Taiwanese team Ahq e-Sports may not have made it out of the group stages at the League of Legends World Championships 2017, but they did leave behind a legacy of sorts. They cause an upset against three-time World Champions SK Telecom T1. Let’s take a look at how this monumental event in esports happened.
A Fizzy Taste
Ahq’s Liu “Westdoor” Shu-Wei blind-picked Fizz, a champion that has fallen out of favour in the meta, as he loses many lane matchups and is vulnerable to getting outplayed. This was a throwback to 2015 when during the Season 5 World Championships, he got a solo kill against Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s Kassadin playing as Fizz.
Faker responded in kind, locking in the Kassadin, thus making it a rematch of the mid-lane from 2 years ago.
But this game was the story of Ahq’s Xue “Mountain” Zhao-Hong playing out of his mind. He pulled off the perfect CC-layering onto Faker’s Kassadin, a champion famous for being slippery and difficult to lock down, securing Westdoor First Blood on Fizz, who can snowball a lead out of control.
Here are the highlights of the entire game.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough?
As you can tell, Mountain was the vanguard of Ahq on Sejuani. Every highlight play was Mountain making a proactive play that SKT could not respond in time. Let’s break down what Mountain did and why he did it.
- After the First Blood in the mid-lane, Mountain correctly identifies that he is stronger than the enemy jungler and thus seeks to invade him.
- This serves two purposes. One: if SKT’s Han “Peanut” Wang-ho isn’t around, he steals the camps from him and puts him further behind. Two: if Peanut is around, he can safely duel him with the knowledge that he is relatively tanky, and has the Shen Stand United Ultimate for even more safety.
- Westdoor can even come to provide a long-range Chum The Waters skill for added disengage should he require it.
What this does is it allows his bottom lane to push with impunity, as they can be confident that Mountain is pressuring Peanut in his top side jungle. And whilst Mountain does get collapsed on and taken out the first time he does this, it still results in a trade and the kill even goes over to Westdoor, where they want to put the gold on anyway. These repeated invades put Peanut behind and has a minimal impact throughout the rest of the game.
The Builds Of The Game
The reason why a proactive play was so good against SKT was because the Korean team did not want to fight early. Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon went for a split-push, damage heavy Jarvan build with Ravenous Hydra.
This build, whilst effective at pushing waves and taking down towers, struggles in 5v5 teamfights because it offers little survivability. This means that Peanut’s Gragas was SKT’s only true frontline as Huni could not afford to go forward to soak up damage and with Peanut being set so far behind, SKT’s tank line could not hold under the assault of AHQ.
Ahq recognised this and constantly forced fights onto SKT, utilizing the long range of Chum The Waters and Glacial Prison to set up zone control and initiate. Mountain dived into the backline of SKT with his Gargoyle’s Stoneplate making him unkillable whilst Ahq mopped up the melee champions of SKT.
And whilst Jarvan and Kassadin would traditionally be able to one-shot Ahq’s Kog’Maw, AN went for a very defensive build, with Health and Armor from Randuins Omen and Magic Resist from both Wit’s End and Quicksilver Sash.
This meant that Huni’s Jarvan build was rendered ineffective and AN was still alive even after Huni’s and Faker’s full combo, allowing Albis on Janna to heal Kog’Maw up and AHQ to plough through SKT.
SKT was not the number one seed from Korea coming into the event, and they certainly do not look like the number one team at Worlds. In the words of Indiana “Frostkurinn” Black on the analyst desk:
“If you cover up those nameplates… you look at that and if it had been someone like TSM playing they’d be roasted alive right now. If they keep playing like this and run into LongZhu, it’s done.”