The 2019 World Champions are nearly upon us, so we’ve rounded up a collection of professional analysts and coaches from around the world to help set some expectations for the event.
Our participants are:
- Nelson Sng, coach of the LPL’s LNG Esports
- Brendan “Loyota” Schilling, pro analyst formerly of Team Liquid, Immortals, and more
- Cody “Avin” Gerard, pro analyst formerly of Rogue and Roccat
- David “Hermes” Tu, pro coach with LCS experience
- Tim “Magic” Sevenhuysen, founder of OraclesElixir.com and Head of Esports Data Science for Esports One
I asked each participant to make a prediction in the following categories:
Most likely to exceed outside expectations.
Loyota: Damwon Gaming
Damwon enter Worlds with a solo lane-focused team and a bot lane who don’t give up many kills when not receiving resources. If Damwon can tune up their play around the strong side of the map and continue emphasis on mid/jungle picks that synergize, they can make an impression this tournament.
Nelson Sng: Fnatic
I think Fnatic are one of the best teams in the world, and if they manage to play similarly to the way they did against G2 in the LEC playoffs, they will go far. Additionally, if the meta shifts and the champion picks favour Bwipo and Nemesis, Fnatic will have a chance to win the whole thing.
Avin: Damwon Gaming
DWG are getting the least attention of the all Korean teams but are the ones who might benefit most from the current meta. Strong, carry top laners are high priority, which fits Nuguri’s playstyle. Early-game junglers are dominant as well, meaning LCK Summer Split MVP Canyon is set up for a big performance too.
Hermes: Clutch Gaming
Exceed expectations? I’m not quite sure what the expectations are for Clutch, but there’s a lot of value in going through Play-Ins. Their early game and mid game transitions are good. If they dig deeper into more compositions that reflect their style, they’re going to ramp up and get through both group stages. Don’t sleep on their carries (Huni, Damonte, Cody Sun).
Magic: Invictus Gaming
I was honestly unimpressed with iG’s performance in the regional qualifiers, but they possess so much talent that anything could happen if they bootcamp well, start the event off strong, and build a wave of confidence to surf on. By no means do I consider iG a favourite to win the event, but as an out-of-left-field dark horse candidate, they’re compelling.
Most likely to fail to meet outside expectations.
Since many teams have 5v5 focus with bot laners as their leads for the early game, C9 may find themselves struggling unless they figure out what they want to do with Licorice. Mid and jungle strength will not be enough vs. the talent of players at Worlds.
Nelson Sng: J Team
Regardless of all the hype in their talented solo lanes, these players are no match for the teams in LPL/LCK/LEC and TL/C9. I think the LMS is in a really terrible state right now. Hopefully the last worlds for LMS as a region won’t be a heartbreaking one.
Avin: SK Telecom T1
SKT have consistently overperformed when it has counted this year, especially during the summer split, where they had to run the entirety of the gauntlet-style LCK playoffs. Betting against a Faker-led team is always a risky proposition, but I think Worlds will be the place where this run snaps.
Hermes: Funplus Phoenix
As LPL’s first seed, some think FPX are a strong contender to take it all. I think they will fall out in the first best of 5. They may cruise through the group stage with their tactics, but with enough preparation, Crisp and the bot lane can be contained, and Doinb’s exotic champion pool won’t cut it.
Magic: G2 Esports
The expectations for G2 are to win the entire thing. Anything less than the Summoner’s Cup, or at least the Finals, will be an “early exit”. G2 has more volatility in their play style than I’m entirely comfortable with, and I believe their opposition will be better prepared for them than they were at MSI. Don’t get me wrong, G2 are a great team, but I think G2 will end up underperforming and exiting the event in SFs or QFs.
Top three candidates to individually dominate the tournament.
Loyota: Jankos, Nuguri, Jackeylove
– Jankos isn’t afraid to make hard reads on the info available and usually finds success.
– Many top laners live without resources, but Nuguri excels in lane. He will be able to grow his own advantages without interference.
– Jackeylove is one of the best ADCs and many teams only 5v5, his specialty.
Nelson Sng: Doinb, Karsa, Perkz
– Doinb has unique champion picks and is main focal point of FPX.
– Karsa is the best jungler in the world.
– Perkz is the best overall bot lane player in the world.
