Finally, we have Group D of the League of Legends World Championships. Traditionally, the D has stood for "death" but that honour has gone to Group C instead this year.
Group D is very open and could be tightly contested depending on which Play-In seed eventually joins Team Liquid, Invictus Gaming and AHQ e-Sports Club. All eyes will be on TL vs IG a rematch from MSI earlier this year where the NA team conquered the latter in one of the biggest shocks in LoL history.
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Coming in first is the North American champions Team Liquid who have now won four consecutive LCS splits. Last year, the organisation absolutely crushed their domestic competition but failed miserably on the Worlds stage, crashing out of the Group Stages with EDward Gaming and KT Rolster advancing instead.
Though, Team Liquid overcame their international tournament struggle when they reached the final of MSI thanks to the aforementioned shock victory over IG. However, they did so only to fall to G2 in one of the fastest international best-of-fives ever. It was a stark reminder that this team still has a lot of work to do.
Peter "Doublelift" Peng is already a legend in his own right, yet, he has never gone further than the Group Stages of Worlds. Though this year he has former World Champion Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in by his side in the bot-lane and honestly, this Group isn't that difficult compared to the usual Worlds standard.
Group D is a massive opportunity for Team Liquid to truly prove themselves as global powerhouses, this could finally be the year that another NA team outperforms Cloud9.
AHQ e-Sports Club
Much like the LMS, AHQ aren't the world-class team we used to know. Legendary mid-laner Liu "Westdoor" Shu-Wei has retired from pro play to become a streamer and the organisation hadn't qualified for an international tournament since it was eliminated from Groups of Worlds 2017.
Yet, there are still some familiar faces with top-laner Chen "Ziv" Yi and ADC Chou "An" Chun-An still with the organisation. The former is still the star-man and the fate of most games will fall on his shoulders despite the fact he has very tough lane opponents in this Group.
AHQ had looked strong in Spring but defeat at the hands of Flash Wolves denied them the chance to attend MSI and their Summer performances were far from convincing. There isn't much expected from AHQ this year though we've seen in the past that it's always dangerous to underestimate the LMS.
The reigning World Champions, Invictus Gaming still has the same extraordinary line-up that lifted the Summoner's Cup last year. Yet, there is a new starter with young and promising jungler Lu "Leyan" Jue who was brought into the starting team as soon as he turned 17.
Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok is still potentially the best top-laner in the tournament, Song "Rookie" Eui-jin will once again be a fearsome mid-lane opponent and ADC Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo has been the best performer of them all in recent times.
At their best, very few will be able to keep up with IG but the team could very possibly self-implode too. Following the shocking defeat at MSI, the team went on a downward spiral in the Summer Split and only qualified for Worlds by the skin of their teeth. IG are vulnerable and punishable this year, especially after reportedly parting with their head coach just weeks before the tournament begins.
However, if this team hits its stride like they did last year then we could see be looking at the second-ever team to win consecutive World Championships.
Potential Play-Ins team
There is a very good chance to advance to the knockouts for whichever team makes it into Group D from the Play-Ins. LCK's Damwon Gaming are an extremely impressive team who can go toe to toe with the mechanical talent of Invictus Gaming. If they hit form they could easily top this Group.
And you can't forget about Europe's Splyce who's tendency to wait for the late-game could stylistically work very well as the likes of Team Liquid who aren't exactly pro-active in the early game either. However, IG could cause the LEC team issues and make short work of their games if the European third seeds don't fix their early and mid-game issues.
Pictures: LoL Esports