The WashUp – KT v SKT – LCK Spring Playoffs
The Round 3 Playoffs match of the LCK Spring Split between KT and SKT T1 played out in a very one sided fashion. Considering the season both of these teams have had, 5 games was not a high expectation. Considering that SKT (3rd) finished the season behind KT (2nd) and their rounds had finished with 1 apiece, there was no reason to think that one team would fold against the other and make it lopsided either way. KT had also shown some proficiency in this new meta with a methodical series win over the ROX Tigers (1st), there was hope for fireworks. Alas…the Korea Telecom battle promised much but delivered very little.
Game 1 started off as standard as can be. KT had a standout pick with a Top lane Fizz as a “counter” to the Duke Maokai (despite MR increases and Fizz nerfs). A Sivir Trundle KT bot lane exhibited a team fight focus but combined with a Fizz and a Varus (Fly) perhaps took from some strength that the bot lane could provide. Score looked to keep his highest kill participation statistic intact with a Nidalee pick. SKT picked a very balanced draft with Blank’s Graves being the most interesting pick, and with a Lucian (Bang), Alistar (Wolf) and Lissandra (Faker) the pick potential and team fight strength made for an interesting matchup.
Score outfarmed Blank for much of the game (which was to be expected with a Nidalee) and was somewhat effective with lane pressuring ganks. In saying this, Blank was counterganking fairly well and didn’t allow Score to become too influential with his pathing. An overall slow start made for a 16 minute Mid tower being taken for KT, thanks to Fly playing a particular pressure focused Varus to make Faker burn his Teleport just to get back to lane and try to push it off. The damage sustained at this point was too much. Faker did turn it immediately for a first blood onto Fly, with help from Blank (Wolf’s presence in this gank was for moral support, not playmaking). Shortly after, a 4 man Gank /Duke TP bot killed Arrow while Duke’s superior wave control took top at the same time. KT attempted to control vision around Dragon at the 23 minute mark, but SKT’s team fight threat pushed KT back into their Blue Jungle (Red side of the map) and SKT proceeded to take 4 easy kills.
Why 4 KT members were loitering around a dragon they couldn’t possibly contend was incredulous especially considering Ssumday was not in a position to help at any point. He did return for a kill onto Faker, but SKT were already taking the Baron. Ssumday was strong on Fizz and finished on 5/2/4. But Ssumday seemed to be 1v5, and the rest of KT were 4v5 as Ssumday was not able to effect team fights and pressure to support the rest of the team. Clean up kills were easy for him even with the tank build, but by not being able to provide effective engage for the rest of his team KT team fights were scrappy affairs. Even when Ssumday flanked with Fizz (which is what he would have wanted to do in the best case scenario), he could not provide his team with the necessary disruption to the cohesive SKT composition to allow them to do the damage needed pressure SKT away with either damage or kills. The split pushing threat from Ssumday was effective at stalling and extending the game out to 45 minutes, and members of SKT did need to respond to it. But their pressure built out of the mid game extended too strongly into the late game for any KT response to matter. SKT made a strong focus on deleting Arrow at every opportunity and explains his 0/5/8 finish and used the Graves tankiness and Lissandra CC to make an escape ineffective. Essentially, SKT expertly dismantled the effectiveness of the KT composition and took away most of the opportunities they had to mount a comeback. SKT win.
Game 2 saw a mostly better draft from KT, and the composition suited the Meta and KT’s overall team synergy focus much better. Ssumday was back on Maokai, for who he is 23 wins 5 losses with (before this game). Nidalee, Corki Kalista and Alistar rounded out the rest of the composition in respective positions. This composition wanted to extend team fights, and let the damage dealers be able to execute their damage around their tanky front line, and push as a unit. Fly can always use a better match up in the mid lane, as his performances have been inconsistent throughout the season, and Score is effective on Nidalee. They are mobile, fast and can output good amounts of damage in a consistent manner. Mostly. SKT pulled out a weird composition, with (top to bottom) Trundle, Elise, Zilean, Sivir and Tahm Kench. Corki Zilean mid was always going to be rough for Faker, and Bang needed to survive these team fights to be able to put out SKT’s damage. Considering how quickly Arrow’s Sivir was deleted last game, SKT had plenty of contingencies to keep Bang alive (Zilean Ult, Tahm W and Spell Sheild). Trundle into the top lane was always going to go in his favour against a Maokai, but Duke did a wonderful job of building and keeping that lane ahead. We saw standard lanes across the map.
Despite a nearby ward, a low HP Score blind pounced a wall into the face of a healthy Blank and his Elise took an easy 4 minute first blood. Fly pressured Faker out of lane in an exciting trade, and Fly could have flashed a kill but thought against it with the nearby Elise. Fly had to then burn a Flash and heal to escape him, so retrospectively the kill probably could have been worth it. Fly’s positive match up suddenly turned very even very quickly. He didn’t even stay in lane for a few free CS with Blank moving on and Faker in base – the trade fell further away from Fly.
