SKT, Cloud9 round out Worlds quarterfinalists

Cloud9, left, and SK Telecom T1 compete during pool play of the League of Legends World Championship on Sunday in Wuhan, China. SKT, the reigning world champion, finished first in its group, and Cloud9 claimed second despite going 1-2 in Week 2. Provided by Riot Games


SK Telecom T1 shut down EDward Gaming's hopes of putting a third Chinese team through to the League of Legends World Championship knockout stage on Sunday in Wuhan, China, to close out Group A pool play.

EDG, which had won its previous two games of the day, was one win away from forcing a tiebreaker against North American play-in squad Cloud9. Unfortunately for EDG, the reigning world champions stood in the way, and although SKT has looked shaky throughout the group stage, it was able to pull together well enough to stop Ming "Clearlove7" Kai's hopes of being the hero on home soil.

The team had its chances. SKT had a nearly 7,000-gold deficit at 28 minutes, and EDG hadn't given up a kill to that point, either. The tide turned just after the half-hour mark, when a battle around Baron gave SKT the buff, a three-for-none teamfight victory and near-deletion of its gold disadvantage. SKT AD carry Bae "Bang" Jun-sik played a large role both in that skirmish and the fights to come; he finished with a 5/1/4 KDA (kills/deaths/assists), and his Twitch was an insurmountable threat for EDG once its early lead dwindled.

Cloud9 1-0 ahq

After suffering two losses Sunday, Cloud9 bounced back with a fairly clean victory over ahq e-Sports Club to keep its hopes of advancing out of pool play alive.

All of the lanes took creep score leads early before C9 started to run away with its gold lead in the mid-game. Cloud9 was able to dictate the pace of the game easily after, rotating around the map and taking objectives with little resistance. By the 15-minute mark C9 had a comfortable 5,000-gold lead and control over all of the objectives.

Ahq finally started to put up a fight as Cloud9 laid siege to its mid lane inhibitor turret, but it was too little, too late. Any engage that ahq attempted was easily broken by C9 support Andy "Smoothie" Ta's Janna and often came with more deaths and turrets losses for ahq. After Cloud9 took down a second inhibitor, it was pretty much over.

SKT 0-1 ahq

The final day of the League of Legends World Championship group stage started off with a bang Sunday when ahq e-Sports Club managed the impossible and handed SK Telecom T1, the defending world champion, its first Worlds Week 2 defeat in the organization's long and storied history.

It was a game that looked much like the Korean powerhouse's games from last week, but this time, SKT's mistakes finally led to a loss. With the exception of its game against Cloud9, SKT found itself in a rather large deficit in all of its Week 1 games but managed to recover, whether through smart macro play or miraculous teamfighting.

There would be no such recovery against ahq, which drafted to its strengths with a composition that seemed laser-focused on targeting SKT's weaknesses. The bottom lane of the reigning champion has been seriously underperforming over the course of the last few months has, and that flaw showed itself again as Bae "Bang" Jun-sik and Lee "Wolf" Jae-wan struggled to maintain pressure against ahq's Chou "AN" Chun-An and Kang "Albis" Chia-Wei despite a matchup and pedigree gave the Korean side an overwhelming advantage on paper.

Where the discrepancy between the two teams was most apparent, however, was in the jungle. Ahq was all but carried by the outstanding performance of its jungler, Xue "Mountain" Zhao-Hong, while SKT jungler Han "Peanut" Wang-ho might have well of been a Brambleback for all the impact he had on the lanes.

Mountain's early gank onto SKT mid laner Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok gave ahq mid Liu "Westdoor" Shu-Wei control of the middle lane, and the ahq jungler also pushed his team ahead in vision, objective control and teamfights. It will come as no surprise if ahq finds itself staring down a Sejuani ban for the rest of the group stage, as Mountain's performance was one of the best we've seen on the champion so far this tournament.

EDward Gaming 1-0 Cloud9

EDward Gaming kept its hopes of being the third Chinese team to advance to the knockout stage alive when it pummeled Cloud9 in a decisive game in Wuhan, China.

