Samsung Galaxy White is on a completely different level compared to every other team at the League of Legends 2014 World Championship. They’ve only lost one of their 13 games, and they were only truly challenged in one of their 12 wins, blowing their opposition away on a consistent basis. A best-of-five series win by China’s Star Horn Royal Club to take the title would be a tremendous upset, but Samsung White isn’t invincible. What does Royal Club need to do in order to knock off the Samsung juggernaut?
The primary engine of Samsung White’s dominance is their pair of solo laners, Heo “PawN” Won-seok and Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok. They are the only two players in the tournament with a KDA over 11. To make matters worse, both players play a variety of champions so trying to commit multiple bans to weaken either will be an ineffective tactic.
The common sports cliche “he is going to get his” describes a player that is playing at a superstar level, one so good you can’t strategize around shutting them down, you can only limit the damage they’ll inevitably do to you. That truism applies to both Heo and Jang at Worlds so far. Star Horn Royal Club’s solo laners, Cola and Corn, cannot be expected to win in their lane barring a large amount of assistance from jungler Choi “inSec” In-seok.
Since the two Royal Club solos have to play containment, champions that they are comfortable on will be of paramount importance. On top of that, a slant toward “playing safe,” or showing a willingness to hang back even at the cost of some early creep kills, and not overextend will assist the lanes get into the middle game without a catastrophic mistake.
There is one point where Star Horn Royal Club is statistically superior to Samsung White: the duo lane. AD Carry Jian “Uzi” Zi-hao bludgeoned bottom lanes throughout Star Horn Royal Club’s surge from the end of LPL summer through the 2014 World Championship.
Arguably the strongest point of Jian’s game is his wide champion pool. He’s had success on multiple AD carries, including Lucian and Twitch. He also has a pocket Vayne pick that is among the best in the world.
What makes Jian so effective in game is the combination of mechanical wizardry and maniacal aggression. He is adept at controlling a lane, and forcing the opposing duo to respond to his actions.
Jian’s aggression can leave him in a bad spot if he extends too far into enemy territory, but he has benefitted from the presence of Yoon “Zero” Kyung-sup. Yoon has an uncanny ability to save Jian from a bad situation, particularly if he gets to play Thresh. Jian sometimes seems to use the saving grace of Thresh’s Dark Passage as a blessing to go full bore since he trusts Yoon to get him out of sticky situations.
Star Horn Royal Club will not beat White unless their duo lane gets ahead early. A Samsung White squad that has all three of their carries firing on all cylinders is nigh unbeatable. The best chance for Royal Club to throw a wrench in the White machine is in the bottom lane.
The jungle has evolved into a role that is focused on specific, increased pressure on a certain lane. A jungler’s main role is to either bring pressure to bear in order to force wins in the early game, or counter that extra pressure. Star Horn Royal Club’s Choi “inSec” In-seok prefers to attack, focing his foes to react.
The key for Royal Club is to decide where to bring that pressure. Choi typically prefers to lurk around the bottom lane to provide support for Jian and Yoon. That support is crucial to get Jian into a position for him to carry the team to a win.
It is not outside of the realm of possibility that Choi heads for his solo lanes instead. While both of the Royal Club solos are at a disadvantage, a timely attack from out of the jungle could equalize, if not outright win, the early part of the game.
In either case, Choi loves junglers with built in mobility such as Lee Sin, Kha’Zix or Rengar. All of the mobility allows him to come from an unexpected angle and get on top of an enemy champion so fast that they can’t effectively respond. Even if White heavily invest their bans in taking away the mobility junglers, Choi has shown a wide champion pool thanks to his Fiddlesticks and Pantheon games in the semifinals.
Beating White Mid and Late
Throughout the tournament, Samsung White has shown an ability to throw an early haymaker, and then ride the reverberations of that decisive fight or objective to a victory. Ironically, Star Horn Royal Club has done a lot of the same during their march to the finals.
For Royal Club to stand a solid chance, they need to roll with that powerful Samsung punch. It is going to come in every game, barring a series of cataclysmic misplays. Royal Club must take the shot, and respond. If they get too far down, White will continue to do what they’ve done throughout the tournament and run away with the game.
Historically, White has not done well when they’ve been put in uncomfortable positions. A close game, or one where they are constantly skirmishing, has been their undoing. In that scenario, Royal Club can outfight White. For all of their hype, White’s teamfight wins have been predicated off of large leads during the World Championship.
If Royal Club can take the survive the early barrage from White and then force them to fight on equal, or near equal, terms, they have a solid chance of pulling off a stunning upset. Unfortunately, no team has been able to weather the White storm early, but Star Horn Royal Club presents an interesting stylistic challenge for the Korean powerhouse.