Originally posted on lolesports.com by Josh Augustine
Oh, we meet again...
Familiar faces -- not all of them friendly -- abound in Group C of the 2015 World Championship, where everyone's looking for a little payback against old rivals, especially in the mid lane. This group has some of the best mid laners in the world, and they've got scores to settle with one another.
The group has two clear favorites in Edward Gaming and SKTelecom T1, but H2K and Bangkok Titans will be fighting desperately to prove that these two gods can bleed.
■ Top: Gyeong-Hwan "MaRin" Jang
■ Jungle: Seong-ung "bengi" Bae
■ Mid: Sang-hyeok "Faker" Lee
■ ADC: Jun-sik "Bang" Bae
■ Support: Jae-wan "Wolf" Lee
Korea's SKTelecom T1 wants another World Championship. They stormed onto the international scene in 2013 to dominate Worlds and take home the Summoner's Cup two years ago. After a slight stumble that excluded them from Worlds last year, it looks like SKT has fully recovered under the leadership of their new captain MaRin and are ready to make another run at the trophy.
Known for their impeccable vision control, careful strategies, and hyper-carry potential of superstar players like Faker, SKT is often seen as the high-water mark that all other LoL teams must be compared to. And that still seems like a pretty fair assessment to make of the team that dominated the Korean LCK league this Summer with a 17-1 record.
Everyone likes to focus on Faker, but this is an extremely versatile team with huge playmakers in every position. MaRin, Bengi, Bang, and Wolf have all stepped up to save the day when needed.
■ Top: Tong "Koro1" Yang
■ Jungle: Ming "Clearlove" Kai
■ Mid: Won-seok "PawN" Heo
■ ADC: Hyuk-kyu "Deft" Kim
■ Support: Tian "meiko" Ye
It's time for China's Edward Gaming to show what they're made of. They've approached greatness on several occasions, but have repeatedly struggled at key moments. Last year, they won every Chinese tournament they played in, but got knocked out in the Quarterfinals at Worlds. This year, they dominated LPL again, but collapsed in the Summer Split playoffs.
Overall, EDG has showed superb team-fighting and map control while amassing an awesome 31-3-10 record across both LPL regular seasons this year. When they get an advantage, they strike swiftly and without mercy, getting everything they can from it and trying to snowball it into something bigger.
Although everyone on the team earns their keep, their new AD carry Deft is the hero of the squad. He's reliable and dominant, often stepping up to carry the team when they fall behind.
Interestingly, EDG is one of five teams in the world that can say they've beaten SKT this year. They showed cleverness and adaptability when they took down the established kings at the Mid-Season Invitation in May. Those characteristics will be incredibly useful at Worlds, where creative picks and bans can catch unfamiliar opponents completely off-guard.
■ Top: Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu
■ Jungle: Jean-Victor "Loulex" Burgevin
■ Mid: Sang-wook "Ryu" Ryu
■ ADC: Petter "Hjärnan" Freyschuss
■ Support: Raymond "kaSing" Tsang
This is H2K's first trip to Worlds. Heck, this is H2K's first international tournament! The rookie squad skyrocketed through the ranks of the EU LCS this year, but still have a lot to prove on the big Worlds stage.
The thing that makes H2K most special in the EU is their big-picture strategies that prioritize objectives. They outthink and outmaneuver their opponents, happily trading small losses for bigger gains until they've amassed enough of a lead to force their victory.
Their players are strong -- especially bot and mid lanes -- but they rarely rely on their individual mechanics to carry them. Objective trading gave them solid, tangible results against the lower-tier EU LCS teams, but it occasionally looked like a crutch. At times, H2K let their mechanics get sloppy. Those missed Smites and caught-out carries added to a lot of unnecessary losses.
H2K will face tough opponents in this group -- teams that won't make those same mechanical mistakes. They have the strategies and gameplans to keep up with the best teams in the world, but they have to focus on the little things too if they want rise to the level of their more veteran opponents.