The recipe for success? A fantastic read on the metagame. EDG proved that Team WE was not the only team that had been experimenting with Caitlyn as a hard counter to the scaling Kog'Maw compositions that have been so popular throughout Worlds. Every pick on EDG was focused on one thing: obliterating Cloud9 AD carry Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi's Kog'Maw. EDG's bottom lane picked the strongest lane pressure picks possible in Lulu and Caitlyn, while its jungle and mid locked in the infamous Jarvan IV/Galio combination that ensured that Sneaky would never have a way back into the game via miraculous teamfight.

The man of the hour was none other than EDG's star jungler, MIng "Clearlove7" Kai, who reminded the world once again that he remains one of the best junglers when he's playing hot. His Jarvan IV play was the backbone of EDG's success, and while his teammates certainly performed well in their lanes, it was the constant bold tower dives from Clearlove7 that really broke the game open.

Whenever Cloud9 stood to defend its turret, Clearlove7 was there ready to punish them. So great was Clearlove7's aggression that he even opted into a damage-oriented build, an almost-unheard-of gambit in competitive play that paid off thanks to his ability to instantly kill Sneaky's Kog'Maw or Juan "Contractz" Garcia's Graves. After a week of disappointing play from the veteran EDG jungler, a game like this is a welcome change that proves that EDG's hopes of advancing aren't yet entirely dashed.

EDG 1-0 ahq

After a winless Week 1 at Worlds, EDward Gaming made it two straight victories Sunday with a stomping of ahq e-Sports Club.

While EDG was denied the Caitlyn-centric early game composition that gave it an easy victory against Cloud9 early in the day, the Chinese squad proved it still had more tricks up its sleeve. It once again obliterated its opponent in the early game, but this time through the mid lane, as Lee "Scout" Ye-Chan's Syndra blew his opposition, Wong "Chawy" Xing-Lei, off the Rift with Unleashed Power nearly the moment the two hit Level 6.

The pressure that Scout's solo kill generated proved to be the decisive factor in securing EDG's early dominance, as Scout took down ahq's outer turret solo before the 10 minute mark -- an almost insurmountable advantage in competitive play.

Hu "iBoy" Xianzhao put the game away. His Twitch earned multiple double kills and a triple kill over the course of the game thanks to some of the most aggressive and yet calculated positioning that we've seen yet this tournament. Every time ahq tried to make a pick, it backfired thanks to the efforts of iBoy, who even managed to turn a 3-vs-2 disadvantage in the top lane into a near-triple kill with some downright clairvoyant movements. Even in a region that is historically well known for its outstanding talent in the AD carry role, iBoy stands out, and the 17-year-old looks to be firmly on the path toward fame.

SKT 1-0 Cloud9

SK Telecom T1 bounced back from its first loss of the group stage Sunday with a win against Cloud9.

It was obvious from the beginning that the match would be one of lows, not of highs, as both Cloud9 and SKT were hot off of crushing defeats earlier in the night. Only one of the two teams, however, seemed to learn from the experience, as Cloud9 opted into the default late-game scaling composition with just a mite of early game power thanks to Juan "Contractz" Garcia's Ezreal. SKT, on the other hand, was far more aggressive with its picks, which featured dual split pushers in the form of Lee "Faker" Seung-hyeok's Fizz and Seung-Hoon "Huni" Heo's Jayce, both of which proved invaluable over the course of the game.

Still, neither of the two teams looked all that convincing over the course of the game, as both failed to set up fights properly in obvious ways time and again. Fortunately for SKT, Cloud9 did more to enable SKT's teamfights than anything SKT themselves could hope to do. The most notable example came from Contractz, who used his Arcane Shift to bring an otherwise terrible Chum the Waters into the midst of Cloud9, instantly winning an otherwise lost teamfight for SKT and quite possibly ensuring that the Korean team took the game. While SKT may have finalized its bid for the quarterfinals, it'll need to perform much better a week from now if it wants to advance any further.

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