The League of Legends World Championship 2017 Group Stage has concluded. Korean teams continued their strong stance without a doubt, and Chinese teams also showed their potential with their homeground as an advantage. Two teams in EU LCS did not give up in the middle and also managed to enter the quarterfinals. Although slightly disappointing, NA still shows their pride with C9 being the only team in the quarterfinals.
During these intense competitions, pro players’ performances bloomed like flowers in spring. On the other hand, there were others who withered and could not survive in the competition. Although we will look into both, this article will mainly focus on players who did outstanding performances in the Group Stage.
■ Top - Dongha “Khan” Kim from Longzhu Gaming
Many said that the top meta for this Worlds was quite boring. Most matchups were between tanks, leading them unable to appeal their potential to the great extent.
However, Khan was different and ahead of the others. Khan is the only player who never picked a tank champion in this Worlds. He participated in matches five times in total, and he picked Jarvan 4 three times, and Jayce and Nasus for the rest. Jayce is considered more as a damage dealing champion, and Jarvan 4 and Nasus are used as a bruiser in the current meta.
Khan used these champions to their maximum capability by scoring the most kill out of all top laners in this Worlds. Whereas it’s quite difficult for top laners to exceed the kill score of more than 0.2 in this Worlds, Khan has 0.6 solo-kill score that prevails others. More solo-kill means that his laning phase was superior to the opponent.
Some may say that it was possible because he picked an aggressive champion. Then, why did other top laners not play like Khan when they picked an aggressive champion? They would’ve done the same thing like him if it was an easy task.
Moreover, he’s just not the type of player who is only good at claiming the solo-kill. He was overwhelming in the teamfight as well. He was placed first in the number of kills and assists - 3 and 6.6 respectively - on average. Comprehensively speaking, it is difficult to find a top laner who showed the better performance than Khan in this Group Stage.
■ Jungle - Condi from Team WE
It was the easiest to pick the best jungle player in the Group Stage last year due to Wangho “Peanut” Han who showed his unrivaled performances. However, many players are competing intensely this year, probably because of the current meta that favors tank junglers.
The rookie player Cuzz from Longzhu, and mlxg from RNG who are now well-known globally, have also performed quite well. But, it is Condi from WE who took a crucial part in winning the game for the team. He dedicated greatly to concluding the Group Stage with 5 wins and 1 loss.
Through this Worlds, he proved himself a jungler who is good at both performance and management. Though Chinese junglers have always lacked one of those, Condi was different. He led the team with an aggressive play when the meta was dominated by aggressive jungle champions in the Spring Split, and is now proving his capability with management and teamfight in the current tank meta.
In particular, the match against Team SoloMid on the 2nd week was phenomenal. WE pressured TSM in the laning phase, and Condi chased after Svenskeren as if he’s the shadow, and supported teammates by capturing the vision. At the mid-game when a decisive initiation is needed, his Sejuani successfully dived and used the ult at every perfect timing.
Condi has always led his team’s core of management, and performed a beautiful initiation whenever needed without any hesitation. Even though WE’s aces may be Sungjun “Mystic” Jin or Xiye, but the leader is Condi.
■ Mid - Sanghyuk “Faker” Lee from SKT T1
It wouldn’t be strange to say Bdd, who claimed a complete victory in all 6 matches, or Xiaohu and Xiye, who showed the potential of China, to be the best mid player in this Group Stage. Many indicators also prove that they have done really well. In particular, Bdd scored 16.5 KDA, making people wonder whether he really is the player who participates in the Worlds for the first time.
However, the most notable mid laner in this Group Stage was Faker. He showed countless super plays that saved his team out of the crisis. SKT had many moments of falling behind in the early games, and they still managed to win thanks to Faker buying some time with his super plays at the most crucial timing.
Also, he showed the wide champion pool with 4 champions in 6 matches - Orianna, Fizz, Cassiopeia, and Kassadin, and did super plays with all of these champions in each match. It surely is incredible. His Kassadin claiming the solo-kill of the opponent Fizz even after one loss was surely impressive. Faker was the best playmaker.
How much he impacts on the team is also unrivaled. His kill participation rate is 91% which places him the first among everyone else. The number is considerably high compared to 70% of other mid laners. It is not easy to imagine SKT ending the stage with 5 wins and 1 loss if they had a different mid laner.
■ ADC - Jongin “Pray” Kim from Longzhu Gaming
Uzi would probably become disappointed when he sees this rank. It is probably similar to the day when Ray Allen, the star player of NBA, scored 42 points and destroyed Phoenix after shooing Buzzer Beater in the overtime, or Kobe Bryant scoring historic 81 points in the different arena and receiving all spotlights.
Pray made a rare score that would almost nullify Uzi’s incredible performances in the Group Stage. He did 76,791 damage to Immortals in the last match of the Group Stage. It was almost 1,506 per minute, and this is by far the best record ever since Riot started the damage calculation in the Worlds.
Uzi and Mystic also showed their potential in the Group Stage. With average damage amount, kill, assist, the number of claiming the first tower, and other various indicators in each match, it is difficult to say who’s better than who between Pray, Uzi, and Mystic. However, Uzi and Mystic didn’t have something that could surpass Pray’s number.
In addition, Longzhu Gaming is the only team that scored 6 wins in total among all teams in the Group Stage, and it is undoubted that Pray was behind their result.
■ Support - Ardent Censer
Having the best support was never easier than jungler. Most players picked support champions such as Janna or Lulu who are specialized with Ardent Censer, and this disrupted to show a differentiated play. The Ardent Censer is the best and the worst that eliminated diversity and forced support players to become a shielding machine.
Champions like Thresh and Zyra who make players stand out are almost extinct. They do appear sometimes, but it’s still hard to consider Rakan appealing any more than Ardent Censer supports.
There was one time when Wolf used Rakan and performed a wonderful initiation. However, it is difficult to have Wolf ahead of GorillA, Ben, and Ming, considering that SKT struggled too much in other early games.
Furthermore, indicators of GorillA, Ben, and Ming do not really have a major difference, and neither of them showed better performances than the others. The reason is that of Ardent Censer being too good, forcing players to use the Ardent Censer support champion and eventually having no major difference as a result.
The result will be much clearer when they meet in the tournament. It is more than likely that they will use the Joker card when that time comes.
■ SUB - sOAZ
The drama directed by Fnatic on the 2nd week surprised all EU fans. They lost 4 times in a row, and won 4 times in a row again, entering the quarterfinals. Even if it was a real drama, fans would not feel so happy about how the protagonist acts in it.
However, this wasn’t a real TV drama. It happened for real, and the protagonist became a hero for fans. Although all Fnatic players showed tremendous moments, sOAZ was by far the best among them without a doubt.
sOAZ seemed like the worst top laner after the 1st match in the 2nd week and 4 consecutive losses in the 1st week. However, he carried the game with Cho’Gath and Gnar in the last 3rd match. His freewheeling playstyle have probably suited well with these champions, and showed the result that was much better than expected, and Gnar with 100% win rate was impeccable as anticipated.