The Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland, is the location for the IEM Season 11 World Championship, which takes place from 22-26 February.
Three teams from Europe, two from Korea and one each from China, Taiwan and an international Wild Card make up the field in a League of Legends tournament that promises to be entertaining.
No clear favourites in Group A
Group A shapes up as an incredibly tough group to call, with every team having a slower start to the New Year than originally anticipated.
The new-look ROX Tigers have had a difficult time in Korea’s LCK, sporting a 1-6 series score so far, with their only win coming against Kongdoo Monster, who have an identically poor record.
Fortunately for ROX, they have drawn M19, previously known as Albus NoX Luna before their roster was acquired in January, in their first match. This should give ROX a solid shot at taking home an opening victory.
This iteration of the Tigers relies heavily on Mickey carrying from the mid lane, something with which he became very familiar while playing for Afreeca Freecs last season. If ROX are to do well in this tournament, top laner Shy in particular will have to step up to the plate and deliver consistent play for the team to build wins around.
H2k vs EDward Gaming, also in Group A, makes for an incredibly interesting match-up. On paper H2k look to have the edge as they have opened up the season with more consistency than EDG. However, the wildcard for this match will be EDG’s Jungler position, as it seems star Jungler Clearlove may make his long awaited return during this event. If he does, he will be up against H2k’s Jankos, seen as one of the best Junglers in all of Europe. Meanwhile, look for H2k to focus around top laner Odoamne, who has quietly developed into one of the best top laners in the West.
Group B is loaded
Group B has arguably the three best teams at this event as Europe’s Unicorns of Love and G2 Esports, along with Flash Wolves from the LMS, are joined by the Koreans of Kongdoo Monster, who are currently bottom of the LCK.
The Unicorns of Love enter this tournament as the favourites, sporting a 5-0 series record so far within the European LCS. One of the greatest assets for the Unicorns of Love is their consistent play with limited mistakes and weaknesses, and this should be too much for their first opponents, Kongdoo Monster.
Addressing their largest flaw in the offseason, Jungler Move was removed and replaced by Xerxe, a decision that has worked better than they could ever have imagined. Xerxe has provided a consistent high level of play, while also having an incredibly deep champion pool, which has been incredibly useful due to the change to 10 bans from six this season.
One aspect that often gets overlooked for the Unicorns is the intelligent drafting choices of coach Sheepy. Sheepy has utilized the depth of his player champion pools, allowing the Unicorns of Love to catch other teams off-guard, giving them the advantage right out of the gate. As such, anything other than a deep run for the Unicorns of Love at the IEM Season 11 World Championships would be something of a shock.
History against G2 Esports
G2 vs Flash Wolves is a battle between underachievers and overachievers on the global stage. G2 Esports, long known as the kings of Europe, have consistently struggled in international competition. While many would call G2 favourites in this tournament, their past history shows them to be anything but a lock even to win a single game.
Conversely, the Flash Wolves of the LMS have long been big players on the international stage. Defeating the likes of three-time champions SKT in last year’s Worlds, the Flash Wolves can no longer be overlooked no matter the opponent. This clash is crucial as G2 will be highly influenced by momentum and will need a convincing defeat of the Flash Wolves if they want any hope of removing their image as poor international performers.