20 May 2015 - 05:37
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New Blood in the LCK, The 4 Teams that Emerged from the Promotion Tournament

In the wake of a somewhat mixed showing from SK Telecom T1 at the Mid-Season Invitational, the other teams in LCK were preparing for the Summer Season in Korea.
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In the wake of a somewhat mixed showing from SK Telecom T1 at the Mid-Season Invitational, the other teams in LCK were preparing for the Summer Season in Korea. LCK is making an expansion to 10 teams this season, meaning that four spots were up for grabs in the recent promotion tournament that concluded several days ago. After six best-of-three’s , the teams that qualified for LCK Summer 2015 were Longzhu IM, Samsung Galaxy, Anarchy, and SBENU Sonicboom (Prime Clan), and while two of these team are returning from last season, there’s plenty of talking points about all four. In this article I will give a brief recap of each team’s performance at the promotion tournament, and then take that information and speculate on how each team may fare in the upcoming LCK season.

Longzhu IM (Qualified: First Place Group A)

 2-0 (4-0)

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Roster and Promotion Tournament:

The recently rebranded IM team showed off more changes than just a new organization at the promotion tournament. In fact of the five players who finished seventh place last season, only one, Frozen, remained in place. That means that Top, Jungle, AD, and Support debuted all new players for Longzhu, some more familiar than others. In Top we have Apple and Lilac fighting for a starting role, western fans will know Apple from his brief stint with the Quantic team that failed to qualify for NALCS. In the four games played in promotions, Apple started in three, and Lilac just once in the very last match. Jungle is now held down by TuSin who made the swap from support to jungle this off season. The Marksman role has been filled by Roar, who spent last season as a substitute on CJ Entus behind Space; though S0NSTAR remains on the roster. And finally at Support we have IgNar, a bench player from Winterfox who made his debut in this tournament.

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In game these five players looked as though they already had months of team play under their belts.  A lot of this is probably on the backs of TuSin and IgNar, both of which showed great synergy with the solo lanes and roamed well in regards to the vision game, each buying an early sightstone in all four games. This team seemed more improved in the objective game, as where last season IM would sometimes stutter out; granted only one of the games they won went past the 30 minute mark. Frozen looked better than both mid laners he faced, which is not a big surprise as he was arguably the best player on the previous IM roster. In three games he managed to pick LeBlanc, and put in dominating performances on the burst mage, even getting a 20 stack mejai’s in game two vs. Winners. The bot lane is a bit questionable still, while Roar seems to get around teamfights well, his laning phase and out of combat position weren’t exactly stellar. This is partially due to IgNar leaving lane to roam, and while the roams were generally worthwhile, they also ended in IgNar solo death’s on more than one occasion. Still, IgNar was very impressive once teamfights erupted; often making key plays in five vs five fights. The standout player in my eyes for Longzhu and the promotion tournament had to be Apple. The top laner picked Gnar in all three of his matches and managed to pick up numerous in lane solo kills against both top laners he faced.  His teleport plays and teamfights were also exceptional on the yordle, very comparable to Duke’s Gnar play last season.

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LCK Summer 2015:

Despite the dominating performance at this tournament, we have to take into account the level of opposition they faced. In almost no scenario can I see Longzhu pulling off these early game roam plays and vision advantages against top tier LCK sides. Teams like SKT and CJ Entus will be much more prepared and experienced enough to handle this style of play. Add onto that the fact that we didn’t ever see this new IM roster play from behind, and there’s just not a lot to go off to assume this will be a top four team this season. They’ve shown they can snowball these small early game advantages against weaker sides, and honestly that’s about all they really did to secure victory in their matches. That’s not to say that Longzhu didn’t show promise in other areas of their play, and I think Longzhu IM fans will have a bit more to get excited about this season. At this moment anywhere from a sixth to eighth place finish seems reasonable.

