Leaving a lot of spectators with pleased expressions, the 2017 League of Legends Championship group stage has concluded. Korea’s champions, Longzhu Gaming, has made it into the quarterfinals alongside SKT T1 and Samsung. From China and leaving behind EDG, RNG and WE made 1st seed while also advancing to the quarterfinals. NA, on the other hand, could not break the curse of making it out of the group stages again this year. EU, NA’s rivals, got two teams into the quarterfinals, Misfits and Fnatic.
We got to sit down with players and coaches to help us in the analysis of the World Championship. Ranging from the strength of Korea and China to the rise of EU and the fall of NA, Cpt Jack and Coach Lustboy gave us some insight into many subjects. Alongside Cpt Jack and Coach Lustboy, we also got to meet with Ryu, Arrow, and GBM. We got to hear how NA got eliminated from groups and why Korean teams are the powerhouse of the competition.
Following the current quarterfinal matches of Longzhu Gaming vs Samsung Galaxy, SKT T1 vs Misfits, RNG vs Fnatic, and WE vs Cloud9, the pros and coaches gave their thoughts on the matter. In the interview, the players and coaches discussed each team’s characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, and also some advice for the Korean teams. Let’s dive right in!
¤ The group stages have finally finished. What did you think about the games?
Arrow: The games for worlds this year have all been sluggish at the start but explode during the later parts. Everyone is saying ‘Get Ardent Censer’. The SKT vs EDG game for example, SKT was behind against EDG but SKT came back and won the game out of nowhere. SKT did this twice against EDG and all I could say was ‘SKT is SKT’. It was an impressive game.
Ryu: For me, I remember the Fnatic game. Rekkles was carrying the game as Twitch with 4 kills but something hard to understand happened. Regarding G2, I saw them do really well and scrims. I believed they could do well at Worlds. Unfortunately, they got eliminated.
Lustboy: There were a lot of games I enjoyed watching. If I had to choose one game that left the biggest impression on me, it would be the game with Fnatic vs Gigabyte Marines in the 1st week of groups. We were the sparing bots for the Gigabyte Marines (laughs). I guess from a fan’s perspective, the first game with Longzhu vs Immortals would have been fun to watch.
GBM: Groups A and B went as I expected them to. However, Group C and D went a little different than how I thought they were going to go. I thought to myself ‘if Samsung keeps playing like this… it is going to be risky for them’.
Cpt Jack: Except for the elimination of EDG, everything else went as I expected it to. The game I had the most fun watching was the one with SKT vs EDG. It was so intense to see two very strong teams battle it out and end with such a comeback from SKT.
¤ If you talk about SKT T1 coming back, you can’t forget Ryu.
Arrow: We went to Japan not too long ago. A stranger recognized us but he had his girlfriend with him. She didn’t know us at all. The guy showed a clip of the famous Ryu vs Faker clip and said ‘this is the guy who lost to Faker’.
Ryu: It still hurts to this day, but I think I’m okay with it (laughs).
¤ What do you guys think was the driving force for SKT T1 to pull such a miraculous comeback?
Lustboy: If you look closely at the EDG and SKT comeback games, it is a frequently occurring pattern. Looking at it closely, Faker roams around all 3 lanes to pick up all the cs. After this, he goes to defend his towers while Bang is now the one getting cs from all 3 lanes. This leads to both of them being able to buy their core items. If it seems like they can’t defend the tower, they give it up. Huni provides pressure elsewhere on the map to help his teammates buy time. EDG definitely had a good team comp, but Faker played really well.
Cpt Jack: I think EDG Scout’s Leblanc had some restrictions but their team comp was not bad at all.
Ryu: In the moments where SKT was coming back, the plays from Maokai were a bit unfortunate.
¤ Wasn't there a moment when iBoy jumped in too far with Tristana?
Cpt Jack: When I saw that play, I understood it was a play to try to compensate for a losing team fight.
Ryu: The game was already over when Scout didn’t do anything as Leblanc and the teamfight was lost.
Lustboy: Losing the teamfight itself was a bad situation. At that time, iBoy’s Tristana did have over 50% crit. Looking at it statistically, he could have killed Orianna.
Cpt Jack: I don’t know if that Flash was calculated as well, but if the play worked.... The end result would be a little bit different. It is hard to say if the play was necessarily bad. Looking at his previous performances, I think iBoy is an extremely talented player. He never messes up Tristana’s W. He waits till all the skills are on cooldown to jump in safely. On top of it being extremely hard to time, iBoy stays calm throughout the whole process. His mentality is good as well.
¤ Is there a player that had a lasting impression or perhaps a player you were slightly disappointed in?
