The dust has settled from a tremendous first day of games at IPL 5. None of the 16 teams have been eliminated yet, but 10 are already down in the loser's side of the bracket including current MLG champions Azubu Blaze and the reigning IPL champions Team SoloMid. The day featured a number of one sided games and viewers around the world got a chance to see each and every team compete. Everyone thus far seems to be playing for third place as World Elite and the Taipei Assassins appear to be on another plane from everyone else in the tournament thus far. For the complete bracket, schedule and VoDs, check out Leaguepedia. Let's take a look at just how the first day shook out.
With the late addition of Fnatic, Group A quickly became one of the tougher groups of the tournament. World Elite proved to be the cream of the crop defeating both Fnatic and Azubu Blaze in lopsided matches with Misaya and Weixiao showing why they are one of the most feared AP Mid and AD carry players respectively. Weixiao in particular absolutely crushed his opponents and proved that even Captain Jack is no match for him at the AD Carry position. He might meet his match later in the tournament if and when World Elite comes across TPA and Bebeisadog or perhaps Doublelift from CLG.Prime but thus far he has been unstoppable. World Elite played their quarterfinal match against the famed Moscow 5 already, and handled them in short order winning 2 very lopsided games. After the first day of games World Elite appears to be the team to beat.
Group A also saw a very flat Azubu Blaze team. They came out and despite an early victory over Dynamic never got rolling in their games and their performance was very lackluster compared to the level League of Legends viewers are use to seeing them perform. Against Fnatic, they weren't even able to put up much of a fight and plenty of credit goes to Fnatic for that, but it just seemed like something was off with Blaze today. Their new top lane, Flame, didn't live up to the level of dominance Shy provided for Blaze when they won MLG Dallas just a few weeks ago, and all of Blaze will have to improve if they intend to make a run in the loser's bracket tomorrow starting with a match against Blackbean.
As badly as Blaze played, Fnatic showed why they just won at Dreamhack a week ago and showed that Europe has more to offer than just M5 and CLG.EU with their big wins today, but have to face reigning world champions TPA tomorrow. Dynamic, a team that struggles on LAN with just North American teams in attendance just seemed outclassed in this group and fell behind early in both matches unable to recover. They can rebound tomorrow in the loser's bracket, but they must start with Curse.NA a team that has fared very well against them in recent weeks.
Going into the group stages, many people believed both CLG teams would have a fairly easy time advancing. CLG.Prime demolished Fear in their first game before meeting their rival and brother European team to see who would place first in the group. CLG.EU won a level fight 3-0 at their opponents red and never looked back in this match snowballing this gigantic early lead into a dominating victory and first place in their group. Froggen is up to his usual dominance even pulling out a Jarvan mid against TSM, and the rest of the team has shown up ready to play as well with Yellowpete impressing on Ezreal all day. CLG.EU rode their group stage momentum into a quarterfinal 2-0 demolition of TSM, but must face the red hot World Elite next.
CLG.Prime rebounded after their lost to CLG.EU though to play Fear again and continued their mastery of Fear on LAN beating them yet again in a one-sided affair. On a day where all the top AD carries seemed to be submitting their resume for the best in the world, Doublelift submitted a cumulative score of 25-3-10 in his 3 games on Thursday. Doublelift's play really set the tone and he worked over Aphromoo in their matches today. Game 1 he proved that his Caitlyn was as destructive as his Vayne and the results weren't much different in the second game. If Doublelift can continue to play like this and the rest of the team doesn't make themselves too heavy, Prime has a good shot at still being alive going into Sunday.
Fear managed to beat the Hong Kong team Iceland in a match where Aphromoo snowballed out of control on Ezreal, but just never could get anything going against their North American nemesis. They seemed to be forever slotted as a second tier North American team for now, and will have to go back to the drawing board to compete with the top teams around the world. Fear isn't out of it yet though, and still can try to make some noise starting with a match against fellow North American team Meat playground tomorrow. Iceland just didn't seem ready on Day 1 of the event and playing on LAN in Las Vegas is surely a lot to take in for a team that is new to all the huge buzz. They will get another shot tomorrow against SGS and will hope to win at least one match before the tournament is over.
Group C featured reigning IPL champions TSM in what most people considered the weakest of the four groups at the tournament. However, Curse.EU quickly showed TSM in the opening game of Group C that this wasn't going to be a walk in the park for them on the back of Creaton's terrific Vayne play. Curse.EU took the game to TSM and just beat them soundly in lanes and snowballed the victory home before doing the same to the Singapore Sentinels to take first place in the group. Curse.EU looked more like the team that won at Tales of the Lane than the one that had the disappointing Dreamhack performance, and Patoy filled in the recently vacated support slot by SuperAZE admirably for the team. They drew CLG.Prime in the winner's quarterfinals tomorrow and will have their hands full dealing with a Doublelift who appears to be on top of his game.
