The World Championship Play-In Stage, which went on for two weeks, came to a close with WE qualifying for groups. Three seeds from Korea, China, and Europe, along with the two seeds from the wildcard regions, secured their ticket for groups.
During the Group Draw, people rated 'Group C' as the "easiest" group. However, no team should be feeling relieved quite yet, especially after witnessing the performances of the Play-In teams.
And so, we ask: "Which players will have the biggest impact at Worlds?" In order to answer that question ourselves, the esports writers of Inven gathered together to rate players from all around the globe based on their suitability to the current meta, their season performances, and their recent performances.
※ The five participants: Its, Haao, Laffa, Lubic, and Koer, were all told to make a list and number players from 1st(15pts) to 15th(1pt). Players were ranked depending on the number of points they received.
1st. Khan - Longzhu Gaming(Top)
▶ 73pts - Its(2nd), Haao(1st), Laffa(1st), Lubic(2nd), Koer(1st)
Botlane is by far the most important late-game lane in the current 'Ardent Censer' meta. But if we were to choose a toplaner that often destroyed his lane and went on to affect the rest of the map, it would be LZ Khan. Although he received a fair amount of criticism from fans for his performance with tank champions, he used his skills during the Summer to prove that, as the saying goes: "the best defense is a good offense." It’s clear to many that he will most likely be the most impactful toplaner at Worlds.
2nd. Faker - SKT T1(Mid)
▶ 69pts - Its(1st), Haao(3rd), Laffa(4th), Lubic(2nd), Koer(1st)
A long explanation detailing why Faker is so high up on this list is probably unnecessary. He was the first player to win Worlds three times, and he was the 2016 MVP. Being the most famous League player to have ever lived, Faker has been given many names, such as the 'Unkillable Demon King'. He’s a professional who always performs when it really matters. Even though 'Longzhu Gaming' took the honor of defeating SKT at the Finals of LCK, Faker still shined for his team, hence why he has earned this spot on the list.
3rd. PraY - Longzhu Gaming(ADC)
▶ 66pts - Its(4th), Haao(2nd), Laffa(2nd), Lubic(3rd), Koer(3rd)
Along with Doublelift, sOAZ, Clearlove, and Sneaky, PraY is a very frequent contender at Worlds - this year being his 5th so far. Statistically, PraY has always had great results, and the only thing that's truly missing from his long career is the World Championship Trophy. Longzhu Gaming defeated SKT, a team that has always been an obstacle for PraY at international tournaments, in the Finals of the LCK Summer Split. That is a good enough reason to believe Longzhu may become the new champions this year.
4th. GorillA - Longzhu Gaming(Support)
▶ 51pts - Its(3rd), Haao(10th), Laffa(3rd), Lubic(8th), Koer(5th)
If PraY is the father of Longzhu, GorillA is the mother. GorillA is a player that acts as a form of adhesive that glues his team together. This is a notable feat, given how the team has no lack of players with strong individuality; he's a player that not only supports his ADC, but his entire team. GorillA is famous for unexpectedly bringing out off-meta picks in the botlane, and that alone is a good reason to pay attention to him at Worlds.
5th. Bdd - Longzhu Gaming(Mid)
▶ 42pts - Its(5th), Haao(4th), Laffa( - ), Lubic(7th), Koer(6th)
Bdd maintained an incredibly high KDA throughout the entirety of the Summer Split. But this feat wasn't achieved by playing passively, as Bdd did everything that he needed to do. In the recent LCK Finals, Bdd's performance was overshadowed by Khan's, but his ability to keep Faker within his lane and drive him away from affecting the map was great in itself.
6th. CuVee - Samsung Galaxy(Top)
▶ 41pts - Its( - ), Haao(6th), Laffa(6th), Lubic(4th), Koer(7th)
Before Khan was the main target of the spotlight, the best-known toplaners in Korea were Smeb, Huni, and CuVee. Out of the three, however, CuVee's name was always mentioned first when asked: "which toplaner is best at split pushing?" CuVee isn't the most aggressive or passive player... but he's always been a key member in SSG that pulled off plays when it really mattered.
7th. Blank - SKT T1(Jungle)
▶ 40pts - Its(7th), Haao(9th), Laffa(5th), Lubic(10th), Koer(9th)
Last year, Blank was infamous for being the most "inconsistent" and "unreliable" jungler. But this year, he completely turned it around by being the most reliable one in his role. Blank subbing in for Peanut when he showed shaky performance reminded the fans of last year's Bengi.
8th. Ruler - Samsung Galaxy(ADC)
▶ 30pts - Its(6th), Haao(7th), Laffa( - ), Lubic(5th), Koer( - )
When the meta started shifting towards Ardent Censer, Ruler's partner, CoreJJ, received a lot of criticism from fans for his relatively small champion pool. But even when put under such a situation, Ruler performed well. For most games, the ADC receives the most protection out of everyone in any given team. But for Ruler, he creates his own opportunities to dish out damage, and his in-game senses that he has showcased so far have been nothing short of amazing. These "in-game senses" of his will be a necessity for SSG if they want to make it far during this tournament.