Lustboy: From Group A, it has to be iBoy
Ryu: Bjergsen usually does play well but he went above and beyond. Applying pressure on Syndra while absorbing ganks is extremely difficult. His plays were solid as well.
Arrow: Scout vsing Faker for me was memorable.
Ryu: Scout performs well in lane but makes a couple crucial mistakes that could cost the game sometimes. I’m not saying games are lost because of Scout but his mistakes do start a chain reaction.
Arrow: Flame also comes to mind. He is really good at flanking with his tp.
Lustboy: For Group B, it has to be Pray. I knew he was going to do well but he just popped off. Noway from the Gigabyte Marines was also pretty good.
Cpt Jack: I don’t think I will ever forget his Varus. It was a bit unfortunate to see Optimus perform in week 2. He played really well in week 1…
Arrow: I personally rooted for and anticipated Cody Sun and Rekkles, but they didn’t perform as well as I hoped.
Ryu: I think the players that did well did well because of who they are. I think Optimus really out did himself (laughs).
GBM: Seeing SKT being not as prominent as before in their performance makes me wonder whether they are slowly losing form to the other regional teams or if it’s because Bengi left.
Cpt Jack: Isn’t it too late to talk about Bengi?
Lustboy: It is true that the impact of SKT has gone down since Bengi left. The junglers for SKT have to change how they play to match the Bengi-esque feel for SKT.
Cpt Jack: Since it is Worlds, there are a lot of good players. Uzi is living up to his name.
GBM: Alphari from Misfits is really good. He is the ‘new age’ top laner. He is crazy.
Ryu: I feel like Crown has lost a bit of his edge since last time.
Arrow: I was a bit disappointed is Karsa and Svenskeren. They didn’t perform that well.
GBM: Didn’t Hauntzer play bad also?
Lustboy: He didn’t play that bad.
Ryu: I don’t think he should have picked Jayce. Other than that, everything was good.
GBM: I think it is because everytime I look at him, he dies. So I guess, TSM as a whole lacked a lot of things.
¤ Watching worlds till now, Korea has always been the best, followed by China > EU > NA. Do you think it is true that there is a noticeable decrease in the gap between Korea and other regions?
GBM: NA is the same as always.
Lustboy: Other regional teams don’t lose lane any more compared to in 2013 and 2014. You could say that the gap between laning has shortened quite a bit. However, there is still a huge difference in how Koreans strategize and execute their games.
GBM: I think NA’s laning phase was decent.
Ryu: I think the other regions will never get to the level of execution Korean teams have. Since it is only possible if all 5 players are good….
Cpt Jack: I think the same goes for skill and execution. It is really hard for a team to get to the level Korean teams are at right now. The difference in detailed calls is immense.
GBM: Even if a new member joins a team with good shotcalling, it is hard to implement. The player needs to have complete synergy with his team but most of the time it will just seem like he is alone on the call.
Ryu: When playing the game, Korean is really convenient. What I mean by this is that when you say ‘look for an angle please’ in Korean, it has a variety of meanings. It could mean ‘let’s back, we can’t win’ or ‘let’s fight, we can win’. Saying these kinds of words in Korean makes it extremely easy to understand what the speaker means. English and Chinese have no simple way of delivering a message like Korean.
Cpt Jack: A lot of people will say that this is probably because of communicational issues from playing abroad. It is hard to overcome this factor. There are a lot of times where you misunderstand what your teammates are saying. There are times where I would even talk to a teammate 1 on 1 and tell them we should try to communicate better.
GBM: Whenever I play a champion like Twisted Fate, I would always have a hard time talking very specifically, so I add an ‘if’ to every statement. For example, I would say ‘if they kill me take baron’. This kind of order.
¤ Do you think there is an actual jinx on NA for week 2 of groups?
Lustboy: They have been suffering since last year. I think their adaptation to the situation is a bit slow. Usually in the first week of groups, each region shows their own take on the meta. If NA does well with the meta in the 1st week, they stick with it for the second week. Other regions will change during the break to improve, but NA does not. This is why they have such a hard time in the second week of groups.
GBM: NA also does this: when they try out a strategy and it works well on the opponent, they go with it regardless if it fits their style or not.
Lustboy: I don’t think they do that. I think your version of NA and our version is different (laughs).
GBM: Oh really? I think it could be different for a top team.
Cpt Jack: China has Caitlyn, Korea has Guinsoo's and Runaan's on Varus, but NA lacks this area.
GBM: Now you see. When I was in CJ, I told you guys Guinsoo-Runaan’s was a good combo.
Cpt Jack: I think that is taking it a little too far.
Arrow: I knew it was a good build on Varus but it is so expensive to go for. I didn’t know it was going to be meta.
GBM: That’s why you have Nashor’s Tooth. I heard ‘someone’ goes Nashor's on Orianna.
