Two American teams advanced through the group stage at the Riot World Championships over the past two weeks, the first time one has survived a round of League of Legends’ toughest competition over the past two seasons.
After the first quarterfinal match, just one remains.
Samsung Galaxy White eliminated American champions Team SoloMid by a 3-1 series score. The favorite heading into the tournament, White’s win was in some ways a little close for comfort for a Korean side supposed to dominate games like this.
The Americans put on a good show—few expected them to have a chance against Korea’s top team, but they acquitted themselves well, winning one game and pushing Samsung White to the limit in another. It was the first time Team SoloMid had ever beat a Korean team.
Samsung Galaxy White entered the match with a solid plan and executed it—at least in their ban phase. They banned Orianna away from Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and forced Maurice “Amazing” Stuckenschneider off the Lee Sin he used in five of six group stage games. Bjerg turned to Zed, a champion he was unstoppable with during the League Championship Series. But at Worlds so far, Korean teams have managed to shut Zed down by building early leads, and they did just that against SoloMid.
The Koreans blitzed the first two games, scoring big early leads with three buff advantages and rolling SoloMid. The first match was a masterful performance with White closing the game out in 26 minutes, despite playing a late game focused scaling team composition with Ryze and Jayce, who peaks after 40 minutes.
In game two the Koerans stomped even harder, posting 33 kills and nearly a 20,000 gold lead. Top laner Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok picked Singed, a champion that’s seen zero play at Worlds, the LCS playoffs, or even the regular season this year. But it used to be the preferred pick of Marcus “Dyrus” Hill in season one, and Jang used it to show up the former master with a 5/1/18 KDA game.
In game three Team SoloMid struck back, taking a huge early lead with two kills in a level one fight and running it to a victory. Samsung picked a late game team with little synergy and Team SoloMid really took advantage. Jason “WildTurtle” Tran led the charge with a 8/1/4 KDA.
“Rather than being too cocky we didn’t focus too much on our picks for game three, so for game four we really focused on getting the picks we wanted,” said White’s marksman Gu “Imp” Seung-bin.
In game four, Team SoloMid nearly pulled off a come-from-behind victory. It looked like Samsung Galaxy White had recovered from their game three blip, running a big lead thanks to a pentakill by Gu, but they found themselves caught out by SoloMid’s smart map movements. The Americans managed to take an inhibitor and nearly a second one before White recovered and bullied SoloMid by taking the baron and then the game. That’s the kind of performance Team SoloMid can be proud of, and something to build on for next year. For White, it’s the kind of mistake that will get them killed in a semifinal match.
Samsung Galaxy White will face the winner of tomorrow’s battle between their sister team Samsung Galaxy Blue and the other American contender, Cloud9. Gu gives Blue about a 70 percent chance at victory, but says he’d rather face the Americans. He’s tired of losing to Blue.
Image via Riot Games/Flickr