An in-depth look at the 2015 OGN Spring Split
Coming into the 2015 season OGN has changed from their usual single-elimination style tournament and has decided to adopt the league style tournament seen in the LCS and LPL over the past year. With this change they have altered the amount of teams in the tournament from 16 to 8 and have ruled that their must only be one team per organisation. This article will take a look and highlight the strengths behind all eight of these teams and the history behind the players. These teams are; KT rolster, HUYA Tigers, Incredible Miracle, CJ Entus, NaJin e-mFire, Jin Air, Samsung and SK Telecom T1.
The KT organisation has over-gone some changes over the past few months, primarily losing their star players KaKao and Rookie to Chinese team Invictus Gaming. With this change the core roster they have gone with is Ssumday, Score, Nagne, Arrow and Hachani. This roster consists of several pieces of the old KTB and KTA squads and after finishing third in the Preseason tournament are looking strong coming into this Spring Split.
The first name that sticks out in this roster is Ssumday, being a long time member of the KT organisation since February 2013 Ssumday is one of the most experienced top laners in the current OGN split. Having been a part of the previous KT Arrows squad that won the 2014 Summer OGN tournament Ssumday has made his mark in Korean League Of Legends as a strong top laner who isn't to be taken for granted. Ssumday is the backbone of this new KT squad with his diverse champion pool and mechanical ability. Following the leaving of Flame, Looper, Acorn and Save Ssumday is arguably the second best top laner in Korea right now behind only SKT's Marin. With this dwindling amount of top lane talent in Korea this split really will be where Ssumday shows the world that he has what it takes to replace these top talents in Korean League Of Legends.
One of the more interesting changes in this KT squad is the moving of Score from ADC to Jungle. Like Ssumday Score is also a veteran of the KT organisation, having been a part of the KTB squad since late 2012. Score has had a long track record in Korean League Of Legends with 3 top 3 finishes in previous OGN tournaments. Despite this impressive history Score still cannot be judged off of previous performances as these were with him as an ADC where-as now he is currently playing Jungle for KT. The preseason has shown that Score's ability to transition from ADC to Jungle has proved successful with his impressive Rengar play being a deciding factor in the teams victory over top Korean team SKT T1. With this position change and with the huge jungle changes in season 5 Score will have a huge weight on his shoulders as the pressure mounts to prove he is one of the top junglers in Korea.
One of the newer faces in this KT squad is their Mid laner Nagne. Nagne joined the KT organisation in mid 2014 replacing Ryu as the Mid laner for the KT Bullets. Although he is new to the KT organisation Nagne is not new to professional LOL, with him boasting an impressive performance at the 2013 World Championship against Gambit Gambit and SKT T1. However despite this performance at Worlds Nagne failed to perform in the 2014 Summer OGN as he and the KT Bullets were eliminated during the group stage. With this poor performance behind him Nagne showed a good performance during the Pre-season and has proved his worth to the KT organisation.
Next in the line up is Arrow, a player who was seen as one of the driving forces behind the KT Arrows 2014 Summer OGN win. Arrow is an ex-Xenics Storm player who was picked up by the arrows in early 2014. With a disappointing performance in his first OGN season with the Arrows he vastly improved his mechanical ability over the course of the off season and came into the OGN 2014 Summer Split with a lot to prove and prove it he did. With impressive victories over such ADC's as Deft, Zefa and Bang Arrow showed the world that he could hang with the top ADC's in Korea and that he was going to be a force to be reckoned with in the 2015 Season.
The final member of this squad is Hachani, a support player whose aggressive play-style has often been seen as the deciding factor in most of KT's games. With him being a huge play maker he really brings this squad to the top level as he can supply them with amazing picks throughout the game and can give KT the pressure required to secure objectives and allow them to be victorious. During the 2014 season this play-style was called by most experts the downfall of the KT Arrows as teams got used to Hachani's early game antics he would just get caught out over and over again giving KT a huge disadvantage in the game. Despite this Hachani has had an impressive pre-season and looks like he has balanced out his aggressive play-style to be less of a risk factor to KT.
