On Thursday, Group A played their last six games of the group stage. These games would determine which two teams would move on and which would be eliminated. Going into the day, G2 Esports from Europe and Suning Gaming from China were leading the group, with Machi Esports and Team Liquid lagging behind.
On the last day of each group there are six games, as each team plays all three of the other teams. Team Liquid started the day with a loss to G2, which was disappointing considering that they had beaten G2 a few days earlier. Suning had a dominant beginning of the day, beating Machi pretty dominantly before having a surprising loss to Team Liquid.
Machi floundered through most of the day, losing to all three other teams and exiting the tournament with a 1-5 record, their only win-a victory over Team Liquid-in the first-round robin. Going into the second half of the day, Team Liquid managed to beat Suning as well, leaving them with a 3-3 record and a chance going into the final game of the day, Suning vs G2. If G2 won, Team Liquid would get a tiebreaker game against Suning. If G2 lost, Team Liquid would be eliminated.
As the title might suggest, G2 did not play their greatest game of League of Legends ever. It wasn’t the largest blowout in history, but Suning finally showed signs of life after they struggled against Team Liquid. It was a disappointing elimination for Liquid, especially considering that had they not lost to Machi, they would’ve been in a three-way tie with G2 and Suning.
It’s another discouraging Worlds in a row for Team Liquid, though there should be praise given to the team, especially Tactical. In his first Worlds ever, coming off his first true split ever, he performed well and put up some great games. In a region desperately starved for talent, especially in rookies, having a rookie who was capable of a good performance in his first international event ever is a good sign. If he doesn’t completely collapse next year, they could be serious contenders with another 12 months of experience under his belt.
In the end, Suning and G2 will be playing in the quarterfinals next week, though their opponents are still unknown. Suning is the No.1 seed, as they beat G2 in a tiebreaker after their final group stage match. That’s a big boost for the Chinese roster, because it means they might be able to avoid playing a team like TOP Esports or Damwon Gaming in the first round.
Over the next three days, the other six teams will be decided. Six of the 12 teams will go home, and six of the 12 will take the next step towards League of Legends glory as they survive what has been a very intense group stage and make it out of the best of ones. From the quarterfinals on, it’s all best of fives, so one mistake won’t cost you everything anymore.
Looking ahead for the rest of the group stage, the Chinese and European teams could easily be six of the top eight, but they could just as easily collapse and allow the Korean or North American teams to haul themselves over the line. The first four days of the group stage are important, but these last four days are what matters in the end. These days are where legends are made, but they’re also where legends will fall and be forgotten.