Jakob ‘YamatoCannon’ Mebdi (right) telling the remaining European teams at Worlds what they must do in order to go the distance.
Screenshot: Kotaku (Twitch)

The knockout stage of League of Legends’ biggest tournament of the year gets underway this weekend with only eight teams from across the globe left. One coach, whose team was recently sent packing after their loss earlier in the week, gave an impassioned speech to two of the remaining underdog European teams, encouraging them to play the styles that most appeal to their personalities rather than what the current popular strategies demand.

“Stay true to yourselves,” said an emotional Jakob ‘YamatoCannon’ Mebdi of Team Vitality in a post-game interview last Sunday after getting knocked out by North America’s Cloud9. “Don’t try to chase anyone, don’t try to copy anyone—just be confident.” He made a reference earlier in his remarks to another European team, Misfits, who put on a show at last year’s Worlds tournament in a stunning near-upset against then back-to-back champions SKT. In arguably the best series of the event, Misifits played in improvisational and unconventional ways, pushing their more talented rivals off-balance and forcing a full five matches. Though they eventually fell 3-2, it proved those willing to take chances could still occasionally outplay the tried and true formulas.

YamatoCannon believes G2 Esports and Fnatic might prove the same. “G2 when they showed up in their style they’re winning, when Fnatic are doing their style they’re winning.,” he said.

YamatoCannon said he understood the appeal of said tried and true formulas, though, acknowledging: “There was a chase, catching up to Korea, catching up to China, always trying to learn from them.” However, he went, on, “something that I have realised is that the inspiration that everyone got from Misfits, that five-game series where they did their own thing, they came in with their own idea, and they showed up big time.”

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With $2,225,000 on the line, more than a few teams left in the tournament will need to pull rabbits out of hats in order to advance past the first round like Misfits did last year. G2 Esports will have to take on the indomitable Royal Never Give Up on Saturday morning in a best-of-five series while Fnatic faces Edward Gaming on Sunday. Though Fnatic finished at the top of its group with only one loss, it was also competing in the easiest group of the bunch. G2 Esports was better tested, but none of its opponents were anywhere near what the team is likely to face this weekend against China’s powerhouse, Royal Never Give Up. That team secured a commanding first-place finish in the LPL Summer season and sports the ruthless Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao as its bottom-lane carry.

Both teams will need to channel YamatoCannon’s passion if they have any hope of climbing the mountains before them, which is why he didn’t mince words in his final remarks. “Play your next games believing you can win fucking everything,” he said. “Do that for me Europe, please!”

Matches start midnight both Friday and Saturday, with rebroadcasts at noon the following days. You can catch all of Worlds’ matches streaming live or on demand at Riot’s Twitch channel.

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Outside the world of MOBAs, you can also catch East Coast Throwdown 2018, a collection of fighting game tournaments taking place in Fairfield, New Jersey. Top billing goes to Street Fighter V, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Tekken 7, and the newly released Soul Calibur 6, but there will be plenty of other games and side tournaments as well. Play begins on Saturday at 8:00am ET with top 8 beginning on Sunday at noon (full schedule here). You can catch all the action on the event’s Twitch channel.

Last but certainly not least, the Tetris World Championship is going on this weekend at the Retro Gaming Expo in Portland, Oregon. Jonas Neubauer will be looking to claim his eighth title at the event. The event gets underway today and will continue throughout the weekend with dozens of players going head to head in the original game played on CRTs. It’s great. Seriously. You don’t want to miss it.