Coming into the 2015 season HUYA was one of the teams who despite having several ex-pros in their line-up had to qualify through the spring qualifier tournament. This however was no trouble for them as they easily breezed through this qualifier and secured their spot in the 2015 season. This roster consists of 5 players from the old rosters of Najin White shield and Black Sword and ex-Incredible Miracle top laner Smeb. This newly formed roster was questioned early on as they just seemed like a ragtag bunch of Najin rejects. The HUYA Tigers quickly broke away from this reputation as they showed an astounding performance in the pre-season finishing in the top four teams.
The first piece of this squad is their star top laner Smeb. Smeb is a long time veteran in Korean League Of Legends having been a part of the Incredible Miracle squad from March 2013 until November 2014. In this time Smeb competed in four OGN seasons but failed to make it out of groups in all of them. When this roster formed Smeb was questioned at first but With an impressive performance on Jayce in the qualifying tournament Smeb really showed what he could do with the right resources. Despite this impressive performance Smeb still failed to live up to the hype as he got destroyed in the opening week of the pre-season tournament against SKT's Marin and Impact. Following his performance in the pre-season tournament it is difficult to say Smeb will be more than just an average top laner as his failure to have a huge impact on the game means HUYA cant climb that final rung of the ladder and be a definitive top two team in Korea.
The jungler of this squad is OGN new comer Lee. With him debuting in late 2014 with Najin Black Sword, Lee quickly showed he had the mechanical ability to be a top jungler and with a bit more fine tuning on his team based skills he could become the best jungler in Korea in 2015. With him having an impressive top eight finish in his rookie OGN season and a second place finish in the Summer NLB season Lee has shown he can compete at a top level. With this team of veterans surrounding him it is clear within a matter of months Lee will be a deciding factor in the HUYA Tigers being victorious against the top teams in Korea.
The third member of this squad is their mid laner KurO. Much like Smeb and Lee KurO used to play for NJBS and IM. Much like Smeb when KurO played for Incredible Miracle he failed to pass the group stage and delivered mediocre performances at best. Following him leaving IM KurO proceeded to be picked up by NJBS and with Lee secured them a top eight finish in the 2014 Summer OGN. Coming into the 2015 season KurO seems to be performing at a far higher level than he previously has and seems to be a top 3 mid laner in Korea right now. With this new HUYA tigers roster around him and the lack of mid lane talent in Korea right now KurO is going to be one of the key pieces in HUYA's victory in 2015.
The fourth member of this squad is an ADC who has been around longer than almost anyone else in Korean League Of Legends, Pray. Pray had been a member of the Najin Sword roster since early 2012 and under the name Troll Kim helped them get their first top 3 OGN finish. With two previous world championship performances and being the only previous OGN winner on this squad Pray is looked at as the star player of this line-up and if he can live up to his old reputation he will be a driving force behind the success of this squad. After showing an impressive performance in the pre-season tournament and in the qualifying tournament Pray looks like he has gotten back to his old form and is ready to take the 2015 season by storm.
Along side Pray is another veteran player Gorilla. Having been a member of NJWS since early 2013 Gorilla has shown time and time again that he has what it takes to be classified as a top support player in Korea. With several OGN top 8 finishes and a top eight finish at the 2014 World Championship Gorilla has experienced his fair share of competition throughout his career and has shown himself to be a top competitor in Korean League Of Legends. With this experience combined with his lane partner Pray the bot lane of the HUYA Tigers is looking to be one of the strongest in Korea and with a bit more fine tuning and improvement on synergy will be looking to take the spot as the best bot lane in Korea.
Coming into 2014 the CJ organisation has lost some of its best players. With Flame going to China and Emperor and Daydream going to Brazil CJ looked like it was going to have to make some drastic changes if they wanted to compete at a top level. These changes came in the form of moving Ambition to jungle, a move that had been speculation for several months. The final roster of the CJ organisation was Shy, Ambition, Coco, Space and Madlife with them occasionally swapping in Roar and Max to play ADC and Support. This roster seemed lacklustre as both Blaze and Frost had poor performances in the OGN prior to the 2015 season. With Blaze and Frost both falling out in the group stages of OGN Summer 2014 it seemed like drastic changes would have to happen if they wanted to reclaim their throne as the best team in Korea.
