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LemonNation Picks His Worlds Quarterfinals Winners

This year marks the first time that Daerek "LemonNation" Hart hasn't competed at Worlds since he became a League of Legends pro in 2013. He's been Cloud9's support player and analyst for the past three years, but is currently enjoying the "bittersweet experience" of watching Worlds from his comfy chair at home, stress-free, this time around.

"It's the first time I've experienced watching from the sidelines," he admits. "And it'd definitely be up there and actually competing, but at least you don't have to experience what we experienced last Worlds, where the second week we just go 0-4. That's the bitter part of it," he adds with a laugh. "So at least I avoid that! But I definitely do miss playing in Worlds."

When he was an active pro, his knowledge of the metagame and team comps was arguably unrivaled in the entire LCS. So when we were looking to get some expert insight into the epic face-offs coming in the Worlds Quarterfinals this weekend, we knew who to ask.

Samsung Galaxy vs. Cloud9

LemonNation has been revising his expectations of Samsung Galaxy quite a bit since Worlds began.

"Samsung came in with everyone thinking they were going to be the weakest Korean team, but they actually looked really good. Like I think their group was actually quite hard. I think it was probably the hardest group out of all of them, because I think Royal played really well and TSM was also very good."

He's still not exactly sure why expectations weren't very strong around Samsung. "I don't know exactly where Samsung was underrated, I think people just saw how they matched up against SKT and ROX during the regular season, and saw that they lost, and assumed that they'd be worse than them in this tournament. And that could very well still be true. I'm not sure. But Samsung just looks solid all around."

When it comes to picking a winner in their matchup with Cloud9, LemonNation laughs because he's got an obvious rooting interest. On the other hand, this is a series where his realism is clashing hard with his sentiment.

"So as far as the three Korean teams go, I thought Samsung were going to be the worst, but they looked quite good. And Cloud9 kind of struggled to get out of Groups, whereas Samsung did quite well in their group, so it's going to be quite hard [for Cloud9].

"I think Cloud9 has been playing a bit worse, especially in the second week, than they can play," he adds. "I think both Jensen and Meteos have had some issues that they haven't been playing as good as they normally do, and I think if both of them play how they were before – as good as they normally can play – I think we definitely have a chance."

SK Telecom T1 vs. Royal Never Give Up

The conventional wisdom around SKT is that this isn't their year, and the titan of Korean League is on the downslope. LemonNation isn't so sure he's ready to chisel their epitaph just yet. For him, the problem around SKT is more about the overblown expectations fans have for the team than the team itself.

"I still think SKT is not as good as they used to be, but they were still the second-best Korean team coming into Worlds and I thought they would 6-0 their group," he says.

"Before the Group Stage happened, I would've assumed that ROX would be number one and SKT would be number two. Some people were saying EDG would be the second best team at Worlds but I don't think that's going to happen. I think the Koreans are still just so far ahead."

In fact, of the Korean squads at the tournament, LemonNation has more confidence and Faker and Co. than anyone else. "First off, I would say that SKT is definitely the favorite. SKT looks the best overall in the entire tournament, at this point, to me."

"But I think Royal was unlucky to get matched against Samsung [in Groups], because they've also been looking a lot better than I thought they would," Lemon adds. "And I honestly still think TSM's a very good team and the fact that Royal beat them and made it out of a Group that was so difficult shows that they're quite strong.

The bot lane on Royal is pretty amazing, honestly. I think the only way that Royal can get through this is to dominate their bot lane. And I don't know if that's actually a possibility against SKT."

When he comes down to it, LemonNation thinks SKT are on track to add yet another title to their already-overflowing trophy case. "I would definitely give it towards SKT winning the entire thing. Even if SKT is not who they used to be, they should still — well, given how the groups worked out, it's kind of up in the air about how it's going to go all the way, but I think it's very possible that they win the entire tournament."

ROX Tigers vs. EDG

"The only real surprising thing [in the Group Stage] was ROX doing so badly, honestly," LemonNation says. He's been pretty unimpressed so far.

"ROX literally had the easiest group. Like, for sure. I'm pretty sure CLG is not that good of a team. NoX has done really well, and I'm very surprised that they made it out, but I'm pretty sure they're not that strong either."

ROX's poor tournament form is baffling to LemonNation. "And I don't know what's happening with ROX, but they're not winning their lanes.

They're really struggling for some reason and they shouldn't be. So I kind of assume that they'll get their shit together and still win this versus EDG.

Daerek "LemonNation' Hart

"I don't think EDG is — EDG is a very strong team, so I definitely think, as far as the rank-two teams coming out of Groups, EDG is the last one you'd want to face as ROX. They'd rather face almost anyone else."

That leaves LemonNation in a tough spot with this prediction. On the one hand, the ROX we've see at Worlds so far is one of the weakest teams left in the tournament. On the other hand, they could be a completely different team this week.

"ROX did the best in the regular season, but they looked very shaky [at Worlds]. I'm pretty sure they had the easiest group and they kind of barely made it out, so that's really weird, honestly," Lemon says.

"EDG was considered by a lot of people to be a top contender for the entire thing, but I still have to give it to ROX. I think ROX will just beat them. I honestly don't think it'll be that close. I think ROX will just go there and beat them, even though EDG is quite a strong team."

H2K vs. Albux NoX Luna

"I'm pretty sure H2K's first week was mostly just — I don't know what it was — but I assume it was either jet lag or some issues coming into it and not having the right meta. But they looked really bad the first week and really fucking good the second week," Lemon says.

"I see no reason why they would devolve back into their first week's playstyle. So I think they'll keep playing really well and I think they should beat NoX. They should beat NoX, definitely."

That's not to be dismissive of NoX, Lemon is quick to point out. "NoX, honestly, they played really well. Their games were actually — what happens to most wildcard teams is they can do fine in the laning phase and kind of get through that, but once it gets to the teamfighting and the late-game shotcalling stuff, they just have a lot of issues. And NoX didn't have those issues. They were actually able to close out games and they played like a really solid team."

Reality, however, is catching up with them, he thinks.

"But I still don't think they can keep it up. I think H2K will be able to beat them."

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Josh Augustine is a freelance contributor. He currently works as a game designer at Daybreak Games.

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