Anarchy (Qualified: Second Place Group A)

1-1 (2-3)

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Roster and Promotion Tournament:

Anarchy has been battling it out in the Korean Challenger scene for about a year now, and will finally make their debut in LCK this summer after snatching qualification in their very last match of promotions. Only one player on Anarchy, Lira, has any professional experience, the other four will all be making their first ever appearances. One of the most noteworthy players on Anarchy is their midlaner Mickey who is frequently in the top 10 of Korean challenger tier under the ID MickeyGod. Their top laner cvMax rejoined the team for this tournament, and is a well-known streamer in Korea. The Anarchy bot lane is made up of Sangyoon and SnowFlower, both of which are respected within the challenger scene, but have little reputation otherwise.

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In the promotion tournament Mickey was one of their clear standout players alongside Lira, who was also quite effective from the jungle. Mickey battled well against Frozen, and against Moon from Winners, managing an 11/0/10 LeBlanc score in game one. Lira never failed to hold a minimum of 66% contribution for kill for Anarchy in any game, and made his presence felt by constantly ganking all three lanes, a somewhat uncommon jungle tendency. cvMax also put in a good showing in the promotion tournament, and pulled out some interesting top lane picks. He recorded solo kills with his top lane Rengar and Fizz against Winners, additionally he also ran smite and teleport the majority of his matches. Just as with Longzhu, bot lane was a bit of a different story. Sangyoon and SnowFlower were less than captivating, and probably the weakest duo lane in the group. While their first four outings were not so impressive, in the clutch game three for promotion, both of these players showed up much to their credit. Sangyoon went off with ezreal, and had more than twice as much damage to champions as anyone else on his team. Meanwhile SnowFlower clocked in easily his best performance on Thresh, a champion they first picked on blue side.  

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LCK Summer 2015:

If you just look at the series vs. Winners, this team looks like a quite exciting prospect for the summer season. They had each player step up at some point to secure victories, and in general played the game in an exciting manner. Sadly we have to look at the two games against Longzhu IM, where they were very easily manipulated and failed to take even one game to thirty minutes. If we still look at Longzhu as one of the weaker teams in LCK, and evidence says we probably should, then things don’t exactly look great for Anarchy heading into the season. The bot lane looked weak even for a challenger side four of the five games, and cvMax only recorded one win with his oddball picks. If they have anything going for them it’s that Lira and Mickey looked the part of LCK players, and with enough time, may be able to compete with some of the better jungle/mid duos in the league. Sadly I expect Anarchy to finish the season where they started it, in the promotion tournament.

Samsung Galaxy (Qualified: First Place Group B)

2-0 (4-0)

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Roster and Promotion Tournament:

Samsung took the opposite approach from Longzhu and decided to keep their entire starting roster intact for the crucial promotion tournament. This is likely due to the week 12 turn around where Samsung actually managed to beat NaJin e-mFire 2-1. Advisable or not they went in with the same five starting players, and managed to take down their group opponents 2-0 and requalify. For the most part the roster seems to be playing about the way they did, but managed a few convincing victories against some less skill opposition. CuVee and Ace had moments of good play and some moments of the questionable decision making which they are known to do from time to time. Fury and Wraith continued to look themselves in the bottom lane, Wraith aggressively looking to make plays and Fury following them up in team fights with some extremely clean positioning. If we are looking at improvement then the only part of Samsung that seemed to be clicking more than usual was the play of Eve from the jungle. He had much more presence than you’d expect from him typically, and genuinely made some really good engage plays in both series.

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During their battles against Xenics, who were actually more troublesome for them, we did see some new methodical dimensions to Samsung Galaxy in game. Coordinating recalls and warding up before objectives was the first noteworthy thing, but the general knack of knowing when they could and could not fight objectives was a bit of a surprise.  They used the baron timer well and managed to create picks and thus barons at around the twenty minute mark in half of their games. They even had Sivir flash and Hecarim jump the baron wall in game two vs Xenics to sneak it and regain momentum. This aggressive objective control was only on display for some of the series, but extremely effective when applied.  Aside from that, not much looked out of the usual; which isn’t exactly a good sign.

