Worlds 2017 – Gigabyte Marines: Greater Expectations

The Gigabyte Marines made waves at the Mid-Season Invitational when they took Team Solo Mid to 5 games in the Play-Ins.

They lost the series, but beat Supermassive for a spot in the Group Stage. GAM ended up winning 3 out of 10 best-of-ones against TSM, G2 Esports and Team WE. For a wildcard team, it was impressive. They exceeded all our expectations.

That GAM however, is no more. Top laner Phan “Stark” Công Minh and ADC Nguyen “Slay” Ngoc Hung left, and the team had to adjust going into Summer. Seasoned veteran Minh “Archie” Nhựt Trần switched roles from Support to Top.

Yet, that in itself is a complicated statement because while GAM recruited a new top laner and duo bot lane, they still flex Archie. This man of many talents may start at top, sub in for mid laner Trần “Optimus” Văn Cường or replace rookie support Phan “Sya” Trung Toàn depending on drafts.

Credit: LoL Esports

Fortunately these roster swaps did not affect GAM’s results. They again claimed the national Vietnamese and Southeast Asian regional title in summer, repeatedly sweeping opponents 3-0.

Now that the revised roster has proven themselves, what lies ahead at Worlds 2017? Since GAM managed to beat major league teams from the NA LCS, EU LCS and LPL at MSI, are we expecting them to do the same? Will they be able to take games from Immortals and Fnatic in Group B? Or cause an upset against Longzhu Gaming?

GAM’s performance at MSI had already set up expectations. Now that they’ve made it to the biggest international stage possible, they also find themselves sitting in the shadow of last year’s wildcard team.

Against all odds, Albus Nox Luna from the CIS region defied gravity, jumping out of groups over and above Counter Logic Gaming and G2 Esports at Worlds 2016. They even defeated top Korean team the ROX Tigers in one game, utilizing early aggressive moves that can throw off established teams.

With Likkrit’s trademark support Brand, ANX went against the meta. They played their own game which got them out of groups. GAM too showcased their bold, brisk and at times, forceful style at MSI which likewise helped them advance.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

The only difference is, the GAM now is not the same as the hyper-aggressive GAM at MSI. Roster changes seem to have led to strategic shifts as well. Star jungler Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh is compared to 2016 ROX Peanut for being a ‘battle ward’. He stays true to his role, spending time in the enemy’s jungle without setting up early vision, but the story momentarily stops there.

More often he would gank top lane early, burn the opponent’s flash, then return for a repeat gank. Once top takes care of itself, Levi works with Optimus to pressure mid. All this while, bot lane is left to farm up as Levi draws the opposing jungler’s attention elsewhere. Once top and mid lanes gain momentum, the 4 or 5-man collapse at bot lane begins.

Perhaps through a combination of meta and roster changes, GAM’s early game onslaught has simmered down. However as it is still a team fighting meta, their willingness to fight, overreach and dive turrets still occasionally escapes. Lane assignments are not always clear, which could either surprise seasoned opponents, or start a snowball of bloodshed for the Gigabyte Marines.

One thing’s for sure this Worlds – we’re all in for a wild ride with GAM’s potential to cause more upsets and surprises.