As Worlds 2017 approaches, the groups for the inaugural Play-In Tournament have been decided.
With many teams unfamiliar to fans outside of their region and few cross-region events to gauge the strength of their champions at Worlds, the tournament is likely to contain many upsets and surprises.
The Play-In Tournament features the champions from the leagues previously participating in the International Wild Card Tournament, as well as the third seeds from the NA LCS, EU LCS, LPL, and LMS. The 12 participants will be split into four groups of three teams, with the top two from each group advancing to a best-of five round where the winners advance to the Group Stage.
Now that each group has been drawn, CLICKON eSports takes a look at each group, providing a bit of insight into the teams and making our predictions.
GROUP A: World Elite, Gambit Esports, Lyon Gaming
Out of the four groups drawn, this is likely the strongest. The group features a World Elite team that many consider the best of all the Chinese teams at the World Championships. After finishing first in the LPL Spring Playoffs to earn a place at the Mid-Season Invitational, Team WE barely succumbed to Royal Never Give Up 3-2 in the semi-finals of the LPL Summer Playoffs.
Fans will remember jungler Renjie “Condi” Xiang from his play at MSI, but close attention should be paid to AD Carry Jin “Mystic” Sung-jun who is one of the best (if not the best) in China. Team WE will enter the Play-In Tournament as heavy favorites, and if they are able to advance could see significant success in the main stages as well.
No strangers to the international stage, Gambit Esports boasts a wealth of well known and experienced players. Led by former Moscow5 members jungle Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov and support Edward “Edward” Abgaryan, Gambit has seen the resurgence of many players whose careers had twilighted over the past few seasons.
Dominating the LCL with a 13-1 record in the Summer Split, Gambit entered the playoffs as heavy favorites to earn a berth at the World Championships. Tested by a surging M19 (formerly Albus Nox Luna) in the Playoffs, Gambit would prevail 3-2 and earn their first return to Worlds since 2013.
— Gambit Esports (@GambitEsports) September 13, 2017
The final member of Group A in the LLN champion Lyon Gaming, one of the most successful (domestically) eSports organizations in League of Legends history. Winners of nine straight titles, Lyon Gaming swept Infinity eSports in the Finals 3-0, although the series was much closer than the final score suggests as Lyon was able to overcome deficits in the first two matches.
Two standout performers in the LLN Finals for Lyon Gaming were team captain and top laner Daniel “Jirall” del Castillo and ADC Matias “WhiteLotus” Musso. In the final game of the series, Jirall helped seal their victory with an 11/0/5 performance on Camille.
1. World Elite 2. Gambit Gaming 3. Lyon Gaming
Lyon Gaming entered the Play-In tournament as a Pool 3 team, and deservedly so. They have a history of performing poorly against the other IWC regions, and in a group with two strong contenders, may fail to win a single game.
While there were multiple group draws that could have led to Gambit earning a first place finish, they have unfortunately been paired with what should be considered the strongest team in the Play-In Tournament in World Elite.
Still, Gambit will likely remain the most dangerous two seed in the second round of the Play-In tournament, and could easily advance in a best of five against one of the other group winners.