■ Top: Pawat "WarL0ck" Ampaporn
■ Jungle: Chayut "007x" Suebka
■ Mid: Nuttapong "G4" Menkasikan
■ ADC: Juckkirsts "Lloyd" Kongubon
■ Support: Sorawat "Moss" Boonphrom
Let's be real. It's unlikely that Bangkok Titans will make it out of this difficult group. But they might surprise you -- and their opponents -- with their hyper-aggressive playstyle.
BKT made an impressive run through tournaments this year, showcasing their downright bloodthirsty personality in each one. While most teams plan their team fights around specific times or objectives, BKT has found success in the element of surprise. They start fights whenever they want, and try to take down prime targets before the enemy team can respond.
Their new support Moss has brought much-needed improvement to the team's tactics and high-level strategies, without compromising that killer instinct. At the core of the team is their mid laner, G4, who does everything he can to draw jungle pressure to his lane and still come out ahead while giving his teammates room to thrive. With all that pressure on him, G4 will need to play perfectly for BKT to have any chance of success.
It will be very interesting to see if BKT's chaos-worshipping can put the much more organized and careful teams in this group off-balance. At the very least, you better believe that they're going to kill as many champions as they can while they're here.
Forget about winning for a minute -- this could be the most interesting group to watch at Worlds just for the potential drama!
Ever since Ryu got outplayed by Faker in a Zed vs. Zed matchup in 2013, he's been looking for a chance to redeem himself and get vengeance. And don't think he's forgotten about it. Ryu already issued a public challenge, saying that he will blind pick Zed against Faker when he plays him at Worlds. Will Faker call his bluff? Will he steal the Zed instead? Will SKT just ban it out? Their match will have the most anticipated champion select of the whole tournament.
The wounds from EDG beating SKT at the Mid-Season Invitational are still fresh. PawN beat down both of SKT's mid laners that he faced, including Faker. This was, unfortunately for Faker, nothing new. PawN has eliminated Faker from five major tournaments -- more than any other player in the world.
And while PawN stayed quiet and humble after MSI, his teammate Deft threw a jab at Faker, saying that his sub was the bigger threat that series.
But when we put egos and drama aside, there's a very clear split between the teams in this group. EDG and SKT are just on a higher level than H2K and BKT. EDG and SKT could very likely end up in the Finals together, but the others are really just fighting over third place in this group.
It's all about that mid lane! All four of these teams have exceptional mid laners that they rely on to get ahead and help carry their team, to varying degrees.
BKT's G4 is the lynchpin of his squad, so he absolutely must succeed. It's slightly less crucial for H2K's Ryu and SKT's Faker, who have other carries that they can rely on early. It's probably least required for EDG, who more often fall onto the back of their AD carry Deft. But, very importantly, all four of these squads are used to their mid laner getting ahead and often use strategies that rely on that.
With so much on the line in mid lane, you can expect junglers and supports to be camped there early and often. On paper, it looks a lot like whoever wins that mid lane will win the game.
There are, however, big differences in what each of these teams do with their laning leads to secure victory. H2K and SKT are more careful and calculated, pressing their advantages slowly and typically trying to suffocate their opponents. EDG and BKT are more prone to action when they get a lead. As soon as they see an advantage, they put everything into taking advantage of it and forcing it to grow.
That should lead to some very interesting clashes in this group between slow order and fast chaos.
Faker is the most respected player in the history of League of Legends. He led SKT through the 2013 World Championships in his rookie year, and now has a wealth of experience backing his god-like mechanics.
Although he's habitually humble, Faker knows that he's likely better than his opponent. So he plays high-skill-cap champions like Zed and Ahri that let him take advantage of his prowess. He will almost always win his lane and it's not uncommon for him to outplay the entire enemy team in a team fight. When he's playing at his peak, no one can keep up with him.
