China's OMG, Russia's Gambit Gaming, South Korea's SK Telecom SKT1, and Fnatic with players from all over Europe are the four teams to qualify into the bracket stage. While OMG and SKT1 ran away with Group A, the deciding spots from Group B came down to the final day of games between the top five teams. They will now face off against the four regional winners which have an automatic berth into the quarterfinals, with OMG playing fellow Chinese team Royal Club, Fnatic taking on Cloud 9 from the United States, Gambit against Najin Sword, and SKT1 verse Taiwan's Gamania Bears.
"I think the Chinese are the unexpected region so far, they've been playing really well," says Cloud 9 Jungler Will "Meteos" Hartman.. "We played Royal and have watched OMG play--they put insane pressure on the map and really know how to push an advantage. The Chinese teams are the ones to watch out for the most."
What looked to be a lost game for Gambit against Vulcun, and with it an automatic bid by Korea's Samsung Ozone into the brackets, was turned around after mistakes by the Americans in the mid-game. Gambit came back to secure the victory and force a one-game decider with Ozone to determine the last spot. Led by captain Alexey Ichetovkin's Kassadin, Gambit defeated Ozone for the second time at the Championships, and secured themselves into the bracket stage.
"We should lose that game, the game was lost," Ichetovkin told GameSpot about their match against Vulcun, thinking their tournament life was coming to an end. "But we were fighting till the end."
“I was much more prepared for the game against Ozone and it paid off. I asked [Fnatic]’s XPeke about the matchup and the style beforehand.”
Gambit will now go up against Korea's top seeded team Najin Sword in the first round of the quarterfinals, the team he wanted to face the least.
"I don’t want to go against Najin Sword," Ichteovkin said before the brackets were drawn. "We don't know anything about them, we have no information. We've scrimmaged all the teams except Najin."
A transatlantic battle waits ahead for Cloud 9 and Fnatic, as America's far and away number one team is faced with a hungry European squad who has only lost one game at the championships thus far.
"We've practiced [with] a few of the international teams such as Gambit and Lemondogs," says Cloud 9's Hartman. "We've been watching all the games from World's, play solo queue, just doing anything we can to prepare. When I watch the games I look for certain things and how teams play, but I don't want to go into what I’m looking for."
"Our play style holds up to the other regions and we're not significantly behind like some people like to think we are. Fnatic’s been playing really well, I don’t really know how it’ll go.”
“Cloud 9 and Gama Bears are probably the two easies [teams to play in the Quarterfinals], but I’m really not sure at all," said Fnatic Lauri "Cyanide" Happonen before the brackets were drawn. “It’s really hard to figure out these teams because we haven’t seen anything from them. "It'll be easier for them to research us, but it might be our advantage that we are kind of warmed up from the groups, while it’s their first offline event in a while."
The group stages ended with some controversy between Team SoloMid and SKT1, where hometown fans for TSM attempted to notify the team of upcoming ganks from SKT1. While players use noise-cancelling headsets, teams competing in the group stage are not inside sound-protected booths which are standard for all games in OGN's Champions League.
Counter Logic Gaming Owner and former starter George "HotShotGG" Georgallidis is not happy with the current setup that Riot Games has for the players.
"Riot, please stop this bulls**t and get soundproof booths," Georgallidis wrote in a scathing statement on Reddit. "The extra production value is not worth it. Putting the white noise up DOESN'T HELP, so please stop that too. I'm sorry, but this issue has gone on for too long. I've heard countless Barons and ganks as they were happening because of the speakers + audience. In my pro career I can safely safe I've heard GAME CHANGING things from the outside at least 5 or 6 times."
"Ruining the spirit and fairness of competition is NOT worth it. I love Riot and everything they've done for the scene but this just boils my blood to hear about every time. Sympathize for the players, I know a game where it was lost for a team due to players hearing outside noises. Even if there is a small chance of it happening, this is a teams future being diminished because of negligence."
At the time of publishing, Riot Games has not responded to requests for comment.
The Quarterfinals begin today at 3 p.m. EST/Noon PST and continue through Thursday. The Semifinals at the Galen Center begin on Friday. Watch the event live on GameSpot each night. GameSpot eSports is live on location provided interviews every day of the championships.