The first stage of the League of Legends World Championship wrapped up on September 30, as four teams advanced from the Play-In Stage to the Main Event.
As expected, every match was action-packed and lived up to Worlds expectations. Of course, as always some upsets were expected, however, this time the underdogs really shone, while some favorites crumbled.
For those who missed it, Team Liquid, LGD Gaming, Unicorns of Love and PSG Talon advanced. While that may seem somewhat expected, with the exception of MAD Lions dropping, these teams had some very interesting journeys.
Group Favorites MAD Lions, LGD Crumble
Two of the biggest upsets of the Play-In came in the form of MAD Lions’ and LGD’s massive underperformance.
MAD Lions tumbled out of the event despite being the favorite to win their group at -175 on BetOnline. It was a disappointing event for the young squad, who found just one win in their group against the Brazilian INTZ squad, before falling in a tight 3-2 against SuperMassive in the knockout.
Meanwhile, LGD were practically a lock for their group, as they came in as massive favorites of -10000 to win the group and advance straight to the Main Event. Yes, you did read that right: -10000.
However, they barely survived the groups altogether, losing to PSG Talon, Rainbow7 and Unicorns of Love. They only made it by beating one of the worst teams at the event, V3 Esports, and still had to go to the tiebreaker match.
They did find some form when it came to the best-of-five knockout matches and claimed a spot at the death, but this was the worst performance ever by an LPL team at the Play-In.
Underdogs Bite Back
While the performances of MAD Lions and LGD were quite subpar, the skill of the underdogs definitely didn’t do them any favors.
The underdogs defied all expectations, with every team taking at least one map and producing a few very unexpected performances. Group B was definitely the more shocking of the two, as PSG Talon and UoL topped the group, with PSG winning the tiebreaker to advance straight to the Main Event.
However, even V3 and Rainbow7 managed to turn some heads, as two of the biggest underdogs at the event managed to take some wins. The most unexpected result was R7’s win over LGD, and they also managed to take down the very impressive Unicorns of Love. V3 meanwhile defeated Rainbow7, despite coming in as one of the biggest underdogs and a team many thought would fall flat with zero wins.
Group A saw its own set of surprises, as MAD Lions flopped and Legacy Esports put up a showing no one could have expected. Going into the event, Legacy was tipped to finish dead last.
However, they stunned just about everyone. The team blew through their group, tying in first with the American favorites Liquid, losing out on the straight Main Event placement in a tiebreaker.
With wins against MAD Lions, INTZ and SuperMassive, the OCE squad proved to be the biggest shock of the event so far and no doubt earned many fans as they lost out on a Main Event spot to LGD in the knockouts.
Overall, if you backed the underdogs during the Play-Ins, you could have made an absolute killing.
Which Play-In team can upset in the Main Event?
With four teams advancing to the Main Event, there comes a question: Who can cause some upsets?
To many, LGD would seem like an obvious choice, but considering their performances so far, it’s likely the only upset we’ll see from them is coming last in their group.
Unicorns of Love seem to be the most likely team to do some damage. They play a fairly unique style and are always looking to fight, which can catch some teams off guard. However, UoL are in one of the harder groups, featuring favorite Top Esports, the Korean runners-up DRX, and LCS runners-up FlyQuest.
Regardless, I would expect them to perform well and steal away a game or two in Group C. Even if they don’t manage to win, they’ll definitely play it competitively with a ton of fights, so keep your eyes on the kills props.
There is also some possibility of PSG Talon making some noise, although they do find themselves in the group of death. They’ll most probably be pushed aside by DAMWON and JD Gaming, but it’s possible they take down European third seed Rogue.
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