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League of Legends World Championship Semi-Finals Preview
This weekend, on October 21st and 22nd, in Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Season 6 League of Legends World Championship Semifinals will occur. The semis, which are the 3rd round of the 16 team “Worlds” tournament, features all three teams from Korea, and a European underdog. Both games are looking to be competitive, so we hope that this article can be a guide for those watching, in order to have a better understanding of what’s going on, and for whom to cheer for. In order to do that, let’s start off with the teams that will be competing in the first game on October 21st.
Game 1: SK Telecom T1 (League Championship Korea; also known as LCK) vs ROX Tigers (LCK)
Summary: This is the heavyweight matchup of the weekend, with the first two Korean seeds facing off in what is sure to be a slugfest between what many consider to be the best two teams in the world currently. SK Telecom T1, ubiquitously known as SKT, is on an absolute tear right now, and is looking like heavy favorites to repeat for their 3rd League of Legends championship trophy. They are the only 2 time winners, and still have a deep roster, with all 5 starters being considered amongst the best in the world at their positions.
The Team: SKT
Champions to look out for: Jhin (Bang), Zyra (Wolf). The bot lane duo of Wolf and Bang brought out and popularized the high damage bot lane of Zyra and Jhin. While in theory, this bot lane should fall apart easily to a hard engage team comp, Wolf’s mastery of peel and disengage on Zyra allows for the duo to put a high amount of damage out in fights, all while staying safe. When strategizing against SKT, ROX will have to figure out what they want to do about these two champs.
How did they get here: They cruised through group B, only dropping one game to the Flash Wolves. Group B was considered one of the toughest groups in the tournament, but SKT flew through it easily. The quarterfinals then saw them against inconsistent but talented Chinese squad Royal Never Give Up (RNG), with SKT defeating them handily 3-1 off of solid performances up and down the roster.
How they can win: By playing their game. Aggressive lane phases followed by clean rotations and team fights is the key for SKT. It’s nigh impossible to ban out anyone on this team, so teams looking to take them down will need to capitalize on winning strategies, or to introduce pressure in the early game.
Odds of winning this weekend: 60%.
Odds of winning the title: 50%.
The team: ROX
Champions to look out for: Lee Sin (Peanut), Aurelion Sol (Kuro), Caitlyn (Pray). Peanut looked absolutely dominating on Lee Sin, and provided a lot of early pressure for his team last weekend. He’ll need to keep that up if ROX is to have a chance against SKT. My guess though is that the champion might just get banned outright by SKT. Meanwhile in the mid lane, Kuro had a great showing on Aurelion Sol, a champ that when not disabled by some sort of glitch or bug, is an absolute teamfight and roaming force. It’s also not a champ Faker is known for, so it’ll be interesting to see how it’s addressed in the pick/ban phase. My guess? That Faker will bring out an assassin to get in the dragon’s face.
How did they get here: ROX had a slightly bumpier ride, dropping a game to America’s Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) and Russia’s Albus Nox Luna (ANX). Nevertheless, they advanced as the first seed out of group A, which was one of the easier groups in the tournament. The quarterfinals then had them face off against China’s #1 seed Edward Gaming (EDG), a game in which quite a few predicted an EDG upset of the Koreans. However, this proved not to be the case, as ROX efficiently dismantled EDG; 3-1.
How they can win: Pressure, team fights, and vision. The early game is going to be imperative for ROX, for if they were playing any other opponent, I would feel good about their chances of having late game comebacks. But as this is SKT, ROX will need to have a lead and pressure it in order to impose their will in this series. Peanut’s early game on champs like Elise, Lee Sin, and Olaf will need to be on point in order to try and keep the team in good position for forward wards. If they can establish those, then team fighting champs like Ryze, Kennen, and Aurelion Sol can potentially set up big plays with their teleports and roams.
Odds of winning this weekend: 40%
Odds of winning the title: 30%
Who Should I cheer for? If you like dominating, crisp, clean League of Legends, then SKT would be the clear choice. If you like underdogs who like to have strong teamfights, then ROX is your team.
