LCK Spring Week 1 Recap
SKtelecom T1 vs Najin e-mFire – The Return of God
The first series of LCK Spring promised great things as both SKT and Najin were considered the two strongest teams in the league, and with both teams having a strong preseason they were seeking to fill the shoes of the departed Samsung squads. Najin showed they were a force to be reckoned with, but it was made clear SKT are going to be the team to beat this season, recovering from a Game 1 hammering to crush the final 2 games and win 2-1.
Game 1 – Winner: Najin
The first game showed a complete contrast in style, as SKT focused on a late game composition, with picks such as Xerath, Dr. Mundo and Tristana. They needed to play safe and calculated in the early, avoiding too many skirmishes with Najin, and simply win by virtue of superior late game strength. However, Najin had other ideas, assembling a strong team fight and early game line up. With Ggoong on one of his strongest assassins in Zed, and with a strong lane matchup against Faker’s Xerath, the former Najin White Shield mid laner showed his preference for snowballing assassins, working in tandem with Watch, and mopping up kills left, right and centre. Najin jungler Watch went about running SKT ragged in the early game creating numerous opportunities for all his lanes to get ahead and grabbing them an early dragon. SKT attempted to stay in contention after falling behind, but their composition simply didn’t have enough time to become powerful. With a substantial lead, Najin was able to crush SKT’s team fight and claim a 29 minute baron, and subsequently an inhibitor. By this point the gold lead was 13k in Najin’s favour and they swiftly dispatched SKT in the 32nd minute.
Game 2 – Winner: SKT
After a somewhat lackluster performance from star carry Faker, SKT subbed him out for the former SKT S midlaner, Easyhoon. Filling Faker’s shoes was going to be a huge task, but Easyhoon had proved himself a strong player is his previous teams. SKT changed their composition, adding some early game power with Corki, and forcing Ggoong onto a less favoured champion in Jayce. In comparison, Najin picked up Tristana and Mundo, perhaps trying to prove they could succeed where SKT had failed. But SKT are not considered the strongest team in Korea for nothing, as they produced an outstanding team performance, and slaughtered Najin. An 8 minute first blood for Bengi on Ohq got the ball rolling and despite a good dragon pick up by Najin at 14 minutes, SKT understood their power curve, besting Najin in a dragon fight at 21 minutes and extended their 3k gold lead. With Bang being on point with relentless Corki missiles, and Najin turrets crumbling fast, SKT turned up the heat, repeatedly hammering Najin in fights, and gaining complete map control. Najin looked to have the same problems SKT had in the first game, not being able to stall long enough, and got their one and only kill of the game at 32 minutes in! Easyhoon shone on Xerath, landing clutch ultimates and being a continual threat. SKT wrapped up baron despite the loss of Bengi, and swept through Najin’s base to end the game in 34 minutes.
Game 3 – Winner: SKT
If Game 2 was a cold and calculated murder, Game 3 ended up being a fireball of aggression. Faker was reinstated from the bench, and was obviously keen to prove himself. Locking in his favoured LeBlanc, Faker unleashed his considerable skills upon a helpless Ggoong, restricting him to a mere 40 cs by 9 minutes. Still reeling from Game 2, Ggoong’s Ahri was simply outmatched by Faker’s prowess, and the fact that Wolf suddenly decided to become a god tier support didn’t help. An early roam to the mid lane with Janna secured a kill for Faker and set the wheels of death in motion. Wolf showed top tier support skills, and despite Faker being the star of the show, Wolf deservedly got the MVP award. This Game was also interesting because we got to see Kalista. Ohq somewhat strangely elected to lane swap her, and it wasn’t a particularly great showcase of her abilities, but nonetheless there were little flashes of her potential. The Game was pretty much always going to be SKT’s and a simple quadra kill for Bang at 27 minutes ended all hope of a Najin comeback. IF that wasn’t enough, Faker went one better, grabbing the first penta kill of the season and winning the series 2-1 in a 29 minute stomp.
GE Tigers vs Incredible Miracle – GorillA’s PraYers are answered
The former HUYA Tigers are the nearest equivalent to an Alliance style super team – players from other teams formed in an effort to create a strong team to challenge for the top. Former Najin White Shield support, GorillA and Former Najin Black Sword ADC Pray are undoubtedly the stars, as both have shown extremely high levels of skill in previous campaigns. In contrast, Incredible Miracle have always been a bottom tier team, struggling to maintain their place and things did not look to have improved much judging form this series. The Tigers swept to a 2-0 and although Game 1 was competitive, Game 2 showed the clear gulf in class.
