Zechs Files: Samsung Deserves More Credit
Since Worlds ended, everyone wants to talk about anything other than Samsung's success. The new best team in the world deserves more recognition.
Well, that’s that. Worlds is over for another year. Fans are left with memories, stories and their own choice of either disappointment or fulfilment. The members and followers of TSM probably can’t wait for the rest of us to forget about Worlds 2017, while Samsung Galaxy are probably still riding a wave of euphoria even now. China will once again be left wondering “what if” while Europe continues to do just fine. We know our place, and we’re okay with it. Europe will probably never win Worlds again but we always get a team or two into the quarterfinals and that, seemingly, will suffice. Anyway, we did better than America and that’s what really counts, right?
What of the champions, though? There has been a lot of talk about a variety of issues in the aftermath of Samsung’s victory, but precious little about the victory itself. In a strange way, the shocking nature of their success has detracted from it in some people’s minds. Nobody stomps SKT: what the hell happened? People were quick to blame SKT’s AD Carry, Bang. His entry into the category of “worst flash by an AD Carry at Worlds 2017” was a doozy, but even a handful of individual mistakes fails to explain a 3-0 defeat. Even if you wanted to be harsh and say he gifted Samsung that game, they still had two more to win.
Then some people got hung up on the image of Faker crying, further distracting from Samsung’s achievement. The ludicrous argument was that it was somehow disrespectful to show the game’s greatest talent upset at defeat. The adult world is going to be a difficult place for people who honestly believe this. People get upset. It is part of life. When you have poured your heart and soul into being the absolute best at something, only to come up short, it is okay to cry. In a world so polarised by the internet I not only defend RIOT’s decision to post this image, I celebrate it. Sport is entertaining exactly because it is a human story. To try and remove emotion, be it negative or positive, is to reduce the impact sport can have on us. In our favourite sports stars, e- or otherwise, we see a better version of ourselves. We see something worth striving for. If we don't see the emotion involved we are getting less than half of a story. Without emotion this is nothing more than a pastime.
I don’t think GosuGamers is the place for a healthy discussion about toxic masculinity, but that is also a thing.
I feel bad for Faker, as we all should, but it was yet another distraction from Samsung’s brilliance. Yes, his team let him down, but Faker was awfully quiet in the final as well. In my previous column I wrote that SKT could not rely on Faker all the time. Even the best player in the world must have an off day. SKT without a Faker on top of his game looked like an entirely different team.
See? Even I am writing about anything but Samsung, it seems.
The thing is, though, you need to work through the cognitive dissonance surrounding such a one-sided defeat of SKT. Our brains struggle with the very concept of SKT losing 3-0, but it happened, and it wasn’t just because Faker was quiet or because Bang made some egregious mistakes. It was because Samsung simply played better - a lot better, in fact. The fact that Samsung won 3-0 is impressive in itself, but of those three games, only one of them was really close. The commentators and analysts harped on about Samsung executing their game plan, but it was true. They played around their own strengths and SKT’s weaknesses to near perfection.
Faker wasn’t quiet by choice. Samsung did what so many teams have tried and failed to do in the past: they made him quiet. The so-called Unkillable Demon King went a combined 4/5/9. His undefeate Ryze stream came to crashing end against Crown’s Malzahar. Samsung put Crown on the void mage in all three games, knowing it was a safe pick to survive lane against a superior player. Crown didn’t light up the stage in the way Faker can, but he quietly scaled into late game three times in a row and used his ult to guarantee kills. Meanwhile, Faker tried out three different champions to no avail. Karma was statistically his most successful pick but even there he was unable to have the game-changing impact we have come to expect of the man.
Elsewhere, Samsung was just better in every aspect. Much has been written about Bang’s performance in the final, but CoreJJ and Ruler deserve more credit. They have been one of the best bottom lane duos in this tournament and the final match proved it once again. Cuvee consistently out-performed Huni, who struggled to make any impact until game three, but it was the veteran, Ambition, who dominated. Playing three different fight-initiating champions, he managed to concede just three total deaths, despite constantly being on the front line. A perfect James Bond 0/0/7 on Zac in game one set the tone early, and across all three games his stats read 2/3/30. Ambition was involved in all but two kills across a three-game series. Let that sink in for a moment.
There was a lot going on during Worlds 2017, but it is important that we remember the champions. SKT didn’t hand over their trophy, Samsung grabbed it with both hands and tore it from them. They earned it, not through the mistakes of SKT, but by their own skill and superior strategy. Congratulations, Samsung Galaxy, you deserve it.