Group B is the 2nd strongest group from top to bottom in this year’s world championships. It features Fnatic, the team that now has the longest win streak in professional League history at 21 straight wins; Invictus Gaming, a Chinese team that has always had the talent but can’t quite seem to win on the big stage; Cloud 9, the team to beat in NA during their first four splits, but then had to fight through the regional gauntlet to even qualify for Worlds; and last AHQ, a Taiwanese team that has been one of the most dominant teams in Taiwan the last two years. All of the teams have the talent and the experience to make a run out of the group stages into the knockout round. It also will be a group where you can expect good fantasy value from multiple positions on each team. However, only two can make it out of the group stage, and these are the two that are considered by most as the favorites of group B!
Fnatic – Fnatic has been around since the 1st League Championship way back in 2011, a tournament that they won. FNC is no stranger to the big stage having competed in the last three Worlds Championships, over 9 international tournaments and every split of the EU LCS. The old FNC featuring xPeke and Soaz has reformed under the banner Origen, but Yellowstar, the only original member of FNC, has built a powerhouse around his consistency and shot calling. FNC is not only a favorite to get out of the group stages, but many have even said they believe FNC could push for a top four finish this year at worlds. They were a dominant team this entire year, but Origen showed that they have some chinks in their armor, taking FNC to a 5 game series in the EU LCS finals. Overall FNC has a top 8 player at every position and a top 5 player at three positions (Top, Sup, and ADC). This team will be one of the more consistent teams to pick when choosing your daily fantasy lineups; they can play fast, methodical, and unpredictable- all of which lead to fantasy points. Huni and Reignover have great synergy and will want to prove they didn’t make the wrong choice coming to EU. Yellowstar has helped Rekkles recapture his former dominance he showed back in 2014, and Febiven has the chops to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Faker himself. This is the Western team that can finally topple the Asian teams for the World title!
Prediction in Group Stage: 5-1 1st place
Invictus Gaming – Invictus is a team from China and they have been around as long as competitive League has been around in China. However, they haven’t been quite as dominant in their region as FNC has been in theirs. If you look through their history the last four years, the most common finish for Invictus is 3rd. That is what they placed in both splits of the LPL this year. They were a team that grabbed two highly touted Korean players in Rookie and KaKao during last splits “great migration.” Rookie has been called Mini-Faker or Faker Junior in some League circles and is a player that can single-handedly turn a game with his mechanical abilities. The same can be said about KaKao who won the MVP of the 2014 OGN season. This is another team who will score fantastically in your daily leagues because of their talent at multiple positions (their bot lane was their weakest spot this season). Invictus has the players to make a deep run, but they haven’t shown that they are anything more than 3rd best in their own region. Many predict them to make it out of the group stage unscathed, but don’t count out the underdogs of group B to make Invictus’ struggle at times.
Prediction in Group Stage: 3-3 2nd place (winning tie breaker)
Now that we have seen the favorites of Group B let’s see who the underdogs are this year.
AHQ eSports Club – AHQ has been the most dominant team from Taiwan the last year and a half; they qualified for Worlds last year and finished 3-3 in group stages just missing out on advancing to the knockout stage. The year before they lost to the eventual champs, Taipei Assassins, in the qualifiers for 2013 Worlds. They are best known for their talented midlaner, Westdoor. He has been critiqued for his weak laning phase and shallow champion pool, but always seems to find a way to become relevant in the mid game and most often is the one carrying in the late game. The other players that have performed well on the big stage are Mountain (Jungler) and Albis (Support). They will not be timid during the group stages which could cause problems for the other three teams. They are an aggressive team that is unafraid to get in skirmishes, which could provide them with enough to gain leads against the favorites of Group B. However, when it’s all said and done it doesn’t seem like AHQ has enough firepower to make it out of this group. Their players will be up and down in your daily fantasy leagues so pick them at your own risk. This will be a team that will make for entertaining games, but probably won’t lead to many victories.
Prediction in Group Stage: 1-5 4th place
Cloud 9 – C9 has been one of the most dominant teams in the NA scene since they joined in 2013. They are no strangers to the world stage or big tournaments competing in the last two World Championships and several IEM tournaments. C9 however started off the split looking like they might not even retain their spot in the NA LCS. Luckily for C9 fans (I count myself as one of them), Hai was asked to step in and take control of the Jungle and help C9 with his shot calling, his leadership, and his desire to make the game fun. After his stepping in, C9 started playing like a fearless team again. They barely got the 7th seed in the LCS which allowed them to compete in the regional gauntlet. They proceeded to reverse sweep two teams and beat Liquid to earn their spot at Worlds. Their struggles are well known. Hai isn’t “mechanically gifted,” Lemonnation gets too creative in champ select, and Balls isn’t elite anymore in LCS or Solo Queue. Despite their deficiencies, they have a knack for beating their opponents. Incarnation has performed much better since Hai arrived and Sneaky has been the consistent carry throughout their struggles and success. With those two carries and the other three providing support, peel, and timely dives, this team could make a splash in the group stages. If we have learned one thing from C9 over the last few years it is A) don’t ever count them out of a game, and B) Hai’s an x-factor with his shot calling and the gambles he is willing to take. Expect Hai, Lemon, and Balls to be feast or famine in their fantasy points, and Incarnation and Sneaky to be high scorers and consistent. Overall, it would seem like Cloud 9 doesn’t have a shot of getting out of this group, but I for one will not count them out until everything is said and done.
Prediction in Group Stage: 3-3 3rd place (lose tiebreaker)
Overall, expect group B to have many memorable moments and games simply because all four teams know how to play under pressure and on the big stage. One can also expect a high amount of fantasy points from this group. Expect FNC to have the highest producers, but all three teams will have players that shine in your daily fantasy leagues.
What do you expect from Group B?