EDward Gaming headed into the 2017 World Championship as the number one seed from China’s LPL, with many fans harbouring high hopes for the regional favourites.
Placed in a group alongside familiar opposition, few analysts could have predicted that EDward Gaming would suffer three consecutive defeats in the first week of a home soil World Championship.
SK Telecom T1, AHQ e-Sports Club and an inconsistent Cloud9 line-up seemed to be an entirely achievable task for China’s first seed, yet this narrative would not ring true.
In contradiction to any prior predictions, the closest EDG came to tallying their first win was against SKT, before a 11K gold lead disappeared into the night.
EDward Gaming’s issues have fluctuated from game to game; sometimes being unable to capitalize on a huge gold lead and other times not being able to acquire one at all.
It was well known heading into the tournament that EDG has a weakness in their top laner, Chen “Mouse” Yu-Hao, but the surprising weak link has come from the mid lane.
Lee “Scout” Ye-Chan has had ups and downs throughout the entire year but somehow this has become even more accentuated in the first week of play. From seeing him play an immaculate early game against SK Telecom T1 and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, Scout flipped a switch and died repeatedly in side lanes as part of a painful loss to Cloud9.
One of the most notable things about these first three games has been the limited champion pool for EDG. Scout has only played Lucian so far and has been reliant on snowballing a lead.
The Korean import has never been known for having the widest champion pool but producing such inconsistent performance on his comfort pick has put a strain on the EDG line-up.
One of the high points surprisingly enough has come in the form of rookie AD carry, Hu “iBoy” Xianzhao. Having played less than a year professionally, many analysts questioned how he would be able to perform on the biggest stage in the League of Legends world.
Throughout the first week, he has provided exactly what has been asked of him and has cut down on many of the rookie mistakes we saw through the LPL split.
However, iBoy’s consistency alone was not enough to save his team from the 0-3 slide they took in the first week and they will now have their backs against the wall heading into the second portion of the round robin.
If there is a light at the end of the tunnel for this team it is how well they seem to have dealt with these losses thus far.
Ming “Clearlove7” Kai has been a domestic powerhouse and a legend of the Chinese scene for years, but one of his biggest drawbacks has been his international performances or lack thereof.
Much of this has been attributed to tilt and he even took a split off after last year’s worlds to better take on that challenge and avoid overthinking. Even if it doesn’t appear so on the surface, it looks to have paid off in some regards as the losses don’t seem to have hindered the team’s performance in the following day.
After their crushing day one defeat to AHQ, EDG would go on to annihilate SKT for 30 minutes and have everyone inside the Wuhan stadium on the edge of their seat for an upset.
Though they failed to net victory, it at least showed the level at which the Chinese favourites can perform; all hope is not lost for the second week of the group stages.
EDG will need to retain this mindset and come into the next half of the group stage with a clear head in they want any chance of making it into the Quarter-Finals of the 2017 World Championship.
With the fans of Wuhan at their back, it will be on the veterans of the team to stay levelheaded and lead a Cinderella story come-back in front of their home crowd.