2016 World Championship: Group stage analysis and odds


The group stage of the 2016 World Championship will be filled with amazing games.

This past Saturday, Riot Games hosted their 2016 World Championship Group Stage draw, placing 16 teams from across seven regions around the world into four groups. The top two teams from each group will move on to the quarterfinals. With the groups settled and the stakes higher than ever, it’s time a step back and assess the dynamics of each group and how teams will respond to their group surroundings.

North America's 2nd Seed, CLG
North America’s 2nd Seed, CLG /

Group A:

ROX Tigers (Odds of winning Worlds: 4 to 1)

The runner-up at the 2015 World Championship, ROX will be looking to build upon their first LCK title on their quest for the 2016 Summoner’s Cup. Needless to say, they are one of the front-runners for League of Legends’ holy grail; their all-star lineup features LCK MVP Smeb in the Top-lane, kurO in Mid-lane, and and PraY on AD Carry. Newcomer Peanut has been an unstoppable force in the Jungle, demonstrating exceptional proficiency on AP skirmishers such as Nidalee and Elise to the tune of a combined 35-3 record on those two champions. Meanwhile, in the bot lane, GorillA has solidified himself as a rock solid support, especially when playing tank champions such as Alistar and Braum, combining with PraY to form one of the world’s most formidable bot lanes. The ROX Tigers should have no problem dispatching with the relatively soft division that they have been placed into, and it would not be a surprise to see them finish the group stage unscathed.

G2 Esports (Odds of winning: 15 to 1)

Coming into the World Championship as Europe’s number one seed, G2 Esports looks like Europe’s best hope for making it through the group stage. The mid-season addition of dynamic bot lane duo Zven and Mithy rejuvenated the team after a miserable Mid-Season Invitational showing that saw Europe lose its top seed at the World Championship. Jungler Trick, recently crowned the EU LCS MVP, could be the difference maker in pushing G2 ESports over the top and into the quarterfinals.

Counter Logic Gaming (Odds of Winning: 20 to 1)

CLG’s impressive second-place showing at the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational might have started a trend of North American relevancy on the International Stage, with North America’s representatives looking stronger than ever this year in League of Legends’ sixth season. However, it may not be CLG that ends up furthering that trend.  The team went through turbulent times in the summer split and finished fourth in the regular split, and fourth in the playoffs. Some have blamed their struggles on a changing meta, while others have pointed to the regressions of Mid-laner Huhi and AD Carry Stixxay. It’s going to take a revival of CLG’s signature map pressure and unselfish, team-focused playstyle that granted them so much success earlier in the season to mount a successful bid for the quarterfinals against the likes of G2 and ROX.

Albus Nox Luna (Odds of Winning: 50 to 1)

The little known team from the Russian Federation slots in as the fourth and final team in Group A. Little is known about Albus Nox Luna on the International stage, but that might precisely be the reason that they find some success against their opponents in the group stage.  The team qualified for Worlds via an underdog best-of-5 victory against Lyon Gaming in the 2016 International Wild Card Qualifiers. Their highest-profile player, mid laner Kira, has proved himself capable of matching up against the very best, having partook in the 2015 All-Stars event.  Look for Albus Nox Luna to play around Kira, who has enjoyed great success on control-style mages such as Anivia.

Flash Wolves roster
Flash Wolves roster /

Group B:

Flash Wolves (Odds of Winning: 12 to 1)

The Flash Wolves come into the World Championship having the undesirable reputation of being the weakest top-seeded team. Most of this perception has come by virtue of the Taiwanese LMS region being widely considered as one of the weakest regions overall, but if the Flash Wolves can replicate or even exceed their quarterfinal berth from last year’s World Championships, then perhaps other regions will have to re-evaluate. The roster has stayed remarkably intact from last year’s Worlds appearance; returnees Karsa, Maple, NL, SwordArt, alongside addition MMD in the top lane, will be out to add to the Flash Wolves’ impressive international resume. The team does have to deal with the unfortunate placement of SKT T1 into their group, widely considered to be the true front-runner in Group B. However, if history is any indication at all, the Flash Wolves did best SKT at the Mid-Season Invitational, and also defeated fellow group B rival Cloud9 at 2015’s IEM Katowice.

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SKT Telecom T1 (Odds of Winning: 3 to 1)

Despite their late season doldrums, SKT is still SKT. Faker is still unquestionably the best player in the world and has an impressive supporting cast again this time around. AD Carry Bang, flanked by support Wolf, can carry games just as hard as Faker. Duke has performed admirably in his inaugural campaign as SKT’s top laner. The biggest question mark on the team will be their Jungler, Blank, who has often been punished early-game for playing too brashly, and has had some difficulty establishing synergy with Faker.  Only time will tell if SKT has worked out the teamplay kinks that plagued them in their late season and playoff mini-slump, but given their record of preparation for major events, it would be foolish to bet against them.

I May (Odds of Winning: 15 to 1)

I May qualified for World’s via LPL’s Regional Qualifiers and have come a long way since their induction into the professional scene earlier this year. Rising from the ashes of Edward eSports – then under the management of Edward Gaming – the team has managed to qualify for the World Championship in just their first split, anchored by captain and top lane veteran AmazingJ who played in the 2015 World Championship under Edward Gaming. This team has overcome tremendous odds on their path to World’s, so look for them to be the dark horse in this unsettled group.