Game 1 – Winner: Tigers
Surprisingly Incredible Miracle had the better of the early game, securing first blood for Wisdom and their poke comp started off strongly. However, coming into the mid game, the Tigers showed their experience and after a sneaky baron for IM, they promptly aced them, gaining the advantage they were looking for and giving their team fight composition much needed gold. Things got better and better for the Tigers, a second ace at 35 minutes and a quadra kill for PraY at 38 shut down IM’s last resistance as the Tigers’ bot lane showed their class in managing not to die once in the entire game. The Tigers got yet another ace at 42 minutes and repeatedly punished Frozen’s Xerath and his refusal to purchase a Zhonya’s Hourglass. Lee’s Pantheon made him his priority and was the catalyst in every team fight. GorillA ended the game with 36 assists, and PraY’s KDA of 18-0-22 displayed the dominance of the former Najin players. Truth be told IM fought well and managed to keep the game competitive for long periods, but the Tigers are simply a more coordinated and skilled team, and looked good for a subsequent win in Game 2.
Game 2 – Winner: Tigers
Pretty much any chance of an IM victory was dispelled after a horrible pick/ban phase. IM allowed the Tigers to get Gnar and Lissandra in the first rotation, giving them a hugely powerful comp, and requiring IM to play almost perfectly to win. That they did not, and despite a first blood for Lilac against Smeb’s Gnar, and another generally solid early game, things fell apart in the mid game. A series of dragon fights and small skirmishes meant the Tigers were able to take a clear lead. Smeb in particular was showing fantastic work in the team fights, showing why Gnar is banned almost 100% of the time in Korea and deservedly getting the MVP and proving doubters wrong. It took 23 minutes before PraY and GorrilA’s first series deaths, and the Tigers displayed a perfect knowledge of how to set up for Dragon, outclassing IM and creating some speculation about just how high they can go this split. IM experienced yet another sequence of aces at 35 and 38 minutes before the Tigers put them out of their misery. IM showed some glimpses that they can be solid in the early game, but things fall apart when more advanced strategy and team coordination come into play.
Samsung Galaxy vs Jin Air Green Wings – The Changing of the Guard
This series looked to only be interesting because we would be able to see the players who were replacing perhaps 2 of the greatest rosters of all time. But what occurred was a hugely tense and entertaining series, each game had something amazing and produced a lengthy highlight reel. The games were back and forth with many players making a name for themselves, and despite Jin Air winning the series 2-1, it could easily have been 2-0 in any team’s favour.
Game 1 – Winner: Jin Air
Things started off pretty evenly, Samsung support Wraith getting first blood on Jin Air ADC Pilot at 9 minutes. The early game was slow, mainly farming with a number of small skirmishes, with no side really gaining the upper hand. By 20 minutes Jin Air had managed to eke out a 2k gold lead and collected their third Dragon at 24 minutes. This little bit of momentum allowed Jin Air to grow more confident, and enabled Chaser’s Rengar to pull off some ridiculously entertaining ultimates with Lulu’s speed boost and Morgana’s Black Shield. Repeatedly hurling Chaser into Samsung proved effective, as Jin Air took Baron at 37 minutes and although Samsung got a couple of good team fights, Jin Air were too strong and with GBM ending the game with 1092 AP on Lulu, Jin Air took a tight and edgy Game 1.
Game 2 – Winner: Samsung
This was the game that really showed the potential of the new Samsung roster and was the most exciting game of the week. Jin Air elected to run a late game composition, but Samsung pulled out support Syndra… yes, support Syndra. Despite dying a few time to ganks Samsung’s support, Wraith, produced a sterling performance, using her ultimate early in order to lay numerous orbs on the ground before using Scatter the Weak to stun the entire team of Jin Air. This tactic has never been seen before and really proved Wraith to be an up and coming support player. Jin Air held control throughout the early game but using this revolutionary team fight strategy, Samsung were able to claw themselves back into it. Jin showed excellent map play to grab 3 turrets for nothing at 26 minutes but Samsung followed up with a sneaky baron a few minutes later. Jin Air promptly aced them and it looked as though that would be that. But with Samsung’s nexus a few hits from death, the inhibitor respawned and Samsung managed to hold on. Only a couple of minutes later, Jin Air tried to end again, and this time got the nexus down to 2 HITS from death, before Samsung were able to defend. After another amazing mass Syndra stun, Samsung grabbed 4 kills at 35 minutes and nearly managed to end themselves. After some dancing around at Baron, Jin Air once again shoved the bottom lane, but proceeded to be aced and this time the death timers were long enough for Samsung to pull off one of the unlikeliest of victories.
Game 3 – Winner: Jin Air
Game 3 saw normal service resumed, as Samsung jungler Eve got 3-buffed, and was unable to make any early game impact on Lee Sin. Bliss’s Fizz got caught a couple of times and Jin Air slowly but surely put themselves out in front, being careful not to be over aggressive like in Game 2. A number of small fights ensued, with Jin Air winning enough to keep extended their lead, and took Baron at 31 minutes. Chaser was ever on the lookout for a flank by Fizz and kept his presence to a minimum. Even a fantastic Lulu and Lee Sin combo was not enough to keep Samsung alive, and Jin Air rolled through Samsung’s base for a 39 minute win. While this Game was the least entertaining of the three, we still got to see the quality of Wraith and this Samsung team overall only look to be lacking the team coordination and strategy. Meanwhile Jin Air looked good, with Trace and Chaser returning to summer split form, but they did not look as impressive as SKT or GE Tigers.
