The 2016 World Championship has so far lived up to expectations – the opening half of the group stages have thrown up some fascinating games and compelling narratives. The diversity of the champion picks over the first leg have made for some thrilling match-ups – in the right hands, the power picks of Worlds 2016 have the potential to overthrow any opposition. But no team wants to be steamrolled; certain players simply cannot be allowed near their signature champs again.
The unexpected return of the roaming Alistar from the bottom lane, the priority on the playmaking Lee Sin in the jungle and of course, the sheer power of Aurelion Sol – each has single handedly stolen the show at one point during the 2016 World Championship.
Success at Worlds is dependant on a team’s ability to adapt and part of that adaptation process is knowing when to appreciate an opponents strengths and straight-up ban it out of the game. Korea’s first seed and initial favourites for the tournament, ROX Tigers learnt this lesson the hard way.
Without Team SoloMid’s Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg to dig up yet another Aurelion Sol bug, Counter Logic Gaming mid laner, Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun was finally allowed to unleash his fabled pocket-pick for the first, and surely now, last time:
Huhi is not the only pro player to demonstrate a frightful level of expertise on a power pick, many other pros are likely to feel the pain of a target ban over the remaining course of the tournament. Here are just some of the player/champion combination you’ll be unlikely to see throughout the rest of the competition – judging by these plays, perfectly warranted bans!
ROX Smeb: Kennen
Dishing out 5000 damage to champions with three seconds, Smeb showed exactly why people are describing him as the World's best player right now, rivalling SK Telecom T1's Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok for the top spot.
RNG Mata: Alistar
Mata is in most analyst's list of top 3 supports coming into this tournament - what separates Mata from the rest is his ability to change the game completely with his signature pick, Alistar. Mata uses the flash-Pulverize timings excellently. While we expected Uzi to be the star of RNG'S botlane Mata is stealing his spotlight with plays such as this one against Team SoloMid.
TSM Svenskeren: Lee Sin
For the past three season's, Team SoloMid have lived up to the reputation of their name, focussing around Bjergsen and looking to give him a lead. From the jungle Svenskeren fills that role perfectly, and he does it with style. His Lee sin has been on point this tournament, not only by flash kicking people but by synergising with Bjergsen to really wreck face.
INTZ Revolta: Lee Sin
One of the biggest upsets of the tournament so far was INTZ eSports victory over China's first seed, Edward Gaming, thanks in part to Revolta's lethal Lee Sin and his creative plays. Amazing flash kicks and perfectly timed ganks were a defining factor in the Brazilian's win.
SKT Faker: Syndra
Faker is probably the #1 mid laner in this tournament, such is his champion pool that it is almost impossible to ban him out of a game. Syndra, as one of the tournaments strongest picks, might be a champion to keep him away from however... the difference compared to Jensen's cassiopeia was huge. Faker didn't just win the matchup, he destroyed Jensen.
ANX Likkrit: Brand
When a support gets his first assist after lane phase, hell, after the first 20 mins of the game - you know something is either very wrong, or that you've got Likkrit dealing more damage than your carries playing Brand. Likkrit did over 30,000 damage in this game as a support brand - the chances of him getting the burst made again are few to none.
CLG Huhi: Aurelion Sol
Huhi's Aurelion Sol has become mythical - talked up from day one of worlds, despite nobody having seen it. After being disabled for the first two days, the godlike dragon was re-enabled, conveniently for CLG, just in time for their toughest match of the group, ROX Tigers. Huhi put the rumours to bed, going Legendary in the match - only a fool would give him the Sol again...
ANX Kira: Anivia
Kira has been forthcoming in his aspirations to match Froggen's skill on Anivia, before later amending in his ambitions to be "the next Faker". His Anivia play is certainly not far from this level - he clearly knows his champion and his limits.
RNG Uzi: Ezreal
There is a reason why the Uzi/Mata lane is so dominant and considered to be top tier. They synergy shared by the bottom laners, particularly when both playing comfortable champions, is frightening. TSM certainly didn't enjoy the Uzi/Mata show, and feeling the full brunt of one of Uzi's most practiced champions, Ezreal, neither did Splyce.
C9 Meteos: Lee Sin
Honourable mention to perhaps the worst Lee Sin ever witnessed on the international stage.
Countless suicides, awful positioning, sloppy mechanics - watching Meteos play Lee Sin was reminiscent of watching a Bronze V jungler trying to emulate the montage he'd seen on the internet.