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Final tiebreaker: Fnatic 1-0 GIGABYTE Marines
After eight hours of League of Legends World Championship Group B action, the playoff teams from this group are finally set. In the second of two tiebreaker games Thursday, Fnatic broke through with a win over the GIGABYTE Marines in Wuhan, China, to move on to the quarterfinal stage.
Coming into the day, no team had ever managed to overcome an 0-3 record to break into the playoffs. Fnatic (4-4) did just that with an impressive showing Thursday to continue its Cinderella run at this year's Worlds. The Europeans lost their first game of the day against Longzhu Gaming (6-0), but then rattled off four straight victories to make the playoffs.
GIGABYTE (2-5) decided to forgo the fancy picks and strategies it had used throughout the early group stage in favor of a more balance draft and approach, and the change seemed to work out early on. As the game progressed, both teams jockeyed for position, but despite starting the game in a huge three-death hole, Fnatic top laner Paul "sOAZ" Boyer came on strong in the late game to help push his team to the win. Right behind him was AD carry Martin "Rekkles" Larsson with his normal strong performance to push Fnatic into the playoffs.
For as happy as Fnatic surely is with this win, GIGABYTE is likely equally upset with its performance to end its run at Worlds. After winning the first game of the day against Immortals (2-5), GIGABYTE lost three straight to miss the playoffs. At the end of the day, the off-the-wall strategies from GIGABYTE just couldn't stand up to the veteran presence of the other teams in this group.
Tiebreaker: Fnatic 1-0 Immortals
After four losses in four games Thursday, Immortals has been eliminated from the League of Legends World Championship in Wuhan, China.
Fnatic showed up to play in the first tiebreaker, which came to be after Immortals failed to secure wins against GIGABYTE Marines, Fnatic and Longzhu Gaming earlier in the day.
Against all odds, Fnatic, which started the day winless, has made a turnaround that few could have seen coming. After going 0-3 in the first week of play, it has now gone 3-1 over the course of Thursday and is now just one game away from breaking into the playoffs. That alone is an impressive feat, but what's more impressive is how much it dominated this game over Immortals.
Immortals jungler Jake "Xmithie" Puchero used his Ezreal jungle pick to lock up the first blood and make it look as though North America would pull it out after all, but that proved to be one of just two kills his team picked up in the 27-minute loss. Fnatic proceeded to own every phase of the game from then on, even picking up an inhibitor just 22 minutes into the game. The Europeans are at their best, which makes its match against the GIGABYTE Marines in the final tiebreaker all the more interesting.
Despite showing such promise over the first week of groups, Immortals looked lost Thursday. A single win was all the team needed to avoid tiebreakers altogether, but the team couldn't find one. The hope of North America now rests on the shoulders of Cloud9 and Team SoloMid.
-- Wyatt Lyles
GIGABYTE Marines 1-0 Immortals
GIGABYTE Marines upset Immortals in a fast-paced game Thursday to begin the final day of Group B action during the League of Legends World Championship at the Wuhan Sports Center Gymnasium in Wuhan, China.
The North American hopefuls, Immortals, were expected to come out of Group B as no worse than the No. 2 seed, with GIGABYTE Marines projected for a distant last-place finish. However, you wouldn't have guessed those results from watching Thursday's action.
The Vietnamese team's calling card may well be its scrappiness as well as its unorthodox lineup choices, both of which were on display in the pivotal pool play victory. GIGABYTE brought out an early game composition, highlighted by an Urgot for top laner Trần "Archie" Minh Nhựt, to counter Immortals' hyper-scaling composition. Immortals fell behind early, even through a gank-gone-wrong that led to mid laner Eugene "Pobelter" Park's Ryze being gifted first blood. The Marines turned massive solo lane farm leads into objectives to compensate for the low amount of kills through the first 20 minutes of the game, and GIGABYTE catapulted itself into the lead.
Immortals' chances to win the game were practically zero after allowing GIGABYTE to essentially take Baron for free near the 26-minute mark. A desperate misplay by Cody "Cody Sun" Sun's Kog'Maw only illustrated Immortals' execution problems throughout the game, as the AD Carry died in a vain attempt to slaughter GIGABYTE instead of retreating following giving up the buff. It only took a few more minutes for GIGABYTE to close out the game, forcing a tie with Immortals for second place.
-- Dylan Sen
Game 2: Fnatic 0-1 Longzhu Gaming
Fnatic could not pull off the upset over Longzhu Gaming and lost its opening game of Week 2 pool play to fall to 0-4 so far in the Worlds group stage.
As expected, Longzhu Gaming came out on top against Fnatic to pull within one win of earning a guaranteed first seed in Worlds playoffs. Despite its loss, Fnatic did show some signs of life in the game and lasted 31 minutes against one of favorites to win the entire tournament.
Fnatic came out strong, ganking mid early to earn the first kill of Longzhu mid laner Kwak "Bdd" Bo-seong's Ryze of Worlds 2017. Both teams traded blows throughout the first 20 minutes, but Longzhu came out on top due to proactive map movements to funnel gold into its carries.