¤ What do you guys think was the reason for the so called ‘changed’ TSM elimination?
Arrow: Wasn't there a game they lost because of a fed Twitch?
Lustboy: There were a lot of games lost because of us.
Cpt Jack: I think you need to talk to the TSM coach directly.
Lustboy: I think they adapted to the meta really fast.
Ryu: I don’t think Bjergsen lived up to the expectations. Usually mid and jungle are supposed to suppress the enemy team, but that was hardly seen from TSM.
Lustboy: That just proves there is a different meta for each region. LMS’s junglers put down a crap ton of wards early in the game. Even if they told us about this, it would be hard for us to implement it just because we have our own tendencies as well.
Cpt Jack: This is hard to blame on the player or the coach. The coach will obviously hand this information over to the players and the players will try to put this in their game and see how it turns out.
GBM: Wasn't the group difficult as well?
Cpt Jack: There were no Korean teams so I don’t think it was that hard.
GBM: Misfits, WE, and Flash Wolves are all extremely strong teams. I think Misfits is better than Samsung right now. Urgh, NA has a lot of aspects that they lack. When you bait as a team, you call to go all in. They all use their skills at once and waste skills they don’t need to use.
Ryu: I’m not sure.
Lustboy: Is it because they are a second tier league?
Arrow: Good players say which skills they are going to use and layer them perfectly.
GBM: I only played with the best so….
Ryu: There are not many intelligent players.
¤ Fnatic saved EU’s pride but G2 got eliminated.
Lustboy: I think G2 was just extremely unlucky. In week 1, they weren’t fully ready for the stage. I heard they didn’t falter one bit facing against some of the best teams in scrims.
GBM: G2 decides in the first 10 minutes where to ward exactly. Every person on the team knows precisely what they need to do. Their team synergy was on point, but the other teams were equally as good while making minimal mistakes.
Arrow: Doesn’t the fact that Fnatic made it astonish you?
Cpt Jack: Going 2-4 and through tiebreakers, making it to the quarterfinals. That is pretty entertaining.
Lustboy: I agree that it was unexpected that Fnatic would pull it off.
Ryu: I think Fnatic’s group was not that bad for them and hence why they had a good chance to make it out. When I met Immortals in the regular season, I didn’t think they were that strong. Although, we did lose to them. We played worse than them (laughs).
Lustboy: If the Gigabyte Marines were less greedy on the mid lane swap against Longzhu, I think they actually had a decent chance in making out of groups. A bit unfortunate for sure.
Cpt Jack: I think their strategy was very hard to execute against a Korean team. Our national teams all have a manual setting to adapt quickly regarding lane swaps.
Lustboy: Even if the rookie, Cuzz, panics, Longzhu Gaming has the ‘Prarilla’ duo bot lane. Whatever you throw at them, they can always handle it.
¤ Weren’t you guys surprised that 2nd and 3rd seed teams showed a good performance as well?
GBM: Is it because they are all hungry for the cup?
Arrow: It is hard to say that there is a huge gap between 1st seed teams and the 2nd/3rd seed teams. I think it is very possible that it just happened the way it did.
Cpt Jack: I assume there was a lot of people’s predictions that didn’t go as expected.
GBM: But I predicted EDG would be eliminated.
Lustboy: You believed in C9 and not EDG?
GBM: They have been playing well all the way up to Worlds, and Impact plays very smart. I feel like Scout doesn’t have this.
Ryu: Scout is really good in lane.
GBM: Kind of reminds me of 2015 BDD.
Would you say he lacks play-making potential?
GBM: He tries to do it but isn’t so successful.
Cpt Jack: I remember in week 2, Scout made a play using W-W-Hourglass as Leblanc and he couldn’t dash back. It was a very unfortunate play.
Ryu: There are not that many people who can make plays like Faker does.
¤ All the Korean teams have made it to the quarterfinals. Do you have any sense of worry for them?
Arrow: First of all, one of the strengths of SKT is that even if their bot lane gets pushed back, their death counts are low. I see other regional teams having a hard time in this area. Because of this, I’m not worried for them too much.
Ryu: I think it would be good if Faker could pick a more aggressive champion rather than Fizz. He can clearly execute it. Faker is by no means bad at laning, but I am a bit concerned by their tendency to lean towards late game team comps.
Cpt Jack: If they stall till the late game, they don't lose. It is hard to keep stalling, but maybe because that is the best result they have in scrims.
Lustboy: Samsung does seem to try to overcome it but whenever they fight with SKT or Longzhu they have a hard time.
