As Vietnamese hopes are dashed for another year and the Gigabyte Marines go crashing out of the tournament in a heart-wrenching defeat to Fnatic, is the stage is now set for an underwhelming return to the mundanity of the Worlds 2017 meta.
In no way underdogs at the tournament, the Gigabyte Marines showed the world that innovation is not necessarily cheese, but rather a genuinely viable strategy for beating teams that – however skilled and familiar with the current meta – have become stagnated in their play style, incapable of thinking outside the box.
The Marines have also shown us that, in some cases, innovation is the only way to defeat so-called “greater opposition”, as they came so close to doing in their second game against Longzhu Gaming, who seemed wholly unprepared for such versatility and imagination.
Yet now on the short plane journey home, it is left for the neutral fan to wonder, where will the excitement for the rest of the tournament come from?
— GIGABYTE Marines🇻🇳 (@MarinesEsports) May 14, 2017
Although unique picks are not all that keeps the spectator interested in competitive League of Legends, they do break up the monotony of endless games that are seemingly no more than a repeat of the last, with names simply being changed on the top of the screen after periodical restarts.
Variety is a necessity to keep fans interested in the sport, but it is also crucial for teams that wish to succeed.
Excluding the Gigabyte Marines, the second team that has pulled out the most unique of Champions has been Longzhu, to most observers, the strongest looking team at the tournament so far and though this may not be the direct cause of that success, it does display the capabilities within the highest level of teams to adapt to situations as they see fit and see beyond the confines of the current meta.
However, innovation does not simply come in which champions a team chooses to play a match with, but also in how they chose to play a match.
Perhaps what the tournament will miss most of all without the Marines, is the spectacle of ultimate aggression they showed in the early game. Although we still have teams left that can fight hard early, no one can quite do it like the Marines.
I love watching GAM games. Super exciting champion selects and strategies from them! #Worlds2017
— David Turley (@RiotPhreak) October 12, 2017
Almost by default, that mantle must now invariably fall to Misfits, a team that applied their diverse style and ability to win numerous extra games to defy all expectations and reach the quarterfinals, much to the neutral fans’ delight.
Fans will hope Misfits continue to carry the torch lit by the Gigabyte Marines in the group stages.
For a tournament-wide explosion of variety and excitement, however, it can only be the hope of the neutral fan that the teams of the 2017 World Championship have been holding back in the first week, unwilling to show any of their real meta destroying strategies until absolutely needed against ‘real’ opponents.