Week 1 of Worlds Group Stage is complete, and three European teams are still fighting for their chance at to move forward into the knockout stage. After the first round robin, Misfits have managed a 2-1 record against Team WE, Flash Wolves, and TSM. Meanwhile, region champions G2 Esports are sitting at 1-2, and Fnatic stand as the only 0-3 in their group.
Before Group Stage began, we caught up with EU shoutcaster and analyst Martin "Deficio" Lynge for his take on EU's Worlds representatives. Here's what he thought may be holding the region back internationally.
Competitively and going into worlds, what are EU’s biggest challenges as a region?
The biggest challenge for Europe as a region going into Worlds... A lot of it comes down to best of ones, where I feel like Europe sometimes are fairly lackluster because the European teams can be a bit slow at picking up all the newest meta trends.
Think back to Worlds 2016, game 1 G2 versus CLG. G2 had no idea that Olaf was a good jungler. It was last picked by CLG, it ran over them in the early game, and they were like, "Holy shit. This is really good early on, especially if you want to camp lanes."
So things like that seem to always happen with European teams. I think that's going to be a big one for them: really trying to figure out what is the actual meta going into a best of one, which it is in the group stages.
And I think for Misfits specifically, they have shown they are a fairly good team. They understand how to play a lot of the parts of the game, but there are still, especially in the mid to late game, things they need to work on -- very specifically around how they actually force Barons and use that advantage if they are winning the early game. That's going to be a big one for them to work on, because there will be games at Worlds where they win early on.
But when you play against, let's just say SKT as an example, we all know that SKT haven't lost a game just because they lose the early game. You need to be able to play the late game and actually finish games if you want to win at Worlds, and that's going to be a big one for Misfits, generally.
Why do you think Europe is often playing catch up in relation to other regions?
This is just a theory, I don't actually 100% know the reason behind this, this is more on teams, but G2 have been kind of our flagship organization and team now for two years, and G2 is the kind of team who likes to really study what other teams are doing, see if it's good or not, test some of those "meta picks" on their own. Then they stick to these 4 to 5 champions per role and they don't really diversify too much.
When was the last time you remember G2 throwing a massive curveball in pick and ban phase? That's not them. And seeing as they are the best team, what often happens in regions where you're in this vacuum is that whatever the best team is doing in terms of draft and meta, a lot of teams are trying to copy that because it seems to be the best way to play. So we might lack some players or some teams who are really good at finding the next new thing. I think Unicorns of Love have done some good work there, like Xerxe has introduced certain junglers where suddenly we're like, "Wow, Ivern is actually really, really strong." He was one of the first players in the professional scene in the world to really play that.
So I think if we had more teams who in scrims were really theorycrafting and testing what could be the next new picks, it could be a bit faster. But it's also so hard to always predict what is the correct meta, because if the meta for your region is this style, then of course you should just play that style until you actually go to Worlds. And then its not even about you being wrong about the meta, specifically. If this works in your region and the number one goal is just to win your region, okay, as long as you can adapt. And G2 adapt pretty slowly, we know that. So, it might be one of the reasons why we feel this way.
Splyce last year at Worlds was also a team who adapted fairly slow to new changes and were kind of playing their own style, and that could be one of the reasons we are sitting with this feeling.
I think more it's just certain key parts of the macro game that Europe sometimes doesn't always keep up with. At IEM this year they learned about resetting: put so much vision pressure then reset, come back to the map with new wards, and just constantly apply pressure that way. And G2 after IEM were like, "Wow, okay we just got wrecked because of that. We need to pick up that style and perfect that."
So there's always part of the game where European scrims clearly do not teach you enough, and G2 clearly did not get challenged enough at the very, very, very highest level needed to always improve, improve, improve and realize their own weaknesses. And that's something where all the European teams need to step up and be even better.
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