Samsung Galaxy secured their place in the Semifinals of Worlds after dominating North America’s Cloud9 3-0 in their best of five series. LCK third seed SSG will face the winner of Sunday’s clash between H2K and Albus NoX Luna, while NA’s hopes of a Worlds semifinalist for the first time since Season 1 were buried once again.
It looked like business as usual for Samsung Galaxy, as they cruised to victory in three games. They continued where they left off following their 5-1 finish in Groups, as every member of the mostly young squad stepped up and showed no nerves in front of a crowd wishing for them to lose. They walked out to a cacophony of boos as the home crowd made their allegiance known, but left the stage to a chorus of respectful cheers as the crowd realised their team was simply outclassed.
Samsung had an obvious game plan that we saw as soon as soon as they locked in their bans, with two focused on the mid lane to ensure Jensen could not play his comfort picks into Crown. Crown opened with the Cassiopeia pick, countered by Jensen’s Orianna pick, a matchup he would play both sides of before the series ended. He showed his dominance early in the game, confidently turning a 3 v 1 gank attempt on his life in the mid lane into a first blood for himself. C9 executed poorly, Samsung (or rather Crown) capitalised, and that play set the tone of the series going forward.
Samsung thrashed C9 in similar fashion to their Group Stage games, winning in just over 26 minutes. It's difficult to name standout players in such dominant performances, but special mention must go to top layer Cuvee. He channelled 2015 Smeb as he solo killed Impact multiple times on Ekko, no matter what lane he moved to. Considering both players had the most solo kills in the group stages, it was impressive to see the matchup be so one-sided between the two. Top die indeed.
Cloud9 lasted longer in game 2, and looked to have recovered from the devastating loss in game 1. They contested lanes better, they beat Samsung to multiple dragons, and ultimately looked like they were better able to react to Samsung and even anticipate some of their plays. It all came crashing down around the baron, however, as C9 lost 4 for 0 leading to a free Baron for the Korean team. As is often the case with the absolute best Korean teams, if you give them even a fingernail they'll bite your entire arm off. Samsung were ruthless and racked up a 5.5k Baron power play to assume complete control over the game. C9 crumbled, and Samsung took a 2-0 lead.
KENCH STATUS: UNBENCHED
C9 were down 0-2 and needed to respond to Samsung’s dominance. C9 fans who watched their run in 2015 might have thought Samsung had activated C9’s trap card: the reverse sweep. The third seed from North America had shocked fans in the past with their ability to clutch out victories from impossible situations, but those always involved former mi/jungler/support Hai, and despite their attempts to plug him into any role they can find, Hai is not with the team this year, meaning no reverse sweep for C9.
For the first time at Worlds 2016, Meteos turned to his pocket pick: Zac. The Secret Weapon was just that for C9 in the past, and is one of Meteos’ most iconic champions. If they were going to win a game, it would be this one. Alas Samsung continued to prove too strong for C9, and Samsung had a specialty pick of their own available to them in game 3. For the first time in the series, CoreJJ’s Tahm Kench was not banned, and he suitably unbenched the Kench and made C9 pay for it. Some of us adore Tahm Kench for what he enables, others loathe the champion for what he prevents, but anybody watching that game could see CoreJJ’s prowess on Tahm Kench and respect it. Time after time he plucked his carries out of perilous situations, and enabled Samsung to dive and aggro trade with his awareness.
As can often be the case when Tahm Kench is in the game, it was a frustrating loss for C9. It never felt like the North American team had a chance. This was not a case of underperforming under heavy pressure, nor was it a case of just not getting started. C9 looked outclassed by a wonderful Samsung team that should realistically make it all the way to the final. They will be disappointed in their loss, but ultimately will realise that the best team won out in this series, and advancing to the Quarterfinals in the first place was a good result for them.
After crushing NA’s hopes, Samsung will now look ahead to the last Quarterfinals clash on Sunday, as H2K and Albus NoX Luna face off for a spot in Madison Square Garden, New York City against Samsung in the Semifinals. Samsung showed their power today, and staked a claim to perhaps even go all the way and win the tournament. Whoever faces them in the Semifinals is in for perhaps the toughest match of their careers. Tune into H2K vs ANX on Sunday to cheer on the EU LCS team as they attempt to make it to the Semifinals!