Cloud9, the only remaining team from North America, could not have asked for better than this matchup. Gen.G is far from a bad team, but they struggled even in a Group D that looked at time very odd, barely scraping out a win over MAD to even be a first seed. Compared to the other first seeds, like defending world champions DWG KIA, Gen.G has been undeniably weaker.
It’s a good matchup for Cloud9, the team with the lowest record in the groups who made it to the quarter final stage. Cloud9 had a brilliant final day in which they beat Rogue and FunPlus Phoenix, as well as keeping a game with DWG incredibly close. This might be the closest quarterfinal of the bunch, a fitting conclusion to the stage that also features much more skewed, at least on paper, matchups.
My prediction: Cloud9 in a close 3-1. I think the first game really determines this one and I expect Blaber to come out with some crazy nonsense that will either win it or lose it for the North Americans. This time, I think it’ll win.
The Bad: LPL vs LPL
It’s already been a tough year for the LPL. The team that was predicted to be top three, FPX, was eliminated in last place from the group of death after a humiliating final day of play that saw them lose to both Cloud9 and Rogue. That leaves the powerhouse region with just two teams, Royal Never Give Up and EdWard Gaming, who finished first and second from groups C and B, respectively.
Now, those two teams find themselves in a head-to-head in which only one can advance. Only one LPL team will be in the semifinals this year, and will look to repeat what Suning did last year in making the grand finals. At the same time, it does go both ways; China can not be eliminated in the quarter finals stage. One of those two teams will make it. They get another week as a region, even if one of those teams doesn’t.
EDG and RNG haven’t played each other in a best-of-five series since the spring playoffs in the LPL, where they played in the lower bracket final. That series went a full five games as EDG eventually fell 2-3. RNG would go on to win both the LPL spring playoffs and MSI later in the spring, when they faced off against DWG in the finals.
My prediction: RNG in five. EDG has also looked very good, but the RNG of this tournament has been next level and while it’ll be an incredibly close one, I think they’ve got the extra experience to get over the line.
The Ugly: MAD vs DWG
If Cloud9 has the best matchup they could ask for, MAD has the worst.
To be fair, MAD did play against DWG at MSI, they did take them to a game five, and it wasn’t the worst series MAD has ever played. At the same time, this is not the same MAD Lions as spring; they looked generally worse in the LEC, and their group performance sometimes left a lot to be desired. Considering how well Europe has done at Worlds in recent years, only getting one team to the quarterfinals is already a disappointment, and this matchup is not going to make it better.
MAD did show up on the last day of groups. They beat LNG and Team Liquid, and then beat LNG again in a tiebreaker. They even stayed alive for a while against eventual group winners Gen.G in the tiebreaker for first seed, though they did eventually fall. But this is DWG who look as good as they’ve ever looked, who 6-0’d the group of death. They weren’t all perfect wins, especially on the last day, but they won.
MAD has two paths to victory: either play so far above their group stage level that they can match the group stage level of DWG, or hope DWG just falls flat on their faces. Neither is impossible; we’ve seen far stranger at world championships before and European teams eating top tier teams wouldn’t be a new phenomenon either. G2 did it when they beat RNG in 2018, and then again when they beat DWG and then SKT in 2019.
This is a real chance for MAD. If they’re able to perform on the Worlds stage, then they can cement themselves as something more than a good regional team. They can earn a little of the kind of praise G2 and Fnatic tend to get, of teams who performed for Europe on that stage.
What’s truly interesting is that it’s possible to have a semifinals with all of the major regions being represented. It’s also just as possible to have one with no western teams, a return to Korean dominance like we haven’t seen since SSG and T1 did battle in 2017’s finals.
My prediction: DWG in three. Maybe four, if MAD comes out with something special in one game, but this DWG seems unbeatable and I expect them to continue their undefeated streak.