THE RACE TO THE SUMMONER’S CUP
The start of the Season 5 League of Legends World Championships saw 16 teams from across the globe each fighting within their respective regions for a place at the Finals that take place this weekend in Berlin.
For the first time ever the two teams who will be battling it out for the $1,000,000 prize are from Korea. Whether SKT T1 or KOO Tigers take home the title it will be the third championship that LCK (LoL Champions Korea) pick up. This fact alone asserts their regional dominance for yet another year despite the Korean exodus to China following the end of season 4.
SKT T1 are currently undefeated in the tournament, taking decisive victories over each and every team they have faced. This trend is impressive and marks the first time any team has entered the finals undefeated. SKT are currently in top form dominating solo lanes, vision control, early game pressure and skirmishes. It is hard to find any real flaw in their playstyle.
KOO Tigers on the other hand entered the tournament on shaky grounds. Leaving group A, one of the easiest groups, with only the 2nd seed it appeared that KOO were not on form. Their incredible late game team fighting style that we’ve seen in the past hasn’t been on display so far in the tournament.
In the Top Lane we have Smeb of the KOO Tigers – known for carrying the team through many victories with his aggressive and assertive carry top lane style – facing down SKT’s Captain Marin. Marin is having the tournament of his lifetime, absolutely crushing lane opponents.
The figures show both these Laners hold an immense presence in their team, and will play a key part across the series in deciding how the games roll out. In an ideal scenario where Top Laners are left to their own, able to 1v1 each other to their hearts content, it is not impossible to imagine a scenario in which Smeb is able to man-handle Marin to the point of exhaustion – if only things were so simple.
The reality of the Top Lane is that lane swaps occur and ganks will happen. Teleport Mid Laners are a thing of the present. It is far and away from a 1v1 lane, although I do expect to see many solo kills throughout the series, they will be snowballed from the Jungle. Due to these factors, I am inclined to tilt slightly in the favor of Marin for this series.
Leading into Junglers we have SKT’s Bengi – seasoned veteran of the jungle, vision control and pathing genius – who will be looking to apply as much pressure as possible to KOO Tigers Hojin. Hojin has consistently shown good performances throughout the tournament so far.
The Junglers in these finals will be aiming to get inside of their counterparts jungle and heads. Hojin will need to focus his efforts on shadowing and counter-ganking for his lanes to prevent Bangi from creating snowball scenarios. Bengi will likely focus more on providing sufficient vision for his Laners to play aggressively to capitalise on their advantages have a strong early game.
In the Mid Lane either of SKT’s dominating Mid Laners should be more than a match for KOO’s Kuro, who himself has only managed to hold himself in his lane, and has yet to do much else other than survive. SKT hold all the cards in the Mid Lane Matchup, more than likely playing their starting laner Faker, notoriously the best Mid Laner in the world – gifted with the ability to crush and immediately jump upon the weaknesses of his enemies. Alternatively they could play Easyhoon if they wish to dominate the later game team fights and beat KOO Tigers at their own playstyle. The Mid Lane is certainly favoured towards SKT.
SKT’s bot lane famously plays a more passive role throughout the laning phase in order to balance out for the other lanes innate aggressiveness. This is by no means due to the duo of Wolf & Bang being unable to play an oppressive lanestyle, and as such they should not be underestimated. With this being said, it would be most apparent for KOO Tigers bot lane of Gorilla & Pray to play a more aggressive laning style in order to capitalise on SKT’s tendency in choosing priority picks for the other roles. Bot lane would be the only position which can slightly sway in the favour of the KOO Tigers.
THE GAME PLAN
SKT play aggressively and oppressively from the get go. Looking at KOO Tigers history as a team that usually gets behind in the laning phase and makes up for it with superior late game execution SKT T1 is likely to dominate in this phase..
If the KOO Tigers have any chance of taking a game off of SKT they will have to attempt to remain even throughout the laning phase, because SKT are a team that, once ahead, will not fall behind, and will decisively turn that gold and objective lead, into a dead Nexus.
I believe that due to their dominant and consistent performance throughout the Summer LCK split, and the tournament thus far, that we will see a repeat of the SKT v KOO Tigers match of the Spring finals, where SKT commanded the entire series and took the finals 3-0.
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