The Samsung showdown: the stats behind tonight's Worlds semifinal
After the sister Samsung Galaxy teams, White and Blue, unceremoniously sent North America into the offseason thanks to wins over Team SoloMid and Cloud9 in the quarterfinals, they play each other in the semifinals tonight. These two Korean titans met in both of the previous Champions tournaments with Blue coming out the victor. While Blue has history on their side, White has been on a roll through the tournament, and are looking for revenge against their sister squad in this all-Samsung affair.
So far at Worlds, Samsung Galaxy White looks like the more dominant team. Their aggressive play has not only smashed foes, but embarrassed them. But the stats don't tell the full story. White played in a weaker group, only truly challenged by China's Edward Gaming, while Blue played serious matches through the tournament. And Blue doesn't win games by dominating—they don't need a huge lead to crush an opponent.
Note the First Blood stat. That's each team's win rate after securing first blood. Both teams took first blood in 70 percent of their games, but when White scored the first kill, they won the match every single time. The early game will be key in the semifinals.
PawN vs dade - The General takes to the field
Samsung Blue’s middle lane player, Bae “dade” Eo-jin, is often referred to as “the General” for his cerebral style of play. He’s seized recognition next to SK Telecom T1 K’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok as the best middle laners in the world thanks to his surge through Champions Spring and Summer 2014.
Opposing Bae is Heo “PawN” Won-seok. He hasn’t attained Bae or Lee’s level of recognition, but Heo is one of the few players that can claim multiple outright victories over Lee in a one-vs-one match in the middle lane.
What makes the matchup even more interesting—the Samsung coach swapped the two players’s teams to star the season, leading to both Blue and White’s dominance through the summer.
Statistically, Heo has had a superior tournament to Bae. He’s died 13 less times—15 to 28 deaths—and that’s given him a much higher KDA, 10.46 over 4.36. Heo’s also dominated in damage. The Samsung Galaxy White mid man has dealt a whopping 582.97 damage per minute so far at Worlds, top at the position. Bae’s stayed close with 471.43 DPM and managed to keep pace in gold per minute, with both players hovering in the 420 GPM range.
The two players approach the game differently. Like many of his Samsung White cohorts, Heo is adept at taking a small lead and turning it into a landslide victory. A single kill for White’s middle laner is enough in many circumstances. That style is empowered by the assassins the he prefers to play. Through ten games, Heo has played an assassin in eight of them.
Bae plays a wider variety of champions, and is the multi-tool of Samsung Blue. If his team needs him on an AP mage, such as Orianna, that focuses on safer play, he can do that. If the team needs a spark, he’ll pull out Yasuo, an assassin and his best champion. That tendency to create a spark with Yasuo was on display against LMQ in the group stage. Shortly after Blue’s loss to Fnatic, Bae chose Yasuo and played exceptionally aggressive throughout the game. The team rallied around that display, and delivered one of the largest blowouts in the tournament as a result.
Things to watch:
Yasuo - Who gets the Unforgiven?
One of the most highly contested picks between these two teams is Yasuo. Through twenty games, the two mids decided to play Yasuo five times—half of the ten games it was not banned. Heo has played Yasuo twice and has a monstrous 18/1/17 KDA, while Bae has a more modest 17/5/21 stat line through three games.
Statistics do not tell Yasuo’s entire story between Samsung White and Blue. There is some history with this champion as well. While Heo is a noted Yasuo player in his own right, and stats bear that out, White regularly banned it against Blue during their Champions Summer and Spring games since they were afraid of Bae’s dominance on the champion. Many analysts consider Bae’s Yasuo the single most devastating player and champion combination left in the tournament. How White chooses to handle this fact will be key if they’re going to reverse their fortunes against their sister team.
Rust is like more delicious mold - Twitch
Yasuo is not the only champion that both teams have shown a proclivity for throughout the tournament. Twitch, the Plague Rat, has actually been a larger point of emphasis. He has been used nine times throughout the twenty games that White and Blue have combined to play.
The stat line for each player with the champion is eerily similar and equally dominant. Samsung Galaxy White's Gu “imp” Seung-bin posted a 40/9/43 KDA line with 681.91 DPM in five games while his counterpart Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu put up a 34/10/33 KDA with 687.97 DPM in four games.
But the way the two teams play Twitch will put Samsung White in a bind in this series. During early levels, Twitch is awful in a standard two-vs-two lane, which means teams usually need to lane swap him. Picking Twitch creates a predictable series of choices that Samsung Blue can exploit to their advantage. On top of that, Blue has consistently handled lane swaps best since the trend became popular during Champions Spring 2014. White may still pick the champion since marksman Gu “imp” Seung-bin is a consistent force on Twitch, but it will not be a cakewalk early for his squad.
Stopping the White avalanche
Following the roster swap which brought Bae to Blue and Heo to White, Samsung White had to alter their style, turning into a more aggressive team to fit their player’s mindset. The result is a team that hits hard early, and then rides their big lead to a victory thanks to forcing fights, and locking down objectives.
The only teams that have been able to beat White are able to weather this early storm, and force Samsung White to battle without their typical lead. White hasn’t shown anything that resembles caution when behind, or tied, so they can frequently get caught in awkward positions.
Where White is aggressive, Blue is passive. They have a weak early game, but hit their stride with superior coordination in the middle and later games. The team has an eerie ability to come back from far behind thanks to their style. It will be key to stopping the Samsung White avalanche. Barring a cataclysmic mistake, White will surely transition into the mid game with a lead, but Blue’s ability to come back has been effective in the past.
Looper - Unlikely MVP?
Samsung White’s top lane player, Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok, has quietly turned in a standout performance throughout the 2014 World Championship. He has the second highest KDA (10.33) of any player remaining in the tournament, and has almost double the number of kills of his opponent, Choi “Acorn” Cheon-ju.
On top of those numbers, Jang has played a wide variety of champions, 7, and many respond to different team needs. Maokai, which Jang used twice, loves to absorb damage and tank for his team. He pulled out Kayle, a utility top laner, and Ryze, a damage dealing sledgehammer, twice in the tournament. While his Ryze play hasn’t stood up to OMG top laner Gao “Gogoing” Di-Ping’s, he still delivered a solid 9/0/9 performance through his two games.
What makes Jang so pivotal to White is his teleport usage. He has earned the moniker of best teleport user in Korea, and that is foundational to his statistics. Jang has an uncanny ability to appear at the perfect time to help his team win a crucial teamfight. He does all of his work with little hype thanks to some of his teammates over-the-top personalities, but that doesn’t diminish his role. That ability to be at the right place at the right time makes Jang an unlikely MVP on a team full of stars should Samsung White overcome Samsung Blue.
Given the rampant speculation regarding Korean powerhouse organizations being limited to one team, there is a real chance that this series will be the last time these two teams meet under the same banner. That only adds fuel to the intensity of this semifinal match.
Not only is the battle a grudge match between two sister teams, two bitter rivals who have played for championships multiple times before, it also could decide Worlds . The winner will move on the finals to face the winner of the Star Horn Royal Club versus OMG semifinal and will be heavily favored to take the title of 2014 World Champion and the Summoner's Cup.