The Main stage events have begun at World’s, with the Play-Ins wrapped up and teams sorted into their groups where they will fight for one of two chances to move onto the next stage in the tournament. Worlds 2018 is an exciting change from the norm without the dynastic SKT, and many new contenders have filled that void for the favourites to win it all. In Group C we have possibly the most tragic of groups for many fans. With heavy fan favourites like KT Rolster (finally) and EDward Gaming in the same group, the tragic reunion that pits multiple ex-teammates against each other, Group C will surely leave fans upset no matter the results. Can KT Rolster carry the LCK banner to victory? Will the LMS second seed prove that there’s more to their region than just the Flash Wolves? The Hope of NA lies with Team Liquid’s star studded super team, but can they succeed where others have failed? And will EDG bring glory and honour back to themselves and their fans after a disastrous Worlds campaign last year?
The year of 2018 has been one where many, many long standing narratives have been rewritten. SKT is not at Worlds, Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao has won something, and KT not only managed to qualify to Worlds, they also won the LCK split. Finally, fans can cry tears of happiness for their team. Now that the organization is finally at Worlds they’re faced with their next challenge: as the first seeds from the LCK, they carry the burden of representing the best of the best, and to defend Korea from the rise of the LPL and RNG. For once the LCK does not look like immortals descended from the heavens to reign over the earth. With China’s progression and maturing as a region, and EU’s ever spunky nature, KT is the LCK’s most assured champion to carry their regions hopes.
To call KT an aggressive team would be an understatement. While it is often joked about that Supports are the babysitters of their team, Cho "Mata" Se-hyeong literally has redefined that identity, often taking Tahm Kench solely to bail his team out of bad situations. What KT’s aggression taketh, it also giveth. KT’s signature style may land them in hot waters often, but it’s also a major contributor to their victories. The team has particularly come to form with Son "Ucal" Woo-hyeon’s rapid progression. The youngest player at Worlds, what some have whispered to as the possibly next Faker, will start his legacy at the international stage in his first year of play. Alongside the career year that’s been Go "Score" Dong-bin’s, finally claiming himself a title after so many years, KT’s setup to have some of the youngest blood in the tournament, and some of the oldest.
MAD Team carry a lot of the history of the LMS against them. The LMS is the Flash Wolves, and everyone else who has come from the region since Taipei Assassins hasn’t proven themselves to be real contenders. But Worlds has always smashed many pundits expectations. MAD are much of the AHQ academy team, alongside their bot lane. The team and their names won’t mean much outside of their region, and that comes with the LMS’ overall reputation too. But their coach, Tsai "GreenTea" Shang-Ching has formed the rag tag team into a mature, macro focused roster that are not to be trifled with. But, they are still considered the outliers in the group.
For MAD Team to show the world that the LMS is deeper than just the Flash Wolves, they’ll have to play around their star player in Jungler Hsiao "Kongyue" Jen-Tso. The great thing about that is, they’ve been formed into a macro heavy team as is, and the Jungle is a position that can greatly influence that aspect of gameplay. If the LMS side can harness that aspect of their play, something that many of their fellow teams in Group C are not particularly known for, they can leverage it into some sneaky wins. Maybe. MAD are still considered to be one of the biggest underdogs in the tournament, and whether they’re even better than G-Rex, the third seed from the LMS, is debatable. They’ve got a lot to prove, but with low expectations they may catch many teams off guard.
A year ago, Team Liquid were at best a middling team in the NA LCS, with no real accomplishments to show for their entire history of being in the league. With the new year brought a complete rehaul of the roster, and much like their fellow Group C-ers KT Rolster, they became the ultimate Super Team. The roster each individually have so much narrative surrounding them: Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong leading his new team to Worlds, Jake "Xmithie" Puchero and attending another Worlds on a new team, and Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng being faced again with the hopes of NA on his back. Can Team Liquid do what few NA teams have done and actually make it out of groups?
While the team itself is a newer rendition, each player has at some point attended Worlds. They’ve dominated much of the NA LCS, but like the Flash Wolves, it’s hard to fully grasp their strength based off of that alone. Their international performances this year have left… much to be desired. So long as the team can avoid imploding like that again, and keep themselves stable, they’re a strong team. Aggressive and decisive, two qualities not often found at the top tier in the NA LCS, Liquid have some of the fastest game times and have proved to be a tyrannical force in the NA LCS when they’re at their best. Their problem is that when they’re not, they can be quite bad. High peaks and low valleys, but Team Liquid is not alone in this fact in Group C. If they can find their stride early over their opponents, they do have the best chance for NA making it out of groups. But it’s still a tall order to fill.
The LPL is known for being a region with high expectations and teams that fail to live up to them, but no fans felt that so hard as EDG fans did last year. EDG, in the opening week of the Main stage lost every game they played, going 0-3. They didn’t make it out of groups, much to the heartbreak of their fans. This year, EDG are back, with a very similar roster to last year, and a more mature outlook. They’ve looked better (barring one game against Infinity Esports) and more consistent. On a quest for redemption, EDG are faced with meeting some old friends in the current KT Rolster roster, and an old mentor in the Top lane. While older fans of the organization will rejoice at some of these reunions, the added stress of having conflicted loyalties will only add to the heartbreaking nature of Group C.
One of the only offseason pickups EDG did was replace their declining Top laner Chen "Mouse" Yu-Hao for the so-called Sword of Cloud 9 in Jeon "Ray" Ji-won. While Ray has had his troubles, he’s been an honest upgrade from Mouse. What more, he’s now got a chance to face off against his old mentor in Impact, the Shield back on their Cloud 9 days. Outside of that, EDG’s usual suspects of Lee "Scout" Ye-chan in the mid lane, who’s proven to become a more reliable mid laner, and the dynamic duo of Hu "iBoy" Xian-Zhao and his babysitter Tian "Meiko" Ye are there to provide the carry prowess. If EDG can make it out of groups this year, they’ll have at least atoned for their sins. If not, there’s something seriously troubling about the roster in its current form then. With the talent and team cohesion that is (or should be) there, EDG have a distinct advantage over both MAD Team and Team Liquid. Whether they can topple old teammates in KT Rolster, and secure that first seed, will require the team to be firing on all cylinders.