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League of Legends Worlds 2016: Semifinals recap

The LoL Worlds Semifinals has wrapped up and it’s safe to say it’s been dramatic. Worlds correspondent Eugenia Woo summarises the action for your eyeballs. (Eugenia’s previous weekly recaps can all be read here.)

Worlds’ month-long run is slowly coming to a close – the Finals will be on the 30th of October and like many of us have predicted [spoiler] it’s going to be primetime Korean-on-Korean action. It’s going to sound like an exaggeration if you haven’t watched the games yourselves but I shit you not, this year’s Semifinals had some of the best League of Legends I’ve ever had the privilege of watching (whilst hunched over a keyboard and making sad noises into microwaveable popcorn). Time for a rollercoaster ride of the best and the most mind-boggling of the week!

ROX Tigers v SK Telecom T1

© LoL Esports

© LoL Esports

The Good: While ROX ultimately lost the series 2-3, I was so incredibly proud of my boys. In fact, I was so proud that I actually cried. My friends are convinced that this is some kind of crowning achievement because my usual emotional reaction to anything is to ask myself how a normal person would act before vaguely approximating it like a malfunctioning android, but I digress. If you were watching it, you probably felt some kind of indescribable chest-tightening feeling during Game 3, which was when ROX were on top form and gave SKT the kind of hiding we’d been waiting a whole year for.

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There was Kim “PraY” Jong-in hitting pretty much every single Enchanted Crystal Arrow on Ashe. There was Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon whipping out the unprecedented Miss Fortune support that tore apart the SKT line-up with a barrage of Bullet Times and sheer mindfuckery. The innovation and aggression from ROX was incredible to witness and it takes a hell of a lot to dethrone Faker the Demon King for one game, let alone two. That’s a compliment directed at both ROX and SKT; the mental fortitude needed to take a set to its full 5 games and to win from behind like SKT did is almost unquantifiable. If we had any doubts that Faker and Co were the #1 favourite to hoist the Summoner’s Cup, they were wiped off the face of earth by this last performance. It was the Song of Ice and Fire – ROX’s skirmishing, bloodthirsty style clashed in spectacular form with the surgical precision of SKT’s mechanically-focused plays and produced an epic that will go down in competitive League’s history.

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The WTF: The award for Coach of the Year should go to Kim “kkOma” Jung-gyun, the coach for SKT for delivering the most WTF moment of the entire tournament so far – putting substitute jungler Bae “bengi” Seoung-ung on a champion that he’d never played in any competitive match ever to claw the team back to victory. While post-Semis interviews revealed that it had actually been a blunder (SKT was forced to make the best of a bad situation by taking Nidalee away from ROX’s jungler), what looked like a mistake turned into an incredible two games and ultimately a well-deserved win.

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It’s rare that you get two WTF moments out of a single set of matches at this level but if we thought that Worlds was an ocean of safe meta picks, GorillA’s ADC support pick proved us all wrong. Tons of damage + a slow to help PraY set up those 100% accurate ults = a killer combination. While we can all look back on that moment now and think “This is the logical counter to that annoying Zyra pick everyone’s been playing,” SKT took a whole two games to wrap their heads around ROX’s innovation and they very nearly fell as a result. We’ve gotta give props to GorillA for picking something that was even more outlandish than ANX’s support Brand pick during Groups and making it work.

Finals Prediction: Fans and pros alike have said that this series was the true Finals match, and it’s obvious why. We may not ever see these two teams in such form ever again, and these matches were the gift that kept on giving. However, Samsung Galaxy is one quality team who have played their asses off to get here and if SKT has learned anything from this clash with ROX, it’s that even champions bleed.

H2K Gaming v Samsung Galaxy

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The Good: One of the best things to come out of this series besides the dominating performance by Samsung has been the fact that people are finally recognising the immense talent and skill of their jungler, Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong. While a lot of my focus last week was on their midlaner, Lee “Crown” Min-ho, and I rambled on and on about how instead of banning his Viktor, H2K should just have Crown himself removed from the tournament, it’s going to be a bit different today. I admit, I was one of the foolish few who underestimated Ambition’s contribution to his team’s success at Worlds. Even after his brilliant Skarner play which had everyone up in arms, I turned a blind eye. Not anymore. He was recognised as the Player of the Series, and rightly so: there wasn’t a single thing happening on the Rift during these matches that Ambition wasn’t a part of. I think psychics are a load of bullshit but he came close – Samsung played a million steps ahead of H2K during the series and part of that was from the impeccable vision control and pressure exerted by their constantly-roaming jungler. Sure, Crown’s KDA made him the superstar, but Ambition was the real puppet master and no one could break free of his grasp.

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(c) Inven

The WTF: I felt at least a little bad during the Quarterfinals when I gently tore into Cloud 9 for having rolled over and died as soon as they caught a glimpse of SKT, and I’ll admit, my hopes weren’t that high for H2K. However, my WTF moment isn’t about how they underperformed, or how they had a shitty draft that they refused to change, or even how their star ADC Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou wasn’t given the support that he needed to help them take a game off Samsung. What shocked me the most was how well Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski played despite the fact that they were probably doomed from the get-go. To employ common caster vernacular, the H2K jungler played outta his damn mind. While the team got off to a great start that soon devolved into a one-of-a-kind European league clown fiesta, the one constant was Jankos’ great performance. It’s hard to go up against one of Korea’s most experienced competitive junglers, and I’ve already waxed lyrical about Ambition’s ridiculous ability to be everyone at once on the map to deliver kills right into the waiting hands of his teammates. To see Jankos hold his own against a titan like that was inspirational, and it bodes well for the future of the EU scene if they can cultivate players of his calibre. It’s hard to stare death (aka Crown) in the face and to not give up instantly, but Jankos nearly broke his back trying to carry his team to the Summoner’s Cup and we’re all assholes if we don’t acknowledge his bloody hard work.

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Finals Prediction

I’ve already made it clear that I think SKT is going to end up taking the Summoner’s Cup home yet again, but Samsung have gone from strength to strength in this tournament and it’d be disrespectful to not consider them competition. While I don’t know if they’re going to be able to take two games off SKT like ROX did, mainly because of their performance during the last LCK split and the fact that their team has come this far almost out of nowhere, I’ll be lying if I said that a part of me wasn’t rooting for the underdog this time.

Disclaimer

My recap of the Finals is probably going to be mostly reaction .gifs because a) Inven is a force to be reckoned with and b) the memes about Samsung Galaxy’s jungler are dominating all commentary about the tournament right now. If you have a favourite pic, a sick burn, or a winning prediction that you want to share, tweet me @ginnywoes on the 30th from noon onwards to have your say!


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