Ashton’s Thoughts: World’s group draw promotes chaos this year

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So…I’m sorry Rogue?  

Last Tuesday, I wrote a column discussing how the groups at this World Championship could prove to be a little on the more volatile side. The promotion of the PCS’ first seed, PSG Talon, allowed for a little more flexibility and the chance for some odd groups especially given North America no longer has a team picked first. 

And well…Odd is what we’ve gotten, and it comes more than a little at the expense of Rogue, the third seed from Europe. They’ve gotten what is absolutely their worst-case scenario; a group with defending world champions Damwon and 2019 world champions FunPlus Phoenix.  

There’s no possibility of having a group that is more of a group of death. To make it even worse, Cloud9 would have this group as one of their two options if they make it through the play-ins, cementing that this could legitimately be the worst group of death in World Championship history. 

However, it gets even worse for Cloud9 as Group C, the only other group without a North American team is already the only group without a Korean team. That means all that has to happen to lock Cloud9 into the group of death is HLE making it through to the main event. They would have to go into Group C, which would leave A as the only remaining option for Cloud9. 

Group two, headed by EDward Gaming of the LPL, is a little more strange. The group added 100 Thieves, which is not a team expected to be that successful, from the second seeds and then T1 from the LCK. This group has two teams who are exceptionally good, but it also has the weak 100 Thieves and, if the favorites win the play-ins, would also get Beyond Gaming. 

That group is really only a group of death for two of the teams. EDG and T1 will likely do just fine, but them losing to either of the other teams in their group would certainly come as a surprise, so there should be no question of them advancing.  

And, yet, in all of these scenarios, all of these ideas of what will happen are based entirely on the “favorites” and them doing what they’re expected to do: win. In 2018, Cloud9 squeaked out of the group of death past Vitality and a failing Gen.G who won only one game, against C9. Last year, MAD Lions failed to make it out of the play-ins and Unicorns of Love from the CIS’s LCL league.  

This year, MAD has escaped having to go near the play-ins, but none of the major region teams are Safe. HLE struggled massively this season and just making it to Worlds is more than they could’ve asked for. Likewise, LNG qualified on a serious playoff run and has yet to show longevity in their play, nor have they had to adapt to changing patches.  

Cloud9 was poor over the summer, barely managing to stretch over the finish line to qualify and not showing the same kind of cohesion and strength that got them through the spring split as the best team in North America. Considering they couldn’t even make it to top four then, they need to focus on play-ins before on whether or not they’re going to be doomed into Group A.  

Every year, the minor region teams get better and better and as we saw last year, they can make a real impact. A strong impact. This year, they could build on that success; these are not the strongest major region teams. And these are not the weakest minor ones, not with UOL back, not with a Beyond Gaming roster that took PSG to five games. 

These groups already prove that this World Championship will be an intense one. Perhaps the only thing that could make it crazier would be if some or all of the major region teams don’t make it again.  

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