After NA disappointed and Europe made a good first step yesterday, the second day of the 2019 League of Legends World Championship Play-Ins tested Korea and more Minor regions. Group C and Group D took to the stage with each team playing two Best of 1's. Here's what happened.
A Mexican standoff in group C
Group C kicked off relatively quietly. MEGA, hailing from the League of Legends SEA Tour, took on the Hong Kong Attitude. MEGA threw a curveball early on, when Quinn was locked in for their toplaner Chen "3z" Han. It was a pick that paid off its dividends. While the game saw few deaths, the Quinn slowly but surely managed to mount the pressure against the Hong Kong squad. MEGA felt so pressured that, just over 30 minutes into the game, they went for a hailmary Baron Nashor.
It didn't work out. At all. Hong Kong Attitude's jungler Lee "Crash" Dong-woo swooped in at the right moment stealing the Baron, which gave Hong Kong Attitude the chance to clean up most of MEGA immediately after, and close out the game.
But MEGA fought back for its tournament life against Vietnam's Lowkey Esports. With midlaner Nuttapong "G4" Menkasikan on Worlds 2019's first Pantheon pick and Atit "Rockky" Phaomuang on Camille in the toplane, MEGA played for the late game. The game went on, but it was a messy affair. Players overextended, used flashes where they probably wouldn't have been necessary and teamfights were closer to a mudfight than to a coordinated battle.
Once again for MEGA, the game's key moments took place near Baron Nashor. The first major confrontation was a swift ambush by Lowkey Esports, melting G4. Lowkey tried to use this advantage to secure themselves a Baron Nashor, but Nguyễn "Hani" Tuấn Phát had just been killed by Rockky. This deficit led to a massacre around Baron, which only Đỗ "DNK" Ngọc Khải survived. The next Baron fight was cleanly won by MEGA, however, and they destroyed the Nexus.
Just like MEGA defeated Lowkey straight after a loss, Lowkey wasn't planning on going down 0-2 on their first day. When Hong Kong Attitude tried to be cute with a Mordekaiser pick for the toplane, Lowkey struck back. With Nguyễn "Artifact" Văn Hậu on the Tristana and Nguyễn Phước "Celebrity" Long Hiệp on the Syndra, Lowkey Esports created a true Mexican standoff: all teams in group C ended the day with a 1-1 score.
Group D's results were not as evenly split at all, as many probably expected. LCK's third seed and favorite to make it out of the main event's group stage, DAMWON Gaming came out guns blazing. Their first opponent, Turkey's Royal Youth, did surprise by drawing a well coordinated first blood, followed by a handful of other kills giving a glimmer of hope for the Turks early on. But once DAMWON's gears were oiled, their train didn't stop. Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon used his trademark Kleptomancy as Vladimir and, together with his teammates, bent the game in DAMWON's favor.
Flamengo eSports, the Brazilian champion, wasn't much more of an obstacle either, though this time it was AD Carry Sin "Nuclear" Jeong-hyeon who popped off on DAMWON's side. The South Korean was targeted by Flamengo several times in attempt to silence the growing problem, but he kept getting away with it. Nuclear closed on an impressive 8/0/4 scoreline—his rival AD Carry at Flamengo eSports, Felipe "brTT" Gonçalves had to make do with 1/4/4.
With both Flamengo eSports and Royal Youth sitting at an 0-1 score, the two faced off against each other. The rivalry between the two teams' regions created a very entertaining match—a large part of the excitement of which came from the passionate Flamengo eSports supporters, chanting their team's name. But the energy really started flowing when Flamengo's brTT locked in Draven for the botlane.
Supported by Han "Luci" Chang-hoon on the Thresh and with jungler Lee "Shrimp" Byeong-hoon on the Lee Sin, Flamengo squashed Royal Youth. To give an indication of how dominant Flamengo eSports was: the game finished with 14 kills for the Brazilians, whereas Royal Youth only found 3.
On day 3, two teams will be sent home already
Tomorrow, the first teams will wave goodby as group A and B of the Play-Ins reach their climax. With all teams tied at a 1-1 score in group A, it's anyone's guess who will make it out. Most people predicted Clutch Gaming to emerge victorious, but after their initial loss against Unicorns of Love, nothing is certain anymore. MAMMOTH in turn upset the Unicorns of Love, and will attempt to repeat that performance in their quest to reach the next stage.
The story of Worlds 2019 is also going to end for one team in group B. DetonatioN FocusMe, the Japanese team, has a steep mountain to climb if they still want advance: at the moment, they're 0-2 down. On the other end of the spectrum sits LEC third seed Splyce, who are, as predicted by many, looking to advance with a clean sheet. If Isurus Gaming can repeat their performances of day 1 and defeat DetonatioN FocuMe again they too will advance, be it as the second seed from group B.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.