How Albus NoX Luna became a major contender for the World Championship


The Group of NoX; Albus NoX Luna surprise the world with a tear through Group A, stake their claim as a major contender for the Summoner’s Cup.

Call it what you will. LCK bias. Group think. A lack of knowledge of international wildcard teams. Whatever the reason, we, like many, pegged Group A of the League of Legends World Championships as the Group of ROX. That storyline continued through Week 1 of the Group Stage, and was continuing merrily last night. And then the crazy started. Albus NoX Luna knocked off the ROX Tigers, and pandemonium ensued.

An incredible 60 minutes of League

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If you didn’t get a chance to catch yesterday’s Group Stage Day 5, you’re missing a gem. Both ROX and Albus NoX won their first game of the day, setting up a duel between 3-1 teams. We wrote that Albus NoX had a shot at winning the group, but let’s be honest, everyone picked ROX. Sure, Albus NoX could qualify based on their victory over North America’s Counter Logic Gaming, but Rox is the best team in the world. ANX had to be huge underdogs, right?

Albus NoX certainly didn’t play like underdogs. Rox started by immediately banning three champions away from ANX’ star support Kirill “Likkrit” Malofeev. ANX responded with a pretty traditional draft with lots of early-game pressure.

With that pressure, Albus NoX grabbed first blood on ROX mid laner Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng, commonly referred to as ROX’s weak link. They combined an early gold lead with strong, precise rotations to catch the Tigers off guard time after time. It was amazing to watch the international wildcard run the LCK Champions around the map.

Objective control

Kuro made up for the First Blood by pairing with Han “Peanut” Wang-ho for a miracle Baron steal, and ROX’s teamfighting was cleaner through much of the game. But despite a questionable late-game comp, ANX kept up the map pressure and had near-total objective control. One of the most shocking plays was ANX mid laner Michael “Kira” Garmash solo sneaking the Elder Dragon — and getting it!

ANX jungler Alexander “PVPSTejos” Glazkov has been giving teams fits with his aggressive objective sneaks and roams. Doing it multiple times against ROX Tigers, with their typically impeccable vision play, was amazing — especially since ROX knew what to look for. With that control, ANX took tower after tower after tower, all the way to the ROX base.

Befitting the rest of this wild, crazy match, the ending was utter chaos:

What. A. Game. GGWP, Albus NoX Luna!

This is good for LoL Esports

It’s hard to say what the long-term impact of this historic event will be. Maybe IWC teams will get greater respect from the fan base and representation at international events (looking at you, IEM). Or maybe Albus NoX was just one great team, a flash in the pan. Overall, though, their quarterfinal showing should have positive ramifications on the LoL Esports scene.

Albus NoX Luna relaxing before Worlds, courtesy of
Albus NoX Luna relaxing before Worlds, courtesy of /

Albus NoX is compelling television. They’re a quirky group of guys, not afraid to pick crazy champions on the stage and give candid interviews off of it. Their pre-worlds preparation has become a thing of myth: rumor is that unable to get scrims against other teams, ANX players resorted to relaxing and play World of Warcraft.

Over the long term, this sport will be driven primarily on the quality of play, which has undoubtedly risen over the last few years. Preparation is important and the Korean bootcamps are en vogue. On the other hand, the short term is story-driven, an underdog story like Albus NoX will resonate widely.

And don’t forget: their quality of play rose with the rest of the world. They are for real. And it’s good to have real teams with color and character at Worlds.

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