Worlds Preview: Group A

Worlds Preview: Group A

The World Championship consists of two groups of five teams, but only two from each group can advance to the bracket stage. Group A features some of the most anticipated international debuts -- read on for the rundown.

SK Telecom T1

Entering the tournament as favorites to at least make the quarterfinals, we have SK Telecom T1, the Korean powerhouse who enters as the reigning champions of their region's premier league, OGN Champions. They continued their strong form at the recent Korean Regionals, beating the KT Bullets in a rematch of the OGN Summer finals and grabbing their ticket to Worlds in the process. Led by their charismatic superstar Faker, who is potentially the best player in the world, SKT are by no means a one trick pony, hosting an arsenal of premier talent from every position. With electric team fighting, primarily assassin based compositions, and an immaculate laning phase, SK Telecom T1 are a team that, while not the strongest when it comes to objective control, have the ability to rely on their elite mechanical and skirmishing skills.

While all eyes will be on Faker in the mid lane, the player that you need to keep your eyes on is their AD carry Piglet. Entering the pro scene around the same time as Faker, Piglet is another player that was plucked from the highly competitive Korean solo queue. Blossoming from an inconsistent rookie to one of the strongest AD carries in not only Korea but the entire world, Piglet enters the world stage for the first time with the title of the best Caitlyn player, holding an all-time record of 14-1 on the Piltover Sheriff.

OMG

The LPL Summer regular season champions OMG attained a record of 17-3, but were surprisingly knocked into the group stage by their loss in the Chinese Regional final against Royal Club. Known for their solid fundamentals, strong objective control, and methodical pushing of towers, OMG are a freight train of a team, pushing the envelope at every turn and always making their opponents react to what they're doing on the field. At the center of the team is their linchpin, China's reigning MVP, Cool, one of the leading candidates to have a breakout performance at the World Championship.

With a similar champion pool to Faker's and compared to him by his peers, the clash between the two mid lane MVP's will be a highlighted match in the opening days of the group stages. They did have a deflating loss to Royal in their regional finals, but make no mistake — OMG are one of the most dangerous teams in the entire tournament. Backed by a player who has unlimited potential in Cool and a well-built supporting cast surrounding him, the champions of LPL aren't entering Group A with anything but first place on their minds.

Lemondogs

Moving from Asia to the Western scene, the World Championship will be Lemondogs international debut. After having a whirlwind of a summer season that saw them qualify through the promotion tournament as Sinners Never Sleep, get picked up by the established Swedish organization Lemondogs, and then have a Cinderella regular season in the European LCS that saw them end up in first place, they find themselves in the Season 3 Finals. Made up of five starters from five different European countries, the LemonDogs are the most international team in the competition.

Although they weren't able to defeat Fnatic in the European LCS Summer finals, it would be foolish to count them out in the group stage. As with all teams in Group A, the outcome of their group stage will depend on how their mid lane player can contend with the other topflight players at the position. Nukeduck, their Norwegian mid, primarily utilized play making champions like Twisted Fate, Ahri and Zed in the summer season and will need to continue his strong play if he wishes to lead his team to the quarterfinals.

TSM Snapdragon

From three inexperienced teams who have never been to the World Finals to the most experienced team in the entire competition, the longstanding kings of North America, Team Solo Mid, are here to prove that being a veteran does matter. Having four players who have qualified for all three of the seasonal finals — WildTurtle being the only rookie — TSM are at a crossroads. As the established superpower of North American League of Legends, during the last three years there have been constant contenders to TSM's throne, but no challenger strong enough to take the crown.

With the arrival and emergence of Cloud9, TSM's standing has finally been usurped. Still, with all the drama, talk of new teams taking their spot at the top of the mountain, and how they've never beaten a Korean team, Reginald's team can't be overlooked. As the polarizing leader and owner of the team, this will be the most important tournament of Reginald's career. Matched up against the MVP's of the Korean and Chinese regions, and having to go against two mid laners from a region where mid is prioritized over all others, this will either be Regi's moment to silence all of his critics, or the moment when those criticisms will only become more publicized.

GamingGear.eu

Finally, we have GamingGear.eu. They were underdogs in the International Wildcard Regional, playing against the best teams of the other budding regions across the world. The Lithuanian based team ultimately ended up victors of the tournament, upsetting the favored PaiN Gaming from Brazil in the finals and becoming the most unlikely team in Los Angeles. Now even bigger underdogs against the world's elite, GamingGear are the true wild card of this group. With everyone doubting their placement in the tournament and giving them no chance against the more established teams, we have no idea what to expect them come the group stages.

GG.eu's traditional style revolves around five-on-five team fighting and having their mid lane Mazzerin make big plays, but with their predicament in the group, can they play the same style? They might not have the most star studded line-up or the major accomplishments like the other four teams they'll be matched up against, but with the complete freedom to try and do anything they want with lessened expectations compared to the other four teams in the group, you can expect anything but the conventional from the underdogs of the World Finals.

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