Longzhu managed to build a sizable lead going into the mid-game and capitalized on its advantage by securing Baron near the 26-minute mark. Methodical play by Longzhu came to its peak in a teamfight in the top side Fnatic jungle. Fnatic nearly won the fight, but massive damage from the scaled Longzhu AD carry Kim "PraY" Jong-in's Kog'Maw pushed the edge in favor of the Korean powerhouse. Soon after taking the teamfight victory, Longzhu cruised into the enemy Nexus to pick up its fourth consecutive win and in the process put Fnatic on the brink of elimination.
-- Dylan Sen
Game 3: Fnatic 1-0 Immortals
Following losses to start the day for both teams, Fnatic found its first victory of pool play.
Fnatic managed to keep its playoffs hopes alive by taking down Immortals, who entered Thursday seemingly primed for one of the top two spots in Group B. Following a tough loss to Longzhu Gaming in the match before, Fnatic finally got on the board.
The execution issues Immortals faced in its previous matchup against GIGABYTE Marines continued into the early game against Fnatic. A misplayed mid lane gank from jungler Jake "Xmithie" Puchero's Ezreal resulted in Fnatic jungler Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen's Rek'Sai earning first blood. A relatively calm early game segued into Fnatic finding kills to gather a mid-game gold lead. And then a quick Baron take near the 25-minute mark set the stage for Fnatic to take its first game victory at Worlds.
Staunch defense from Immortals allowed the team to wrestle the lead back from Fnatic. Following a sneaky Baron take later on in the match, Immortals looked poised to take the game from the European squad, until a bottom lane fight turned into an ace for Fnatic. That kickstarted a frantic race to the Immortals base, with Fnatic just barely managing to knock down its opposition's Nexus before being killed off itself.
-- Dylan Sen
Game 4: Longzhu Gaming 1-0 GIGABYTE Marines
Will Longzhu Gaming ever lose a game at Worlds this year? The GIGABYTE Marines had the No. 1 seed from Korea dead to rights at multiple points throughout this topsy-turvy contest Thursday, but Longzhu wouldn't be denied yet another pool play win.
GIGABYTE came to the table with another off-the-wall strategy, this time featuring a Rengar pick for jungler Đỗ "Levi" Duy Khánh and a Zilean for support Phan "Sya" Trung Toàn. While it didn't give the Vietnamese squad first blood, the team came out ahead of multiple early and mid-game fights to take a sizable lead over Longzhu. It looked as though GIGABYTE was finally hitting its stride with these off-meta picks and strategies, but Longzhu had other plans.
Just when it looked like it was all over for Longzhu, the Korean juggernaut pulled a clean ace out of its hat at 34 minutes in its own base, putting a halt to Gigabyte's push and flipping the game on its head. From there, Longzhu strung together multiple teamfight victories to keep GIGABYTE from gaining any more momentum in this tenuous late game. Slowly but surely, Longzhu would complete the rally, thanks in part to a critical Baron buff and Elder Dragon accumulated over the course of a chaotic final 10 minutes.
-- Wyatt Lyles
Game 5: GIGABYTE Marines 0-1 Fnatic
With its tournament lives on the line Thursday, Fnatic came up big with a dominating victory over the GIGABYTE Marines at the 2017 League of Legends World Championship in Wuhan, China. From the very start, it looked as though GIGABYTE were completely outmatched by the European side in the quick, 30-minute contest.
After a dreadful first week in which Fnatic lost each of its first three games in pool play, the team won two of its final three games to keep itself in the playoff race. GIGABYTE tried to get inventive once again with the second top lane Urgot pick of the day to go along with a Kayn in the jungle, but Fnatic was having none of it. The Europeans picked up a kill just 50 seconds into the game after GIGABYTE once again bit off more than it could chew with an early skirmish. From that point on, it was the Paul "sOAZ" Boyer show as the Fnatic top laner put the team on his Cho'Gath's back.
Usually when you hear Fnatic dominated a game, the first player you think of is undoubtedly AD carry Martin "Rekkles" Larsson. The fact that sOAZ was able to take up that mantle shows just how much Fnatic has progressed from Week 1 to Week 2. Fnatic desperately needed another win condition outside of the perennial ADC, and it certainly found that condition in this game. By game's end, sOAZ had a 6/0/9 KDA (kills/deaths/assists).
-- Wyatt Lyles
Game 6: Longzhu Gaming 1-0 Immortals
Immortals had one last shot to clinch a spot as the No. 2 team out of Group B but again came up short against Longzhu Gaming in Wuhan, China. Longzhu has shown time and time again that it is one of the best, if not the best team, at Worlds, and this game was no different.
The final game time may have come out to almost 51 minutes, but make no mistake, Longzhu had full control of this game at just about every moment. With both teams drafting standard compositions as opposed to the flashy picks of some of its pool peers, it was sure to be a pretty drawn-out battle. Immortals made it a bit interesting with some respectable kills in the early game, but Longzhu recovered easily in the late game with decisive teamfight wins and a Baron secure that eventually led to the win.
While Longzhu is certainly happy to walk away from groups with the flawless record, Immortals has to be feeling a bit down about its performance not just in this game, but on the day as a whole. It isn't over just yet, as the second seed from this group will come down to tiebreakers. Immortals will face Fnatic in the first tiebreaker. The winner of that game will move on to face GIGABYTE to determine who will join Longzhu in the playoffs from Group B.