The first two days of the Worlds 2017 Play-In Stage were a treat to watch; unfortunately, however, days 3 and 4 weren’t quite as tasty. Day 3 was also plagued by technical issues, which as an old CLG.eu fan gave me PTSD from Season 2 Worlds. Luckily, though, chrono-break was in action and despite long pauses, the games were able to continue without too much trouble. The teams in Group C and D seemed to lack the luster of their Group A and B counterparts; however, the epic battles between 1907 Fenerbahçe Esports and Hong Kong Attitude were my favorite of the tournament so far, with everything from reckless base races to insane team-fights to countless baron steals! There are a lot of games worth missing for day 3 and day 4, but I have complied the highlights for your viewing pleasure – tense matches, with each game on a knife’s edge from start to finish, which make for an amazing e-sports watching experience.
Game to watch 1: Hong Kong Attitude vs. 1907 Fenerbahçe Espor (Day 3)
Hong Kong Attitude is the 3rd seed from the LMS region but is also the 3rd seed with the lowest expectations coming into Worlds. The Turkish team 1907 Fenerbahçe Espor, who qualified for Worlds after beating the previously region-dominant SuperMassive, likewise came in this tournament with similar low hype. However, both of these teams sought to prove their critics wrong, and prove them wrong they did – this nail-biter of a game was League of Legends at its most enjoyable. You had the delicate early game, with each team biding their time trying to get a feel for their opponent when it suddenly exploded in mid-game action, with back-and-forth team fights, Quadra-kills and aces! There was not a single time when you could predict what was going to happen next, with the nail-biting suspense building up over 50 minutes. And to top it all off, this game also contains suicidal rocket jumps and not just one, but TWO baron steals – easily making it a game to watch!
Game to Watch 2: 1907 Fenerbahçe Espor vs. Hong Kong Attitude (Day 4)
When these two teams first clashed, it made for one of the best matches this tournament – Hong Kong Attitude and 1907 Fenerbahçe seek to continue this trend with another amazing game. Once again, we are in for a game that is extremely close, with the flow of the game changing with every team-fight. While teamwork was paramount in this match-up, I would like to shout out some of the exceptional solo performances. Thaldrin, the top-laner of Fenerbahçe, played extremely well, roaming and making plays all over the map. On HKA’s side, the player to watch is the ad-carry Unified, who went off this match with amazing rotations and impeccable positioning. Not to mention it wouldn’t be a RB vs. HKA game if there wasn’t a baron steal in there for good measure. The game also ends so fittingly as well, with the caster Medic literally on the floor screaming as he tries to play-by-play the last baron fight and the final duel at the nexus, really highlighting how insane this match was and why it is hands-down one of the best games this Worlds!
Game to Watch 3: Fnatic vs. Young Generation (Day 4)
As an EU fan watching the play-in stage, I was hopeful that our EU LCS 3rd seed might come into Worlds with the same form that Cloud9 currently has. Despite coming into this match up 3-0, Fnatic lacked the absolute dominance that their NA counterparts showed and showed clear signs of weakness. Young Generation, the 2nd seed from Vietnam, a region known for its aggression and high-tempo games, seek to confront Fnatic in their moment of weakness. Each of YG’s laners made a splash this game, with NhocTy (who replaced the previous top-laner Ren) easily going toe-to-toe with the veteran Soaz. Their mid-laner Naul showed great form this game, though helped by Caps on Syndra failing to punish the Kassadin early enough. Even the cornerstone of Fnatic was floundering this game, with BigKoro making a name for himself in the bottom lane in the match-up against Rekkles. This game was a clear test for Fnatic: can they overcome this hurdle and fight their way out of a deficit, or will the Vietnamese region again prove itself as a force to be reckoned with? Though lacking in the tight, action-packed drama of the Fenerbahçe/Hong Kong Attitude matches, the game ended in a very dramatic, but also very fitting,way, making it onto this list as a game to watch.
Game to Watch 4: Hong Kong Attitude vs. 1907 Fenerbahçe Espor (Tie-breaker)
The fact that every battle between 1907 Fenerbahçe Espor and Hong Kong Attitude has made this list (and rank among the best matches of the Play-In) is a testament to how insanely impressive the level of play from these organizations has been. The first two games were the definition of tense and packed to the brim with all of the excitement that comes when two evenly matched teams face off against one another, and this final showdown doesn’t disappoint! I loved the draft phase from both of these teams – every lane and match-up was exciting. Padden and Jopone grabbed the pushing power lane of Tristana and Lulu yet had to face the scary combo of Varus and Blitzcrank, whom Unified and Kaiwing played with great skill. HKA’s mid-laner M1ssion’s early lock-in of Syndra, a strong pick in previous games, was a good move; however, it left Fenerbahçe’s mid-laner Frozen open to take the skill-match up and potential counter in Ekko. Thaldrin continued to display his expertise on Maokai, really making the game close with excellent flanks and engages. If you were to watch only one game from day 3 or 4, or even from the whole Play-In Stage, then make this the game to watch!