Originally published on lolesports.com by Kien Lam
H2K won battle after battle throughout the night -- especially in the first two games -- but constantly found their overall war machine was being pushed back. Samsung Galaxy simply absorbed and deflected anything that even resembled a lethal a shot.
And so, for the second year in a row, an all Korean finals will take the stage. The rest of the world can only look on and wonder -- as H2K did game after game -- what more they could possibly do.
The first two games went more or less the exact same way. H2K picked a composition designed to win team fights. And they did -- making play after play to open up the early parts of games one and two. At the end of the first game, they actually had more kills than SSG, but were out-rotated and outsmarted all across the map. But the kills rarely transitioned into anything that SSG couldn’t weather. If Jankos killed top -- and he did, often -- then Ambition would take Dragon.
H2K was very good at throwing haymakers, but they repeatedly had no defense for the counter. They would activate the Sivir ultimate with Righteous Glory and pile onto the Samsung team, but the tunnel vision from H2K would leave their sides and flanks vulnerable. Sometimes Samsung would manage to trade kills, even. And all the while, the other side of their map was left wide open.
Jankos tried to secure large advantages for his top laner, Odoamne, in both games. And he succeeded. But it was largely to no avail -- in both of those games, Odoamne played team fighting champions in Kennen and Rumble, and those advantages allowed them to reach an item spike earlier. However, those spikes didn’t matter because they simultaneously lost Dragon on the other side of the map. There simply weren’t situations in which early team fights happened.
SSG top laner CuVee says, “I think my strength is that when the opponent top laner is trying to push the lane and create something macro wise, I get in there and farm to be even bigger, and then I become the pusher -- it’s something I’m really good at.”
CuVee played Ekko and Jayce respectively in those games, which would allow him to abuse Odoamne in a split push situation since he would still be able to win a 1v1 even if he lost early. This meant there was more pressure on H2K to force fights. However, the other four members of SSG were too adept at keeping their distance. H2K would slowly unravel as their engages became less and less effective. It was like watching an army be lured into a deep valley. And from above the kills, Samsung fired back.
Game 3 wasn’t even a contest. SSG rolled through an H2K team that seemed completely out of sorts. Throughout the series, the decisiveness of the SSG shotcalling overwhelmed H2K, who seemed to only know how to fight. Objective after objective fell uncontested. H2K had made it this far largely on their strengths in the lane phase, but once that no longer happened, H2K looked like they were lost.
SSG mid laner Crown in particular had a spectacular series that saw him gain significant advantages in lane against H2K’s Ryu in every single game. A lot of praise was heaped on him before the start of the tournament, and he has risen to all of it. It will be a treat to watch him take on the best player on the other side of the bracket -- and probably the entire tournament -- in SK Telecom T1’s super star, Faker.
While last night’s matchup between SKT and the ROX Tigers showcased some of the best League of Legends in history, this matchup was SSG’s attempt to tell the world that there’s more of that to come. They are now on a ten game winning streak -- and it has been rout after rout. If they’d come into this tournament with more pedigree, then people would be talking about them as if they are far and away the favorite.
For CuVee, the gulf won’t be so large. He says, “I am pretty sure that we’re going to be playing on the same level as SKT -- the easier bracket is not going to hurt our chances.”
But because they’re only months removed from their fourth place finish in the regular season of the LCK Summer Split, there are still hordes of doubters. And probably for good reason. Crown and CuVee have looked so dominant that everyone that goes against them pales in comparison. This makes it easy to think, “Well, maybe their competition just isn’t as good.”
But we’re about to find out just how good they -- the reigning champs await. For all that Crown has accomplished, they are still feats that Faker has accomplished before. The greatness of this run for SSG is routine for SKT. There is no greater challenge on the planet for SSG. That a team can win ten straight and still be an underdog is astounding.