KT Rolster 1, MAD Team 0

KT Rolster reinvigorated the hopes of South Korean fans across the world when it smashed MAD Team during its second day of play at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship in Busan, South Korea.

While the objective and kill numbers would suggest this game was a blowout, the most striking aspect was how close both teams were to one another throughout the first 15 minutes. KT Rolster’s dominance in the LCK was largely predicated on its blistering early game that fed into the best mid-game shotcalling in the world, but that dominance was nowhere to be found against MAD, who held its own. Most impressive was Liang “Liang” Te Wu, the top laner for MAD, who managed to hold KT’s top laner Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho at bay for the majority of the early game, even going so far as to win the lane outright.

Everything came crashing down come the mid game, however, where KT Rolster’s superior team mechanics led it to an insurmountable lead. At 15 minutes the game was all but even, but by 20 minutes KT Rolster had found a bevy of kills and a Baron, and by 25 minutes MAD was reduced to defending ruins where once it defended towers. Few teams in the world can compare to KT Rolster when it comes to finding and expanding leads after the laning phase, and with every game at worlds it plays, it looks increasingly unlikely that any team in Group C will be able to challenge KT. MAD’s sudden defeat stands as a cold testament to KT Rolster’s ruthless effectiveness, but that the side merely survived to see past the laning phase far outstripped expectations, and speaks well for its chances in future matches.

— James Bates

Edward Gaming 1, Team Liquid 0

Edward Gaming continued China’s dominant run at the world championship by blowing away Team Liquid in a 27-minute stomp in the second game of the day.

EDG didn’t begin the game in the dominant position that it ended in, however, as it was actually Team Liquid that was allowed to largely dictate the pace of the early game after a disastrous attempt to tower-dive TL’s ADC, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, blew up. Eugene “Pobelter” Park’s Galio was able to clean up the tail end of the dive, and while Doublelift did eventually fall, EDG paid the blood price with their entire bottom lane for the privilege. For the next five minutes Team Liquid largely had its run of the map, but the dominance was painfully short lived.

Team Liquid learned firsthand just how effective the engage-heavy draft from the side of EDG could be after a fight by the dragon pit. An impeccable Pulverize from Tian “Meiko” Ye, the support for EDG, lined up all of Team Liquid for a devastating chain of engage and damage from the side of EDG, all of which culminated in a brilliant application of Emperor’s Divide from Lee “Scout” Ya-chan, the mid laner for EDG, who was armed with his trademark Azir. It was a turnabout that more or less ended the game, as EDG would never again have the terms of the game dictated to them, much to the misfortune of Team Liquid who simply didn’t have the tools to challenge Scout’s dominance on Azir. Another pair of teamfights both went in the favor of EDG, and before Team Liquid knew it, Baron-empowered minions were infiltrating its base, promptly crumbling the Nexus soon after. By the end of the contest, EDG’s 11-kill advantage over Team Liquid was the second largest deficit at the 2018 LoL World Championships, capping off what has been impeccable 19-2 record for the Chinese squad at Worlds when registering 16 or more kills in a given contest.

The win marks EDG’s third 2-0 start to pool play at worlds in its five stints at the pivotal tournament. The previous two times resulted in quarterfinal appearances, back in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

— James Bates