It was a precarious start for Alliance. SK Gaming seized control of the first game, only allowing Alliance back into the game late with a mistake. In game two, that mistake never happened. It looked like SK Gaming, a team dominant in their opening round playoff match against Millenium, had come prepared with the perfect strategy against the top seed.
Alliance bested SK Gaming 3-1 to advance to the finals of the Summer Split and earn a berth at the Season 4 World Championships, the biggest tournament in League of Legends. There, Alliance try to transfer their dominating LCS performance, good for a 24-8 combined regular season and playoff record, to the rest of the world.
Alliance entered the match heavy favorites against SK Gaming, who won just one game against Alliance in four games during the regular season. Most of those SK losses were stomps, including one match where the team surrendered at 20 minutes.
But after limping into the playoffs, SK Gaming seemed revitalized in a format that allowed them ample preparation for every specific match.
They gave Alliance a run for their money in every match, only losing games three and four after a small mistake lost them an important team fight.
The back-and-forth nature of the games was epitomized no better by this combination of plays in the final game of the series. Henrik “Froggen” Hansen manages to score a quadra kill, but SK Gaming mid laner Jesse “Jes1z” Lee was quick to answer.
Alliance punished SK Gaming when possible, backed by star performances from their two carry players.
Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, mid laner and captain of Alliance, may just be the best player in League outside of Korea, and today’s match was one example why. He put together a 23/10/32 KDA line over the four games good for 88.71 precent kill participation. His partner in crime, marksman Erik “TabzZ” van Helvert, put up an insane 23/1/21 KDA line, or a 44.0 KDA in four games. Van Helvert benefit from outstanding play from his top laner and support. Mike “Wickd” Petersen only put together a 5/16/38 KDA line, but his play on Alistair, Maokai, and Swain kept van Helvert alive.
"I’m just happy we succeeding in doing it, especially after a very bad start in Spring," said Hansen. The Alliance team formed with a lineup hand-picked by Hansen with the goal of making worlds, but a shaky Spring split seemed to put that goal in question. Now those questions are answered, though Alliance can't rest on their laurels.
"There's definitely a lot of work. We actually played this series really bad," Hansen said. "They outplayed us in rotations, but we managed to get the win anyway. It was a really hard series."
SK Gaming put together a very solid match, with Dragon as part of the backbone of their strategy. They secured 14 drakes compared to 7 from Alliance. But that’s not enough against another solid team with star power like Hansen and van Helvert to back it up. SK marksman Adrian “CandyPanda” Wubbelman, who showed off a great series against Millenium in the quarterfinals, struggled to make an impact against Alliance with a 13/8/31 KDA for the series.
Still, SK Gaming will have one more chance at redemption. They will face ROCCAT tomorrow with a spot at the World Championships on the line. ROCCAT gave defending LCS champions Fnatic a run for their money in the other semifinal early today but ultimately fell short with late game mistakes dooming them, similar to SK Gaming. Based off their two performances today, that series is anyone’s game.
Alliance will seek to end Fnatic’s reign as the LCS Europe champions at three season long on Sunday in what should be a thrilling conclusion to League of Legends’ stint at Gamescom.
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube