League of Legends World Championship 2019 is set to kick-off on Sunday, October 12th, with the opening fixtures of the main event group stage, where 16 elite teams from all over the globe will duke it out for a spot in the playoffs. From there, the remaining eight teams will fight it out to determine which team will lift the Summoner's cup and go down in history as the World Champions.
But before the main event kicks off, there are still a handful of matches left to be played in the Play-in stage of the tournament, which serves as the final qualifiers for Worlds. It gives the remaining 12 teams one last shot at earning one of the last four tickets leading to Worlds.
Play-in will commerce on October 2nd with group stage fixtures and concludes on October 8th with round two matches, which will determine which four teams earned their spot among the elite 16. The 12 teams participating in the Play-ins have been divided into four groups of three based on seeding, where they will compete in a double round-robin format, with all fixtures played in best-of-one (Bo1) series. Once the group stage concludes, the top two teams from each group will advance into round two, whereas the last team gets eliminated.
Knockout stage, unlike the group stage, will feature only four fixtures, between the best performing teams from the group stage. All of the knockout stage matches will be played in a best-of-five (Bo5) series, to determine which four teams deserve to join the Worlds main event.
Now let's look over the groups, teams and our predictions for the Play-in stage.
Group A: Clutch Gaming, MAMMOTH, Unicorns of Love
There is no going past the fact Clutch Gaming ($1.10) are the favourites to win this group. The NA team performed admirably well in the LCS regional finals, where they crushed FlyQuest (3-1), CLG (3-1) and even edged past TSM (3-2) to earn a spot in the Play-ins. If they can perform as they did in the final stage of LCS, they should have no issue defeating both UoL ($6.50) and MAMMOTH ($26.00), and even if they fail to live up to expectations, something will have to go incredibly wrong to finish behind MAMMOTH. That being said, Unicorns of Love have the potential to surprise, which is why they are a team to look out for here. When it comes to MAMMOTH however, they are arguably the worst team in the Play-ins. With all due respect, Oceania is usually the worst team in LoL competitive scene, and while MAMMOTH are arguably the strongest team OCE region has sent to Worlds so far, the tough group they have been put in will not do them any good.
Group B: DetonatioN FocusMe, Isurus Gaming, Splyce
Just like any group in the Play-ins, there is one team that stands out as a heavy favourite, and when it comes to group B, that team is Splyce.
Splyce ($1.01) are arguably the second-strongest team in the Play-ins, considering they are coming from EU region, where they had to compete against two heavyweights in Fnatic and G2. This European team boasts incredible macro play and very solid team fighting, which could take them far this tournament. While we believe there is always room for an upset in Bo1 fixtures, Splyce are far superior to any other team in group B, meaning they should have no issues advancing into the knockout stage and later into Worlds. As far as DetonatioN FocusMe and Isurus Gaming are concerned, there is no telling which will come out on top. Isurus are the powerhouse or LLA where they were nearly unbeatable.
DetonatioN FocusMe on the other side are an unknown quality. While very strong in Japan, they are a team that we don't really know what they bring to the table, which could make for an interesting battle for the second place in group B.
Group C: Hong Kong Attitude, Lowkey Esports, MEGA
Group C could see a much closer fight for top spot, between HKA and Lowkey Esports. Unfortunately for MEGA, they simply don't make the cut here in terms of quality needed to compete for the top two spots. Comparing the two sides however, it's HKA, who come off as a stronger team compared to Lowkey. Are they really as strong as the odds suggest however, is up to debate. But one thing is for sure, this group will be an exciting one, and could easily go either way.
Group D: DAMWON, Flamengo, Royal Youth
It's not hard to see DAMWON are the clear favourites here. Rarely do we say an outcome is guaranteed, but when it comes to Group D, something will have to go incredibly wrong for DAMWON for them not to get out as number one seed. The difference in quality between DAMWON and the other two teams here is immense and not only that. DAMWON are in our eyes, a team that has the highest ceiling out of all teams, including the 12 teams already qualified for the main event. Let's remind ourselves, DAMWON have some exceptionally gifted players in their roster who made it to Worlds in their first year as a pro. While they clearly lack experience, DAMWON can go far. Royal Youth are the second favourites to come out victorious and we agree. They might not be one of the best teams out there, but they should not have many problems defeating Flamengo in their race to the second spot.
Seeing how three out of four groups have clear favourites to win the group and advance into the knockout stages, there is no value in betting on favourites to do so. That being said, there are two bets that could be interesting.
Hear me out with this one. Clutch looked extremely strong in their LCS campaign. That being said, they had their moments of weakness throughout the season, which made us wonder how strong this team really is. Yes, if Clutch manages to show anything like they did in LCS Regional finals, they will cruise through to the Worlds. That being said, we could see Clutch choking here, especially considering there is immense pressure on them to perform. This pick might be a long shot, but with odds of $6.50 offered on the outcome, we will take our chances.
Hong Kong Attitude might be a stronger side in terms of quality, however, we believe Lowkey have some hidden potential. What works in their favour is that there will be no pressure on them. On top of that, they are an unknown team, which means we could see opponents sleeping on them. Odds offered are fairly high and we will trust the Vietnamese team to deliver.
DetonatioN FocusMe and Isurus will be the two main favourites to claim the second seed leading into the knockout stage. While there are arguments to be made this battle will be 50/50, I don't feel comfortable siding with DetonatioN FocusMe, considering they are an unknown quality to me and most of the other teams. We could see the Japanese side surprise, but for this prediction, we will side with established quality in Isurus.
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