Worlds just finished its first week of group stage. Keeping in mind that the following observations are coming from a Bronze 1 player dreaming of making Silver but constantly thrown into ranked matchups against higher MMR players, which means only losing 15 LP per match but you still keep sinking when you keep losing and losing because your team falls apart against the mildest pressure—
- I'm surprised by NA's performance so far (all three teams are 2-1), but at the same time there's nothing shocking about it given how it's happened. The surprise with TSM is that they're not 3-0, but Misfits is one of those teams that seems like it has a painfully low floor with a ceiling higher than most people realize, so if they push towards that ceiling they can do something like beat TSM. Immortals thumped Fanatic and Gigabyte and lost to Longzhu, which is chalk. C9 beat EDG, but if that was lucky, it was lucky because they caught EDG last. Speaking of which...
- It's hard not to feel bad for EDG on a pure storyline level. Yeah, I like NA and I want to see them do well, but just like it would have been fun to see NA do better last year when Worlds was in the U.S., a better result for the Chinese teams would turn their matches into real sporting events. The noise level in the place when EDG was stomping SKT was serious.
- I didn't watch the first two TSM games too closely, so I took the analysts more or less at their word when they said the team looked sharp. The first ten minutes against Misfits is like... same team Y/N? I know early games are wonky for lots of good teams, but blurgh.
- Korea is Korea. There's a lot of analyst chatter about SKT in particular showing weaknesses and questioning the need to rely on a miracle engage to win a game from a huge deficit, and they're not wrong—if they get in that position again, the unlikely engage is even less likely to happen because teams are going to be hyper-aware of what can happen if you're sloppy for a moment. But no one else makes that play. Korean teams are capable of things no one else currently is. Part of me wants Samsung to get knocked out in groups, then for SKT and Longzhu to meet in the semis, just so a non-Korean team is in the final, but then you just have a situation where the semifinal is the real final. Better for the sport if a non-Korean team has to beat a Korean one to make the final.
- By the way, the odds of Samsung getting knocked out are still pretty slim. They would have to lose to both G2 and RNG—not impossible—then G2 needs to either beat RNG or face Samsung in a tiebreaker and beat them a second time in the same day. My Worlds pick'em has G2 finishing second in the group, but I knew that was a sketchy proposition and it's proving true.
- I'm coming around on the Bo1 idea for NA LCS. 'Phoenix 1 beats TSM' is far more exciting than 'Phoenix 1 takes a game off TSM'. Running Bo3 more fully ensures the best teams finish at the top of the standings, but given that MSI and Worlds both start with Bo1 competition and neither involve Bo3, it makes more sense from a 'preparation from international competition' standpoint as well as being potentially more interesting.
- I'm all for Misfits making it out of groups, as long as they do it at the expense of WE. TSM might have similarities to the Yankees as far as NA goes, like annoyingly consistent success and an insufferable portion of their fan base, but they're still the class of the region and the capacity of the region is largely defined by their performances. No matter how well C9 or Immortals do, they're not going to supplant TSM in that role until they also slap TSM around domestically or outperform them in other international comps. Get them into quarters, let them play a shitshow Bo5 against Longzhu/SKT/SSG, and everyone can walk away with their headlines intact ('TSM did as well as they could' or 'TSM will fail forever').
- I really enjoy listening to the analysts talk in podcasts or pre/post-game commentary. During the game? Jesus. It's no longer funny when one of them talks about somebody getting deleted or the game ending, only for it not to happen. They're always trying to say something clever in the heat of the action, usually some awkward reference or a shitty pun; not only are the comments forced, but they sometimes trip over what they're saying, which makes it worse. I'm not suggesting their job is easy—they're commentating a game that's far faster and more complex than regular sports—but if anything, that indicates they should stop increasing the level of difficulty by also trying to be extra entertaining. The energy and knowledge they bring is enough.