LCK 2016 Spring Split Awards

LoL Curtis “Curt_Mcgirt” Gokcen

(Courtesy of OGN)

The 2016 LCK Spring Split regular season has come and gone and it’s time to reflect on the past 3 months. There were a number of surprises and many familiar faces as teams once again showed why Korea is the best league in the world. While there was certainly lots of fantastic (and less fantastic) play, there were a few individuals and storylines that stood out. Let’s look at the winners and losers of the Spring Split.

 

MVP: Smeb

(Runner up: Go “Score” Dong-bin)

(Courtesy of OGN)

It is hard to argue against Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho as the MVP of the league. In many respects Top Lane has been the most important position in this meta. Luckily for his team, Smeb is the best at his position not only domestically but also abroad. He showed that he is adept on a vast array of champions this split, winning on an astounding 12 different champions. He bulldozed his way to victory on bruisers like Poppy, not losing in any of the 10 games in which he picked her. We were all wowed as he ran circles around his opponents on Fiora while he finessed his way to victory. It comes as no surprise that he has accumulated the most MVP points in the league and is OGN’s Spring MVP. Smeb had the biggest impact of anyone this split and is a major reason why the Rox Tigers finished in first place.

 

Biggest Surprise: Afreeca Freecs

(Courtesy of OGN)

At the start of the split the Afreeca Freecs were expected to be a middle of the pack team. Many thought that if this team played to the best of their abilities they could challenge for one of the last playoff sports. Yet after an abysmal 1-6 start, those hopes and expectations had been thrown out the window. It was no longer playoffs the team needed to worry about, but relegations.

Despite many pundits and analysts writing off the Freecs as a disappointment, the Freecs themselves thought otherwise. They came out the second half of the split on fire and looked a completely different team. Long gone were the days where opponents could just ban out Son “Mickey” Young-min and the Freecs would crumble. The entire roster stepped up and each player had games in which they led the team to victory. Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo in particular had a monster second half showing that teams would be foolish to let him play Graves.  It was great fun watching them grow as a team and make this miraculous run into the playoffs. How can you not root for a team that looks genuinely happy to be playing the game? All aboard the Afreeca hype train!

 

Most Improved Player: Fly             

(Runner-up Lira)

(Courtesy of OGN)

Over the course of the split Song “Fly” Young-jun has shown real growth as the KT Rolster Midlaner. He started off the year looking a bit shaky, occasionally finding champions that he could play at a high level. He showed real quality on Lux and then later Zilean, but on other champions he seemed quite unsure of himself. Like many inexperienced players Fly’s performance was very champion dependent. Yet over the last month he has certainly grown in both skill and confidence. His performance on Lissandra against SK Telecom T1 was game changing and he was the clear cut MVP of that terrifically played game. In the next game he switched up his playstyle from an engage stun bot to a hard carry by picking and showing a high proficiency on Gangplank. The series against SKT felt like a playoff match and in many respects it was. Fly certainly stepped up to the occasion and had arguably his best series of the split. If he continues on this trajectory, KT are going to be an even tougher team to beat come summer.

 

Biggest Disappointment: Longzhu Gaming

(Courtesy of OGN)

This was probably the easiest ‘award’ to decide. Longzhu Gaming was supposed to be the next big superteam to take over League of Legends. Yet as we have seen in the past just throwing together a bunch of talent doesn’t necessarily result in wins. Team Solo Mid is a great example of a superteam not gelling, yet TSM are still in the playoffs and Longzhu are back at home. So why was TSM able to relatively get it together but Longzhu not? One very glaring difference between these teams is stability. TSM was eventually able to figure out, and are still figuring out, the best way to play with each other. Longzhu’s players were never able to find any sort of cohesion. This comes down to the coaching staff being unable to field a stable roster. From top to bottom this whole team was a systematic failure. This is not to say they cannot turn things around in the summer. In fact they certainly do have the talent to be the team everyone hoped they would. But as for the Spring Split this team can only be viewed as very disappointing.

 

Best Individual Performance: Bang vs. Rox, Week 3, Game 1

(Runner-up: Peanut vs. Sbenu, Week 7, Game 2)

(courtesy of lolesports.com)

It was really hard to top Yoon "Peanut" Wang-ho’s epic dismantling of Sbenu Sonicboom, but this award is solely on individual play. For Peanut to have that success early it was a total team effort. This is not to take anything away from one of the greatest Jungling performances ever, but Bae “Bang” Jun-sik had to step up his game to another level as he solo carried SKT to victory. Anyone interested in watching a team receive zero buffs throughout the course of the game, just click here to watch Peanut's Nidalee game.

While Peanut was running circles around last place Sbenu, Bang’s performance on Ezreal was against the best team in the world. At the 32 minute mark Rox had a 10k gold lead, downed two SKT inhibitors and were pushing with Baron. With Lee “Duke” Ho-Seong and Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung struggling, the in-form Rox Tigers looked minutes away from securing victory. Rox proceeded to take the last remaining inhib and the writing was on the wall for SKT. Yet Bang had something different in mind. Expertly dancing around the edges of every team fight, Bang kited and used his blue build Ezreal to its absolute maximum potential. He secured not one, but two quadra kills as he singlehandedly turned the game on its head. The second quadra won what was certainly one of the most exciting games of the split. Bang put on a masterclass on blue build Ezreal in the best individual performance of the split. Click here to watch Bang’s incredible performance.

Dankest New Meme: kk0ma’s Facepalm

(Courtesy of OGN)

Every split seems to create a few new memorable memes. From OGN Cake Guy to Monte and Doa’s Shen cosplay to Kakackle, there have been some fantastic moments over the years. The one that really stood out this year was of course the kk0ma facepalm. With SKT really struggling early in the split, nothing better represented the team’s status like the kk0ma facepalm. As is kk0ma’s way, he executed his facepalm with precision and used it to his strategic advantage, showing his players just how disappointed and frustrated he was. I am not saying this moment was the sole reason SKT has turned their season around and won IEM Katowice, but it certainly played a major part.

QUICKPOLL

Who really deserved the MVP?

Smeb
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Anyone Else
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Curtis “Curt_Mcgirt” Gokcen
LCK follower and Rox Tigers fanboy. https://twitter.com/Curt_Mcgirt21