The top laner for this CJ line up is Shy, a name that has become synonymous with carry orientated top laners. Being one of the best top laners in the world in season 2 Shy managed to get himself a first place finish in his breakout split OGN Summer 2012 and a second place finish at the Season 2 World championship. With these two performances Shy cemented himself as one of the best top laners in the world. Coming into season three the meta of top lane shifted to a more tanky supporting role rather than a carry one. With this change came the declining in Shy's play as Frost went from the best team in Korea to bearly being top 4 over the course of the year. This performance quickly got worse as Frost dropped even further to being bearly a top 8 team and then eventually they couldn't even get out of group stages. With the 2015 season bringing carry orientated top laners such as Lissandra and Jarvan into the meta it will be interesting to see if Shy can get back to his former levels of play.
The second part of this line up is legendary player Ambition, having been a part of the Korean League Of Legends scene since its beginning Ambition has been a mid laner for the past 3 years but with this new season Ambition will be switching into the jungle. This role swap has been anticipated for a while since Ambition is a player who has been known to prefer and perform well while playing jungle in solo queue. With a reputation of being an incredible mid lane talent Ambition is expected to have a good grasp on the relationship a jungler and his mid laner need to work well together. Despite his history and prior game knowledge Ambition showed a very poor performance in the pre-season tournament having a shallow champion pool and consistently getting out jungled by the likes of Lee,Watch and Score. Coming into the spring split Ambition has a lot to prove because if he fails to prove himself as a jungler this could be the end of his career.
The mid laner for this CJ line-up is Coco, a player who joined Frost after playing with Xenics Storm in early 2013. When Coco came into Frost he was following a long line of mid laners such as Rapidstar,Maknoon and Ganked By Mom. With this star studded list of names coming before him Coco was expected to be the next big thing in Korean League Of Legends. However much to Frost's dismay Coco showed a lack of skill and failed to impress audiences. With him only having slightly impressive performances on Kassadin the hype surrounding Coco quickly died down and he just became another mediocre mid laner amongst a sea of stars. With the pre-season coming to an end it is clear that Coco is going to have to do some major improving if he wants to put up a fight against the best mid laners of Korea.
The ADC for this CJ line-up is the infamous Space. Having been called one of the worst ADC's in Korea Space has received a large amount of blame for Frost's shortcomings in previous tournaments. Although he has this reputation during the pre-season it looked like the rest of CJ were the ones who were holding Space down. With him looking a lot more consistent and improved from his previous OGN Space is heading in the right direction if he wants to become one of the best Korean ADC's.
The final piece of this 5 man squad is Madlife. In season 2 Madlife was looked at as the best support player in the world with his amazing Blitz hooks and game changing Sona Crescendos. However Madlife's level of play has slowly started to decrease much like his teammate Shy's. With supports like Poohmandu, Mata and Gorilla outclassing him Madlife has severely dropped in rankings of Korean supports. With this new season being ushered in and the retirement/leaving of several of the top supports this could be Madlife's time to reclaim his throne and get himself back in gear to carry CJ through the Spring Split.
the roster that the Najin organisation is fielding into this Split features some old stars and some new blood. This roster is packed with successful talent like Watch, Ggoong and Cain and has a couple of upcoming stars with Duke and Ohq. This new roster has taken the best of Shield(Ggoong and Watch) and has combined it with the best of Sword(Duke, Ohq and Cain) and has created an incredibly strong roster that has shown strong team fighting, impressive laning and great objective control. Coming into the Spring Split this roster is looking like they could be the second best team in Korea with their second place finish in the preseason and with them putting up a close fight with Korean giants SKT T1.
