As Worlds 2017 approaches, the groups for the inaugural Play-In Tournament have been decided.
With many teams unfamiliar to fans outside of their region and few cross-region events to gauge the strength of their champions at Worlds, the tournament is likely to contain many upsets and surprises.
After previewing Group A previously, we now turn our attention to what should be one of the most competitive groups in the Play-In Tournament. Featuring the third seed from the North American League Championship Series, the group also includes the champions from Brazil (CBLOL) and Oceania (OPL).
With the combination of the three, Group B should be the group to watch. CLICKON eSports takes a look at the group, providing a bit of insight into the teams and making our predictions.
GROUP B: Cloud9, Team oNe eSports, Dire Wolves
Cloud9 enter the Play-In Tournament as victors of the North American Regional Qualifiers for the third straight year. After finishing second in the Spring Split, Cloud9 took a significant step back in the Summer. Despite this, Cloud9 was able to overcome Counter Logic Gaming 3-1 and secure their fifth straight trip to the World Championships.
For Cloud9, the focal point in their strategy has revolved around their mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. An MVP candidate during the Summer Split, Jensen has favored lane dominant champions and Cloud9 is very quick to funnel resources through him.
Alongside Jensen, AD Carry Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi had a standout performance in the Regional Qualifier. Bearing this in mind, it is likely the success of Cloud9’s bottom lane that will determine how far they advance in the tournament.
A split ago, nobody would have predicted Team oNe’s run to the CBLOL Championship. Formerly known as INTZ.Genesis, Team oNe finished 3rd in the second stage of the season. After PAIN Gaming upset INTZ in the semi-finals, Team oNe was able to convincingly claim the title with a 3-1 series victory.
Many of the Brazilian teams in the past at Worlds have looked to their jungler as a focal point for their success, and Team oNe are no different. Following in the footsteps of INTZ’s Gabriel “Revolta” Henud, jungler Alanderson “4Lan” Meireles will have to have a strong tournament for Brazil to have a chance at continuing their streak of appearances in the Group Stage.
Unlike Brazil, where many fans would argue the strongest team in the region did not win the title, the Dire Wolves of the OPL were clearly the strongest team of the past year. Finishing with the best record in both Splits and also securing first in both Playoffs, Dire Wolves has been a dominant force domestically.
In the Play-In Tournament, it is likely we will see multiple aggressive compositions from the Dire Wolves. Not afraid to push the pace of the game with jungler Shern “Shernfire” Tai, Dire Wolves will need a strong performance from their Split 2 MVP mid laner Richard “Phantiks” Su or they will see their hopes of advancing crumble quickly.
— LG Dire Wolves (@direwolvesgg) September 2, 2017
1.Cloud9 2. Dire Wolves 3.Team oNe
For Cloud9, this is their group to lose. Although there are likely to be multiple upsets in the round robin, Cloud9 has both the strongest roster and coaching staff in the group.
Cloud9 brings a roster that has a huge advantage in international experience over the others in the group. Jensen should be able to excel against both of his counterparts in the group, and Cloud9’s superior team fighting should propel them forward to the next round.
Although the OPL has consistently underachieved on the international stage, this can be the Tournament where Dire Wolves is able to make a breakthrough. Team oNe benefitted greatly from PAIN’s upset of INTZ in the CBLOL Playoffs, and are not as strong of a contender as many of the Brazilian teams of the past.