The first day of the Group Stage of the League of Legends World Championship was not surprising. That’s day almost a feat in of itself, considering the day included games from every single team and every single group, 8 games in all.
The day opened with one of the most exciting matchups: DAMWON Gaming, last year’s World Champions, vs. FunPlus Phoenix, the winners in 2019. This 29-minute game was the story of DAMWON and their midlaner, ShowMaker. ShowMaker showed off his LeBlanc skills, proving why he was the most played champion this summer, en route to a 6-0-10 performance.
The absolute slaughter by DAMWON showed off the Korean squad’s impressive play, and what would prove to be one of the most important picks of the day, Yuumi. The cat-on-a-book proved majorly influential in the day’s activities, played in four games and banned in another two games. She was the first pick in two of the games she played in, showing how important the pros view her to be.
Later, Gen.G faced off against LNG. It was the first showing at Worlds for the Chinese team that made a miracle run to qualify in the first place and unfortunately, was not the showing fans had hoped for. Gen.G’s BDD bullied LNG’s icon in the mid lane and put the enemy Sylas behind early and often.
There just didn’t seem to be a starting point for the Chinese team, who gave up just eight kills but lost in a game that felt very firmly Gen.G’s from moment one. No amount of effort from LNG could stabilize the game, which ended with just one turret and three kills.
It was a good day for Korea. DAMWON’s win was followed by a win from Hanwha Life Esports, who beat Fnatic. It could have been better, given Fnatic is missing ADC Upset, who they announced on Sunday would not be playing until further notice due to an undisclosed family situation. Still, it was a good start for the team that just got out of play-ins over the weekend.
T1 added to the Korean dominance by claiming victory over DetonatioN FocusMe, the Japanese team that qualified from play-ins last week as the first LJL team in history to make it to groups. They were murdered by T1, giving up 22 kills while getting just two of their own and losing in less than 20 minutes.
One of the most interesting games of the day was World’s first Europe vs. North America match-up. MAD Lions and Team Liquid faced off later in the day, in a matchup that felt far closer than most of the games on day one. The turning point came courtesy of MAD. Team Liquid had overextended in the mid lane late in the game after successfully taking back the lead MAD had taken in the mid.
Liquid was retreating after a failed attempt to attack MAD’s bases gave up a kill. But MAD, especially midlaner Humanoid, went under TL’s turret trying to punish their retreat and ended up getting wiped in a play that handed the victory to the North American team. NA’s lead in their rivalry with EU did not last, however, the final game of the day saw Cloud9 fall to Rogue in the group of death and returned that particular rivalry to a 1-1.
The actual shape of the groups may take form in Day 2. Every team will again play one game, beginning with a Group B matchup between T1 of Korea and EDG of China. That matchup could decide who becomes the favorite to win that group, given those two teams are predicted to make it out.
For now, though, everything is still up in the air. One game can certainly set the stage for how a team will do, but the only thing that proves if those predictions are right is who stands tall at the end and makes the top eight. No matter how good or bad any of these teams are today, eight of them will make it. The only question is whether any of the underdog teams are able to unseat the favorites, or if Korea and China are looking forward at a very interesting playoff bracket.
Featured photo courtesy of above video (DWG vs FPX)