The top laner for this Najin team is ex-KT Bullets player Duke, previously known as Leopard. With this KT Bullets squad Duke managed to get himself a top 8 finish in OGN Spring 2014 before leaving and joining Najin Black Sword. With this NJBS roster Duke managed to again secure himself another top 8 finish in OGN Summer 2014. Up until the pre-season Duke was looked at as a mediocre top laner with nothing much to supply his team. Duke quickly proved this reputation wrong as he showed that he had the ability to go toe to toe with the best top laners in Korea. Going into the Spring Split Duke will be one to look out for as he improves himself as a top laner.
The jungler for this team is a well known long time Najin player Watch. Watch has been with the Najin organisation since early 2012 when he joined Maknoon's Najin Sword. With this team watch went on to gain countless achievements including a top 8 finish as season 2 worlds, getting third at OGN Summer 2012 and winning OGN Winter 2012. After this impressive season two performance Watch would also continue his careerer by qualifying for the Season 3 Worlds with a revamped Sword roster and finishing top 4 at the event. After this stretch with Sword Watch would transfer to Najin White Shield where he would get himself a second place finish at OGN Spring 2014 and would go on to qualify for the Season 4 Worlds. Coming off another top 8 finish at the World Championship Watch is looking strong heading into the 2015 season. With an impressive showing in the pre-season it is clear Watch is as strong as ever in will be looking to improve his track record with another OGN win.
The mid laner for this team is Ggoong, Ggoong is another player who has competed in several OGN's throughout his career and has achieved four top eight finishes. Being a part of Najin White Shield since mid 2013 Ggoong quickly made his mark as a top mid laner in Korea. With him favouring assassins such as Leblanc and Ahri season five is looking promising for Ggoong as these champions return to favour after the meta changed from mid being a more supportive style role. Following an impressive performance in the pre-season tournament Ggoong is expected to perform well in the 2015 Spring Split and looks to be a driving force behind Najin's success.
The ADC of this team is Ohq, with an impressive top eight finish in his rookie OGN season Ohq has shown himself to be the next big thing to come out of Korea. With amazing mechanics, diverse champion pool and great decision making Ohq looks like he may be the best ADC in Korea in 2015. With ADC's such as Imp and Deft gone the competition for best ADC in Korea is very shallow and the only person who can likely hold a torch to Ohq is SKT T1's Bang. If Ohq can live up to the hype surrounding him he will be able to bring Najin a very strong force in the bottom lane, something that they haven't had since Pray was in his prime.
The final member of this team is Cain, a legendary support who has been with the Najin Sword roster for years. Having been a part of the dominant Pray/Cain botlane Cain is very familiar with playing with an aggressive play making ADC. With this past experience it will be interesting to see what effect Cain will have on the newcomer Ohq and if he can mould him into his perfect ADC.
The Jin Air teams have never been very successful in the Korean LOL scene, with countless disappointing group stage finishes and barely any bracket round finishes. With this new season coming Jin Air has combined the best parts of two of their teams to form what will hopefully be a successful line-up. With ex-Stealths players Trace, Chaser, Cpt Jack and Chei and ex-Falcon's player Ganked By Mom Jin Air looks ready to prove to they have what it takes to be a top Korean League Of Legends team.
With most of these players being relatively new or unsuccessful in the Korean LOL scene there is not much to go in depth about each person. Trace is a player who has hovered around different teams since early 2013 before finally getting picked up by the Jin Air Stealths in mid 2013. he has played with them ever since and has had several mediocre performances over his career. Next up is Chaser, a jungler who has been floating around the Jin Air organisation since early 2014 and like Trace has only had a few performances throughout his entire career most of them being mediocre. The third relatively unknown player for Jin Air is Chei. Chei is an ex-Xenics Blast player who was picked up by the Stealths in early 2014.
The two real big names in this Jin Air roster are Ganked By Mom and Captain Jack. GBM came into professional LOL after showcasing his skills in Korean solo queue and being picked up by CJ Entus Frost. His time on Frost was short lived after several disappointing performances especially on his main champion Orianna. Following his replacement in Frost he would then go on to be picked up by the Jin Air Falcons in early 2014 where he would stay as their starting mid laner until the two teams joined.
