The LCK saw some major player-swaps in the beginning of the season.
Famous superstars like Hong “MadLife” Min-gi, Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon and
Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho left the most successful region on the planet to find new teams in North-America. The most influential one of those shifts was of course the disbandment of 2016 LCK Summer Champions ROX Tigers, with all of their players and head coach
Jeong “NoFe” No-chul leaving the organisation for different teams.
While No-Chul left Korea to join Edward Gaming in China, the players chose to stay in the LCK for another season, nearly all of them on different teams.
With so much talent to be seen, it wasn’t of any question that we would see former
ROX Tigers players in this season’s final, although many were asking, how many.
This question can be answered right now, as KT-Rolster completely dismantled
World finalist team and strong contenders to win 2017 Spring, Samsung Galaxy in a 3:0 sweep. Their Top-laner Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho played a major role in this victory with stellar play on carry-laners like Rumble and Kennen, but the role of the rest of his team can’t be understated. The star-power of Smeb himself, Go “Score” Dong-bin,
Heo “Pawn” Won-seok, Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu seemed to finally come together, after the team took a huge dip in performance near the end of the season.
“Are those struggles no more?”, you might ask. Well, they are not completely gone.
In game one against Samsung, Deft threw a hugely advantageous play, by going for the outplay in between two turrets without any vision, instead of just helping his team to take Samsung’s inner Top-lane turret. The rest of the team seems to synergize well, but Deft will have to work on being a secondary carry until the late game comes around, which is not gonna be easy, considering the fact that he used to be the primary carry on nearly all of his teams up until now. We will see, if everything comes together for the Korean super-team in one more victory…
The team for them to beat in the LCK final are the reigning World Champions,
SK-Telecom T1. Them winning the regular season guaranteed a spot in the final for the team around the best player in the world, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and you can be sure, they’ve been watching and analyzing KT over the course of their last two series in the playoffs. Now, is this the perfect and unbeatable team, you would expect when hearing the name SKT? No, not really. SKT had to deal with roster changes of their own, as they added Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon to their lineup and replaced their long-standing
veteran-jungler Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong with the former ROX-Tiger
Han “Peanut” Wang-ho. Huni is mostly known for his success with Fnatic in 2015, while Peanut has already won a LCK title himself in Summer 2016.
Under the guidance of SKT’s well-known coach Kim “kkOma” Jung-gyun, Huni has grown a lot as a player, as we could see him finally play tanks to a certain success, something he had been lacking in the past. Peanut on the other hand has one problem: inconsistency. In most games, the former Tiger looks sensational, when pared with Faker and Huni, making agressive plays all around the map. Yet, when he has to play more reserved, things do not work out quite so well for him. This is a problem, we see a lot in newer players, as they are very young and eager to prove themselves by being the carry. Peanut needs to understand how to stay back a little bit more and rather let his team take over the game, because he definitely has enough stars behind his back to help him out. Should he fail to adapt, he might become a weakpoint for KT to exploit, if they can find a pattern in his jungle-pathing.
That said, both teams look to be on an equal level right now. We haven’t seen SKT’s playoff-form just yet, but KT seem to be ready for the challenge. I have purposefully left out SKT’s bottom-lane, consisting of Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan, as they seem to be the lane for KT to exploit in my eyes. Bang has just always been that incredibly consistent secondary carry for SKT, because he didn’t need to step up at any point during his career. Wolf on the other hand seems to be exploitable and I do see him becoming a problem against the mechanics of Deft and the shotcalling of Mata.
A few weeks ago, I would’ve never predicted KT to win this match, but right now in this moment, they seem to be able to finally take down SKT, due to the lack of carry-potential from their bottom-lane and the rookie mistakes of Peanut. I predict this final with caution, because Faker might prove us all wrong again and it has been a bad idea to bet against SKT throughout history. Nethertheless, I predict this to become an awesome final, we won’t forget for a long time.