For European fans, the 2017 World Championship has been an emotional ride, to say the least.
With upsets and miracles aplenty, Worlds 2017 has been nothing short of epic. From a European standpoint, perhaps the most exciting narratives of the tournament has been the dramatic improvement of Misfits, a team of international rookies who were predicted to finish bottom of Group D.
After surpassing expectations and upsetting group favourites Team SoloMid to take the second seed out of their group, all the discussion is now around just how far the organisation can go.
Whilst some may argue that Misfits were fortuitous to have been drawn against relatively weak opposition, their exemplary performance in the group cannot be denied.
The bracket stage draw has perhaps been less kind to the rookies, drawing tournament favourites and reigning champions SK Telecom T1 as their quarterfinal match-up. It certainly isn’t going to be an easy road ahead for the EU hopefuls.
Misfits’ strength in Group D was drawn predominantly from their early game. The amount of pressure Misfits exerted on their opponents during the opening weeks of the tournament has potentially opened the door to an upset against the South Korean heavyweights.
SK Telecom T1’s relatively lacklustre start – by their own high standards – has almost ironically stemmed from their slow start in the early game.
Given the growth Misfits has shown in the opening two weeks of the tournament, there is a chance, albeit unlikely, that the European roster could upset the previous champions.
By attacking the weak early game of SKT, Misfits should be able to garner leads in some of their games and if they able to improve the manner in which they transition this to the mid and late game, they may even be able to close out a few of these games in their best-of-five series.
One match-up to look at in particular is the mid lane duel between, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.
PowerOfEvil may have been proven himself as the Team SoloMid’s kryptonite in the group stages, but now he isn’t facing superman, rather the entire justice league.
It will be his job to keep Faker under control so that his team can apply as much early pressure as possible to SKT potential weak spots, namely Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon in the top lane and Han “Peanut” Wang-ho in the jungle.
It’s easy to imagine the scenario through which Misfits win their series – technically any team can win any series, no matter how unlikely the odds – but when your opponent is SK Telecom T1, the odds of executing the dream win-condition is significantly lower.
SK Telecom T1 has won every World Championship they have ever attended and don’t look like they want to stop their trend now. Although SKT may have shown a weak early game in the group stages, they have enjoyed almost a week of preparation since their last game to improve and adapt.
It goes without saying that Head Coach Kim “KkOma” Jung-gyun will have drilled his roster in shape within a short space of time. Having consistently shown amazing late-game performances and after coming back from the bleakest situations, an SKT with a tighter early game is a frightening prospect.
Despite the importance of Misfits acquiring early-game leads, if a match-up features the reigning World Champions, it is never over until the nexus falls.