The stage is set for an all-Asia 'League of Legends' All-Stars final
The third day of the All-Star Invitational in Paris removed any doubt that the two best teams in the tourney might not be from Asia.
Korean team SK Telecom T1 K looked absolutely dominant in their obliteration of European side Fnatic, and the Chinese stars Oh My God got their revenge on the Americans of Cloud 9. Both teams won their series 2-0 against their Western foes, though Cloud 9 gave OMG a run for their money.
After Cloud 9’s day two All-Stars performance, when they bested Taiwanese team Tai Pei Assasins and OMG, hopes were high for the Americans. But OMG, who said they would approach today’s match with renewed focus after a poor performance yesterday, were simply too much in the semifinals.
The first game looked good for Cloud 9, at first. They held off early aggression from OMG and secured first blood at the 10 minute mark while their solo lanes held leads - something unexpected considering the perceived gap in individual skill between the two teams. With a team featuring poke master Nidalee and the powerful split pushing of Jax, it seemed inevitable Cloud 9 could wear the Chinese down.
But Cloud 9 “dropped the metaphorical vision ball,” as analyst Mitch “Krepo” Voorspoels put it after the game.
An ill-fated Dragon attempt at 18 minutes saw them give away the lead, as they allowed OMG to outflank them and abuse the weaknesses in Cloud 9’s team composition. That set the game to OMG’s pace, as they took vision control and devolved the game into a series of skirmishes, right in the aggressive Chinese team’s wheelhouse.
Game two went even worse for Cloud 9. OMG seemed to have the advantage from the get go, staying one step ahead of an American team often lauded for their ability to outthink their foes.
In the mid game OMG used Ziggs’ global wave clear and Pantheon’s ultimate to set the pace, punishing Cloud 9 for any small advantage they’d try to take. They steadily tightened the noose around the Americans and closed out the series.
“We played safe and found their mistakes, and took advantage of them,” said Guo “San” Jun-Liang, the OMG marksman, after the match.
In the first game, SKT took a huge lead after turning a favorable fight for Fnatic on its head. With three Fnatic members hiding in a bush to surprise SKT’s bottom lane, Chae “Piglet” Jang-Win managed to stealth away and escape with a couple health remaining, leading to a re-engage with his mid laner and jungler where he nabbed four kills on Twitch.
That gave the rat and his team a gold lead and map control, and SKT used it to crush Fnatic, never giving the aggressive Europeans a chance to fight back. Chae finished the game with a 9/0/3 KDA.
Game two was the Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyoek and Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung show. With his Nidalee supported by Bae on a jungle Kha’Zi, Lee showed why he's considered the best mid laner in the world. Fnatic fell behind in the early game, losing two kills at the 4 minute mark, and SKT never let up.
Bae finished with a 10/1/6 KDA on Kha’Zix, with Lee’s Nidalee spears leading to an 8/1/5 mark.
The Koreans are the clear favorites of the tournament. But OMG looked capable of tackling them on day one, and they’ve earned a second shot at what many call a dream matchup in the finals. OMG was an anticipated finalist against SKT in the World Championships last year, but suffered an upset loss against countrymen Royal Club. Tomorrow they’ll get their shot.
While the Invitational matches were the meat of the event, the highlight was probably the All-Star Challenge.
The day’s festivities began with another match between the international all-star lineups Team Ice and Team Fire. The All-Star Challenge, where each team earns points for winning an event each day, remained tied after Fire took the Ultra Rapid Fire mode game on day one and Ice fought back with Hexakill on day two.
The Pick 10 competition today, where the all-stars compete with fan selected champions, would break the tie.
The aptly named Team Ice took the victory with captain Henrik “Froggen” Hansen obliterating the competition with the ice phoenix Anivia, his signature champion. Chinese substitute Yu “Cool” Jia-jun also providing a chill with his Lee Sin, topping even the play of legendary Lee Sin master Danil “Diamond” Reshetnikov in a jungle mirror match.
The fans wanted to see Hansen, largely considered the best player outside of Korea, use the champion he popularized in season two. And he delivered.
Hansen ended the game with a ridiculous 11/0/14 KDA, maxing the stacks on his Mejai’s Soulstealer, capping off an item build almost taunting the opposing team. Yu backed him with a 10/2/16 mark, and the two seemed to have a psychic connection as they teamed to obliterate Team Fire everywhere on the map, including a ridiculous kick into a teleporting Anivia for a kill.
Yu wasn’t even supposed to play at All-Stars. He subbed in for World Elite top laner Wei “CaoMei” Han-Dong, who left Paris after the first day because his father passed away. A substitute player for invitational finalists OMG after stepping down for health reasons, Yu, the MVP of the Summer GPL last year, did the departing Wei proud.
Tomorrow the 1v1 and 2v2 competitions will decide the victor of the event. A fan vote decided the 1v1 participants. Hansen will battle Team Fire’s own superstar, Chinese marskman Gao “WeiXiao” Xue-Cheng of World Elite.