The semi-finals have come and gone and only two teams remain to fight for the Summoner’s Cup. It has all been leading up to this point – each week the stakes getting higher and tension becoming more palpable. We have seen minor upsets and exciting games. We have seen clinical victories and hard-won dogfights. What does next week hold in store? Who will be crowned the World Champions of 2017? We will have to wait, with baited breath, to find out. For now, we will have to settle for the highlights of the weekend, and two legendary series between China and Korea.
Samsung Galaxy vs World Elite
This series was a decisive win for Samsung Galaxy. Early on they found a solid impetus and steadily built on it until their opponents couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by them. However, Samsung Galaxy did not begin as they meant to go on.
The first game of this series raised the roof of the auditorium as the crowd saw their team, WE, exert a dominance we have rarely seen when facing off against a Korean team. From the outset, this game was one-sided, with WE showing well-calculated moves around the map and a considered awareness of SSG’s composition’s strengths and weaknesses.
However, from this point on, the light seemed to fade from WE’s eyes as they slowly fell into the grip of the war machine that is SSG. In Game 2, WE also showed some promise, however, SSG gained an early lead and boy did they know how to use it. They closed out this game with relative ease to put the series at 1-1.
Game 3 began at a glacial pace but eventually gathered momentum and snowballed into a veritable avalanche of well-played teamfights from SSG and questionable decisions from WE. With no kills before the 21-minute mark, this game had the latest First Blood of Worlds and led to SSG’s eventual victory.
The fourth and final game of the series showed some fight was still left in WE. SSG secured First Blood but WE turned a messy dive from their opponents into a couple of revenge kills and later managed to pick up two more through good individual player skill. After these minor victories they were, in fact, leading in gold and had picked up an Infernal Drake for themselves but SSG pulled off a turnaround to a crucial teamfight in the botlane and flipped the balance. This led to them securing Baron and patiently closing the noose around WE. Series 3-1 SSG.
I often feel that watching SSG play is like watching a surgeon working on an unruly patient. They assess the situation, consider all the factors, decide on a course of action, and execute it with precision and skill. They know when to hang back and allow the patient to flop about and shout, and they know when to cut. And when they cut, they cut deep. Samsung Galaxy are heading to the finals.
SKTelecom vs Royal Neve Give Up
This series was much closer than the above match-up. Both teams demonstrated some excellently well-orchestrated plays and some brave champion choices. However, it was the three-time World Champions, SKT that eventually came out on top. They will be heading for a rematch with their old foes Samsung Galaxy next week, but before we look into predictions for this historic final let’s look at some highlights from the semi-finals series.
Game 1 of this series was a real show of dominance from RNG. From the outset, this Chinese team seemed confident and ready to take on the best team the world has ever seen and more importantly, they showed it in their plays. This team operated with a level of aggression that is characteristic of their past performances, giving them a solid win to start to series.
The second game was much closer, though SKT built up a steady lead for themselves during the mid-game and abused some crucial power-spikes in order to close out a victory. The stamina and patience possessed by this team is unmatched. They will pick scaling champions, lie in wait until their composition is nigh-on unstoppable, and steamroll for the win. Series 1-1.
Game 3 saw Xiaohu make an insane outplay in the midlane against the uncontested best player in the world, Faker, and take First Blood in the 1v1. An excellent performance on Vayne by Uzi and some more aggressive plays spelled doom for SKT in the end. RNG leading 2-1.
The fourth game showed some more great plays from Xiaohu on Ryze early on, but SKT possessed the ticking time-bomb that is Kog’Maw and Lulu and they reached a point in the game when RNG just couldn’t deal with the kiting and damage coming out from the little void puppy. RNG managed to take a turnaround fight to close the lead, but by this point, SKT’s composition was at near-peak power and there was no stopping them take Game 4. Series 2-2.
Game 5 was RNG’s last chance to dethrone the three-time World Champions but they seemed to choke from the outset, with SKT taking two early kills and the first turret. RNG tried to play with their classic aggressive style by picking up champions like Lee Sin and Corki, but SKT is simply too good at executing teamfights and reacting to engage attempts. SKT, again, move to a decisive victory over RNG and a place in the final.
Faker stepped away from any high-mobility assassins this series and instead played every single game on Galio. If anything, this proves his mastery of such a wide champion pool and his game knowledge, as he not only played very well but actually carried his team to most of their victories in this series. I think we’ll see some serious priority put on this champion going into the final.
My prediction for the final is rather simple: this year we have seen SKT’s weaknesses. We have seen them bleed at the hands of Misfits and RNG. We have seen them fail in competitions over the summer. We have even seen them make silly mistakes on occasion.
However, some say the beast that is SKT cannot be stopped. Some say the players are not human but that they are in fact robotic experiments in League of Legends perfection. Others say they were forged in a secret lab and escaped to exact their revenge by winning at eSports.
Whatever the truth, it still remains to be seen whether or not this team is mortal.
One thing is for certain, though, if there is one team in the world that has a chance at proving once and for all whether it is in SKT’s programming to lose, it is their old rivals, Samsung Galaxy.
Don’t miss the last installment next week for the Finals Results and Highlights!Related: Championship, eSports, Event (Real Life), League of Legends, MOBA, Riot Games