Note: Really sorry for no pictures on this one, I originally had side to sides of each player, but the formatting wasn’t at all a fan of that idea, and it ended up making the whole article look like a mess. Really sorry if that negatively affects your reading experience, but you’ll get to see all the player’s on stage this Saturday either way!
After their month long struggles to get to the finals, two Korean powerhouses have emerged. This Saturday, SKT’s established roster of battle-tested kings and Samsung’s band of would-be usurpers will face off to determine which of the two teams is not only the best in Korea, but the entire world.
Coming from the left side of the bracket, SK Telecom have all the accolades in the world in their trophy case, and boast a roster of players who could all be considered among the all time greats. To put it bluntly, SKT not winning the tournament for their second time in a row would be a massive upset.
On the other side of the bracket are Samsung Galaxy; the heavy underdogs with a roster that has not only two players who have changed from their original roles, but also a complete rookie serving as their AD carry. While it may seem dire for Samsung’s hopes in the match, a win would be monumental for several of their players, who have spent their careers in SK Telecom’s shadow.
If both teams were houses, their top laners would be the foundation on which they were built. That isn’t to say that either member is the longest standing member, or any sort of team captain, but rather that they’re the immovable base, upon which a strong team can be built up.
Neither SKT’s Lee “Duke” Ho-Seong or Samsung’s Lee “CuVee”Seong-jin is the flashiest player on the team, but they are both consistent workhorses for the team, often playing a tank or bruiser to round off a composition.
One of the big turning points for this match up will be whether or not Duke can use his superior laning phase to his advantage, or if CuVee will be able to weather the storm. Although Duke has historically shown stronger lane performances, he’s been known in the past for making questionable use of his teleport, whereas CuVee often shines once he can maneuver around the map using his summoner spell.
When looking at the two teams’ junglers, a clear difference in team dynamic becomes apparent. In SKT’s case, both Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung and Kang “Blank” Sun-gu prefer to play more supportive picks, in order to allow their mid lane and AD carry players to serve as their primary damage sources. On the other hand, Samsung’s Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong tends to take a more prominent role in his team’s damage output, which often relegates his AD carry onto more supportive picks.
Due to the schism in play styles, Ambition seems able to perform successful ganks much more frequently than his counterparts, as well as duel the enemy jungler more often. If this trend continues coming into the finals, Ambition could prove to be vital in getting his team’s momentum rolling before his opponents can do the same.
In a world where SKT’s Lee “Faker” Sanghyeok didn’t exist, his opponent Lee “Crown”Min-ho could very well have been in the running for his current title of ‘best player in the world. Unfortunately for Crown, SKT’s mid laner is not only very real, but entirely deserving of his reputation.
With both players being their teams’ primary carries, the mid lane match up will almost certainly be the one to decide the game. Between Faker’s ruthless ability to punish even the smallest mistake, and Crown’s nearly impeccable in-game mechanics, either player could deliver an explosive performance, and win a game almost single-handedly.
Even with the immense skill of both players taken into consideration, Faker has proven at every opportunity that fans should never bet against him. Although this will still hold true for the upcoming series, fans should by no means expect Crown to be completely outclassed.
Whether Faker defends his title against his potential peer, or Crown manages to end Faker’s unopposed reign, this will be the match up to watch for this series.
As previously mentioned, the two finalists have different visions for their AD carry players’ roles in their team dynamic. Whereas SK Telecom’s Bae “Bang” Jun-sik is one of the highest damage sources on the team, Samsung’s Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk often takes on a more supportive role, by providing his carries with long ranged covering fire.
Considering Bang’s pedigree as a player and Ruler’s tendency to be caught out of position in crucial moments, this match up seems to be skewed in the former’s favor. With this in mind, it should still be noted that if Ruler can outperform Bang, it would be invaluable to his team, considering how integral Bang’s success is to his team’s strategy.
While the two have clearly different play styles, Bang may be one of Ruler’s inspirations for going pro, considering he originally went by “Bung”, which was most likely a tribute to his upcoming lane opponent. If this suspicion holds true, it would most likely add even more incentive for Ruler to win, in order to surpass his idol.
While Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan has been on SKT’s lineup for several years, his opponent, Jo “Core JJ” Yong-in is new to both Samsung’s roster, and the support role entirely. After playing as an AD carry in North America, Core JJ has only changed roles as of this past split, and has been making tremendous strides towards being among the best.
Even if Samsung’s newly appointed support player is learning at an incredible pace, he still may not yet understand all of the nuances to elements of the role such as vision control, which Wolf has had years to become accustomed to.
Although Wolf is the veteran in this match up, he still has a few bad habits which could be exploited, such as a tendency to be caught by the enemy while warding.
Considering the current meta game, fans should expect both supports to pick as aggressively as possible, and to come out guns blazing for their final series of the tournament.
With the monumental task of defeating the two time world champions of SK Telecom ahead of them, Samsung will have to play at their best if they hope to win. With that said, both rosters boast some of the brightest talents in the world, and neither will go down without a fight.