KeSPA Cup Semifinal Recap
After a week long hiatus, the KeSPA Cup has returned. Continuing where it left off, tonight featured both semifinal series. The first match was between ESC Ever and Kongdoo Monster. Both of these teams scored upset victories over LCK titans Samsung Galaxy and KT Rolster in last week’s quarterfinal matches. The second series of the night pitted world champions, SK Telecom T1 against their arch-rivals, the ROX Tigers. This second match had an unreal amount of hype behind it, and deservingly so. This was a repeat of the world championship semifinal match that many called “the best series to ever be played at Worlds.”
ESC EVER vs. Kongdoo Monster
Winner: Kongdoo Monster
Winner - Kongdoo Monster
ESC: Ryze, Ezreal, Rek’sai
KDM: Elise, Jayce, Syndra
ESC: Irelia, Olaf, Cassiopeia, Varus, Karma
KDM: Echo, Lee Sin, Orianna, Jhin, Trundle
First blood in this game didn’t occur until 10 minutes in, when KDM’s jungler Son "Punch" Min-hyuk successfully ganked the mid lane. This gank gave Lee "Edge" Ho-seong an advantage in lane as he was the one to grab the kill. Immediately after ganking the mid lane, Punch went straight to the bot lane, where he and Kim "Roach" Kang-hui (who teleported down) tower dove ESC’s bot lane, scoring two more kills.
At 13 minutes, utilizing his lead, Edge solo-killed Kang "Tempt" Myung-gu, furthering his gold lead. Having a lead in both the mid and bot lane, KDM took an uncontested infernal drake. Knowing that at this point they could easily tower dive Tempt, Edge and Punch brute forced the mid lane turret for first brick gold. They then went straight to the bot lane to yet again tower dive ESC’s duo lane. This time, they only got Lee "LokeN" Dong-wook, but also managed to take the bot lane turret.
ESC was able to grab an infernal drake at 21 minutes, barely dodging a team fight by immediately retreating. But, KDM used this lead in tempo to successfully sneak a Baron. KDM used this Baron to grab ESC’s bottom inner turret, which was fine considering the game was only 24 minutes in. KDM finally found victory at 32 minutes, when Choi "Bless" Hyeon-woong got caught out trying to gain vision at Baron. A team fight was started, and thanks to an amazing Orianna ultimate, KDM aced ESC to end the game.
Winner: Kongdoo Monster
ESC: Ryze, Ezreal, Echo
KDM: Elise, Jayce, Syndra
ESC: Gangplank, Olaf, Orianna, Varus, Karma
KDM: Poppy, Lee Sin, Cassiopeia, Jhin, Trundle
After a few unsuccessful ganks from both sides, Punch was finally able to secure first blood at seven minutes, this time on Kim "Crazy" Jae-hee. A couple minutes later, ESC ganked the bot lane and took out Kim "GuGer" Do-yeop. KDM was quick to respond, having Edge and Punch roam down to get a return kill on Bless.
There was a lull in action until 14 minutes in, when Punch executed Eun "Totoro" Jong-seop in ESC’s jungle. Two minutes later, Punch returned to the bot lane for another gank. This resulted in the death of ESC’s duo lane. Things start to look up for ESC when they turned around a gank in the bot lane, securing two kills. But LokeN overstayed, and KDM caught him out.
A chaotic team fight broke out in the mid lane at 20 minutes. Through superior maneuvering and kiting, KDM aced ESC and took the Baron. Now with Baron, KDM fearlessly dove ESC at their inhibitor, getting four kills to two. At 33 minutes, KDM finally pushed to ESC’s top inhibitor turret. After taking it down, KDM immediately engaged on ESC. This engage was successful, as they took out four members of ESC. With only Totoro’s Karma to defend, KDM cleanly closed out the game, thus winning the series and heading on to the finals.
SK Telecom T1 vs. ROX Tigers
Winner: ROX Tigers
Winner - ROX Tigers
SKT: Karma, Lee Sin, Jayce
ROX: Syndra, Nidalee, Echo
SKT: Gnar, Zac, Ryze, Jhin, Tahm Kench
ROX: Kennen, Olaf, Cassiopeia, Ashe, Zyra
Both SKT and ROX fielded substitutes in this game. SKT played Kim "Profit" Jun-hyung in the top lane, while ROX played Hae "Cry" Sung-min in the mid lane. ROX secured their first advantage at three minutes when Han "Peanut" Wang-ho stole SKT’s blue buff from Kang "Blank" Sun-gu. The lead extended three minutes later, when Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok tried to roam to the top lane but ran into Peanut. With the help of Cry, who roamed over to Faker's location once he was revealed, ROX was able to eliminate Faker for first blood.
At 13 minutes, Blank ganked the bot lane, securing two kills, but the rest of ROX collapsed on the bot lane, grabbing two kills back, as well as the bottom turret and ocean drake. The next time a major skirmish broke out was at the 16 minute mark. SKT found three kills at ROX’s red buff, but greedily tried to take the Rift Herald when their health bars were low. This allowed Cry and Kang "GorillA" Beom-hyeon to easily clean out SKT, grabbing three kills for themselves this time around.
The major breaking point of this game came at 29 minutes. ROX caught out an over-extended Faker, who was farming in the top lane by himself. ROX immediately took Baron after that, and used the Baron buff to push out the bot lane. At 32 minutes, a Baron empowered ROX took out SKT’s bottom inhibitor turret. Once the turret fell, ROX jumped straight onto SKT, acing the world champions and ending the game.
Winner - ROX Tigers
SKT: Nidalee, Jayce, Ashe
ROX: Echo, Syndra, Ryze
SKT: Maokai, Olaf, Viktor, Jhin, Nami
ROX: Kennen, Lee Sin, Vladimir, Varus, Karma
Coming into the second game, SKT subbed back in Lee "Duke" Ho-seong and Bae "Bengi" Seong-woong, thus fielding their World Championship winning lineup. Game two saw very aggressive lanes, where at any moment, a solo kill could have occurred. Despite this aggression, it wasn’t until 10 minutes that Peanut was able to successfully gank the bot lane and secure first blood. This game had many ganks in the bot lane, mostly started by ROX. Song "Smeb" Kyung-ho repeatedly teleported to the bot lane, assisting in many early kills for his team.
By 20 minutes, ROX was ahead, both in kills and turrets. But at 26 minutes, ROX began to throw their lead a bit. An over-commitment to kill Faker caused ROX to lose three members to SKT. From this point, both Smeb and Cry got caught out, allowing SKT to get back into the game. By the mid game, SKT’s team comp was extremely tanky, and very difficult to kill. Both Maokai and Olaf were borderline unstoppable. This was illustrated when a team fight broke out at 33 minutes. Despite a good initiation by Peanut, Maokai was just too tanky for ROX to deal with, and they ended up losing three members again.
What ROX needed to win was a perfect engage and flank, and boy did they get one. At 37 minutes, ROX caught out SKT, and with the perfect slicing maelstrom/dragon’s rage combo, ROX found three kills for themselves. With most of SKT down, ROX took both Baron and Elder Dragon. Utilizing both buffs, ROX destroyed SKT’s middle inhibitor. They then rotated to the bot lane, where Peanut found a great pick onto Bae "Bang" Jun-sik. With the man advantage, ROX brute forced their way through SKT’s base, acing SKT along the way to close out the series, and get their bittersweet revenge.
Who do you think will end up taking the KeSPA Cup? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.
Article by Malcolm Abbas. Follow him @SmashhLoL
Photos courtesy of LoL Esports & Fomos/Yong Woo 'Kenzi' Kim