Cloud9 (Odds of Winning: 15 to 1)

Cloud9 will make its fourth appearance at World’s, slotting in as North America’s third seed after winning the North American Regional Qualifier. Cloud9’s World’s berth comes at a fortuitous juncture, with the team putting up a strong display against Team SoloMid at the NA LCS Finals, and having exhibited superior laning presence as of late. In particular, Impact has been instrumental in guiding the team to its late-season success, with the former world champion earning solo kills on lane opponents seemingly left and right. The matchup between Impact and his former team, SKT, will also be an exciting one to follow. Cloud9’s mid to late game strategy leaves much to be desired, but in a laning-centric post 6.15 patch environment, they have all the necessary tools to make some noise at the World Championship.

EDG at their MSI victory
EDG at their MSI victory /

Group C:

Edward Gaming (Odds of Winning: 6 to 1)

Perennial contender Edward Gaming comes into World’s as one of the few non-Korean teams having scored a victory on the International stage, winning the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational. They’ve become the most easily identifiable team coming out of the LPL for fielding the most gifted players at their respective positions from top to bottom. Noticeable names include veteran Clearlove in the jungle, and Season 4 World Championship runner-up Deft as the AD Carry. EDG blew past all competition in the LPL Summer Split, earning a perfect 16-0 record and sweeping RNG in the playoff finals, and come into World’s looking like a serious contender.

AHQ (Odds of Winning: 20 to 1)

A year removed from their loss to SKT in the 2015 World Championship quarterfinals, AHQ will seek to take advantage of a relatively weak division – Edward Gaming aside – to advance through the group stage. Back in the LMS, AHQ has been locked in a power struggle with Flash Wolves and J Gaming (formerly the Taipei Assassins) to prove regional hegemony, but two consecutive finishes in second and third place have weakened their clout among international teams. The ceiling for this team is high, but they’ll need to perform to guarantee a spot at the quarterfinals.

H2K (Odds of Winning: 25 to 1)

H2K come into World’s as Europe’s second seed despite failing to place higher than third in either the Spring or Summer Splits. Many will point out that H2K’s World’s berth has to do with preseason favorites Fnatic and Origen severely underperforming in the Summer Split, but H2K will be out to prove their skeptics wrong. Their hopes of advancing through the group stage may ride on their AD Carry, Forgiven, who has undergone a tumultuous tenure with the team. If the team can coalesce around their star AD carry, or even mid laner Ryu, who has proven to be a capable carry in the past, then they may have the potential to play spoiler.

INTZ e-Sports (Odds of Winning: 50 to 1)

Representing Brazil as an international wild card team, INTZ will be bringing fresh blood and talent to the world stage. INTZ e-Sports, which was conceived in 2015, qualified for World’s by beating Turkey’s Dark Passage at the International Wild Card Qualifiers in a tightly contested 3-2 set. The team has been notable for their fast-paced, aggressive playstyle, but will need to show constraint and adapt a balanced strategy if they are to have any success at World’s.

Team SoloMid in action
Team SoloMid in action /

Group D:

TSM (Odds of Winning: 6 to 1)

After all of the years of disappointment on the international stage, this year’s version of Team SoloMid finally looks like the real deal. Coming off the heels of a resounding 17-1 Summer Split regular season, and a relatively seamless run through the playoffs, TSM look to make it out of the group stage for the second time ever. Star mid laner and NA LCS MVP Bjergsen stars atop of a team of both veterans and inexperienced players. Perhaps most intriguing to watch will be how the newest members to the professional scene – Biofrost, and less so Hauntzer – will be able to handle the pressure of a major international competition. It was Biofrost’s replacement of Yellowstar in the beginning of the summer that served as the catalyst for TSM’s newfound success, leading to a Rookie of the Split award for the newly christened TSM Support. His laning partner, Doublelift, will look to prove once again that he is deserving of being mentioned as one of the premier AD Carries in the world. In any case, expect TSM to make it out of the group stage, but complicating things will be their placement into this year’s “Group of Death,” with RNG and Samsung Galaxy expected to be contenders.

RNG (Odds of Winning: 15 to 1)

Boasting the likes of players such as Uzi, Looper, Mata, mlxg, and xiaohu, RNG on paper looks like a star-studded dream team. In reality, the team has struggled through much of the summer and were defeated in a resounding 3-0 fashion by EDG in the LPL finals. They have all the potential in the world to be competitive among the best, but being placed in the most daunting group means they will have to rebound from their recent disappointing play.

Samsung Galaxy (12 to 1)

Samsung Galaxy subverted everyone’s expectations in the LCK regional qualifiers by defeating KT to become Korea’s third and final seed at World’s. As with all Korean teams, this squad is not to be underestimated.  Despite finishing sixth in the spring and fourth in the summer, this current iteration of Samsung is the best the team has looked since their 2014 World Championship victory. It would be no surprise to see the team make a run at World’s, given the depth of talent on their roster.

Splyce (Odds of Winning: 40 to 1)

Just games from being relegated from the EU LCS in the spring, Splyce has stormed back to make the World Championship on the heels of their 3-2 victory over Unicorns of Love in the regional qualifier. The nascent organization will have its hands full with the herculean task of competing with TSM, Samsung Galaxy and RNG, but if jungler Trashy can perform like he did during the playoffs, Splyce definitely has the potential to take games unexpectedly. However, they’ll need to shape up their early-game and clean up late-game gaffes that plagued them during the playoffs in order to do so.

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