9th. Bang - SKT T1(ADC)
▶ 27pts - Its( - ), Haao(11th), Laffa( - ), Lubic(6th), Koer(4th)
2017 was the worst year for Bang. Not only did he get himself in the middle of a large controversy, but a big slump followed afterward. Even though he somewhat started recovering from his slump as Summer was nearing its end, his fans couldn't drop the worry when the famed SKT botlane was overwhelmed by the PrillA lane in the Finals. Recently, another controversy rose in regards to Bang and his choice of language... we'll just have to wait and see how he performs at Worlds.
10th. Bjergsen - Team SoloMid(Mid)
▶ 25pts - Its(10th), Haao(12th), Laffa(9th), Lubic(14th), Koer(10th)
TSM Bjergsen is the only non-LCK player to make it to the top 10 of this list. Overall, Bjergsen is a western player that is highly regarded as one of the best by many LCK players. Many Korean fans see Bjergsen as a player that suffers from his underperforming teammates when playing on international stages. But this year, his teammates have been showing good form, so we might be able to expect a different outcome for TSM this year round. The teams from NA LCS faced humiliation after humiliation for several years for always failing to make it out of groups. But if they do make it out this year, it'll most likely be due to this midlaner.
11th. Crown - Samsung Galaxy(Mid)
▶ 22pts - Its( - ), Haao(5th), Laffa(12th), Lubic(9th), Koer( - )
Great performance during the Spring, followed by a deep slump during the Summer; Crown has always been criticized for underperforming while playing champions who weren't his signature picks. However, if Crown manages to shake off his slump and recover his Spring form, it's possible for him to stay toe-to-toe or even beat any midlaner that comes his way, as he has the potential to do so.
12th. Ambition - Samsung Galaxy(Jungle)
▶ 20pts - Its(12th), Haao(8th), Laffa( - ), Lubic(11th), Koer(13th)
When looking at the individual laners of SSG, it's actually really hard to rate any of them higher than their rival teams'. Nonetheless, SSG managed to secure yet another ticket to Worlds, and we can safely say that it was mostly due to Ambition. In almost every game that he plays, Ambition starts off slow and unsteady... but he grows more and more solid as the game continues. Ambition is the only married pro in the LCK, and we wonder, "For how long can he remain so strong?"
13th. Biofrost - Team SoloMid(Support)
▶ 17pts - Its(8th), Haao( - ), Laffa(7th), Lubic( - ), Koer( - )
During the early stages of Season 7, Biofrost "suffered" more than Bjergsen. However, after the return of Doublelift, TSM's botlane became much more solid, completely disproving the "TSM just relies on Bjergsen" bias. During the Summer, Biofrost made many clutch plays that turned the tide for his team, and we're expecting similar things to happen during Worlds.
14th. Mystic - Team WE(ADC)
▶ 14pts - Its(9th), Haao(13th), Laffa( - ), Lubic( - ), Koer(12th)
To those who don't follow the LPL, it might've been a large surprise to see WE playing in the Play-In Stage of Worlds. The reason for the surprise comes from WE's long history of almost always showing spectacular performance at international tournaments. For a while, Uzi was crowned the 'best ADC in China', but after seeing the performance displayed by Mystic during MSI and RR, we can safely assume that he is nothing short of being a strong contender for that spot.
15th. Karsa - Flash Wolves(Jungle)
▶ 13pts - Its(15th), Haao(15th), Laffa(10th), Lubic( - ), Koer(11th)
Flash Wolves is a team that brought recognition to its region by performing unexpectedly well against Korean teams in the past. In most of the games won by FW, Karsa was the key player, and as a matter of fact, in most games where Karsa ended up struggling, FW lost. Mechanically, Karsa is a beast, but macro-wise, he's a computer.
▶ RNG Uzi(11pts), EDG Clearlove7(8pts)
These two players have had a very large fanbase in China. Both of them are very experienced in terms of playing on the international stage, and the history of their long careers is solid. In 2017, however, the dip in their performance was quite noticeable. But if they are to return to their form, we can expect great things from these two.
▶ C9 Jensen(7pts), TSM Doublelift(6pts)
Just like WE, C9's entry into Worlds was nothing spectacular, as the team had to climb up from the Play-In Stage, especially when considering the high caliber of the team. But whatever the case may be, C9 brutally drove through the Play-In Stage and proved to the world why they are esteemed as one of the best. Jensen, especially, showcased plays that were a step above the ones he showed back in NA, and the synergy he had with Contractz was nothing short of impressive. As for Doublelift, he made many critical mistakes in the past while playing internationally, and this tournament will be the best opportunity for him to redeem himself.
▶ G2 Zven(5pts), EDG Meiko(4pts), RNG mlxg(3pts), C9 Impact(3pts), IMT Olleh(1pt)
G2's Zven was the sole EU player that was mentioned. The rest of the points are spread among players that performed well in their respective regions.
Most discussed, Ardent Censer - Riot Games(OP)
During the making of this article, the writers all agreed on one thing - that the games played during Worlds will most likely revolve around one item, the Ardent Censer. Although the item received some much-deserved nerfs on the live servers, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that this item will massively impact the meta for the group and knockout stage.