Despite only forming in November of 2014, GE Tigers have become the best team in Korea if not the world. They have won every single series in the first round robin of the LCK, only dropping 2 games to SKT and Jin Air. Each member has performed incredibly well, and all of them would be considered in the top three amongst their position in Korea. They have displayed multiple strategies and possess a very smart pick and ban phase, thanks in part to former Najin coach, Jeong ‘NoFe’ No-chul. Their classic composition was their so called ‘Juggermaw’, where PraY would be on the front line, with Lulu ultimate and multiple shields as his disposal. PraY is the best player at this tournament, a top 3 player in the world and clearly back to his best. He and the Tigers will look to go undefeated in this tournament, with their only real challenge having come at the hands of SKtelecom T1 in the greatest series of the season so far.
A former great organisation, CJ had fallen on hard times. Both Frost and Blaze kept failing to produce the goods, and the merging of the teams did not give many fans cause for optimism. However, they have been a real success story. Space has finally produced the goods at ADC, Shy and Madlife have recovered some of their season 2 form, and Ambition’s transfer to the jungle has gone without a hitch. A poor preseason was blown away with early victories over Najin and SKT, and despite a couple of losses, CJ sits pretty in the top 3 of LCK. With star mid-laner Coco leading the charge, the team looks to catch up with the GE Tigers and return the org to its former glory. A place in the final should be the realistic aim, but CJ will need to find another gear if they want to defeat the GE Tigers.
SK Gaming went over some significant changes after their lackluster performance at Worlds 2014. With two well picked upgrades, namely Forg1ven and Fox, their fans had high expectations. After a dominating 8-0 start, those were met without questioning. Even though SK had to undergo a, and I am quoting Fredy122 on this one, “mini-slump”, they seemingly have managed to overcome it rather quick as they decided the battle for #1 in the EU LCS against Fnatic for themselves. The team went back to their personal objective based style, paired with some occasional highlights on one of the carries, which made them look very scary yet again. Despite their strong performance recently, they will be considered as one of Group A’s underdogs, given their strong opponents. This is their time to prove that they also are an international threat.
North America’s #1 has been placed in Group B, alongside Team WE, CJ Entus und Gambit Gaming. While the group arguably looks easier, TSM won’t have much room for errors. During the last couple of weeks, they have shown a nice combination of teamplay and consistency. Surely we will once again witness many fans chanting the three magical letters repeadetly: T S M, T S M… If anyone from TSM will use this chance to step up against the international competition, it will be the team’s star midlaner Bjergsen. Keep an eye out for the Danish midlane playmaker.
What would IEM Katowice be without Gambit? The Russian team has always delivered at Intel Extreme Masters tournaments. Even though they had a rough time during the last months, they managed to live up to their IEM history in Cologne. Out of nowhere, they showed off with a very nice performance and took yet another IEM trophy home. In addition to the trophy, they qualified for Katowice, which will be way harder to win. Given their recent record in the LCS (and their IEM history), they should by no means be counted out.
One of NA’s past champions also managed to qualify for the IEM after beating the European newcomer team Unicorns of Love at IEM San Jose. While Cloud9 has been struggling at the start of the split, they are fighting their way back to the top again. Recently they've been on fire and managed to get up to the second place in the NA LCS, which just got retaken by CLG in Week 7. Nevertheless, they have some momentum going, which surely is going to be a big factor at IEM.
yoe Flash Wolves
For years the only team of real quality to come out of the GPL was the Season 2 World Champions, the Taipei Assassins, but now there is a new team on the block. Rebranded from Gamania Bears, 4 out of 5 of this lineup participated at the Season 3 World Championship. Led by mid laner Maple, they have ascended to the top of the LMS, defeating the Taipei Assassins and creating questions as to their international ability. A traditionally weak league, the LMS leaders must overcome stiff opposition if they want to advance deep into the tournament. Winning IEM Taipei was the first step, but they face SK in their very first match. Our opponents possess great team synergy and team fight skill, and must not be underestimated at any cost.
When talking of former great organisations, Team World Elite must be at the top. One of the greatest teams ever to play the game, their Season 2 roster will go down in history. But Legends such as Misaya and WeiXiao are long gone, and this roster is a far cry from those great players. At the time of writing, Team WE are in 11th place in the LPL and struggling. Former Samsung Blue jungler; Lee ‘Spirit’ Da-yoon leads the line, continuing his strong performances and attempting to carry his team. Some improved showings in recent weeks give the fans some hope of a good result, but their first game against a surging TSM should be the real test. Everyone who writes WE off forgets that the LPL is a hugely competitive league, and just because domestic results haven’t gone their way, it doesn’t mean they will be push overs in this tournament.
GE Tigers vs Cloud 9
SK Gaming vs yoe Flash Wolves
- This group could be very good for our team, yoe Flash Wolves should be a winnable game, and Cloud 9 are not as consistent as they once were, meaning we have a very real chance to make it to the semi-finals. You can hear about Fox' expectations for the tournament in our interview with him from last week.
- GE Tigers shouldn’t have much trouble with this group, despite both SK and Cloud 9 being strong teams, they are just a cut above.
- The clear underdogs, yoe Flash Wolves could produce an upset or two, but they are unproven in international competition.
- This could be Cloud 9’s chance to really make their mark. It should be between them and SK for the second place in this group, and they will be very stern opposition.
CJ Entus vs Gambit Gaming
Team SoloMid vs Team WE
- This should be CJ’s group to win, letting them get some vital practice in for the GE Tigers. Expect victories over all the teams in this group, although TSM and Gambit may be able to put up a good fight against them.
- A legendary IEM team, Gambit have the ability to produce a great upset. Comparisons to former contests against CJ should be avoided, but this new team looks to have some serious potential.
- Team SoloMid have been gifted a great opportunity to reach the semi-finals of an international competition for the first time in years. They are certainly able to beat WE and Gambit, and could even end up in the final. Playing CJ will be intriguing, for if they are unable to defeat them, the World Championship will appear to be out of reach.
- Everyone is underestimating World Elite. They still have the quality to be competitive, and maybe this is the tournament where the team will click. I still don’t expect them to make it out of the group stage, but I severely doubt they will be as weak as most people expect.
pictures courtesy of intelextrememasters.com
League of Legends Editor at SK Gaming from 10/2014 -
Nerd since 1996 and committed to helping the growth of e-Sports in anyway possible!
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Currently Reading BA English and Sports Science at Loughborough University
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