Worlds 2017: The Finale No One Saw Coming
The Razer 2017 Vainglory World Championship just concluded, and although it was only the second Worlds event, it has left everyone stunned and shocked, leaving fans craving more. If you had to prepare several cups of coffee, but ultimately ended up crashing before the analyst desk finished their 100 pages thesis on the teams, you’ve missed out on one hell of an event.
TSM vs The Group of Death
While not as dominant in the Vainglory8 seasons, Team SoloMid was a fan favorite this year and their 2nd place standing at last year’s World Championship certainly gave a lot of credit to their name. During this World’s Group Draw, everyone was wondering what group would be the hardest for teams to battle it out in. With Hunters receiving the last spot alongside Ace Gaming and TSM, the answer was clear.
Team SoloMid’s first trial came in the form of China’s Hunters. Employing a CP Gwen and jungle Krul, TSM weren’t able to apply enough pressure to take down Hunters’ Skye and Baptiste. While FlashX’s Lyra managed to keep VONC alive, GodFather’s Ardan was able to split TSM with gauntlets and keep his own team moving. BestChuckNa couldn’t burst down enemies with his Gwen, and Hunters were able to scale better throughout the late game fights for the victory. In the second match, TSM played a full dive comp with Grace, Alpha and Blackfeather. While SWAGiu’s Ozo and Harmonious’ Baron could benefit from a grouped up enemy team, they would need to make sure Baron would keep his distance. Much like the first match, the early game was fairly uneventful, and the game was decided in the mid to late game. Hunters were not able to do much in fights with TSM deleting Baron efficiently before he could apply much damage and leaving the rest of the team to eventually fall, giving this win to TSM.
TSM’s final hill to climb was defeating ACE Gaming, and doing so without losing a game. The groups format only allowed for two games to be played and made it possible for a tiebreaker to be needed. Sadly, that would not be possible as TSM couldn’t get a single win. They bet their tournament life on a WP Alpha that they paired with a CP Skye, and subsequently a CP Alpha with a WP Vox. Meanwhile, ACE doubled down on a jungler CP Samuel paired with a WP Rona in game one and WP Kestrel in game two. With the Skye/Alpha composition, VONC tried diving onto T4SA’s Samuel, but BestChuckNa’s Skye could not back him up, giving ACE the chance to divide and conquer. In the second match, ACE was able to employ early game rotations to shutdown VONC’s Alpha and give themselves an early lead. While this composition for TSM was easier to dive with, having to play with a deficit against ACE’s siege comp wasn’t easy. It meant dealing with Samuel’s amazing kiting abilities and running head first into Kestrel’s crippling arrows. Needless to say, that match was not how TSM would want to go out. In the one match TSM won (the second match against Hunters), they had a much stronger draft and win condition. When they lost, it was due to not being able to keep their damage dealers together and prioritizing the same targets. VONC’s “No fear, just fight” motto was not the optimal strategy for the team.
ROX Armada Sinks in Group C
Last year’s champions, formerly Phoenix Armada, dominantly established themselves as the best team of 2016 by not only defeating the best of NA without losing more than one game to any team other than TSM (which they lost 2 won 4), but by immediately influencing the meta with their hyper aggressive gameplay and team synergy. After winning Worlds, their Captain Willy left the team halfway through the next year. While they were still able to pick up support Engineeus and dominate against NA and EU at the Mobile Masters Invitational, there was still a visible difference in their gameplay. They only lost to Cloud9 in a tight match, but it was clear that the rest of the world had stepped its game up. Going into Worlds, ROX Armada were not the top team in East Asia, but were still a strong team with their existing roster of Druid, Mango, pQq and Engineeus.
In their group match against Impunity, Rox Armada had Druid in the lane, but as the casters reminded us, he had been absent from play for a while due to medical conditions. So while he was heralded as the most mechanically skilled player and best laner last year, he would likely not perform at peak condition at the start of this tournament. In their matches against Impunity, they fell short. When they attempted to focus on their early game, they were instead swept by Impunity, lost control of the match and were beaten within 15 minutes. This was also Druid’s only match, as Engineeus would sub in for him. In their second match, ROX wanted to prioritize the late game and let Baron carry. While they were able to stay up in kills and draw out the match, it was anything but a strong match for them, and they just barely won after fending off a backdoor attempt and a base race.
When playing against Tribe Gaming, they again lost through their early game. The first match had Mango’s Taka and pQq’s Ardan countered by ttigers’ Koshka and MaxGreen’s Churnwalker (a strong early game and Taka countering comp). Tribe was took the early game advantage over Taka and their team composition had a stronger mid game to secure the win. In their final match at Worlds, ROX was not able to snowball and Tribe’s Vox-Blackfeather-Lyra composition won out against the Churnwalker-Koshka-Kestrel team. Last year ROX won with their early game comps, but meta changes, nerfs, and an overall game balance to nerf the early game wasn’t going to allow them the same level of dominance. Before the matches started, the casters commented on how ROX shined more in their late game as of recent matches, and ROX were definitely not able to play to that strength.
Cloud9 Down in 4
The dominant force that had cemented themselves as the #1 team in North America and Europe during the summer and autumn splits failed to make it to the finals and hit a three-peat. Their skill and communication led them to stay above most teams during the Vainglory8 seasons and most people expected them to continue their winning streak into the World Championship. Their group play went by easily with them winning all their games against Pain Gaming and Elite8. Then NA’s most dominant force had to face off against China’s juggernaut, Hunters, who had had close games against TSM and EA’s ACE Gaming. Yet, Cloud9 sweeped again, winning 3-0. However, as fate would have it, they would have to fight against Tribe for the semi-finals. Cloud9 had already beat Tribe in the Autumn Grand Finals, and they only made it into worlds as a wild card team. Tribe had shown itself to have good peaks in their gameplay, but weren’t as consistent as Cloud9. However, everyone expected them to reach a level not yet seen as DNZio seems to always receive a “live buff” when attending tournaments.
The matches seemed to focus on the early game with Tribe winning the first and last game through aggression and building a lead. They also won a game in which Cloud9 couldn’t force an early game victory and play to their win condition. In the only game which Cloud9 won, they still lost their early game, but were able to draw out the game and come back. In all but one game, Cloud9 prioritized picking Vox and making sure Oldskool would be the team’s main damage dealer. It seems they wanted to trust in Oldskool’s hyper carry abilities by pairing him with a Fortress twice, both times failing to net them a win. Tribe was able to secure ttigers, their jungler, his favored hero Koshka twice. Furthermore, Tribe attempted to focus on shutting down Oldskool’s Vox by successfully countering with Rona. Later on when Cloud9 tried using Rona, they had a pocket Skye prepared to counter her. Cloud9’s Oldskool tends to be the focus of Cloud9’s success and it seems like they tried relying on him heavily. Meanwhile, Tribe tailored their drafts against Oldskool.
This year’s World Championship was definitely a success. Some small production issues definitely plagued the tournament but amazing matches, upsets and the introduction of 5v5 made up for it. Congratulations to Tribe Gaming on their accomplishment and title of Best Team in the World. With all these upsets, don’t be too confident on your favorite team making it far next year; no one is safe anymore.