LCK Spring 2016: Week 10 recap
SBENU Sonicboom look to pick up their first game, juggernaut rematch SKT vs. ROX Tigers, and the fall of CJ Entus – what a week!
The first game of the week has brought us SKT dominating with the ‘split and siege’ team composition against JAG’s ‘pick and skirmish.’ This match was a fantastic insight to just how terrifying SKT can be. Early on, Sang-hyeok "Faker" Lee and SeonGu "Blank" Gang completely dictated the pace of the match. That much needed jungler/mid laner synergy has started to cultivate, and none too soon. Jin Air made an attempt to catch a foothold but were promptly destroyed which put SK Telecom in the enviable position of a clean, confident, victory.
Despite Blank’s excellent performance in the previous match, he left much to be desired this go around because he gave up 2 kills early. Towards the mid game things weren’t looking too good for SKT, that is, until Faker does what Faker does best: go ham. On Azir, he flash ult’d into the enemy team and subsequently cleaned up netting a 4-0. A baron bait and another near ace later, SKT closed out the series.
Very strange draft by AF. They took a combination of split, siege, poke, and the fat pig Sejuani. KDM avoided such nonsense with the meta team fight comp. True to form of lower tiered teams, there was a ton of non-consequential trading early. However, AF was able to take the lead with a huge Sej ultimate in the middle of a team fight. Albeit, the lead wasn’t big enough to stop them from getting aced at baron after a failed attempt to bait the objective. With baron control, Kongdoo siege and siege and siege until they could take the win.
Not wanting to lose the series, AF throw out their nonsense comp of yonder year and instead went for ‘triple ad.’ ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,’ said KDM as they stuck with a similar team fight comp. Just like last game, lots of minor trading early which would not amount to anything – except for the hyper scaling Kog’maw that is. AFREECA SNEAK AN EARLY BARON. STOP THE PRESSES! Just kidding, they hardly got anything out of it. Pretty cheeky though, I like the gusto. AF chilled for a bit and suddenly crushed KDM after a pick into a baron.
Game 3: “Things get serious.” YeongMin "Mickey" Song brought out his feared Zed backed with a full team composition committed to making picks. Terrifying. KDM meekly opted into skirmishing. 3rd time in a row, same story - lots of trading early, no discernable lead. Towards the late game, Afreeca put that pick comp to use which snowballed them into an inhibitor, baron, and eventually the game after a clean ace.
Longzhu looked to ‘pick and team fight’ while CJ brought out the ‘ball of death’ featuring Jhin. This entire series is the quaint story of Longzhu having tried to invade, only to be stuffed nearly every time. Early on they invaded, but Jhin and Azir were able to shut down the operation. A bit later on they invaded again only to be countered a second time. Off the back of LZ losing so much map control and tempo, CJ went for a free baron. Another pick, baron, and a dragon later, CJ closed out Game 1.
Funnily enough, both teams dropped their previous win conditions in favor of the meta team fighting. Early on, Longzhu invaded only to be stuffed by Kog’maw and Azir, this allowed CJ to take a free baron. Déjà vu. After, like, an hour of back and forth soft engages, baron dances, and base races, Longzhu were finally able to force a fight and win.
In this final match, Longzhu tried their hand at the ‘protect the Jhin’ composition while CJ took the classic ‘LuLucian.’ For a large portion of the early game, CJ had played on the back foot. When they would try to get a pick, LZ would counter engage. When they would try to take dragon, LZ would be there to stop them. CJ were able to catch their footing by getting a baron and an inhibitor, but quickly fell behind once again when Longzhu took their 5th dragon. Despite the strong lead thus far, Longzhu flubbed at baron and lost a major team fight which allowed CJ to take the match and the series. How exactly the lost the last team fight is a bit tough to say. To be blunt, the LZ Jhin, their main source of damage, seemed to have panicked and didn’t do a whole lot while his team was dying. It’s unfortunate, but not something to be condemned for. Imagine the how shot his nerves were by this point. 3rd Game of a long series, on the verge of winning or losing so close to playoffs.
