from all four major regions will be in the same group.
Worlds 2022 is just around the corner. Starting from the Play-in Stage in Mexico City on Sep. 29, the 24 teams will battle through Nov. 5, moving to New York, Atlanta, and San Francisco to decide the winners of the Summoner’s Cup.