Game 2: Samsung Galaxy (SSG) vs H2K
Summary: On the bottom half of the bracket is the underdog teams, SSG and H2K. Both teams however don’t care what side of the bracket they are on, they’re just going to be looking to make this an entertaining semi-final, and it definitely should be. Both teams are relatively even-matched on the surface. Samsung Galaxy is the re-animated corpse of the dominating Samsung White team from Season 4, while H2K is the European underdog hoping to bring Europe to their first final in a long time.
The Team: Samsung Galaxy
Champions to look out for: Viktor (Crown), Cassiopeia (Crown), Karma (Core JJ). We start in the midlane, where Crown is an absolute monster on Viktor. It remains a champ that, in my opinion, should be banned every game against SSG. However, this sometimes isn’t enough, as was shown in the quarterfinals against Cloud 9. Crown then displayed some impressive Cassiopeia showings, which is something he’ll have to do for the rest of the tournament, given the serpent lady’s strength in the 6.18 patch.
How did they get here: Samsung Galaxy was the top team in group D, only dropping a single game to America’s number one seed, Team Solo Mid (TSM). Galaxy, the Korean 3rd seed, was expected to do well in the group, but their dominating group performance far exceeded expectations. Those expectations then continued to grow given their 3-0 stomp of America’s #3 seed, Cloud 9, in the quarterfinals.
How they can win: By pressuring the top half of the map, and allowing it to affect the bottom half. Roster wise, Samsung Galaxy and H2K match up fairly evenly. Especially in the bot lane, where H2K’s Forgiven and Vander have been solid this tournament. However, if there is one place that Samsung has an advantage, I would say it’s in the first 3 positions, particularly in the jungle. Jankos is a solid jungler for H2K, but I believe that Ambition is just a step above him. If Ambition can get on a pick he likes, and can take over Jankos’ pressure, then Samsung can focus on getting Crown and Cuvee fed in their lanes, allowing for teleport (TP) plays all over the map. Expect objectives like Dragon, Rift Herald, Scuttle, and even Blue and Red Buffs to be fought over this series, as both teams like to have a solid mid-game.
Odds of winning this weekend: 60%
Odds of winning the title: 20%
The Team: H2K
Champions to look out for: Jayce (Odoamne), Lee Sin (Jankos), Vladimir (Ryu), Zyra (Vander). Starting in the top lane, Jayce was played for H2K last weekend, meaning that the controversial pick is a favored one by this European squad. In the jungle, Jankos played Lee Sin to a high level, similar to Peanut on ROX. And like Peanut, he’ll have to continue the success on the blind monk in order to pull off the upset vs Samsung. For Ryu, it’s important to see what kind of role and priority Vladimir will have. By 6.18 the meta was slowly pulling away from Vladimir, but Ryu pulled it out vs ANX. I doubt it will get much play vs SSG, but it’ll be really important to keep an eye on. Lastly, Vander’s Zyra was excellent, which is a pick that will be key to helping with peel and zoning in H2K’s teamfights, particularly considering the talent the three remaining Korean teams have in that aspect of the game.
How did they get here: The Europeans went 4-0 on their last day in Group C to advance as the number one seed in what many would consider the easiest group in the tournament. They would show that it was no fluke though, as they quickly beat Russia’s Albus Nox Luna 3-0 to secure a place in the semi-finals.
How they can win: Jankos and Forg1ven excel. These two are two of the biggest damage and pressure creators on H2K. If Jankos is able to get early game pressure over ambition, and if Forg1ven can take charge of the bot lane versus Ruler and Core JJ, then H2K’s odds considerably improve. H2K has a solid macro understanding of the game, and transitions from mid to late game quite well.
(If Forg1ven plays well, H2K can surprise folks.)
Odds of winning this weekend: 40%
Odds of winning the title: 5%
Who Should I cheer for?
If you like underdogs who like to rotate pressure around the map and/or if you like the West to win for the first time since Season 1: H2K
If you like aggressive teleports, and team fight based League of Legends: Samsung Galaxy
These games will be happening at 6:00 PM Eastern Time at Lolesports.com , which is Riot Games’ main website for hosting professional League play. The games are free to watch, and Riot’s production value is quite excellent. That also wraps up our summary of the semi-finals. Who are you cheering for this weekend? Who do you think will win? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, thank you for reading.