Fnatic, C9 draw the short straw in Group A – Worlds ’22 Groups Analysis
Now that the play-ins are over, it’s time for us to set our eyes on LoL Worlds 2022 Main Event. With Fnatic joining the party, Group A is bound to be the most explosive group of the year. What can we expect from this “group of death” and which teams will advance to the Knockout Stage?
Worlds 2022 Group A – The West vs East Battle
Group A will feature two teams from the west, Fnatic and Cloud9, and two teams from the east, EDward Gaming and T1. The last three already played against each other a long time ago, back in Worlds 2017. That time, EDG were eliminated. This time, though, the two eastern teams are, on paper, the favorites.
There are a lot of factors that come into play that might completely warp the group’s outcome, but even the most optimistic analysis take pause when seeing LEC’s and LCS path out of this group.
EDG looking hot after Regionals
Between the four, the best team coming into Worlds was EDG. While their LPL Summer Playoffs run wasn’t that successful, they proved their worth in the Regional Finals. Jungler Jiejie’s return to form allowed EDG to find their groove again and they were able to beat RNG. Out of the Chinese teams, EDG is the one with the more conservative and composed playstyle: they mainly play through bot lane, while the top laner Flandre absorbs pressure on the weakside. Scout makes sure to keep the enemy mid laner in check so that the bot lane and the jungler can win 3v3. Thanks to superior mechanics, EDG come out on top most of the time and once Viper gets the gold lead, he will take over teamfights.
Despite the meta shift in the bot lane, EDG will likely still depend on Viper who shouldn’t have problems adapting to the new meta. Jiejie showed the ability to play the new meta champions like Hecarim in the past and the return of bruisers should actually help him be even more aggressive. Flandre will be the weakness to target by other teams since he can occasionally mess up his lane, but the windows of opportunity will be slim. Overall, EDG should be among the two teams that will go to the next stage: whether it’s as the first place team or not, will depend on how the other three perform.
T1 needs to prove they are contenders to themselves first
Years go by but Faker is always here. He is the face of League and if T1 continues to be the most iconic esports team in League’s history, it’s mainly thanks to him. T1 has a completely new young squad that will throw everything they have to bring back the fourth title for the organization. It will be important for the team to get into the top 8, and they must show up, especially Gumayusi.
The Korean ADC has been a distant version of the guy who took the LCK by storm in spring. During and after MSI, he seems to have lost some touch, making more mistakes that have hurt Keria’s playmaking in the process. They struggled against some bot lane domestically as well, so their form will be crucial to the run.
On the other side of the map, instead, Zeus has had steady growth and became the leader in T1’s victories. With the meta switching towards the top side of the map, he can become the consistent carry that T1 needs. Oner and Faker will do everything they can to enable him, but they must have the confidence that the bot lane won’t explode in the process.
T1 is expected to fight for a top-two finish, but the competition behind them might make things really tricky…
Cloud9 keeps getting doubted
Historically, C9 has always been NA’s best hope at international events. Last year, for example, they made it to the top 8 after winning the tiebreaker in the group of death. This year is no different, except that the team is technically even better than 2021’s.
Zven’s roleswap to support has proved beneficial to C9, as he was able to teach Berserker stuff about the ADC role and how the team wanted to work. Having past experience as an ADC, Zven could understand better what issues the former T1 player had and help him fix them in the process. While it wasn’t that clear in the regular split, C9’s playoffs run proved that the decisions were right.
This year’s roster is probably the best one Cloud9 has put together, with the best possible talents in every role. You could argue that Jensen wasn’t the best mid laner, but he was still top tier in NA. Aside from Berserker, the other veterans can count on multiple years of international experience, which will be essential in such a competitive group. It will be a tough ride for C9, but if they make it out alive of Group A, it will be C9’s beat feat in its history.
Fnatic may fall prey to their own comfort
Despite all the issues around the Upset and Hylissang testing positive for Covid-19 and the rumors about the team not scrimming, Fnatic made the impressive run of going 4-1 in play-in and locking their spot at the Main Event. A special shoutout must be made to Rhuckz who proved that the ERL players have the potential of delivering even at the biggest tournament of the year.
Based on their performances so far, Fnatic seem to have already found the playstyle that works for them. With the return of jungle carries, Razork should fit the new meta well, with Humanoid also stepping up so far. While the competition wasn’t of the hardest, it should be an important confidence boost. For a team like Fnatic, who usually relied on Upset to carry, this is the best situation they could be in.
While the team already had some games to get accustomed to playing on stage, the scale of difficulty was not even close to what they face in Group A. If they enter groups confidently they may end up dropping the first round robin and come back in the second, as is Fnatic tradition at Worlds.
In such a group, it’s tough to make the right predictions. I’m expecting to see really close standings, where each game will matter and everything will likely come down to tiebreakers. Having said that, these are my predictions: