And then there were eight. After a crazy year that saw T1, iG, and the defending world champions FPX miss worlds entirely, other traditional teams like FNC and G2 (who were sitting tied for seventh in week three and tied for fifth week five respectively in the LEC) still managed to qualify.
Although TL, LGD and FLY tried to make the group stage exciting with upsets over teams no one expected them to beat, the end result was largely what we expected at worlds. Three CN (TES, JDG and SN), three KR (DWG, DRX and GEN, and two EU (G2 and FNC) teams remain.
This year’s Worlds has been remarkable in how unremarkable the results have been so far. Since the play-in stage was introduced in 2017, no fewer than two play-in teams had failed to advance to the elimination stage. This year none of the play-in teams managed to advance.
Moreover, this leaves us wondering whether the Jungle focused strategy employed by the LPL and LCK teams was simply due to individual talent level, or a strategy that the other regions simply failed to adapt to in time.
First, we will discuss the effect of increased Jungle focus on fantasy scoring, and then we will conclude with a discussion of each team’s chances to win the Worlds tournament!
In order to gain a bit more insight into how important the Jungle has been at Worlds this year, let’s take a look at the CS-independent fantasy scoring during group stage for each team below.
ADC, MID, and TOP generally earn an extra 4-6 points over the course of the game through creep kills while JNG earns an extra 2-4 and SUP earns minimal extra points.
The first thing we should notice is that Jungle is in the top three of EVERY team (including the teams that did not qualify from groups). The Jungler for each team is generally involved in more team fights (which means more kills and assists) than Top lane and Support.
The second thing we should notice is that either the ADC or the MID lane usually occupies the slot directly above or below (and sometimes both) the Jungle for each team.
The high scoring by these positions is reflective of teams that have found exceptional success in either the ADC or the MID lane or that have a balanced attack in both lanes.
DWG and DRX have put exceptional focus on their Junglers, Canyon and Pyosik, who have exceptionally high fantasy scoring relative to the rest of the team.
Some of the MID lanes have been slumping this tournament including some outstanding players like Knight (TES), Bdd (GEN) and Chovy (DRX). I expect these players to play better if they are to win their series.
With this overview of Jungle performance out of the way, it is time to discuss who actually has a chance to win worlds. My favorites before the group stage began were TES, DWG and JDG and that has not changed.
DWG is nearly enjoying the benefits of an extra solo lane with how well Canyon has been playing and everyone else on the team has been keeping up (even Nuguri has avoided his common 0-2 starts in lane so far).
TES has the best ADC in the tournament in JackeyLove (although Ruler might have something to say about that) and although Knight has struggled a bit in MID lane, he does not need a huge improvement to be a dominant force.
JDG is perhaps the king of consistency this year winning the spring LPL split 3-2 over TES and losing in summer 2-3 to TES. While they are not a fantasy point juggernaut like DWG and TES, they have the most stable performance as a team in the tournament.
My middle tier includes G2, DRX and GEN. These are teams that can have outstanding performances, but also have had some awful games mixed in between.
G2 has been the definition of inconsistent this year. They have a fantasy friendly aggressive style and always have a backup plan to win through split pushing if they fall behind. I think they have a tough matchup vs. GEN, but their disruptive style could upset GEN’s slower style if played well.
Let’s be real here, Pyosik CARRIED DRX into the elimination stage. That is not to say the other lanes for DRX can’t play well, but with Chovy in a slump DRX is going to have a rough time against an aggressive DWG squad that can match them in the Jungle.
GEN had a close series in the summer playoffs versus DRX, but ultimately fell to the third seed for the LCK for Worlds. Clid will have to play very well to get GEN ahead on objectives against G2 in order to advance.
My bottom tier includes SN and FNC. While SN is a promising team both fantasy wise and during their recent performance, they have yet to prove themselves on the international stage while FNC is clearly the worst of the remaining teams.
SofM, Angel and Bin have all been amazing at times and awful at times. They are now up against a JDG squad that is expected to win easily with objectives alone. In a close series, SN could outscore JDG in fantasy points, but if SofM falls behind at all, it could be a quick defeat for SN.
FNC are just not an exciting team to watch. They are rarely proactive and do not have the same level of objective control equal to the capabilities of either JDG or GEN. Still, FNC made it to the finals in 2018 so they do have some record of international success.
Here are the current Futures (odds to win the entire tournament) for each team remaining at Worlds:
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