Team SoloMid 1-0 Flash Wolves
North America's Team SoloMid narrowly defeated the League of Legends Master Series region's Flash Wolves in a tense, action-packed, 54-minute game to kick off play for Group D in the League of Legends World Championship Group Stage on Friday in Wuhan, China.
Right from champion select, the pressure was on TSM to make moves, as it gave over the massive scaling tanks of Cho'Gath and Sejuani in favor of lane presence from Gnar and Syndra. While TSM did indeed find early pressure advantages, it failed to turn them into a meaningful gold lead, and Flash Wolves took control of the game with multiple kills, culminating in a 24-minute Baron.
Thankfully for TSM, top laner Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell began to put in real work in the side lanes once he completed his Black Cleaver on Gnar, even winning a one-on-two exchange at one point to come away with a kill. With Hauntzer buying time for his team, AD carry Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng was able to get his key items on Tristana, the only champion on TSM to have a scaling advantage.
What followed was a series of positively nail-biting moments. The teams traded not only kills, but Elder Dragons, Barons, inhibitors and Nexus turrets back and forth for the next half an hour. Viewers saw Hauntzer land a five-man Gnar ultimate, FW mid laner Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang's Corki Teleport into the TSM base to take multiple inhibitors while TSM was distracted at Baron, and FW support Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Jie get off multiple Taric ultimates in a single push. Ultimately, however, the teamfighting duo of Doublelift's Tristana alongside support Vincent "Biofrost" Yang on Lulu proved too much for Flash Wolves to handle, and TSM won a 2-for-0 teamfight at 53 minutes and ended the contest just a minute later.
Team SoloMid sits atop its group for the moment, but it will need to take down the League of Legends Pro League's Team WE at 3 a.m. ET on Saturday if it wants to remain in the No. 1 spot. Directly following that match, Flash Wolves will get a shot at its first win of the tournament against Europe's Misfits.
-- Brendan Hickey
Team WE 1-0 Misfits
Playing in front of the home crowd in Wuhan, China, Team WE made Misfits look incredibly silly Friday as it walked all over the European squad during Day 2 of the World Championships. Misfits may have looked strong domestically during the Summer Split, but none of that seemed to translate to its competition in Group D.
This game was by and large the Su "Xiye" Han-Wei show. The mid laner from Team WE came into his own toward the end of the Summer Split and didn't skip a beat in this series with a 7/0/0 KDA (kills/deaths/assists).
Misfits looked entirely mismatched all throughout the contest, as WE seemed to be able to do whatever it wanted on the Rift. After WE focused on the bottom lane of Misfits for the first couple kills of the game, the Chinese team ceded control to Xiye, who utterly dominated his European counterparts on LeBlanc. Whenever a teamfight broke out, he would find multiple kills seemingly without suffering a scratch. This was true with his triple kill in a big teamfight near the 23-minute mark that led to the game-changing Baron, and it was true with his double kill in the final teamfight that closed out the game. As long as Xiye is playing on top of his game like this, WE will be a major threat.
WE will look to build on this win in a pivotal pool matchup against TSM at 3 a.m. ET on Saturday, while Misfits hopes to get a win against the formidable Flash Wolves in the subsequent game at 4 a.m. ET.
-- Wyatt Lyles
Longzhu Gaming 1-0 GIGABYTE Marines
While the GIGABYTE Marines shocked the world with a surprising and unorthodox win over Fnatic on Day 1, it was taken back down to size by Longzhu Gaming on Friday in Wuhan, China. From the outset, it was clear that Longzhu was no Fnatic, which left GAM floundering in a game that ended up being the quickest game of the tournament thus far.
GAM once again entered the Rift with an outside-the-box strategy, this time including a Mordekaiser for top laner Minh "Archie" Nhurt Tran quickly followed by a lane-swap in shades to a meta long thought to be dead. This kind of play may have worked against a team like Fnatic, but Longzhu was clearly prepared for the shenanigans.
Just three minutes into the game, Longzhu bombarded the bottom lane with pressure and walked away with three kills, completely throwing off the strategy that the Vietnamese squad was bringing to the table. From then on, it was just a cavalcade of kills from Longzhu. It took a full 20 minutes for GAM to even find a kill, but by that point Longzhu was already fully in control of the game and on the path toward an easy victory.
GAM will test its unorthodox tactics against Immortals at 5 a.m. ET on Sunday, while Longzhu is favored to improve to 3-0 when it takes on Fnatic in the next game at 6 a.m. ET.