Captain Jack has been in the Korean LOL scene since its creation. Being a part of the original Blaze squad with Reapered, Helios, Ambition and Lustboy Captain Jack has a huge amount of experience with several top 3 OGN finishes and one OGN title to his name. With this experience Cpt Jack is looked at as the star player of Jin Air, with him once being arguably the best ADC in Korea with his recent performance in the pre-season tournament Jack looks ready to bring his performance back to its old levels and bring Jin Air to being a top team in Korea.
With their poor performance in the pre-season tournament IM are looking like they could be the worst team in the spring split. Following a disappointing last place performance in the pre-season this new IM roster has a lot of issues that need to be fixed if they want to become a top team in the Spring Split. With their roster being Wisdom, Frozen, Sonstar and Tusin lead by Lilac this roster seems very weak and despite Lilac's veteran experience it is very unlikely that this team will see any success.
With the recent events that happened in Korea every member of the old Samsung organisation has either retired or gone on to join Chinese teams. Following this the Samsung organisation quickly needed to find a new roster to send into the 2015 Spring Split. The eventual roster that Samsung would go with would be four impressive solo queue players CuVee, Eve, Bliss, Fury and Wraith. Out of these four players only one of them has ever seen any pro play, this being Wraith previously known as Casper the support who briefly replaced Poohmandu for SK Telecom. Little is known about these players other than that their mid laner is an avid Fizz player and as such has had it frequently banned against him. As new rosters go this one had reasonable success coming into the the pre-season tournament as they tied with Jin Air for the sixth place spot. Coming into the 2015 season if the Samsung coaches can get this team into shape they could become strong as they all have incredible mechanical skill and their only real downfall is team fighting and map rotations.
SK Telecom T1
The final team in this Spring Split is SKT T1. Following the results of the pre-season tournament this team is looking like they will be dominant against everybody with them only dropping one game to KT. The roster of this team consists of Marin, Bengi, Faker, Bang and Wolf. All of these players have a huge amount of past experience and have proven that they are ready to take the crown of best team in Korea.
The top laner of this team is Marin, first joining SKT in late 2013 Marin was a solo queue star who had been fabled as the top lane version of Faker. Coming into his first split Marin showed disappointing results as he failed to live up to his reputation. Despite this poor performance Marin has managed to stay in the Korean League Of Legends Scene since then and has had mixed results with SKT including a top four finish in OGN Summer 2014. With a lot of top lane players retiring or moving to China Marin is looked at to take the throne as best top laner in Korea as with season five coming the meta has changed into a lot more carry centric top laners which favours Marin's play-style.
The jungler of this SKT line-up is the legendary Bengi. Being a part of the SKT squad that won the season 3 Worlds and had a perfect run through the 2013 Winter OGN Bengi has made it known that he is a top jungler in Korea. Over the past few months Bengi's performance has been lacking with SKT barely making it out of group stages in the past two OGN's. Despite this in the pre-season tournament Bengi seems to have revitalised his play as he has been showing consistent dominant performances against top junglers such as Watch, Lee and Score. With a lot of the top jungle talent moving to China it looks like Bengi is set to become the best jungler in Korea as he continues his dominant performance.
The mid laner of this team is a name everybody is familiar with, Faker. Often called the best player in the world Faker has proven time and again that he is the best mid laner in Korea and will continue to dominate no matter what opponents he is up against. With two OGN wins and a World championship win to his name Faker has reached the highest any LOL player can hope to reach and with this 2015 season he is sure to have set his sights on more OGN titles and another World Championship. His pre-season performance has allowed him to showcase how the return of assassin mid laners favours him even more and how he is ready to dominate any competition that comes his way this season.
The bot lane of this team is Wolf and Bang. With both of these players being together since late 2012 the synergy these two have is incredible and with the recent loss of bot lane talent in Korea they look set to take the scene by storm and prove why the WolfBang bot lane is not to be messed with. Bang is an incredibly mechanically skilled player whose deep champion pool has allowed him to adjust to the changes in season 5 very well. Just like Bang Wolf is a very experienced player whose champion pool and mechanical skill will keep him at the top of the competition and will allow the two to perform well together and defeat the rest of the Korean bot lanes this split.