Najin e-mFire vs KT Rolster – Contenders Confirmed
With SKT looking so strong, this game looked to be a battle for second place between two venerable organisations. With former KT Bullets ADC Score now in the jungle, KT struggled to contain Najin’s team play. There were some great individual performances but mainly due to great coordination and rotations, Najin picked up a comfortable 2-0 while KT looked competent but pretty lackluster, raising questions as to whether top 3 may even be beyond them.
Game 1 – Winner: Najin
Game 1 started off very slowly, intensive farming abounded, and it took until 20 minutes before the first kills of the game with Najin grabbing 2 and then taking the first dragon. Najin played textbook standard, pulling out some great team fights with Duke’s Sion ultimates. They decided to play it slowly, rotating around and picking up numerous objectives while KT looked unable to stop them. Meanwhile, Duke was picking up a huge amount of free farm, growing ever tankier while Ohq on Tristana ramped up into her scary stage. KT made no aggressive manoeuvres and at 30 minutes Najin completed a perfect play to take the first inhibitor and open up a 10k gold lead. The game remained a low kill one, both sides not willing to take any risks. Najin took baron at 35 minutes and while Ohq died in the subsequent team fight, Duke’s Sion was able to win a 1vs3 and force KT to recall. Najin regrouped and produced a much more coordinated engage, killing off KT and securing a fairly uninteresting Game 1.
Game 2 – Winner: Najin
Game 2 proved to be much more entertaining, swinging back and forth several times and showcasing each team’s abilities. KT locked in an early Gnar and chose to run with a double invis comp of Twitch and Rengar. However, Najin got first blood onto Ssumday and secured their first dragon at 10 minutes. KT understood how to layer their crowd control effectively and while Najin made some nice plays, Ohq in particular dealing tons of damage, KT had a slender lead. The game was completely even at 20 minutes, but then at 22 KT won a 3 for 1 engage, the double invis catching Najin off guard, and took another dragon. Najin upped their game, getting a 3 for 1 fight and securing a 38 minute baron. They used this to really snowball their comp, Ohq decimating all KT members he came across, and taking down 2 inhibitors. KT failed to recover, and on 42 minutes Najin showed excellent teamfight strength to sweep the series.
SKtelecom T1 vs CJ ENTUS – Days of Future Past
This series looked to be very clear cut, SKT were impressive in their victory against Najin, and CJ had been absolutely dreadful in the preseason. However, SKT made some unusual mistakes in Game 1 and CJ were ready to capitalise, securing a shock victory over the favourites with Shy showing why he was once considered one of the best tops in the world. Game 2 was even more emphatic as CJ swept SKT who looked very poor in decision making.
Game 1 – Winner: CJ
SKT picked a very strong team fight composition, with Gnar, Xerath and Annie, and fans looked to Easyhoon to repeat his strong performance against Najin earlier in the week. The action didn’t begin until 10 minutes where CJ grabbed the first dragon after Bengi was spotted in the top lane. First blood went to Coco’s Jayce and CJ punished some cockiness by SKT, after Wolf got a solo kill onto Ambition. A 23 minute team fight showed just how powerful Shy’s Dr. Mundo really was, getting a triple kill but Bang also dealing good sustained damage. Things looked to be better for SKT when a good Easyhoon ultimate led to 3 kills and big pressure on the mid lane. However, the turning point came when SKT attempted a risky baron, which CJ attacked, forcing SKT away and getting the baron for themselves. Yet another CJ dragon meant all outer turrets went down for SKT ad CJ looked to be in control. Shy became unkillable in teamfights and MaRin could never find a good Gnar ulti due to CJ’s positioning. Another baron at 42 minutes and the 5th dragon for CJ meant the game was over, SKT’s nexus falling at 44 minutes.
Game 2 – Winner: CJ
With Faker re-established in the mid lane and on Ahri, things looked positive for SKT, but 2 great roams by Madlife into the mid lane meant Ambition got 2 kills, and a further sacrifice from Madlife prevented any dragons for SKT. CJ got dragon at 17 minutes and another 6 minutes later and 3 kills, taking a 3k gold lead. CJ kept ramping up, taking easy inhibitors and destroying SKT in every fight, Faker looking especially flimsy. A 28 minute baron signaled the end of SKT as CJ easily swept through their base to take a hugely surprising 2-0.
My Roster of the Week:
2nd – GE Tigers 2-0
2nd – CJ ENTUS 2-0
3rd – Jin Air Green Wings 2-1
4th – SKtelecom T1 2-3
5th – Samsung Galaxy 1-2
6th – KT Rolster 0-2
6th – Incredible Miracle 0-2
– SKT went from hero to zero
– Najin looking really strong
– GE Tigers looked good but were not tested
– Jin Air was sloppy and KT were very average
– Samsung look to have potential and are very entertaining
– IM looked unable to compete
– CJ looking much improved from preseason