-- Wyatt Lyles
Immortals 1-0 Fnatic
In a sloppy, back-and-forth brawl Friday, Immortals took down Fnatic in Wuhan, China, as part of Group B competition.
If it wasn't for a heroic effort from Fnatic AD carry Martin "Rekkles" Larsson's Twitch, Immortals might have dominated this match from start to finish. The rest of Fnatic seemed incapable of making plays while Rekkles did what he could to carry his team as Twitch with ambushes from stealth spots on key Immortals members.
Fnatic did well to get Rekkles rolling early, gifting him several kills and using that lead to take down towers, but it got complacent in the mid-game. Immortals took its first Baron buff at 24 minutes and control of the gold lead along with it; at 35 minutes, it grabbed another Baron and used the buff to punch into Fnatic's base.
Rekkles' massive late game damage caused problems, though, and gave Fnatic space to crack open its opponent's base after a series of picks and a Fnatic Baron at 43 minutes. Then, in an attempt to carry his team over the finish line, Rekkles overextended while trying to pick up a kill, costing him his life around 50 minutes. Rekkles might have finished with a 6/1/2 KDA (kills/deaths/assists) for 89 percent kill participation, but that one death was fatal for his whole team: Immortals used the opening to push down the mid lane and close out the game in just under 51 minutes.
Immortals has a matchup with GIGABYTE Marines ahead at 5 a.m. ET on Sunday, while Fnatic will try to pick up its first Worlds group stage win at 6 a.m. ET on Sunday against Longzhu Gaming.
-- Noah Waltzer
Cloud9 1-0 ahq e-Sports Club
After being clapped by the defending world champions on Thursday, Cloud9 bounced back Friday with a big win of its own over ahq e-Sports Club.
Cloud9 had a clear strategy in mind with its early game focused composition, and it capitalized on this in a big way to get its first Group A victory. C9 could have come into this game with its head down after being easily dispatched by SK Telecom T1 on the opening day of competition. Instead, it clearly wanted to prove to the North American faithful that Thursday wasn't going to end up being the norm.
First blood didn't come for Cloud9 until eight minutes into the game, but it certainly was an impactful kill. Top laner Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong rotated perfectly with his Nautilus to grab the first kill and tee up some high early-game damage that C9 rode all the way to a victory. Ahq threatened to gain some ground back with two kills in a quick skirmish in the jungle at 19 minutes, but it was nothing more than a blip on the radar in what ended as a 31-minute Cloud9 win.
This should act as a strong confidence booster for the North American squad, particularly since ahq handled Chinese favorites, EDward Gaming, on Thursday in a relatively shocking win.
It doesn't get much easier for ahq, as it faces two-time world champion SK Telecom T1 at 7 a.m. ET on Saturday. Cloud9 has a date with EDward Gaming right after at 8 a.m. ET.
-- Wyatt Lyles
SK Telecom T1 1-0 EDward Gaming
SK Telecom closed out Day 2 with an incredible comeback win in Group A play over hometown heroes EDward Gaming.
EDward Gaming drafted a strong early teamfighting composition in hopes that it could snowball the defending world champions, and everything went according to plan early on. Mid laner Lee "Scout" Ye-chan seemed invincible on Lucian, picking up first blood and leading EDG in early fights. The No. 1 seed from the Chinese League of Legends Pro League held a 5,000-gold lead at 20 minutes. With Scout posting a 3/0/5 KDA (kills/deaths/assists) for 100 percent kill participation by the 25-minute mark, it seemed like EDG was poised to roll through SKT.
All it took was one incredible teamfight win for SKT led by Wolf and Huni, and capped off by one huge Command: Shockwave from mid laner Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok's Orianna, near the 30-minute mark to clean up his team's massive engage on EDG, and SKT erased what was a seemingly insurmountable 10,000-gold lead. The game went back and forth from there, but SKT AD carry Bae "Bang" Jun-sik and his Twitch stayed out of harm's way during teamfights while pumping in area of effect damage with his ultimate. EDG did what it could, but it simply missed its window to close out the game and eventually ceded control to SKT as the defending champions completed the comeback victory in 44 minutes.
SK Telecom will next take to the Rift on Saturday to square off against ahq e-Sports Club at 7 a.m. ET, while EDward Gaming prepares for Cloud9 at 8 a.m. ET the same day.
-- Noah Waltzer