LoL Worlds: Semi-finals preview
Last Updated: 27/10/17 4:49pm
Two years ago on, European home turf, a confident Fnatic and Origen rolled into the finals with the crowd going wild behind them. They would both face Korean teams, and they would both be decimated 3-0, killing the European dream.
Now it's the turn of the Chinese, this time on their home turf. Two Chinese LPL teams, WE and RNG, will stare down the barrel against the Korean titans that are SKT and Samsung.
Team WE VS Samsung
Judging by their performance so far, things are looking worrying for WE. After being pushed to the limit by a weaker NA team, Cloud9, WE will need to show us more if they are to go toe-to-toe with Samsung. In that five-game grudge match, Cloud9 would make drafts adjustments throughout while WE clung on to their style, eking out a victory in the same late-game teamfight style in all of their victories.
In comparison, Samsung rolled over their quarter-final opponents Longzhu. And let's not forget this was an upset - Longzhu were very much the favourites to win the tournament, and everyone was expecting them to swat Samsung aside 3-0. Each game they showed something new, innovating on the tournament meta. Samsung were clearly a step above all the teams in group stages even before their explosion in the quarter-finals, making them a fearsome opponent for any team.
But WE are not afraid of Samsung. If there's one thing that Chinese League of Legends teams are, it's confident. Their hyper-aggressive teamfight style sets them apart from the rest of world, and no matter their opponent they will always come all guns blazing. This is why China is the only region that regularly takes down Korean teams in best-of-3 and best-of-5 situations. Chinese teams simply play a different game to the one the rest of the world plays. Unwilling to shape their playstyle to that of the Koreans, they bring something different to the table - something the Koreans have not been practising against all year. If Samsung decide to take a late game scaling comp, WE will be more then happy to match it with their own deathball.
Samsung looked incredibly impressive in their quarter-finals against Longzhu, but somehow looked extremely poor in their group stage games against Chinese outfit RNG. It remains to be seen which Samsung will turn up to the semi-finals, and although they are definitely favoured, this game is far from already decided.
SKT VS RNG
Four years ago, Uzi, the veteran star of Chinese scene, faced down SKT and Faker. It was pure dominance by SKT, showing us just how wide the gap was between Korea and the rest of the world. This historical gap is now a distant past. RNG has already beaten a Korean team - Samsung, twice, in the group stages. They also impressed in their dominant 3-1 display against Fnatic in the quarters.
SKT, by comparison, were somehow taken to five games by the unheralded European outfit Misfits, and have looked shaky all tournament. This is not the world-beating SKT of the past. And yes, while Faker still acts and plays like the Demon King, he can no longer be relied upon to solo carry his team. But as always has been the idiom with SKT, they are not defeated until their nexus has exploded three times. Each time SKT has looked weak, they have always recovered - they have never choked. They are the team that adapts best to a tournament meta, and giving them another week of prep against RNG should provide an exciting series.
If there is going to be a non-Korean team that takes down SKT, it will be RNG, and it will be via bot-lane. The SKT bot lane looks so weak that even their own coaching staff have come out to bash their performance, something that's never happened before, coupled with Chinese ADC superstar, Uzi, in RNG's bot lane, this could be where the back of the SKT is finally broken.
Despite all this, it is still extremely difficult to see past SKT. There is not a team that has been even remotely as dominant in all of League of Legends' history. The three-time world champions with the world-renowned mid-laner, and possibly the best coach in the world, are never not going to be favourites. SKT are 7-0 in elimination historically in Worlds, and until they actually lose a series at Worlds - no matter how weak they look - that reputation will be preserved.