As this year’s League Of Legends season is slowly coming to a close, we are also nearing the final battle between this year’s two best teams in the world, the KOO Tigers and SKT Telecom 1. These two Korean powerhouses have managed to prove to us that this is still, infact, the strongest region in the world.
After an impressive 6-0 sweep of the European teams (Fnatic and Origen) in the semifinals, it’s time to take a good look at these rivals to see who has the upper hand in this best-of-five match-up.
Let’s start off with the team that, in my opinion, is weaker in this battle of the titans. KOO’s line up of Smeb, Hojin, Kuro, PraY, GorillA, and their substitute jungler Wisdom have shown us some impressive performances at Worlds so far. While the team did look a bit shaky during the group stages – losing 2 games to the Flash Wolves – they have only looked to improve as the tournament continued.
Against all odds, the team managed to beat the heavily favored KT Rolster after losing the first game. They showed us that they were more than comfortable when playing from behind. They seemed to always know what their win conditions were and knew how to play around them. Most importantly, they were always able to counter-pick their opponent in champion select. Whether that was securing the Fiora for Smeb, Ashe for PraY or even the Veigar for KurO, they always knew what champions they needed to win.
We could often see them playing around their carry top laner, Smeb, but other times we saw PraY step up and help carry the team. This suggests that the team has a great diversity of play-styles and can adapt on the go.
Once they secured themselves a deserved spot in the semi-finals, we saw KOO Tigers show us once again why they are in the final of this tournament. They were able to completely dismember Fnatic as they swept them in a very impressive 3-0 series. They displayed great coordination around the whole map and were able to usually get the better end of team fights.
The player to watch: I think this title definitely has to go to Smeb. He has been a constant performer for the team and with his 21/9/31 Fiora, this is the player that SKT should be looking the shut down. In addition to his stellar performance as a player, Smeb has been able to make impressively decisive team fight and objective calls that often meant the difference between winning and losing.
SKT Telecom 1
Throughout their run at Worlds, SKT has been showing us what it means to be literally unbeatable. The team is on a 12 winning streak and has not dropped a single game. The only team that has made it to SKT’s second tear turrets and destroyed them was Origen during the semifinals, and their adc Bang has a KDA of 19.9 with only 7 deaths and 65 kills in the entire tournament. This team is looking better than ever and are setting their sights on becoming the first team to ever win the World Championship twice.
Throughout the group stages, we saw that they are not going to underestimate any team, playing the same controlled play-style against all their opponents. Rather than winning on pure skill, the team has always managed to outwit their opponents with great vision and map control. Moreover, unlike KOO Tigers, they have been able to show us very little when it comes to what team compositions they like to play. We have seen that they can play around all their carries, and players like Faker or Bang are ready to play more support or utility focused champs like LuLu and Sivir and let MaRin carry games.
In addition, we have also seen that the change between Faker and Easyhoon mid-series is something that the team is very comfortable with and that there is no drawback when switching between the two. This could be very scary for KOO, as the team’s mentality and behavior can drastically change from game to game, going from the very respectful Faker to the more aggressive Easyhoon.
The player to watch: While I think that all of the players on SKT’s roster are amazing, it’s Bang who is having the tournament of his career right now and will surely perform in the final. He has been looking phenomenal and with stellar performances on all champions (Tristana, Sivir, Kalista, and Vayne), it’s hard to see him getting banned out. It will be interesting to see what KOO can do to slow down this player’s spectacular run.
In conclusion, I think that SKT will have the upper hand in this match-up and I do not expect a close series at all. This is not the first time we saw these two teams go head to head, and last time it didn’t go too well for KOO, being swept 2-0 in the best-of-3 series. Furthermore, I think that KOO have looked much less consistent than SKT and are more prone to making mistakes. Smeb often gets over eager, which could cost him a lot against a player like MaRin. Hojin, while being great at early game ganking, has repeatedly shown some weaknesses as the game goes on, which could easily be punished. Due to these reasons, I’m expecting a very clean 3-0 series from SKT, who are currently leagues ahead of the competition.