The play-in stage is concluded and the four best teams have advanced to the 2020 League of Legends World Championship group stage, but do these teams stand a chance against the best teams in the world?
This year’s play-in stage has proven to be the most competitive in Worlds history, with wildcard regions showing up and proving that the skill gap is not as big as in previous years.
PSG Talon managed to impress the world by topping group B despite playing with substitutes. Team Liquid was the only team from a major region who lived up to the expectations, as LGD Gaming survived despite a very slow start and MAD Lions was eliminated. Unicorns of Love also managed to impress fans with their aggressive and coordinated play.
Now that the play-in teams have been seeded into groups, it’s time to look at their chances to advance even further into the tournament.
PSG Talon entered the tournament after a lot of troubles with travel restrictions and visa issues, which resulted in them having to use three substitutes for the play-in stage.
The situation was far from optimal for PSG Talon, but they still went into every game with nothing to lose. Being an underdog seemed to suit PSG Talon well, as teams such as LGD and UoL underestimated them.
Advancing as the first seed from group B proves that anything can happen at Worlds, which also means that PSG Talon could potentially make some upsets in the group stage despite being in the tough group B.
PSG Talon will have to face two tournament favorites in DAMWON Gaming and JD Gaming, but they will have their complete roster back. Whether the starting roster performs better than the hodge podge squad seen in the play-in stage is hard to say but with star bot laner Wong “Unified” Kit, PSG Talon can take some wins. With that said, getting past both DAMWON and JDG seems very unlikely.
Team Liquid has been doing well throughout the play-in stage, with only one slip up against INTZ. The North American team was expected to qualify for the main event, but it came as a surprise to many that they managed to do it in such a convincing fashion.
Their most impressive game was the one against Legacy Esports, where the experienced roster managed to take down the OPL representatives in just over 20 minutes. This is the fastest game at Worlds 2020 so far. Liquid also managed to beat the LEC’s MAD Lions without much trouble and are overall looking strong going into the group stage.
Luckily for all LCS fans, Liquid has been placed in the best group imaginable. Liquid almost wound up in the treacherous group B, but instead landed in group A where their chances of advancing to the playoffs are solid. They will have to go toe-to-toe with the likes of G2 Esports and Suning, but Liquid looked strong enough in the play-ins to be considered a threat.
Liquid will have to be consistent to succeed in the group stage. Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen needs to continue his strong play in the jungle and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen will need to hang with G2 star Rasmus “Caps” Winther.
If Liquid manages to get comfort picks, they might end up winning games with their controlled playstyle that punishes over-aggressive play.
LGD Gaming frustrated LPL fans by losing its first two games in the play-in stage and staying alive with two shaky performances. The bad start left LGD with a 1-3 record in the round robin, which meant they would have to win two best-of-five series to advance. Even though LGD started out very slow, the team ended up finding some momentum by sweeping both Rainbow7 and Legacy Esports. The wins secured them a spot in the main event’s group C, but they are not looking as dangerous as expected.
Gen.G of the LCK looks to be the team to beat, so LGD will have to get its teamwork and individual performances together to stand a chance. Fnatic and Team SoloMid will also be able to capitalize if LGD performs as they did in the play-in stage.
An LGD playing at peak performance has a strong chance of advancing, but the team hasn’t shown that level of play yet. The two best-of-five series may have given LGD an edge since the team should be warmed up and ready for serious competition. The two series also brought the team some confidence, which will be key in this tough group.
Unicorns of Love have a lot of fans buying into them after beating Papara SuperMassive 3-0 in the qualification round. UoL went through group B with only one loss but ended up losing the tiebreaker to a strong PSG Talon squad. The tiebreaker loss didn’t really matter, as UoL went to show their real strength in the best-of-five series.
UoL is scary as a unit, led by mid laner Lev “Nomanz” Yakshin who has been popping off in most games. The bot lane duo of Ilya “Gadget” Makavchuk and Aleksandr “SaNTaS” Lifashin has also been looking scary and will be key to UoL’s main event performance.
Top Esports will be a really hard team to deal with, but UoL might be able to pick up wins against DRX and FlyQuest. Both teams have some clear weaknesses, that UoL is good enough to punish.
The CIS region has posted upsets before at Worlds, with Albus NoX Luna advancing to the quarterfinal in 2016. UoL faces an uphill battle, but the team is capable of making the climb.