For those who follow the competitive League of Legends scene, the World Championship is seen as the pinnacle, the promised land, a place where the best from around the globe face off in a festival rich in e-Sports goodness. With so many top teams competing, predictions run riot as to who will be crowned champions. The NUEL staff are no exception and with Riot’s Worlds Pick’em competition things are hotting up. The emergence of a staff leaderboard with the promise of skins for the winner paid for by the losers has meant it’s not just pride that’s on the line. While we lack the foresight of Paul the Octopus (may he rest in peace) we can still dream. It is in this spirit that I caught up with the rest of the NUEL to discuss their predictions for Worlds. First was NUEL’s Head of Written Content, Aezure.
Aezure (Head of Written Content)
“My pickems basically come down to:
- NA will bomb. Korea is overrated. Europe is underrated, how much by is hard to say. If you take out FNC, I would say Europe’s strength is similar to in the spring split. But FNC have ascended to a whole new level this split. People are saying that they might not top their group but I don’t see that happening at all unless AHQ become a world-beater team.
- China will win the whole tournament. Both LGD and EDG are tier 1 teams and only SKT or FNC have a chance to beat them. .
- EDG will smash SKT and top Group C, UNLESS their slump comes back/continues (unlikely but possible).
- LGD will top Group D with ease. OG vs KT is the closest matchup in groups. I actually think it’s exactly 50/50 but in those cases I’ll always pick EU. LGD will win the tournament.
- Final random thought. With LCS being a best-of-one format FNC could be the greatest best-of-one team in the world, but are weaker in best of 3 and best of 5.”
Skin for win: “Lunar Goddess Diana pl0x.”
These were strong words from Aezure, but graphics man and all round top bloke Ruihai had a different opinion.
Ruihai (Graphics and Societies)
“The only big factor here is Taiwan. Ever since the midpoint of LMS, the Flash Wolves have been leagues below AHQ. I don’t think they can lose to paiN. They probably can’t take an Xmithie CLG, unless SwordArt shows up and Aphromoo chokes.”
“AHQ beat Fnatic at MSI and EU has always struggled versus Chinese teams. IG and AHQ also have the early game aggression and control to prevent Fnatic’s early game leads. If Febiven can outplay Westdoor or Yellowstar leads FNC better than IG can communicate, they’ll take second. Watching Hai play Amumu convinced me C9 have no chance.”
“A pretty clear group, except for whether SKT or EDG goes through as first seed. I give the edge to SKT, because Bengi and Faker are back to full time play. H2K is lucky it has BKT as a buffer.”
“My bold pick is for Origen to beat KT if xPeke holds his own versus Nagne. Origen has one of the most underrated bot lanes. If Niels pulls out Vayne, he and Mithy can best Arrow plus Piccaboo. LGD and TSM should have no trouble placing first and fourth respectively. I expect IG, EDG, SKT & LGD to make it to semifinals (depending on seeding) and for SKT to win.”
Skin for Win: “Ace of Spades Ezreal or SKT Zyra.”
With Ruihai backing SKT to take home the spoils we talked to one of our celebrated casters, play by play master caster Tridd, who took a colourful approach to what he thought would happen.
Tridd (Play by Play Caster)
Group A [Babby’s first world’s group]
#1 CLG: Strong performance against TSM at MSG, but will not progress further beyond the quarter- finals. It’s an incredibly easy group.
#2 KOO: Korean 2nd Seed, have choked on the international stage at IEM Katowice, but still have strong form in LCK.
#3 Flash Wolves: Strong LMS team, but their top laner (Steak) is not up to scratch in a meta that relies on carrying from the top lane and co-ordinated TP ganks.
#4 paiN Gaming: Mordekaiser will be banned all games this tournament
Group B [Anyone but USA]
#1 Fnatic: Clear western favourite of the tournament coming off of a record-breaking split.
#2 AHQ: This is more about IG than AHQ. IG can beat AHQ, but they haven’t been great.
#3 IG: This team is reliant on whether one of the best players in the world (Kakao) can get going. If he steamrolls the enemy jungler, it’s GG.
#4 Cloud9: The Gauntlet used up the rest of the monkey paw
Group C [Thanks for coming out guys]
#1 SKT T1: No comment
#2 EDG: Shaky performance at the end of the LPL split, got through based off of Circuit points. Still a strong team, just not a SKT defeating team. Plus Pawn is in the hospital again.
#3: H2K: Kinda outclassed by everyone, except…
#4 Bangkok Titans: Thanks for coming guys….
Group D [RIP TSM]
#1 LGD: Favourites for the tournament, strong showing in LPL
#2 Origen: Origen and KT have similar styles of play, IMO could go either way. But EU Bias.
#3 KT: Korean 3rd seed, some amazing players in there and can climb higher in the group stage.
#4 TSM: RIP
Overall for the tournament:
Skin for Win: “Omega Squad Teemo.”
Tridd seemed solid in his convictions and the chance of a Teemo enthusiast having even more reason to play everyone’s most hated yordle spurred others into action. Fellow caster Dowsey was having none of it.
