LCK Week 9: Against Expectations
The penultimate week of the LCK see our teams battle for spots in the gauntlet and out of relegation as this week’s matches feature adjacent teams on the ladder.
Featured Game 1:
Samsung Galaxy lost the first iteration of this matchup earlier this split, but more painfully, they also lost this matchup 3-2 in the finals of the 2016 World Championships. That was a game of inches, and these rookies have grown since then and were out to show it.
Game 1 began with SSG’s new prodigy Haru showing exactly why he’s the next big thing to come out of the LCK. Out pathing Peanut, his early invade to deny Peanut his blue and force a flash set the SKT jungler so far behind he was by and large a nonfactor during the early game. This lack of jungle pressure allowed SSG the lanes to express themselves and play without fear. Crown and Ruler stepped up to the plate and constantly bullied and pressured the previously peerless Bang and Wolf out of lane. Haru’s aggression will soon translate to a 2 v 2 win at top and first blood followed by a solo kill onto Peanut deep in SKT’s jungle.
Holding a 6K gold lead at 24 minutes, Samsung did not miss a beat as they hopped aboard the Ryze Ult Express on a one way journey to a sneaky baron rush, catching SKT off guard and ballooning their gold lead even further. Miscommunication at the bottom inhibitor tower of the SKT base saw the world champions pounce on a split SSG. In an even game, this mistake would have been costly, however at 26 minutes into the game and with a 9K gold lead, Samsung managed to turn what was essentially a 3 v 5 into a 2 for 2 trade. A second baron allowed Samsung to slowly and methodically push baron empowered minions into the SKT nexus towers where a valiant SKT made their final stand. Despite the score being only 6 to 4 in favour of Samsung, top tier rotations and macro play saw them close the game out with a statement 14.6K gold lead.
Game 2 began with a perfectly calculated bait by CoreJJ, deceiving Bang into blowing two summoners for nothing as he flashed and healed onto a low hp Karma only to see her shield up and flee as Haru and Ruler closed in on his defenceless Ashe. However, the game looked to have turned on the top side of the map as a prolonged 5 v 5 brawl saw miscommunication once again be the downfall for Samsung as SKT took the fight 4-1 and escape with hardly a sliver of health between them.
Playing around their talismanic mid-laner, SKT look to pull further and further ahead as SKT engineered back to back picks in the mid-lane. However, Samsung would have the last laugh as they all went in on to Faker for the pick before setting their sights on a 24 minute Baron as they attempt to leverage their one man advantage. Miscommunication here would be fatal for the SSG line-up, but they played the fight immaculately. Perfect Baron dps and target calling meant that Samsung not only picked up the big purple worm but also 4 members of the SKT line-up as they wrest the game firmly back into their control.
The Baron buff set Samsung up for a fierce push down the bot-lane, and it was hook city for Cuvee as well as huge multi man stuns from Crown as Samsung picked off member after member of SKT. And as members fell, so did towers. The baron buff expires and SKT looked around to see a broken bot-lane and only a sole nexus tower stopping super minions from ending the game. Samsung would soon return down the mid-lane as SKT once again array themselves in front of their nexus in a last ditch effort to stop the SSG push. But it was not to be as Samsung Galaxy claimed their second win of the series and 2-0’d SKT,
How many teams have a 2-0 win over SKT under their belts? Not many by any count. With this win, SKT’s seemingly unstoppable march to their fourth Summoner’s cup suddenly doesn’t look as easy as it once did. SSG were deserved winners of this set, having out played SKT on not only an individual level but also a macro level. Anyone who stayed for the interview after the game could easily see the joy on Haru’s face as well as those on any other member of the squad. One begins to wonder what these grins would have looked like had this same matchup gone slightly differently 6 months ago. Perhaps we will find out later this year.
Week 9 of the LCK was rife with heroes. Mickey pulled out his trademark Twisted Fate to guide ROX to a win over a rising MVP. SSG Ruler, never dying and ever doing damage. The whole KDM line-up put together such a clean and concerted performance; you could arguably give the award to the entire roster. However, the MVP this week goes to SSG Haru. With Haru, SSG look like world beaters. His aggressive early play in game 1 against SKT made peanut a non – factor and allowed his lanes to express themselves and play aggressively, outplaying SKT in every lane. Samsung has always been a renowned late game team fighting machine and with the addition of Haru SSG look like a side that can wrest a lead early and ruthlessly close out the game. Early game aggression and mid/late game picks, Haru has to be a big talking point for the SKT staff as SKT plot their revenge in a gauntlet that looks increasingly more explosive every week.
Elsewhere on the Rift:
A week to forget for KT as a defeat to MVP as well as a shocking loss to KDM means they go winless for the first week this split. Time to worry? With the gauntlet rapidly approaching and rivals SSG and MVP looking stronger and cleaner with every passing series, one should think so. On the other hand, Afreeca have arrested their slide as they claim a 2-0 week, notably coming from behind twice to take a critical 2-0 over rivals LZ. The ROX Tigers also join the 2-0 club as they recover from their IEM woes and rally behind a surging Mickey for another dominant week. However, a loss to JAG means that despite KDM’s heroics against KT, they only go 1-1 during the week
This week’s results:
Samsung Galaxy 2 – 0 Jin Air GreenWings
BBQ Olivers 1 – 2 ROX Tigers
Kt Rolster 1 – 2 MVP
SK Telecom 2 – 1 LongZhu
Jin Air GreenWings 2 – 1 Kongdoo Monster
Afreeca Freecs 2 – 1 BBQ Olivers
Samsung Galaxy 2 – 0 SK Telecom
MVP 1 – 2 ROX Tigers
Afreeca Freecs 0 – 2 Longzhu Gaming
Kt Rolster 1 – 2 Kongdoo Monster