Resourceful SK Telecom T1 outlast Splyce
SK Telecom T1’s surgical play and mental fortitude propelled them ahead of a young Splyce roster to the semifinals, not without the European side putting fierce competition. Indeed, within the 3-1 final result, Splyce were within reach of victory (or even fiercer competition) in two of their losses, had their focus not wavered at crucial moments in games 1 and 4.
In the first game, SK Telecom T1 opted for top lane dominance with a Lucian pick for Khan (against Vizicsacsi’s Gangplank) and funneled resources there, securing a 2-0 exchange in a 3v2 dive. However, Splyce’s subsequent bot lane focus kept SK Telecom T1 on their toes after Xerxe secured a 3-for-1 exchange there at the 8-minute mark.
The stage was set for Splyce to scale into the late game through Kai’Sa, LeBlanc and Gangplank, but they lacked patience. In the 20th minute, they opted to fight SK Telecom T1 in the mid lane after their opponent had reached their mid-game power spikes. The decision eventually cost them the game, as SKT T1’s macro and team fighting prowess shined from then onward.
In an otherwise tense series, Game Two stood out as the most one-sided game. As SK Telecom T1 and Splyce’s junglers traded ganks in the early-game, it was only a matter of time until they met at the same lane. The resulting meeting went SKT T1’s way after Clid’s Elise landed a cocoon on a greedily diving Vizicsacsi (Poppy) before the 10-minute mark.
From that point onward, no amount of skirmishing would reverse SK Telecom T1’s momentum. The Korean team put on a clinic on macro snowballing through Rift Herald and Drake takedowns, and tower destructions. Although Splyce held on for 27 minutes, the game had already been lost before Baron Nashor had spawned.
After such a brutal game, Splyce surprisingly bounced back and exposed weaknesses in SK Telecom T1’s gameplan. As both sides sought to scale into lategame, they sought to delay their opponent’s ramp-ups as much as possible. However, Xerxe’s endeavors in the top lane paid off when the two teams met in a lengthy bot lane skirmish—one where Norskeren’s Nautilus hooked opponents to their doom.
Despite the setback, SKT T1’s fighting prowess was still in display throughout skirmishes (with a one-minute long skirmish starting at the 17th minute landing Teddy’s Draven a triple kill). However, the European team’s wave management allowed them to keep pressure and focus their efforts on the bot lane.
In the end, it took Splyce two sequences to secure the game for good: a 23-minute baron setup and team fight showcased their ability to layer crowd control and deactivate opponents throughout team fights; and a 30-minute miracle Zhonya’s Hourglass by Kobbe left Clid’s Skarner as the prey. From there, Splyce clinically executed their gameplan, and took down SK Telecom T1 in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.
However, Splyce’s tenure in the World Championship was not to last, as Khan unveiled another pocket pick to thwart Vizicsacsi’s Renekton: Quinn. Using Splyce’s top lane centricity from the game before, SK Telecom T1 wasted no time to set Khan towards success.
Had Splyce failed to counterplay a bot-side gank attempt at the 8-minute mark, the game would have been done then and there. Instead, Splyce held on, challenged SK Telecom T1’s macro moves, and forced fights when applicable (such as a 4-for-2 trade in the Drake pit at the 18th minute).
The game came down to whoever drew their picks the fastest, and SK Telecom T1 emerged the victor after Clid’s Gragas isolated Norskeren’s Thresh at the 25:40 mark. In the ensuing Baron Nashor setup, they caught Splyce’s members one by one, then used the buff to claim victory for the LCK after 32 minutes of action.
G2 Esports stand as last western rampart, defeat DAMWON Gaming
Although DAMWON Gaming entered the series with a heavy scrim advantage against G2 Esports, the European team switched gears on stage, leaving little to chance. Outside of a blunder-filled Game Two, spectators beheld G2’s execution speed during team fights, and fast roams and macro transitions in the early-to-mid game.
G2 showcased their ability to pressure lanes in Games 1, 3 and 4, and to force favorable macro states off strong early games. In the first game, their top lane advantage (through Wunder’s Jayce, over Nuguri’s Kayle) and subsequently successful camping by Jankos and Caps spiraled the game out of control, as Nuguri was reduced to a Kayle ultimate dispenser during team fights.
Their third game showcased G2’s ability to punish aggressive bot lane setups, as Nuguri’s Yasuo and BeryL’s Gragas suffered a 5-minute mark checkmate through a bot lane dive. On top of that, Perkz also displayed aggressive gameplay on Kai’Sa as his teammates set him up for devastating R—Killer Instinct flanks. In Game 4, G2 punished DAMWON’s low-priority picks by claiming all 15 turret plates (2.4k gold) and 8 kills by the 11th minute, with their opponents left to fend for themselves.
The Korean team did not leave the tournament without winning against G2 in Game 2 (44:50 length), as the European side showcased an intriguing (but possibly inefficient) team fight composition, with Perkz’s bot lane Orianna as the sole scaling pick against Nuguri’s Kennen and Nuclear’s Kai’Sa. DAMWON effectively shut down G2’s attempts at securing leads as they neutralized Jankos in their jungle at the 8:50 mark, then stalled the game long enough to shape a devastating team fight composition.
However, the series’ outcome never seemed in doubt. As a result, G2 Esports advanced confidently to the semifinals against a slightly limping SK Telecom T1, setting the stage for a rematch of the Mid-Season Invitational semifinals. The winner is set to represent their region against the LPL’s finest, to be determined in the other semifinal.
It's D-Day! The League of Legends Worlds 2019 Grand Finals just ended with the win of FunPlus Phoenix. G2 Esports failed to achieve the Grand Slam, and lost 0-3 while facing the LPL champions.