The first round-robin of the 2020 League of Legends World Championship group stage concluded Tuesday with a couple of decisive wins and a few upsets.
The biggest upset of the day in Shanghai came from Group A, where LCS third seed Team Liquid (1-2) toppled the previously undefeated LEC first seed, G2 Esports (2-1) in 34 minutes. Unlike Liquid’s first two games, in which they were passive early, they were proactive this time, picking up first blood just over a minute into the game on a delayed red buff invade. From there, Liquid dictated the pace for the rest of the game through star mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen’s Orianna.
Jensen was a monster this game, posting a 10/2/10 KDA (kills/deaths/assists) for 83 percent kill participation. He had plenty of help, however, especially early on. Jensen’s lead was built on the back of support and former world champion Yong-in “COreJJ” Jo’s Sett, who was brilliant in early roams and mid ganks. With CoreJJ setting the table for him, Jensen feasted on G2’s weaker mid-late game composition and helped pick up North America’s second win of the Group Stage.
The other North American teams that competed on Tuesday failed to pick up wins. LCS first seed TSM (0-3) got blown out by LPL fourth seed LGD Gaming (2-1) in just under 37 minutes in Group C action.
This game was doomed for TSM from the start after bot laner Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng blew his Flash early and died in a bottom lane 2-vs.-2 a minute into the game. TSM didn’t really have an avenue back into the game after that, with LGD outskilling and outhinking TSM while TSM midlaner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg’s LeBlanc failed to convert on several assassination attempts. TSM looked lost as they fell in 37 minutes, and now must win every game on Saturday to have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stage.
NA’s other representative didn’t fare much better as Group D’s DRX (2-1) dominated Flyquest (1-2) in 30 minutes. Despite FlyQuest jungler Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen picking up first blood five minutes in, DRX held a gold lead throughout the game, stemming from DRX’s aggressive early game draft. FlyQuest’s team composition required perfect execution to dislodge DRX from the driver’s seat, which is not what took place.
FlyQuest managed to pick up scattered kills and objectives up until the 19-minute mark, where support Dong-geun “IgNar” Lee’s Pantheon used his ultimate to dive into the heart of DRX, dying and roping his teammates into a losing 3-for-1 teamfight. From that point on, the game was over as almost everyone on DRX had a gold lead over their counterparts, cruising to the 30-minute win.
While NA continued to struggle, the action across the rest of Tuesday’s slate played out in a somewhat predictable fashion. LPL first seed Top Esports (3-0) took down the LCL’s Unicorns of Love (0-3) over in Group D. TES drafted for early action and snowball potential and got it from nearly every lane as Top forced UoL into several skill check matchups.
In particular, TES top laner Jia-Hao “369” Bai’s Jax was a monster, finishing with a 10/3/5 KDA while splitpushing and doing practically whatever he wanted. TES bot laner Wen-Bo “JackeyLove” Yu put up another impressive Senna performance, finishing with a 4/2/19 KDA good for 85 percent kill participation and going untouched throughout most of the late-game teamfights. Top Esports cruised to a 32-minute win and all but guaranteed a spot in the knockout stage.
Back in Group A, LPL third seed Suning (2-1) finished their first round-robin with a win over the PCS first seed Machi Esports (1-2). Suning jungler Quang Duy “SofM” Le was explosive as Nidalee, with flashy plays and clean objective control all but shutting Machi out of the game after 18 minutes, when Suning picked up two kills, two towers and a Rift Herald. SofM’s maximum efficiency style has turned heads in this worlds and helped Suning earn a tie for first place in the group with G2.
Finally, LEC second seed Fnatic (2-1) took down the previously undefeated LCK third seed, Gen.G (2-1) in a bizarre 28-minute game. Gen.G support Jeong-min “Life” Kim made the decision to run Ignite and Exhaust as his summoner spells for massive early game aggression, forgoing the almost universally required summoner spell Flash. Fnatic was quick to punish this, sending multiple multi-man dives to the bottom lane to build up a 1,000 gold lead at just five minutes in.
From there, Gen.G found occasional moments of brilliance, like their four-for-one teamfight win at 12 minutes, but those couldn’t overcome Fnatic’s ironclad lead. With a strong late-game team composition that could punish Gen.G’s weak frontline, Fnatic rolled over Gen.G in the latter’s base, taking the win in 28 minutes and forcing a three-way tie for first in Group C.