Three lessons from League of Legends’ first day at IEM Katowice

Taylor Cocke

(Image: Patrick Stack, eslgaming.com)

The first day of action at IEM Katowice is over for the League of Legends squads. Group A has been decided, with Royal Never Give Up and Team SoloMid moving on to the semifinals on Sunday.

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The group went as expected, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t learned anything from the games. Here are some of the big takeaways from Friday of IEM Katowice.

(Image: Patrick Stack, eslgaming.com)

TSM isn’t quite ready yet

Despite the sheer amount of talent on Team SoloMid, they simply haven’t come together as a world-class team.

They’ve shown moments of brilliance, but the good calls are often sandwiched between minutes upon minutes of questionable ones. Often able to put up early leads, they’re struggling to find clean wins. Against Origen and ESC Ever (in their rematch, that is), it didn’t matter, but against higher caliber teams, it will. Whoever is making the final calls (probably Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim) hasn’t found their rhythm yet, and it’s showing on the international stage.

For TSM to repeat their tournament-winning performance from last year’s IEM Katowice, they’ll have to settle down, remember their win conditions, and execute. The likes of SK Telecom T1, Royal Never Give Up, and Qiao Gu Reapers will be more than willing to punish any questionable calls the NA squad makes. So sure, they may have moved on today, but TSM needs a lot of work to be a true threat internationally.

(Image: H. Kristiansson, eslgaming.com)

In this meta, anything can happen

Team fight metas are famously unpredictable, and Katowice’s brawling matches are no different. Take a look at the first match of the day with TSM throwing away a massive lead to ESC Ever. Despite a Doublelift pentakill, they managed to lose the match to the amateur Korean team. It all came down to a single blown team fight, with TSM falling over and Ever shoving directly up the mid lane, through five turrets, and onto the Nexus.

Some fans are calling for death timer changes to stop that sort of comeback, but for now, it’s a legit part of the meta landscape. Teams are just going to have to deal with it. More cautious squads will be much more careful about where and when they pick their team fights, while more aggressive teams will be constantly looking for them.

(Image: Lolesports/Riot Games)

Royal Never Give Up is the real deal

They may have only played two games on Day 1, but Royal Never Give Up emerged as the clear frontrunners from the admittedly less competitive Group A. With 2014 World Champions Mata and Looper leading the charge from the top and support slots, they stormed over Origen and ESC Ever on their way to a quick and easy semifinal qualification.

With the veteran support of those two Korean imports, the rest of the team is able to run rampant. Mid laner Xiaohu and AD carry Wuxx have both shown that they can carry on the international stage, while mixg has given the world a hint of his versatility, playing both the carry-oriented Nidalee and the tankier Gragas. And unfortunately for the teams hoping to bring them down, they haven’t shown much in the way of weaknesses.

After the wackiness that was Group A, Taylor Cocke won’t be missing a second of Group B. You can follow him as he loses his mind on Twitter @taylorcocke.

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