Singapore Sentinels were making their trip back to the states since a very disappointing 5th place finish at the IPL:Face Off in San Francisco. They showed some interesting strategies and champions by playing champions like Janna and Karma mid to take advantage of their famous "shield" compositions along with having Urgot as an AD Carry. Their strategies helped them to cruise to a win over Meat Playground, but they were outclassed by the likes of Curse.EU and TSM without too much trouble. TSM avoided the loser's bracket with their win over SGS, but proved they just aren't the same dominant team they were after getting steamrolled by CLG.EU in the winner's quarterfinals. TSM will likely play Azubu Blaze tomorrow in the loser's bracket, and will need to win their first ever games against a Korean team if they don't want another early exit from a tournament.
Meat Playground came into the tournament as a heavy underdog with nothing to lose except all their games, which unfortunately for them is still an option after today. They have a shot at redemption against Fear tomorrow, but would have to play Moscow 5 in the next round if they manage to beat them. If anything this will prove to be a good learning experience for a young team that has a lot of room to improve before the Season 3 qualifiers are over.
Group D was widely considered the toughest group going into the tournament with reigning world champions Taipei Assassins and perennial contender Moscow 5 headlining the group. Taipei Assassins made quick work of Blackbean in their opening game that featured a number of highlight reel plays from Bebe on Ezreal including a pentakill. TPA matched up against Moscow 5 in what proved to be one of the more exciting and close games of the tournament, but in the end TPA proved too strong for Moscow 5 yet again and pulled out the victory and the top spot in Group D. The champs will take on Fnatic next and should be heavily favored.
Moscow 5 began their day by narrowly escaping an upset by Curse in their first game of the day before they fell to TPA. Curse was going to get a rematch against them and should have taken game 1 off them, but the Russians rebounded to absolutely crush Curse with, believe it or not, AP Yi mid lane. Alex Ich loves his snowball-y assassin mid-laners like Evelynn so Master Yi should fit right in there and he proved it wasn't a troll pick by turning in a dominant performance and nabbing a fantastic pentakill before the game was done. Moscow 5 couldn't build any momentum off such a dominating performance though because they ran into World Elite in the quarterfinals. The foolishly let Misaya play Twisted Fate in the opening game of the series, and never had a significant lead in either of the matches against World Elite. They face a tough road in the loser's bracket but it would be a surprise if we didn't hear from Moscow 5 again before this tournament is over.
Curse lived up to their reputations by playing well in the tournament, but not being able to close out and finish strong. They had a healthy early lead against Moscow 5 in the opening game of the groups but couldn't turn turn a mid-game advantage into a late-game lead because of poor team fighting and not forcing objectives early enough. They were able to bounce back and win over the team from Thailand Blackbean, but find themselves in the loser's bracket yet again. If they want to an early exit from IPL 5, they must first beat Team Dynamic tomorrow, a team they have historically owned. Curse also finds themselves on the side of the loser's bracket that doesn't contain either Moscow 5, Azubu Blaze, or TSM, so they certainly could still make a run.
As for Blackbean, they too seemed outclassed in their first LAN and failed to win on the opening day of the event. They didn't look competitive against TPA at all, and didn't fare too much better against Curse, but just like Curse they are on the easier side of the loser's bracket. They drew the Singapore Sentinels in the first round of the loser's bracket, a team that didn't look particularly strong either so there is hope they could at least win a game in Las Vegas, but they aren't likely to see another round or two at most from the event.
The tournament has been a series of one-sided matches where a team jumps out to an early lead and snowballs the victory in short order with very few exceptions. Some teams have looked good at times but World Elite appears to be the cream of the crop coming out of Day 1 with terrific play from all their lanes carrying at different points in the day. TPA certainly can't be forgotten, and it can be hard to keep up the very top level play over a four day event, but it would be very surprising at this point if the winner's finals were not between World Elite and Taipei Assassins.
Many teams will look to rebound on the second day of the tournament including Azubu Blaze, Moscow 5 and TSM, but they all find themselves on the same side of the loser's bracket and will certainly be fun to watch which of those teams can climb out of the early holes they dug themselves. We have seen a number of interesting champions from Jarvan to AP Yi to Karma, and that's just in the mid lane. Twitch has been seen in the AD Carry role by a number of North American teams and despite the one-sided matches they have been fun to watching. Be sure to watch tomorrow's games for even more exciting competitive League of Legends and stay tuned to Reign of Gaming for more updates on IPL 5 and all your other LoL related news and theorycrafting!
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