Is Group C saving the best for last?
A Group of Two Games
When I agreed to write predictions and previews for each MSI group, I wondered if I was overreaching a little. Then I came to group C, remembered that it’s much easier than the previous groups and I allowed myself a sigh of relief.
We all know which two teams will emerge from this group of three. Order has a snowball’s chance in hell of making the next stage of this tournament, and you could leave it there if you wanted to. Job done.
Well, first of all, I’m at 107 words as I finish this sentence. That isn’t going to make me much cash, for one thing. I also don’t think my boss would be very pleased with an article that’s barely 100 words long.
Fine. I’ll keep going.
The thing is, as a European fan, I’m glad G2 is guaranteed to make it out of the group and nervous about the head-to-head with EG. We’ve all known for a long time that, to a large extent, international competition is a battle for bragging rights between America and Europe. G2 and Fnatic making back-to-back world finals seems depressingly distant now, and so we battle between ourselves to be the best losers behind Korea and China.
Generally, that works out alright because Europe comes out on top. Right now, though? I’m not so sure. I wasn’t even expecting G2 to make the spring play-off finals, let alone win the whole thing. Rather than fill me with confidence that G2 is back to its best, I feel nervous that we might not be sending our best team. I’m not saying G2’s success was a fluke, but… well, it shook some beliefs I had about LOL hierarchies.
Weirdly – and maybe this says more about me than it does about the teams – EG’s similarly unexpected play-off led me to believe they are America’s best hope. Certainly, they’re America’s most exciting team and yes, Danny’s pentakill is part of that, but it’s not the only part. They just seem so vibrant, so unafraid of making mistakes. They have a confidence in themselves that is only really available to very young or very experienced players. It’s the type of confidence that can easily come back to haunt a team, but until then, it’s easy to get swept up in and say EG actually could be the next CLG or Team Liquid and make a deep run at this tournament.
One thing is for sure: it will take a catastrophic failure for them to not make it past stage one. G2 games aside, EG should beat LCO’s Order two times out of two.
So what of that head-to-head with G2? Well together, they make an interesting data point for my hypothesis about confidence. Caps, Jankos and Brokenblade make a neat flip side of EG’s youthful coin. That’s another thing that makes this group so appetising. It’s not just NA vs EU, it’s Zoomers vs Boomers. It’s Hands vs Brains and Youth vs Experience and I can’t wait for it to go down.
Right, so who’s going to win? Well, it depends, right? It feels like there are two version of both of these teams. Regular season EG was fine – good but not great. They had their moments, but the reason their play-off success was so noteworthy is partly because they hadn’t shown championship winning form beforehand. Similar, G2 were fourth in the regular season with a so-so record of 11-7. It sounds obvious, but if one teams shows up in top form and the other doesn’t, the top form team will win.
If both teams show up in top form, I have to fancy G2. Peak Caps is something to behold, and as good as Jojopyun can be, he’s not as wily or crafty as Caps. Jojo dominates lane, and tries to spread his power around the rest of the map. Caps, time and time again, is willing to cede lane dominance and go straight for the helping out phase of that plan. The fact that Jankos is such an experienced old head, and has played with Caps for so long, makes me think that the all-important mid-jungle match-up will go G2’s way.
In the bottom lane, Danny’s lane phase is abundantly exploitable. For every pop-off moment he has, there are just as many sloppy, unnecessary deaths given away by him and Vulcan. While Flakked and Targamas have shown nothing like EG’s best, their average performance is so much more solid that EG might need Danny to make game-winning plays if they’re going to win.
Brokenblade has had a long and meandering journey to where he is now, which has included multiple meetings with EG’s Impact. Last time the two met, in LCS Summer 2020 play-offs, BB had Impact’s number, with TSM emerging victorious 3-2. That was a long enough time ago that we shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from it now, but they are perhaps the exception that proves the rule. Both have played a variety of champions over their careers, and even over this season.
And that seems like a decent place to end. Two teams with differing styles, representing different eras and ethoses, vying for top seed in a group that has little chance of throwing up any surprises. I have to put G2 in front of EG, just barely, but despite having the fewest teams in it, this could be the most entertaining group of the bunch.