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LCK Summer 2015:

Whereas at least Longzhu IM dominated their amateur opposition, Samsung struggled to win, not even managing one win before the 30 minute mark. Seeing them trail both Xenics and SBENU on different occasions in the same two hour period was less than captivating, and doesn’t leave me with much hope for them in the upcoming season. You can argue that they went 4-0, and that’s at least a legitimate accomplishment, but at the same time you could see them barely coming out in these 40 minute slugfest with teams that weren’t even in LCK last season and really question their quality. The hope for Samsung is sadly exactly what it was last season, hope that Fury and Wraith can continue to carry and the other three reach their “potential” as top tier players. The only part I buy is that Fury is truly a hidden gem, and maybe with him on his game Samsung Galaxy can stay clear of bottom two this summer.

(Prime Clan) SBENU Sonicboom (Qualified: Second Place Group B)

1-1 (2-3)

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Roster and Promotion Tournament:

Prime Clan has a bit of history within Champions Korea, Prime Optimus famously upset SKT S in the spring season last year to save SKT K’s playoff chances. All five of those players went on to join other teams after relegation, most notably Ninja and Old B to Team WE in China. Similar to last time they got promoted, Prime showed up to this tournament with five relatively unknown players with high hopes. Their team is led by their marksman Nuclear, who prides himself on his ability to carry. He had good showings on Sivir and Lucian, two champions he’ll need once he’s facing his LCK opposition. His support Secret seems like a capable Thresh player much to his benefit. The solo lanes are covered by Soul and SaSin, and while neither of them seemed killer, they both did hold their own against CuVee and Ace which is worth something. The Jungler is Catch, who interestingly enough played Gragas in every single game where it wasn’t banned away.

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Their playstyle is extremely passive, and may bring a yawn or two to the casual viewer. They play lanes to their best and then look to go for early dragons when possible. Once dragon is off the map they retreat back to laning phase, so in more than one game at this tournament essentially all the kills occurred in six minute intervals. This is exemplified by SaSin, who in the last three games where they were in do-or-die games against Xenics, played in order; Ziggs, Morgana, Lulu. The game lengths of those matches were respectively 48 minutes, 54 minutes, and 42 minutes.  They wave clear, survive, and look for teleport engages to secure dragon fights. That’s not to say they are completely passive, Catch ganked about as much as a typical jungler, it’s just they never look for any other aggressive plays outside of big objective fights. Whether you argue its boring or methodical play is up to the viewer, I will say for sure that it’s ineffective. In games where SBENU had massive gold leads and several dragon buffs, they would almost never try to group for turrets or make pick plays outside of objectives. It was clear a polished team could’ve won these games anywhere from 10-15 minutes faster, but slow and steady wins the race in this case.

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LCK Summer 2015:

There’s a part of me that’s wants to be excited for this team, they did execute pretty decent play all tournament long. It’s one thing to be patient enough to wait for dragon buffs, but it’s another to consistently just win the 5v5 fights at the objective. They might be passive, but they did some really nice flanks and initiations to secure what they want when required. The flip side of this is that as soon as they become incapable of winning these 5v5’s they are in a mountain of trouble; insert any top six team from LCK here. It’s really farfetched to think that they are going to just wait for a dragon and then just out 5v5 teams like CJ Entus, SK Telecom T1, KOO Tigers etc. and win decisively. If Soul and SaSin just make it out of lane against some of these top tier solo laners that would be impressive enough. If this team wants to be pushing for top half, they will have to become even better and much more efficient at what they do, or expand to other playstyles. While I would say things don’t look good, if you’re going to pin hopes for either Anarchy or SBENU avoiding the next promotion tournament, I’d go with these five.  

Thanks for reading and please check out my twitter @ablindpuppy for more LCK related content!

Sources: 

esportspedia : General Information

Lolesports Youtube Channel : VODS

LOL Ongamenet: Pictures

Wallpapereditor.com : Graphics

 

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