The 2019 League of Legends World Championship Knockout Stage kicks off on Saturday with two exciting matches. Rookie team Griffin will go against defending world champion Invictus Gaming. On the second series of the day, LPL champion FunPlus Phoenix is facing Fnatic.
The Knockout Stage is a single-elimination best-of-five disputed on October 26 and 27, live from Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, Spain.
The opening match promises to be a banger. Griffin is the new team on the block, as the rookies rocketed to popularity and took the LCK by storm. There were many doubts around Griffin coming to Worlds, as the team dismissed their head coach and were coming off a defeat in finals versus SK Telecom T1.
Griffin’s run through the group stage was a statement. They were not weaker without Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho behind them and they were not to be underestimated. G2 Esports was on the receiving end of Griffin’s brilliance. The rookies took down the Mid-Season Invitational champions twice on the same day and claimed first place in Group A.
Invictus Gaming also had many questions around them. After a disappointing result at MSI and a rocky end of the season in the LPL, iG came into the tournament as a completely different team. The team no longer shows as much confidence, taking whatever success they can find.
iG is still a strong contender, and against Team Liquid they proved their ability to snowball out of control after one good play. The team is slowly getting back to the dominant giant they used to be.
In the match between the newcomers and the defending champions, Griffin has the advantage. The stats speak for themselves, as Griffin is ahead of iG in every aspect of the game. Overall, Griffin was the second team with the most gold per minute in the entire group stage, and Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong was the third in the most kills in one game. Griffin had the highest gold difference per minute and the players had some of the highest KDA records.
The only stat where an iG player surpasses its Griffin counterpart is in kill participation. Song “Rookie” Eui-jin has the highest kill participation percentage with 74%. That number reflects Rookie’s tendency to roam around the map and play for the team.
The key players of the match will be junglers Tarzan and Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning. iG will have a difficult time taking the games if only Rookie’s doing the job. On Griffin’s side, Tarzan can carry and enable his laners through the game, so the defending champion needs its jungler Ning to be at the top of his game if they want a shot to take the Summoner’s Cup again.
The second series of the day is one of the closest ones on paper in the Knockout Stage. FunPlus qualified for Worlds after an outstanding season in the LPL. Despite not being the most recognizable or popular brand from China, FunPlus is a proud team that can represent its region well.
FunPlus molded its style around mid laner Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, who likes to roam and snowball his lane advantages into other lanes. The players work as a unit and even when their moves don’t make sense to the people watching from the outside, the team remains on the same page. The LPL side takes the experimental drafts a step too far sometimes, and that could hurt them in the series against Fnatic.
Fnatic had to defeat its biggest demon before qualifying for the Knockout Stage. Once again, Royal Never Give Up was the opponent, and this time, Fnatic was ready to win. It was a dramatic game where Fnatic did everything in its power and a little bit more besides. Fnatic upset RNG and claimed the second seed from Group C.
From a statistical point of view, none of this team has an advantage over the other. These teams like to fight and make moves across the map to help the side lanes. The junglers play closely with their laners and the supports have a strong presence on the map as well. It will come down to the execution and how well each team can predict the opponent.
While FunPlus that can pick anything in the mid lane, Fnatic has a more limited champion pool, so the team can’t go too creative in the drafts. They need to find the best composition to make Martin “Rekkles” Larsson shine in the bot lane and help Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek shut down Doinb mid. It will be a battle of discipline, and whoever keeps it together the longest will come out victorious. Fnatic still has the momentum in their favor and can take the series, just like they took RNG down before.
Only two teams will advance from this bracket and they will meet in semifinals. The Knockout Stage officially starts on October 26 at 5 am CST, 12 pm CET. Fans around the world can watch on LoL Esports Site, YouTube, or Twitch.