The last time the Samsung organization hoisted the cup before thousands of adoring fans was in 2014 when a completely different iteration of Samsung, Samsung White, won that year’s League of Legends World Championship. Since then, the Samsung organization has had to rebuild its team from scratch, while sticking to their core players consisting of Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin and Lee “Crown” Min-ho.
Last year, they reached the World Finals before losing to SK Telecom in a 3-2 series. This time however, they managed to convincingly demolish SK Telecom, with an insane 3-0 series.
How is that even possible, since SKT is considered an LoL juggernaut in the pro gaming circuit? Here are the factors that determined Samsung’s historic win over the SK Telecom dynasty.
Crown Controlling Faker
In the last showdown between two of Korea’s best mid laners, the keys to the series for Samsung were very much the same, with the core factor being Lee “Crown” Min-Ho, who was able to control SK Telecom’s ace in the hole, Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok. The last time they met, Faker was able to steamroll his way past Crown and through all of Samsung Galaxy; the most brutal of which was in Game 1 of the series with Lucian.
This time around, with Samsung’s priority on champion Malzahar (which they got all 3 games), Crown was given the tools to nullify Faker. This was despite Malzahar having a relatively weaker early game and being pushed in at early levels. Once the champion got through its early levels, he functioned as a very effective nullifying pick to both shove in the opponent mid laner and completely shut down an enemy champion in team fights (or force a 1,300 gold investment into Quicksilver Sash).
Despite an early focused play from SK Telecom, Crown’s Malzahar was a highly effective and vital part of Samsung’s game plans and teamfights.
CoreJJ’s Enchanter Play
Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in was basically the unsung hero of the series. The man behind the series MVP; CoreJJ was close to perfect in his Enchanter play all series. His 2 first picks on Janna forced a ban from SK Telecom in Game 3, and this prompted a second rotation Lulu pick which he was also fantastic on. CoreJJ kept his AD Carry partner, Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk, alive through some of the most ridiculous situations.
Making full use of his Ardent Censor Supports, CoreJJ was the man behind the scenes that allowed Ruler to pop off.
SK Telecom’s 3 Games On Red Side
Picking the Red Side in Game 2 may well have spelled doom for SK Telecom. Picking Red Side on the World’s Patch guarantees you only have 2 bans. With Kalista being a Red Side permaban for every team, this heavily stifled the possible draft options for SK Telecom.
Sticking with the same 3 bans of Kalista, Tristana, and Galio for the first two games was also disastrous for SK Telecom despite being relatively understandable. Given their poor execution in Game 1, they could have played better if they were given a similar draft in Game 2. Understandably, SK Telecom would try to give counterpicks to either of their 2 best performers in Faker or Heo ‘Huni’ Seung-Hoon.
However, this once again handed Janna, Malzahar, and Xayah over to Samsung (2 games with these 3 core Champions). Perhaps opting for a Blue Side game to have more ban options may have played out better for SK Telecom.
In Game 3 when Samsung ultimately picked Blue for themselves, SK Telecom were stuck with leaving Tristana available to opt for a Janna ban instead. However, they did not grab the next strongest Enchanter, Lulu, in their first rotation, instead passing it over to Samsung and CoreJJ with SK Telecom attempting a counterpick of Leona.
These are the main reasons for Samsung’s 3-0 sweep over SK Telecom. Both Samsung’s play and draft picks were close to flawless. Although SK Telecom exhibited some of their own bright spots, the team did not come close to matching Samsung’s level of team-wide and individual play on that fateful day.