Deft is a rock. When EDG falls behind, they look to their stud AD carry to get them back into contention. And he usually does. In the last match of the LPL Spring Split Finals -- when everything was on the line -- he managed to pull a pentakill out of a losing Baron fight to secure his team the Championship trophy.
He favors champions with skillshots like Sivir, Lucian, and Corki, which let him harass from long range and stay out of danger. Even up close and personal, there are very few ADCs on the planet that can stand up to Deft's incredible skills.
With so much focus on the mid lane, H2K's top laner should have big opportunities to step up and demand an answer from the enemy team. So far this year, Odoamne has alternated between tanky champions like Shen or Gnar and his true love: damage-heavy Rumble.
He's had success in both roles, using powerful ultimates and CC to orchestrate team fights and set up kills for his teammates. But he's also been inconsistent, occasionally making it easy for the enemy jungler to focus H2K's other players.
Odoamne's performance will have a big impact on all the lanes of H2K. If he can put pressure on his lane early, he'll force the opposing teams to send resources to top lane or risk letting him grow into the carry threat EU has learned to fear.
G4's job on BKT is usually to beat the opposing mid laner and force the gank pressure to his lane to give his teammates room to breathe. The amazing thing is that he's so good mechanically that he typically succeeds, often still coming out ahead in 2v1 situations.
This group gives G4 an incredible chance to prove himself. He'll be facing arguably the two best mid laners in the world, and if he can manage to keep them contained in lane, he'll give his team a huge advantage going into team fights.
Bengi melted face with Lee Sin during the Season 3 World Championship. Beyond sweet ward hopping and face-kicking skills, he had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and thinking several steps ahead of his opponent.
Lee Sin has fallen out of favor this year, but Bengi is still finding ways to be in the right place to pick a fight with Evelynn and Rek'Sai.
We've talked extensively about how this group will likely focus a lot of attention mid lane. That's nothing new for Bengi. He's spent his entire career playing with Faker -- a lightning rod for ganks from teams terrified he'll scale out of control.
Bengi knows the right times to support his mid laner, and the right times to threaten other lanes. Expect him to play a big part in keeping all of SKT's lanes ahead.
With all the talk about Deft, it's easy to forget that EDG has someone on the roster who's already won the World Championship. The mild-mannered PawN is in the debate for the title of best mid laner in the world, and has repeatedly proven to be Faker's kryptonite in competitive tournaments. He might be the only player to walk into Group C with full confidence of winning his lane.
Originally famous for dive champions like Fizz and Nidalee, PawN has grown an impressively deep champion pool that now lets him play anything from a melee assassin to a long-range zoner. He's not afraid to try new things if he thinks it's a counter, and has plenty of uncommon picks like Veigar and Lux to pull out.
On paper, this looks like the easiest group to predict who advances. SKTelecom T1 and Edward Gaming are favorites to win the entire tournament, while H2K and Bangkok Titans can be proud of just getting to Worlds.
Which of the two juggernauts will actually win the number one spot in Group C is a much more debatable topic. EDG famously beat SKT at the Finals of the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational, so recent history gives them an advantage. They had counterpicks ready for Faker's favorite champions and scraped out an upset against the heavy favorites.
But those counterpicks won't work a second time, and EDG has looked shaky during the post-season. They dropped out of the Chinese Playoffs and had to fight their way in through the Regional Qualifiers.
On their best days, SKT and EDG are in a league of their own and the victor between them could be decided by a coin flip. But we give the slight edge to SKT for their recent consistency under pressure.
1. SKTelecom T1
2. Edward Gaming
4. Bangkok Titans
Now that you've seen our prediction, go make your own with Worlds Pick 'em! Check out our other Worlds breakdowns of Group A, Group B and Group D.
Josh Augustine's favorite champion is Gnar, he's never enjoyed a Darius, and he will always go for the kill, even when he knows he shouldn't. He currently works as a game designer on EverQuest Next at Daybreak Games. He’d love to talk with you on Twitter.
BKT Photos from Toan " HuongGGG " ThienAnh