Dowsey (Colour caster and Video Content)
“CLG aren’t good enough to beat KOO Tigers, but I reckon they should have 2nd place. KOO tigers have had a shaky season, but brought it back in playoffs. PaiN Gaming were impressive in the wildcard tournament and they’ll surprise many. Flash Wolves are not a strong team.”
“So maybe I’ve let my bias get to me, but I do think that Fnatic will take 1st. They’re by far the strongest western team coming into the tournament. IG, on their day, can beat SKT, but because of their inconsistency they’re more likely to come 2nd. AHQ came first in their playoffs, but I’m not sure that really means anything. With C9 looking strong again, they’ll finish higher than AHQ.”
“SKT are favourites to win Worlds, and they’ll come 1st in their group. EDG is definitely a strong team and so I’ll place them 2nd. H2K started off really well at the beginning of the split, but fell off. I think that over the summer with Prolly coaching they’ll probably put up a fight, but they aren’t at the level of SKT or EDG. Bangkok Titans are going to need a new buttocks.They’ll go 0/6.”
“D stands for death. LGD are scary good and could win worlds. TSM’s scrim results are positive, but then when aren’t TSM’s scrim results positive? I think Dyrus is going to step up again, but I think TSM are gonna crash and burn. KT Rolster looked bad in playoffs whereas Origen gave Fnatic a run for their money.”
“The finals will then be SKT vs Fnatic, and after a close 5 game series, SKT will be world champions and western fans will be broken by how close they made it!”
Skin for Win: “I’d love to get Victorious Elise. I started playing towards the end of season 3, and only managed to make it to S1 by the end of the season, but I played so much Elise that season, and at the start of season 4, and in season 5 now she’s viable again. So I’ve always been pretty upset that I never managed to earn that skin, and would love to get it! But I reckon that’s impossible, so I’d probably settle for Aether Wing Kayle or Pentakill Olaf.”
Dowsey claimed the title of only member of staff to back Cloud 9 to come higher than 4th in their group drawing strange looks from the rest of the team. But no matter, up next was Potshot.
Potshot (Video Content Lead)
“I’m no MonteCristo – my LCK knowledge is limited to watching the summer playoffs. Though I still predict KOO to finish first, I’d be surprised if they didn’t drop a game or two. I rank them on a similar level to CLG, who, despite unquestionable meme dominance, drop to second due to a lack of international experience. The LMS region appears to be a dark horse at this tournament, but we have what is considered the strongest wildcard team yet; BRING THE PAIN!”
“Fnatic has been my team since the Season 3 World Championships, so I am fully aboard the hype train. Yet, the frontrunners of Group B appear the most contentious top 3 of all. AHQ have dominated their region and have shown their upset potential at MSI. IG are widely regarded as a team of inconsistent greatness – they can beat the best on their day. They should all dumpster Cloud9 which will, of course, mean that Hai will end up leading them to an unlikely reverse-sweep of the group to first place just to spite me. I’m sticking them last anyway.”
“These days, it seems there’s always one Korean titan that enters the tournament clear favourites. As in season 3, it’s SKT once again – although this time, not a clear favourite. EDG have already beaten them to a title this year, but as any TSM fan will tell you through their tears, that was aeons ago. SKT have looked the most consistent of all the teams at Worlds this season. H2K seem too predictable unless KaSing unleashes the Zilean we’re waiting for. I’ve never seen a Bangkok Titans game, but everyone says they’re rubbish.”
“By rights, LGD and KT should dominate this group. I’ve already mentioned my history as a Fnatic fanboy, so I’m fully behind Soaz and Xpeke’s baguettes and beards respectively (that’s a lie; please shave), so I’m hoping for an upset. TSM are another dark horse, but I don’t like them nearly as much. (Expect Dyrus to show up at his last major tournament though.)”
Skin for Win: “Maybe Fnatic Janna?”
It wouldn’t be written content without more of the written content team involved so I asked interview specialist Oska what his thoughts were on competition.
Oska (Written Content)
“I have put KOO Tigers as the first seed coming out of this group. Even after a lukewarm performance at the end of the season, I think that an underperforming KOO are better than CLG and FW. PaiN and FW are capable of challenging CLG and maybe taking games off KOO. I think the FW have better regional competition and have placed them above paiN.”
“As a European fan I put FNC first. They had a strong season proving themselves to be the best European team by quite a margin. I have put IG 2nd. I originally had AHQ, but I changed that to IG (the Kakao effect). AHQ are a better team than C9 but C9’s end of season performance was spectacular. However, I don’t think C9 can beat the next tier of teams.”
“Very little to say here. SKT will win worlds so I think they should win their group. EDG has a strong roster and the best ADC at worlds. It’s a shame for BKT and H2K, but neither of them are going to win any quarter finals so it’s probably good they don’t have the opportunity.”
“I think a case for OG can be made. I see them as a stronger team than their results show. Sure it’s optimistic to place them above KT but I’m an EU fan. LGD in first is a given since people are tipping them for the crown. I think it would be miraculous for TSM to take games off any of them.”
