SKT, the second seed from Korea and reigning two-time world champions, naturally came into this best of series as firm favourites, having looked impressive throughout the tournament thus far, perhaps as impressive as fellow Korean team Samsung Galaxy. Many were already calling them the Worlds winners elect they performed to expectations during Groups. They were, however, against a team that featured perhaps the biggest collection of individual talent at the tournament in RNG.
JUST WARMING UP
Uzi and Mata, the latter a Worlds winner himself, would look to play spoiler to SKT’s hopes of reaching the Semifinals once again. The RNG bot lane posed one of the biggest threats Bang and Wolf would face in their career. Uzi is a mechanical god, perhaps the best home grown player China has ever produced. He is a two-time Worlds finalist, and his counterpart Mata won Worlds in 2014 with Samsung White. The teams they faced in Group D, particularly North America’s TSM, had already felt their wrath in the bot lane.
In fact, this series featured perhaps the biggest collection of talent we have seen at a major League of Legends tournament matchup. Reigning champions SKT, including two-time winners Bengi and Faker, against former world champions Mata and Looper, not to mention Uzi. To see some of the best players ever to have played League of Legends professionally face each other in an historic venue like the Chicago Theater was special, even if the outcome was expected.
The series didn’t begin according to the script, however, as RNG came on to the Rift with purpose in their player while SKT struggled with the pace of the game. Key to RNG’s strategy were of course Uzi and Mata, as they picked a Jhin and Zyra combo to ensure they would have full reign over the bot lane. It wasn’t just the bot lane that showed their ability, however, as Looper reminded everyone in the Theater that he also won Worlds before, solo killing Duke for first blood.
RNG struggled to keep control of the game in the grasp as SKT’s carries began to ramp up; Faker and Bang were dangerous opponents on Viktor and Ezreal respectively, and the Chinese outfit looked to have ceded control completely to SKT, until RNG managed to pick up a completely uncontested Baron from right under SKT’s nose. The Baron turned into kills, an Elder Drake, and ultimately a shock first-game victory for RNG. We had a series on our hands.
BACK ON TRACK
SKT had to change something, they looked impotent for most of that game, and they took no time in replacing starting jungler Bengi with Blank. Bengi looked lost in game one, and to steal a line from Quickshot’s cast, he might as well have played Evelynn because he was invisible anyway. SKT’s jungler dilemma is not becoming any easier to solve, as both junglers had their high moments and low moments in the tournament, and indeed the season so far.
In stepped Blank, and SKT immediately stepped up. Blank confidently locked in an early Zac pick, while Bang and Wolf decided to take the Jhin/Zyra combo for themselves. Immediately SKT had turned the tables, recovering from their game 1 loss to take a suffocating victory in game 2, in which we saw the other side of RNG: a poor early game led to bad fight after bad fight, and their continued strategy to punish Duke allowed the rest of SKT full control over the map. Where Bengi was ineffectual, Blank was the opposite; his Zac was fearsome and he led SKT to an easy, but drawn out victory.
By game three SKT were in cruise control, as RNG continued to completely fall apart. They collapsed this time before game 3 even began, as they inexplicably gave Faker Syndra in a catastrophic draft phase. Their prioritisation of Jhin and Zyra was misguided in this case, as Faker roamed rampant while Bang played his favoured marksman Ezreal to near perfection. RNG attempted desperate teamfight after desperate teamfight, while Duke exacted revenge by dumpstering Looper repeatedly. Game 3 went to SKT, and by this point we were back on script.
Game 4 immediately looked more promising for RNG as Xiaohu picked up Aurelion Sol, and Uzi picked up an early kill in the bot lane as they once again traded picks with SKT. Game 4 was much closer than the previous two, but as expected SKT once again regained control through coordinated picks and ganks. Faker used Malzahar as a death sentence for RNG members, as anyone close enough to be ulted by Faker in the mid-to-late game was quickly collapsed on and killed indiscriminately.
ONE STEP CLOSER
There was no question who the better team was as SKT closed out the series and earned a 301 victory, granting them a ticket to New York for the Semifinals in Madison Square Garden. Tune into Saturday's Semifinal between ROX Tigers and Edward Gaming to see who the reigning Worlds winners will face in New York, and don’t forget to cheer on EU LCS’ very own H2K Gaming on Sunday, as they face Albus NoX Luna for a place in the other Semifinal against Samsung Galaxy!