Worlds Play-In Knockouts – Who’s going to the main event?

After the first four days of exciting action, the League of Legends World Championship will be entering the Knockout Stage of play-in. The top teams of Group A and B, the LEC team Fnatic and the Korean team DRX, have already advanced to the group stage of the main event. Now, the remaining teams of the top four of each group will have to fight for the last two spots. Which are the squads that will join the best 16 teams in the world?

Let’s find out in our play-in knockout stage breakdown.

Image Credits | Riot Games

Worlds Play-in Knockout Stage – Recap

In the current format, the second-place to fourth-place team of each group will be competing in the knockout stage. In Group A, the 4th place team Detonation FocusMe will face the Brazilian representative LOUD, with the winner facing the 2nd place team of the other group, that is the Chinese team RNG.

Similarly, the EU team MAD Lions will first face Saigon Buffalo, with the winner going up against Evil Geniuses on the second day. With that being said, how did the teams perform during the first stage and what can we expect from them?

Play-in teams – EG, MAD and SGB

Evil Geniuses, LOUD and DFM all finished 3-2 in their group, and a three-way tie was made to determine the seeding. Evil Geniuses beat the LJL team first and then LOUD in the second tiebreaker with two very convincing wins on the board. Needless to say that the team earned second place themselves. What’s surprising about the team is that despite the roster change on the ADC position, the team is delivering. Kaori looked solid in the play-in stage and the rest of the team was playing proactively. Aside their loss against Fnatic, the second loss against DFM was more due to a draft gap, which can happen occasionally. Considering that the knockout stage will be in bo5 format, Evil Geniuses should come prepared for the series.

Having said that, it will be more of a matter of who’s going to face EG. MAD Lions and Saigon Buffalo have shown interesting stuff but also major flaws in their own gameplay. On one hand, MAD Lions have been relying on jungler Elyoya to carry them in the early mid game, finding great success even against a team like DRX. Unfortunately for them, their late game has been a complete mess. The team doesn’t seem to have the ability to close out games.

Unless MAD find themselves with a huge gold and exp lead, the LEC representative won’t be able to win games. We saw that during the game against DRX: despite a dragon soul and more than 4k gold of advantage, MAD Lions threw with the Baron Nashor and let DRX comeback and take the game with that single action. Against a team like SGB, it will be vital for them to find cleaner ways of extending their lead without greeding.

On the other hand, SGB have fought hard against the best teams but it wasn’t enough for them. The team glimpses of their peak potential that can go up against the top teams, but the consistency isn’t up to the same level. The VCS is known for pulling out spicy picks but it will likely not be enough against MAD Lions. While SGB can win some games, I doubt they can take three games from the EU squad.

Play-in second bracket – RNG, LOUD and DFM

I was quite impressed with how DFM made their comeback after going 0-2 in the first two matches. They found great success drafting pick comps which allowed them to get 3 consecutive teams. With that being said, I still think that DFM are the weaker team between RNG, LOUD and DFM, which means that they will likely lose to the CBLOL representative.

Speaking of LOUD, they have been a huge surprise so far at Worlds. While many expected them to end in the bottom two, they were able to finish 3rd, beating FNC in the process. Their success was built upon playing great pick-to-fight wombo combo comps, with Amumu and Maokai picked to lock down the enemies. While it’s quite straightforward, it was effective during play-ins. Another positive note is that they are strong at playing aggressively during the early game, which is quite rare for minor regions. One way or the other, they play like top teams, but with slightly worse mechanics, and it deserves praises.

RNG, though, is head and shoulders above both of them. Whoever comes out of the fight between the LOUD and DFM, they will likely lose to the LPL team. After losing to DRX in the opener, RNG pulled 4 consecutive wins, dominating all the teams they faced. They should have an easy time in the knockout stage and RNG will likely advance to the group stage, in group D with Gen.G.