Cpt Jack: Faker is picking champions that are not necessarily strong in lane which results in their bot lane getting out-pressured. The same thing applies with EDG Scout. The enemy reassigns the pressure bot instead. Because of this, SKT is having a hard time in the bot lane. The tower going down in 6 minutes with a Twitch - Janna is a result of this. Although, it is normal that the bot tower goes down within 8 minutes. It does feel uncomfortable to see SKT giving up first tower every game, but it is SKT. They allow it because SKT can withstand it and come back.
Ryu: I think Faker just needs to play a lane-dominant champion to solve all this.
Arrow: Samsung Galaxy fans are saying that if CuVee doesn’t carry, the game is almost unwinnable. Crown and Ambition need to really help alleviate the pressure for CuVee. There is no guarantee top can win every game.
¤ Isn’t Crown the type of player to tight in lane?
GBM: He doesn’t play that tight. He is the type of player that would say ‘let's just keep the lane stable’.
Cpt Jack: If he only want to keep the lane stable...isn't it good?
Arrow: He just carries the game through the laning phase I guess.
GBM: Don’t Mid and ADC laners keep the lane stable if they just played it as a standard?
Cpt jack: Are you saying you played stable back in the day?
GBM: Well… let’s just go back to talking about Samsung Galaxy.
Cpt Jack: It is certain that there are no problems in top or bot. However, their mid and jungler would not perform as well, resulting in the neutralization of the top and bot leads. There is a need for some exertion.
GBM: Crown used to do fine, but other than Ambition there is no one that does any shotcall execution.
Ryu: If Haru comes, they do have some early game presence. If they take out Ambition, Samsung has no one that can execute plays.
Lustboy: If you remove Ambition, I don’t think the other players will have as much of an impact.
¤ Do you think there is an area Longzhu lacks in, even though they went 6-0?
Cpt Jack: They are good all round so I don’t worry too much.
GBM: It is like seeing last year’s ROX Tigers.
Ryu: I think they really match well with the meta right now. There aren’t any weaknesses or flaws I can see.
Lustboy: Longzhu Gaming is damn good at ban/pick as well which makes them even more scary.
¤ It seems like the Chinese teams are soaring over this ‘Get Ardent Censer’ meta
Ryu: From what I remember, I believe China is the first region to really implement Ardent Censer into competitive play.
Cpt Jack: To be honest, China has been different in their approach from the very beginning. Chinese teams were the first to rush Ardent before sightstone. Unfortunately, Korea didn’t change to what the Chinese were doing because Korea is always wary about new things.
Lustboy: The Ardent Censer meta brought out a defensive play style in the bot lane. However, China has brought this to another level by playing aggressive with it. They even brought out the Caitlyn pick. Twitch used to be rated fairly low but Chinese teams started to use him way before.
Ryu: Before the Ardent Censer meta even really kicked off, China was the first region to start first picking Kog’maw.
Lustboy: China played with champions that synergize well with Ardent Censer long before everyone else did. Because of this, their view on the current meta is much more developed and advanced than that of other regions.
¤ Are there any additional things you guys want to add about the teams in the quarterfinals?
GBM: I think Misfits’ coach has a lot of talent. The coach is excellent at communicating with their players. On top of all this, if Alphari grabs a lead, then all the other lanes thrive. From clear shotcalling to perfect execution in pick/bans, Misfits is doing really well. You have to keep an eye out for them.
Cpt Jack: Kind of reminds me of old CJ Blaze Flame. He gets everything from top and roams bot to further his lead.
Lustboy: That’s why Ambition gets so mad when we go mid lane.
Ryu: If I have to say it again, the late game carry should be entrusted to SKT’s bot lane. Let Faker be on an early game dominant champion and their team will look much stronger than before. Same goes for Fnatic.
Cpt jack: The match with WE vs C9 will be pretty interesting. I wonder if Impact can keep NA’s hopes and dreams alive. It would be nice to see him do exceptionally well.
¤ Lastly, could you give some predictions on the set games in the quarterfinals?
Cpt Jack: I think Longzhu will absolutely make it through.
GBM: From a playstyle point of view, I think it will be very hard for Samsung Galaxy to win.
Arrow: Longzhu does have a fairly high chance of winning.
Lustboy: Nothing they can really do. For SKT, I think SKT will beat Misfits no problem and advance to the next stage.
GBM: SKT will probably win right? I think Misfits has a very similar feeling to Samsung.
Cpt jack: I think we can all agree on this. Obvious winners are Longzhu Gaming, SKT T1, RNG. There is a skill difference between these teams and their opponents.
Ryu: I’m not sure about WE vs C9. It is the fight between who takes Caitlyn.
GBM: I’m just going to believe in Mystic.
Ryu: Condi is really good at ganking for bot lane. I think WE is going to win.
Arrow: If that is so, I’m going to put my faith in Impact.
Lustboy: I also think it will be a close and interesting game between WE and C9.