Originally posted on lolesports.com by Jem Alexander
At a World Championship that's already seen an abundance of surprises, it's nice that at least one thing's going as expected.
Korea's SKTelecom T1 surprised no one by securing their ticket to London and their spot in the Quarterfinals. The fact that they succeeded in doing so undefeated, with a 6-0 win streak in the Group Stage, won't come as a shock to anyone.
Despite this exemplary performance, top laner Gyeong-hwan "Marin" Jang feels like there are still areas they can improve upon. "I am really satisfied with my performance against EDG, but with the other games, I underestimated my opponents and didn’t perform as well as I would like to," he told us. "As far as the results go, we’re satisfied. We expected three wins. But as far as team performance goes, there were some mistakes. Some miscommunication. That part didn’t go as expected and we want to work on it.
SKT's jungler Seong-ung "bengi" Bae feels that they managed to exceed their own expectations, even with any mistakes they might have made. "Our prediction was that we would 2-0 the Bangkok Titans and H2K and go at least 1-1 against [Edward Gaming] and maybe face them again in the tie-breaker. But contrary to our expectations, we actually beat EDG pretty easily, so I think we were able to get out of Groups pretty securely."
The amount of surprises and upsets we've seen here at Worlds so far could easily be down to the current state of the meta. Marin believes that, "the current meta has a lot of variables. It is very unpredictable. It’s easy to have a snowball effect, so there can be a lot of upsets." This means that even if you pick an strong champion, you're not necessarily guaranteed a win.
In Week 1 we saw a lot of players first-picking Darius in the top lane, though the performances weren't too convincing. This week we've seen top laners play the champion with a much greater degree of success. "Darius is one of the most popular champions, even in scrims. A lot of teams are getting a chance to use Darius in very different situations. Through that they have gained some mastery over him," says Marin.
On the other hand, champions that aren't seeing a lot of play are also being pulled out and taking teams unawares. We've seen some very convincing Tahm Kench plays this week, for example. Marin explains, "Tahm Kench is the most recent champion, so I feel like he hasn’t been studied enough yet. Players aren’t sure enough of him. That’s why he’s not picked as often, but he definitely has potential."
But make no mistake, we're unlikely to see Faker pull out his full AP Tahm Kench while he's at Worlds. "Unless Faker completely ignores what everybody tells him, you probably won’t be seeing Tahm Kench mid!" says Marin.
SKT played very aggressively in all of their games today. Both Marin and Faker made liberal use of Flash to jump into a fight and destroy their lane opponent, or whoever else was foolish enough to stand in the way. Bengi explains their onslaught by stating that the team "had good momentum in the games, so we decided to just keep our aggression up and try to take as much advantage as possible."
This aggression manifested in some bullying against Edward Gaming's top laner Waiho "AmazingJ" Shek, but this wasn't necessarily a strategy they planned going into the game. "It was never our intention to pick on AmazingJ. It was just that EDG’s jungler, Clearlove, showed himself a lot in the bot lane. This made it easier for us to dive the top lane and push it really fast," explains Marin.
Bengi elaborates. "I had a strategy to counter-jungle their Red," he said. "But after that, I saw Clearlove in the bottom lane, and that's why I thought top was quite defenseless. Also, at the time, the waves were in our favor against their tower. So we decided to dive him and focus on AmazingJ. I wasn't planning to babysit the top."
The pair are agreed on their expectations for the remainder of the Group Stage. They both believe that KT Rolster, Origen, Fnatic, and Cloud9 will make it to Quarterfinals. Though as we've seen over the last week, anything could happen.
Of course, Marin believes SKTelecom T1 is strong and they will do well as they progress into the competition. But there's a seed of humility in there, too. An indication that their winstreak won't necessarily last until the Finals. "We are strong. Definitely a strong team, but only slightly stronger than the other teams. It’s a gap that is easily closed if we make mistakes or if the other team is in a good condition, so it’s not a significant gap."
But surely now they've at least redeemed themselves for their loss against EDG at MSI, right? "It's not sufficiently a redemption yet. For this to be a complete revenge, I think we will have to knock them out of the subsequent stages," says bengi.
Marin agrees. "At MSI I played against Koro1. I feel like I haven’t really redeemed myself against Koro1 yet. So, whether it’s at the Semifinals or the Finals, I would like to beat the 'real EDG'," Marin explains. With Koro1 potentially starting for EDG in the Quarterfinals and beyond, Marin may get his wish. Then, and only then, will Marin happily crown himself the best top laner in the world.
"I'm not the best yet, but once I get the Championship title, then I’ll be the best."
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