Avin: Caps, Canyon, Doinb
– Doinb is a superstar and finally gets to showcase his skills at World’s and for one of the world’s top teams.
– Caps is surrounded by stars on G2, but he seems the most likely to be the standout for the European superteam.
– Canyon was LCK’s Summer MVP, and with Damwon as my surprise team, he feels like a natural fit here.
Hermes: Faker, Caps, TheShy
Mid/Jungle talents are coming in hot this tournament. I’d make cases for Faker and Caps as MVP Candidates when considering who’s backing them up (Clid and Jankos). Look no further than LCK Finals to see what SKT’s mid/jungle can do.
A final nod goes toward TheShy from Invictus. Top lane meta will be different on the Worlds patch, and I fully expect TheShy to be on top of the changes for carry-oriented champs.
Magic: Teddy, Tian, Perkz
– Teddy benefits so much from the work put in by Faker/Clid, and if they pop off, Teddy will shine very visibly and garner a lot of MVP attention.
– If FPX go all the way, I expect Tian to be at the heart of their success.
– G2’s candidate could be Perkz, Jankos, or Caps if he really comes online, but I’m predicting Perkz because G2 will have to beat several very strong bot lanes if they want to win the tournament.
Who will be in the finals, and who will win?
Loyota: G2 defeat FPX
G2 comes into worlds with top talent and most importantly, being a very adaptable team both in champ pool and in-game. FPX are similar in this way except they have more defined strategies. The deeper the tournament goes, the better off G2 is with their flow of playstyle.
Nelson Sng: G2 defeat FPX
I expect G2 to win because I believe their champion flexibility is unmatched worldwide, and in matches between top teams, ban pick can make a huge difference (unless Grabbz ints draft of course!).
Avin: FPX defeat G2
Both teams dominated their own leagues throughout the year, and I see their Worlds performances as being no different. While international inexperience may cause FPX some issues, once they get their feet under them they will be the strongest team at this tournament with enough talent to out-muscle even the super team of G2.
Hermes: SKT defeat IG or G2
This one is so hard! So many contenders! I think there’s going to be an upset in the Semis. If I had to guess who’s taking it home, it’s probably SKT. They have the least volatile of all the play styles coming into the tournament. I want to say they face G2 in the Finals, but I think G2 is going to be upset by a team in the Semis. Which team? Maybe Invictus. I’d look forward to that rematch.
Magic: SKT defeat RNG
I’m putting a lot of faith in SKT’s mid/jungle duo to carry them through Worlds. After a very rough start to the Summer split, Clid figured things out and got back on the same page with the rest of his team, and Khan has rounded more into form, as well. If the upward trajectory holds, then I believe SKT’s discipline will win out against the Chinese and European aggro machines. Who will they face? Very hard to say, but I picked G2 for an early exit so I’ll slot RNG in here.
Anything the analyst thinks has a good chance to happen that might be shocking, surprising, or unexpected.
Loyota: Clutch Gaming make it to Knockout Stage
While CG have very defined strategies, they went through several best-of-fives to see what works against them. With time to pick up new champions, add more flexibility towards their play, and a Bo1 format in the group stage, where fallback strategies help greatly vs. surprise strategies, CG have a real shot at getting to the Quarterfinals.
Nelson Sng: Very clear separation between top- and mid-tier teams
Splyce, Clutch and the three LMS teams will only beat each other and will go winless otherwise.
Avin: Clutch Gaming make it to Knockout Stage
Clutch Gaming have the talent to give any team a tough matchup. Huni, Damonte, Lira, and Cody Sun are all players who usually look amazing when ahead and horrible when behind. If they’re on form, they can beat anyone. If they aren’t… Well, then I’m going to look really stupid.
Hermes: Quarterfinals will have a huge upset (maybe FPX)
There’s going to be a tremendous upset in Quarterfinals that’s going to kill a lot of bracket predictions. I’m banking that FPX drop the ball. Fun fact! Doinb has never played Ekko in competitive play. Not saying it changes my prediction, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he pulls it out in this tournament.
Magic: Team Liquid finish top 4
Almost nothing would really surprise me at the top end of this tournament. Anything could happen, from an all-Korean/Chinese top 4 to an all-Western top 2. So I’m going out on a limb and guessing that Team Liquid will reach Semis, though I think they’ll need beneficial draws for the group and bracket stages and the tournament of a lifetime from Xmithie to pull it off.