Interestingly, SBENU has been on an upswing lately. Can they take down KT Rolster though? Regardless of the difference in power level, KT wouldn’t pull any punches as they went for the ‘immortal Corki’ comp. Effectively a ‘protect the hyper carry,’ but, on a whole another level. SBENU on a regular team fight composition. As mentioned before, SBB has really been showing improvement lately, and this match showcased that well. In the first 18 minutes they took 3 dragons! Most teams don’t even contest the first one by that time. However, they pushed their luck a little bit too far as they try to sneak an exceptionally early baron - with only 2 people. They were so damn close too! But that meddling Poppy just so happened to check and steal it after the Elise had been ult’d away. That’s such an amazingly aggressive move. I love it. Too bad it failed and set them really far behind, but can you imagine if it had succeeded? Sigh, oh well. Needless to say, SBENU get rocked thereafter. They fight back a bit, but you can’t make a mistake like that and still win the game (against KT anyway).
The next match had both looking to skirmish. Incredibly clean game by KT. Although, I figure SBENU’s demolished morale after the lost baron has a part to play. Essentially, KT rotated and applied pressure across the map exceptionally well. The final nail in the coffin was when KT set up a teleport flank into SSB decimation.
Huge match for both teams! SKT, similar to SBENU and even Afreeca, has also been on an upswing lately. With Blank now starting and becoming more and more accustomed to the team their performance has seen notable improvement. Conversely for the ROX Tigers, who recently lost their first game against mid-tier Samsung Galaxy. Distinctly different team comps from both; SKT looked to ‘split and team fight’ while ROX wanted to ‘pick and skirmish.’ Similar to that NA game from the other week, SKT lost their inhibitor turret to the initial 4 man push after the lane swap. Ouch! That would go on to be a sickly thorn in their side for the remainder of the match. In addition to this glaring weakness they still had to deal with GyeongHo "Smeb" Song and WangHo "Peanut" Yun. The top/jungler duo went on to roam heavy and demolish SKT in any team fight. Then, it’s just ROX siege until the win.
Hilariously, just like Afreeca Freecs before them, SKT got serious about winning the series by putting their carry mid laner on Zed. Unlike Mickey, Faker’s Zed was professionally undefeated. 9 games to 0 over the length of his career. Can you imagine going up against that? Scary stuff. Anyway, SKT with the ‘split, push, and pick,’ ROX with the team fight comp. Unfortunately this loss is pretty much squared on HoSeong "Duke" Lee. That’s not to say he was intentionally feeding or anything, but his Fiora play was straight awful. Although to be fair, the ROX Tigers did spend a lot of time repeatedly ganking and killing him. Regardless of fault, SKT got rolled. The unseen defeat is the deadliest or whatever.
Suspiciously Afreeca went with ‘Jugger Maw.’ Why is it suspicious? Because I don’t think they can pull it off. I don’t think they’ve ever pulled off such a thing, confidently anyway. It’s such a tricky team comp to run. Even teams like SKT don’t have a great win rate on the similar ‘protect the Lucian,’ and they have JunSik "Bang" Bae! Samsung opted into the much simpler ‘triple ad.’ Single theme for the entire match: Samsung came out just ahead. The early trading, the mid game trading, and finally an ace for nothing into baron – Samsung came out just ahead. Afreeca were never able to get a foothold.
Thankfully, AF dropped ‘Jugger Maw’ and took a team fight comp instead. Even though they did well on ‘triple ad’ last game, Samsung tried a gimmick comp instead. They were all over the place with win conditions in splitting, scaling, and skirmishing. Poor draft in my opinion. However, I really enjoyed the early game here; AF was far ahead on kills but still behind in gold. Why is that? Samsung had the higher overall gold simply because their creep score count was higher across the board. Kills are nice, but cs is better. The rest of the game is completely dictated by IkSu "Ikssu" Jeon on that Poppy. It started with him carrying a team fight, then he goes on to smack Samsung around as needed. Still, it was a really close game with AF edged out just ahead after a long game of sieging.
Back to Game 1 tactics! Samsung returned to the ‘triple ad’ for this final match. Afreeca once again tried a ‘protect the hyper carry’ comp. Despite my disdain for AF having taken a ‘Jugger Lucian,’ they happen to pull it off immensely well. They started with a few picks which snowballed into a few more picks. Then a dragon. Then a baron. Then the game. Then the series. Surprisingly clean match.
