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League of Legends – Worlds 2020 Play-in Stage: Six picks that set the tone on Day 1

League of Legends – Worlds 2020 Play-in Stage: Six picks that set the tone on Day 1

In a 2020 League of Legends World Championship meta that has yet to fully solidify, six players unleashed devastating picks to make the difference or come close to on the first day of the play-ins.

League of Legends – Worlds 2020 Play-in Stage: Six picks that set the tone on Day 1

Image source: LoL Esports

The 2020 League of Legends World Championship opened on a strong note, with PSG Talon Esports’ 2-0 showing despite fielding three emergency substitutes, and with North America emerging victorious against Europe in Day 1.

However, the meta is far from set in stone, and several picks and draft choices – ranging from the relatively quirky Ekko jungle by today’s meta standards to the more commonplace Lucian mid – uplifted teams to victory.

MAD Humanoid’s Lucian (4/3/9) vs. INTZ Tay’s Urgot (9/2/3)

The 2020 World Championship’s first game could be boiled down to a tale of two champions standing on opposite ends of Summoners’ Rift. On MAD Lions’ side, Marek “Humanoid” Brázda’s Lucian was ahead of his lane opponent from the beginning of the game onward, spiraling into a significant contribution in-game: 72.2% Kill Participation ratio, and a staggering 665 Damage Dealt Per Minute (31.6% of MAD’s overall team damage). More important than any stats was his assignment: to flank and eliminate backline damage threats. As MAD Lions eliminated INTZ’s ability to detect threats from the fog of war, the mid laner successfully carried his task to fruition.

Nevertheless, he and Rodrigo "Tay" Panisa’s Urgot were evenly matched for 22 minutes for good reason: despite an early Teleport blunder, Tay’s follow-up ultimates on his teammates’ kill attempts removed low-health threats and disrupted surrounding threats, allowing INTZ to clean up advantageous team fights. Had MAD Lions not hit their power spikes across the board, Tay could have willed his team to victory.

  • Items built on Lucian: Berserker’s Greaves, Muramana, Essence Reaver, Rapid Firecannon, Infinity Edge, Quicksilver Sash
  • Items built on Urgot: Ninja Tabi, Black Cleaver, Edge of Night, Guardian Angel

PSG Kongyue’s Ekko: 13/1/8 KDA vs. Rainbow7

Rumors of PSG Talon’s demise, due to their featuring three emergency substitutes during the play-in, were heavily exaggerated. If anything, in their first play-in game, Hsiao "Kongyue" Jen-Tso and Chen "Uniboy" Chang-Chu looked like upgrades to the players they were replacingon Day 1. The mid-jungle duo’s all-out aggression turned a seemingly challenging game into a walk in the park.

Much credit should be given to Uniboy’s Sett as his teleports impacted the early game, as well as Ling "Kaiwing" Kai Wing’s Bard heroics and great R - Tempered Fate uses, but Kongyue’s jungle Ekko shined brighter starting Minute 5, when his bot lane gank timing (and Kaiwing’s heroics on Bard) started the snowball to the tune of a 2-0 trade in the bottom lane. From that point on, Kongyue’s ceaseless ganking and dives secured advantages in the bot lane. By the 18-minute mark, he had already built a Hextech Protobelt the Sorcerer Enchant, and a Mejai’s Soulstealer (the latter which reached full stacks by the 24:37 mark).

  • Items built: Mercury’s Treads, Enchantment: Runic Echoes (Chilling Smite), Hextech Protobelt, Lich Bane Mejai’s Soulstealer

LGC Topoon’s Camille: 3/4/4, three crucial turret takedowns vs. INTZ

Although League of Legends is a PvP game, the PvE objectives (towers, Drakes, and Baron Nashors) are crucial, as each objective takedown brings a team closer to destroying the enemy Nexus. As it turns out, Legacy Esports’s focus on the PvE elements proved key to their Worlds run so far. In sharp contrast with the first two games, Legacy Esports built their victory over INTZ Esports on macro and thwarted INTZ’s better teamfighting composition, as Kim "Topoon" Ji-hoon’s Camille proved unstoppable when establishing side lane pressure.

Topoon’s job was to pressure the side lanes and to limit the impact of Tay’s Vladimir, which he achieved simultaneously as Tay primarily turned to counter-pressure duty. Without Vladimir near team fights, it was only a matter of time until Legacy’s scaling outpaced INTZ’s on the 4v4. Even when INTZ won team fights, they were unable to parlay that into anything of significance.

  • Items built: Mercury’s Treads, Trinity Force, an early Executioner’s Calling to hamper Vladimir’s self-healing, Ravenous Hydra, Sterak’s Gage, Death’s Dance

PSG Kaiwing’s Rakan: 1/0/14 KDA, 100% kill participation ratio vs. LGD Gaming

PSG’s approach against LGD Gaming was slow and measured with a heavy focus on team fights, completely different from their pick-oriented annihilation of Rainbow7. This time around, the player who shone the brightest was not an emergency substitute: the team’s starting support, Kaiwing, set the tone through roams starting at the 16-minute mark, and had a hand in every kill his team landed.

Considering PSG’s team composition (Ornn, Orianna, Jhin and Graves), Rakan was the most reliable means of neutralizing backline threats through crowd control, adding another CC layer on top of Ornn’s. Without his follow-ups, LGD would have had a much smoother time securing Ocean Drake soul, Baron Nashor then the game after 35 minutes of action.

Items built: Mercury’s Treads, Bulwark of the Mountain, Zeke’s Convergence, Mikael’s Crucible

TL Impact’s Mordekaiser: 9/1/5 KDA vs. MAD Lions

Team Liquid’s decisive victory over MAD Lions owes much to their drafting phase, where they solved MAD’s puzzle before the game began. As long as Team Liquid dealt with MAD’s bot lane, the game was theirs for the taking. That much became evident when their most crucial champions, Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen’s Twisted Fate and Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong’s Mordekaiser, reached Level 6.

On Impact’s case, the Level 6 transition turned him from a semi-vulnerable position against Camille (pre-level 6) to a dominant one, as he was able to dispatch Camille then turn 2v1 ganks into advantageous 1v1s at a moment’s notice. In doing so, he neutralized MAD’s pressure, disabling Andrei "Orome" Popa’s Camille and Zhiqiang "Shad0w" Zhao’s Evelynn, then created pressure of his own for good measure. In turn, he bought valuable time for and absorbed valuable ultimates away from Edward "Tactical" Ra’s Twitch to scale beyond MAD’s control and freely attack them, sealing the game in the North American team's favor.

  • Items built: Mercury’s Treads, Liandry’s Torment, Rylai’s Crystal Scepter, Zhonya’s Hourglass
Adel Chouadria
Adel Chouadria

Freelance esports writer in Europe with eight years of LEC coverage experience. Also a 90's NY Knicks fan, sneakerhead, and wrestling fan. Cake is #1.

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