eSports

The miraculous European run at 2017 World Championship

The European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS) teams may have seen their end to their 2017 World Championship runs in the Quarterfinals but it was quite the World Championship for Europe.

The European LCS has shown that they are contenders in the last two World Championship stages. Last year, H2k-Gaming held their own against EDward Gaming, ahq e-Sports Club, and INTZ e-Sports in the Group Stage to continue to the Quarterfinals where they swept Albus NoX Luna before being swept by Samsung Galaxy in the Semifinals. The year before that, Fnatic and Origen survived the Group Stage and made it all the way to the Semifinals where they swept by KOO Tigers and SK Telecom T1, respectively.

Because of this, it’s hard to think that many, myself included, didn’t expect much from Europe in this year’s Group Stage. G2 Esports was of course an exception with many placing them near Team SoloMid in their rankings. Although, it’s hard not to place Misfits and Fnatic lower in the rankings given that the other teams from major regions just looked more impressive on paper.

The second seed from Europe, Misfits were rookies on the World Championship stage and it was uncertain how they’d perform on the biggest stage of them all. While third seed Fnatic, despite their veterans, had continued to show flaws in their play even in the Play-In Stage.

Misfits’ jungler Maxlore, mid laner PowerofEvil, and AD Carry Hans Sama

Week 1 in the Group Stage was quite the surprise after Misfits finished tied with Team WE and Team SoloMid at 2-1. While G2 Esports just barely kept themselves afloat with a 1-2 record. Unlike their brothers from Europe, Fnatic had a disappointing first week as they finished in the bottom of the table at a 0-3 record.

The first miracle of Europe was to come in Week 2 as Fnatic still had a chance to make it out of the Group Stage but needed so many things to happen. The first thing that had to happen is that the Vietnamese team GIGABYTE Marines had to beat the North American team Immortals to open the day. After this, Fnatic and Longzhu Gaming had to take down both the Vietnamese and the North American team for a three way tie to happen.

Day 5 opened for Group B with the first cog in the comeback machine in place after the GIGABYTE Marines tore down Immortals. Fnatic played their cards right as they took down the two teams despite dropping to 0-4 after a loss to the Koreans, Longzhu Gaming. The Koreans played their role in the comeback as they retained their undefeated streak to open the door even wider for the Europeans in the tiebreakers.

Fnatic took things in their own hands as they took down Immortals and GIGABYTE Marines to qualify for the Quarterfinals to complete the historic comeback. The miracle run was a first in World Championship history as they became the first team to qualify for the Knockout Stage after a 0-4 start.

Unfortunately, for the top European seed, G2 Esports they were unable to secure their spot in the Knockout Stage after they watched Samsung Galaxy and Royal Never Give Up tear the group apart. They didn’t go out without a fight though as they were able to take a game off Royal Never Give Up and deny the undefeated record to open Week 2 of the Group Stage.

The rookies remained. Many had thought of the Week 1 run from Misfits as a fluke. After a loss in the rematch between them and Team SoloMid, this seemed likely. This didn’t spell end for their Group Stage as Team SoloMid fell to Flash Wolves and forced a tiebreaker between the North American Team SoloMid and the European second seed. The European second seed showed that the performance was not a fluke as they took apart the first seed from North America in an epic tiebreaker.

Despite the odds, Fnatic and Misfits had earned their respective spots in the Knockout Stage but a bigger challenge was ahead of them. Fnatic had been drawn to face the Chinese second seed, Royal Never Give Up. While Misfits had been drawn to face their toughest opponent yet, three-time World champions, SK Telecom T1.

Misfits was first up to the plate and what everyone thought would be a walk in the park for SK Telecom T1 turned out to be one of the greatest bouts so far. The rookies had SK Telecom T1 one team fight away from elimination in Game 4 but the hearts of the defending Champions showed as they clawed their way back into the game and ended the series. In the end, SK Telecom T1 took down Misfits’ Nexus a third time and claim their spot in the Semifinals. The quarterfinals was a best-of-five that nobody had expected. An epic bout between the rookies and the defending champions that could’ve made a bigger mark in history.

Fnatic on the other hand seemed like they had a chance against Royal Never Give Up, a team who showed a more refined team fighting style similar to that of Fnatic. Despite good early starts in most of the game in their series, one misstep from the Europeans was all it took for the Chinese second seed to capitalize and close out the games. An epic comeback in Game 3 from Fnatic, denied the sweep but in the end the Chinese team showed better team fighting which booked them for the Semifinals.

It’s been quite the year for G2 Esports, Misfits, and Fnatic and their performances at the 2017 World Championship were nothing short of amazing.

They may not have brought home the Summoner’s Cup but they left their marks in the history books of the World Championship. Europe entered the 2017 World Championship underestimated but made their exit with epic comebacks and unexpected performances that will be talked about for years to come.

 

Photos courtesy of lolesports

 

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