Kongdoo with a ‘protect the Kalista’ and SBENU with ‘skirmish and siege.’ Is this SBENU Sonicboom? The same one that hasn’t won a single series? The one that had one of the worst professional games I’ve ever seen? That SBENU? I question my sanity because SSB played a ridiculously clean game from start to finish. They had an iron grip on dragons, so much in fact they got 5 consecutive. Then they took a baron and sieged into the win. Simply incredibly to see SBENU come so far, it brings a tear to my eye (not really).
SSB with that team fight and KDM with ‘Jugger Lucian.’ Even better start than last time. SBENU contests the first dragon, steals it, and came away with a 4-0. GGEZ amiright? Not yet. Not wanting to lose to SBENU, KDM contested every objective. These two teams fought over every damn thing. Dragons, towers, farm, everything. Despite these warrior spirits clashing in the night, SBB won most of the trades, albeit barely. Then they got to the point where they felt they could all in the base, they were wrong. They got destroyed and KDM almost took the game, however SBENU came back just in time. They slam KDM’s base over and over again until they took the win for themselves. The first win. The historic win. SBENU Sonicboom’s first win of the spring split.
Oh boy. Get this, CJ and JAG are the top two teams… when it comes to average game length. Meaning their games are the longest, by far. I mean, Game 1 right, just the first game, is 62 minutes long. From champion spawn to nexus destroyed. Over an hour, wah. Anyway, CJ took ‘split and skirmish’ while Jin Air took ‘poke and siege.’ Like mentioned, this game and by extension the series, was hella long. I’ll skim over the cliff notes; fill in the gaps with 15 minute periods of minor trading, dancing around objectives, and/or hard farming. The story of this game was JunHyeong "Bubbling" Park. That dude that got demolished by Peanut? The absolute embarrassment of a game, that one? The very same! To quote Monty Python, “I got better.” And better he did. The entirety of the early game was Bubbling making plays on Gragas. From burning flashes to winning team fights. He did great. Despite his awesome performance, this game ended in a hilariously strange way. A ginormous minion wave was pushing top yeah? But here’s CJ: pressuring baron. So JAG has two separate problems to do deal with. Thing is, CJ knows this. They’re a great pro team with veteran Madlife. What they do is just sit there. They sit on baron for about 10 minutes while this top wave crashes into JAG’s base. Jin Air cannot go back. If they do, CJ get baron and they lose. HOWEVER! They can’t engage baron either because they’ll probably lose that team fight. And that won team fight + baron needed to be by a wide margin so the crashing minions don’t destroy their base. So, they alternate between moving to clear minion waves and pressuring baron. But, don’t actually do either. A while later, JAG’s Corki shows himself for a split second. It was only a moment, a fleeting frozen second in time of wanting to clear that damn minion wave. With the opportunity having finally arisen, CJ rushed the baron. That play won them the game, and amazing it was. Low action, high tension. Absolutely amazing strategical play from some of the best teams in the world.
WOO. That’s a long Game 1. Game 2 is just as bad. CJ with the ‘ball of death’ featuring Jhin, JAG with, I guess, pick-ish and skirm-ish. Not much of either really. A large majority of this match has CJ in the lead. Not by much, but it’s something to work with. There were several bloody fights started by double teleports, dragon fights, turn arounds, leads, comebacks and more. This match had it all, too much even. Eventually Bubbling got picked off, in the most comical way, which set up JAG to win the game. He, like, stands near a bush for a few seconds, then his raptor buff pops right? Gotta find that pesky ward. Never mind he’s alone at 40 minutes and he has no idea where the enemy pick comp team is. He moves over, very nonchalantly, W’s up, and dies to the 5 man death bush. With even a single member gone, Jin Air won the game soon after.
We’re almost done! Last match of the week. CJ on ‘Jugger Jinx’ and JAG on a very balanced, well rounded, meta team fight composition. Unfortunately for CJ, the early game is not their friend here. Jin Air repeatedly punished an overextended Jinx, which put CJ incredibly far behind. Chugga-chugga choo-choo, this train ain’t stopping. JAG plow through the rest of the game with a fairly clean win. And thus, the CJ win streak ends against the number 2 LCK team.