“My ideal finals would be Fnatic vs SKT T1. For Fnatic to make the finals they have to play better than they ever have. The winner should be SKT, but let’s hope they have to really fight for it.”
Skin for Win: “Pool Party Draven.”
With Oska rating SKT’s chances of winning, I turned to tournament admin extraordinaire Addyal to see what complex views he could offer up to the gods of League.
Addyal (Tournament Admin)
“Basically CLG to win, everyone else is trash.”
Skin for Win: “The CLG Vayne skin that will certainly be coming out”.
I thanked Addyal for his time and left with much to ponder, my mind significantly broadened by his deep insights into the international League of Legends scene. Thankfully Reverbe came along to rescue me from my enlightened state.
Reverbe (Written Content)
“I think KOO will be able to take on CLG. It’s hard to tell as we won’t see them play on the new patch until Worlds starts, but I have faith in the Koreans. YFW and paiN are the weakest, both coming from weak regions with low opportunities to challenge their mid-game rotations. I think KOO and CLG will be able to find better teamfights mid-to-late game against them.”
“IG is looking strong, but so is Fnatic. I think for the first time in years, a Western team looks like they can stand up to the Chinese and Korean teams. It will be a heated battle as AHQ look good, but, it’s difficult to tell. C9 is probably the weakest out of this Group of Death.”
“SKT and EDG are the two real titans of this group. It will be interesting to see SKT and EDG brawl it out. Personally, I’m on the Faker hype train, but Pawn will surely give him a run for his money. I think H2K can 2-0 BKT in groups, but will drop almost all of their games to SKT and EDG.”
“KT and LDG are going to brawl it. In this meta where ADC positioning is key and Arrow and Imp are both solid. The Origen -TSM matches will be close, but based on how TSM ended the season, I am willing to back Origen. I will be looking forward to watching every match in this Group of Misery (Death was taken).”
Skin for Win: “If I could get the DJ Sona skin that would be pretty dope.”
As I looked down the staff leaderboard, I noticed a name not normally associated with the League side of the NUEL. Enter Trim, our multi-talented Hearthstone caster and League of Legends enthusiast.
Trim (Hearthstone Caster)
“Looking at player history I feel like CLG has a chance at potentially making a few upsets but I feel like the best they will get to in the groups is second place. FW could take that spot from CLG but I feel that CLG will be just ahead, KOO Tigers being the clear favourite of the group with the form they had coming into the tournament.”
“I think this could be a three-way battle for first depending on how well Fnatic adapts to their opposition and how the meta has changed. Especially with the new juggernauts and it being a top lane heavy focused meta it seems too good to be true for Huni, but AHQ could steal first. Cloud 9 is in 4th place. They are in a group where their mistakes will be exploited to their fullest which leaves IG in 3rd.”
“If EDG show up to the tournament they could take first from SKT, but it seems unlikely that could happen. H2K is in third because there isn’t too much info on wildcard teams and based on previous world championships they [Bangkok Titans] are quite a gamble.”
“Was a really tough group for me to choose. I think that Origen has the chance to take 1st but LDG just take the spot. I think the other teams will know how to beat TSM. KT Rolster is a hit or miss team. They could take first or last. They seem inconsistent so I couldn’t place them higher.”
Skin for Win: “I want the [Championship] Riven skin”.
Well, Trim is certainly taking it seriously. Backing all of his predictions with confidence he’s aiming for the top prize in Riot’s Pick’ems.
Now, I’m not one to turn down a challenge, so I had to get myself involved. Here are my predictions for the World Championship.
Nilknarf (Written Content)
I would love for paiN to do well, but it doesn’t seem like it will happen. I think they could take a game or two off the others, but I’m not sure if they could do more. I don’t rate the Flash Wolves highly and back CLG and the KOO Tigers to get out of the group. I wouldn’t say any of the teams are strong contenders for the title.
Fnatic, AHQ and Invictus have the potential to fill the top three spaces of the group in any order. However, I’m backing AHQ to come up trumps. The team finally isn’t just Westdoor and friends. I also see Fnatic being able to deal with Invictus. IG have the potential to be one of the top teams in the competition, but also one of the worst. Kakao and Rookie are top quality but I feel like Fnatic is better across the board. Cloud 9 don’t have a hope.
I think I can put Bangkok Titans and H2K 4th and 3rd respectively. I don’t think either are anywhere near the standard of SKT or EDG. In fact, I’d see these teams meeting in the final. They’re miles ahead of anyone else maybe bar LGD. SKT will just be able to take top spot.
All teams have potential to fill every single place. However, this doesn’t look like TSM’s day. I would love a fantastic farewell for Dyrus but on form it just won’t be happening. Meanwhile, KT Rolster are too inconsistent. I back LGD over Origen simply because the former are more proactive and aggressive while also being clinical. They’re China’s first seed for a reason.
Skin for Win: Surfer Singed is love, Surfer Singed is life.
Disagree with us? Let us know in the comments. In the meantime, see you at Worlds!