The next trade we see tells the story of this particular match. KT made a huge mistake before the game even started – the Kalista pick lacks early damage, and requires a long time to build up enough rend stacks for any damage to be effective (short of the late game). Sivir Tahm bottom is tanky and survivable, and despite the Alistar supporting Kalista, SKT had a more stable and reliable bottom lane in both damage and escape. Trading back and forth, CS was almost even at 5 mins. Hachani disrupts a Bang back in a warded brush, which is then turned with Wolf and Bang focusing the slow Alistar for some serious damage. Wolf build up enough passive stacks to be able to eat Hachani and regurgitates him back towards Sivir for some more damage and a Thunderlord’s proc. During this time, Arrow has had time to build up rend stacks but due to the early nature of the trade, does not do enough damage to dissuade the SKT advance on the defenceless KT Support. KT hovered a Vayne during champion select, and I can’t help but feel that against the tankiness of the Tahm (and Trundle up top) and the immobility of Sivir and Zilean that it would have been a better selection. Vayne is more difficult to catch than Sivir and considering that KT had seen the Sivir Trundle and Tahm Kench selected already, it is difficult to see the benefit of a Kalista pick in this instance.
Score was ganking more effectively, as they did get a well telegraphed kill onto Wolf in the bottom lane, and then was a part of a turnaround 1-1 trade top. SKT managed an uncontested dragon, and sustained pressure in the top lane from Duke saw Faker TP top and 3 man gank Ssumday and take the top tower. KT traded bottom, as well as allowing Fly to take the mid as well. By 16 minutes, KT had taken all 3 outer turrets. It seemed that they were building a strong path into the mid game. KT started rotating as a 5 man unit, and wanted to pressure T2 towers. While dancing around the top T2, Faker was able to get a full towers worth of damage down in the mid lane – finishing off the T1 and taking half off the T2. KT’s reliance on the 5 man rotation failed to respond to Faker to protect mid lane, and without outputting enough damage on their own, SKT could survive the KT push top 4v5 (KT still took the tower). A fight broke out in the mid lane at 22:50 that saw damage dealt from both sides, but no one taking a kill. It was short enough that Kalista couldn’t lay down enough spears for a big rend, and SKT disengaged and move down mid and back to Dragon. KT tried to engage again, and SKT had too much forward momentum to disrupt the back lines, slow Arrow and Hachani from being able to do damage, made Corki kite back and put his output down, and SKT found 2 kills, the Mid T2 and the Baron. With the Baron buff, SKT made fairly light work of KT from here and any KT resistance was eventually futile. SKT win in 30.
Game 3 saw a more positive draft from KT saw (from top to bottom) Nautilus, Graves, Corki Lucian and Braum. These laners are strong, and have effective kits to deal with most of anything SKT could throw at them. SKT pulled out a Faker Ekko (super exciting –his first professional Ekko game), with (top to bottom) Maokai, Kindred, Sivir and Trundle. Lanes were standard, and Blank ganked (:P) top to get first blood onto Ssumday. Despite Score being close, he could help his top laner at all. SKT had a strong focus on vision deep in the KT Red jungle (Red side) to make sure the Graves didn’t pop up anywhere unexpected and KT had the river well lit to spot any counter ganking from the very capable Kindred. 11 minutes in, and Blank catches Score out it the SKT jungle that starts a very sporadic team fight goes in the favour of SKT with Faker doing lots of work on Ekko to pressure KT out of the fight and get a kill. Duke catches Score with Maokai and provide lots of harassment to force KT to back all the way out. From there, they can take an uncontested 1st Dragon. Being 2k gold up, SKT are finding kills in top lane (Blank takes out a low HP Ssumday very randomly) and KT take a 2-1 trade in bottom lane. Not to be outdone, Faker rotates to pick up another kill on a retreating Hachani. It’s a this point that SKT decide to rally behind Faker rotations, and they push top at 16:40 to a wonderful and extremely well executed 2 kill Parallel Convergence stun onto Arrow and Hachani and Ssumday is zoned away and killed by Blank. The stun was so well done because Wolf used the Pillar to push the duo into the Convergence to ensure they were completely stunned. AP Ekko makes short work of them. 10-4 up in kills and nearly 5k gold up at 17 minutes, KT hadn’t been proactive enough to be able to mount a comeback and SKT had built up enough of a mid game lead that KT were facing an inevitable loss, which came eventually at 27 minutes. SKT win. 3-0.
There are 3 things we can take out of this game.
Firstly – KT drafted themselves out of the first 2 games. Game 1 had the very peculiar Fizz top pick that gave KT very little engage and team fighting prowess. Game 2 saw Arrow on a low damage output Kalista, considering their ability to create teams fights and keep them together for long enough to allow Arrow to do enough work. Game 3 saw a large improvement in the composition, but the were lacking proactive work from Score and Arrow to be able to do anything effective.
Secondly – SKT are still a hugely formidable team, and they seem to have a strong pregame and in game understanding of where the power in your composition comes from. They have the execution to be able to execute their compositions, and adapt them to suit the game in front of them. They have a strong ability to choose good laners, and vary the focus of their team based on what happens early.
Thirdly – There is a lot about SKT in this meta that we simply don’t know. With Duke seemingly able to fit into any meta (check out his career champion statistics here http://lol.esportspedia.com/wiki/Duke/Statistics) with mostly success, SKT have got to have some intuitive plans to work around the current utility of top laners and how they work around team fighting. Blank hasn’t been particularly effective this season, but during playoffs he has shown that he has potential to support the team from the jungle quite effectively. In this series, they didn’t have to show much because KT unfortunately provided little resistance in all 3 games. SKT weren’t required to adapt to very much. This creates a wonderful match up in the final when they play ROX Tigers. We haven’t seen too much of what ROX can do in this new meta either, so we are in for a thrilling ride next weekend!
Martin “VolSig” Corvalan