Samsung Galaxy has their work cut out for them (Lolesports/Riot Games)
It’s not exactly a secret that Samsung Galaxy is the heavy underdog at the 2016 League of Legends World Championships.
The third seed Korean squad is heading into a grand final against one of the most storied and successful teams in League of Legends history. SK Telecom T1 — two time World Champions, slayer of ROX Tigers, tournament favorites, and team of indomitable legend Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok — is on the verge of becoming a legitimate dynasty.
Most analysts and fans aren’t giving SSG much of a chance in the series, declaring that they’ll likely lose in 0-3 or 1-3. And with the way that SK Telecom T1 is playing, they might be right.
But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Here are two things SSG can do to bring down SKT (or at least make it competitive).
Crown’s roams to the bottom lane will be vital for SSG’s success (Jeremy Wacker)
Pressure the bottom lane
As Samsung Galaxy improved over the course of Worlds, one player was able to truly unlock their potential: support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in.
After spending much of his career as an AD carry, CoreJJ switched over to the support position. As a result, he took a substitute spot on the team, coming off the bench when the team wanted someone other than Kwon “Wraith” Ji-min in the bottom lane. For much of the regular season, he was just that: another option. Not entirely familiar with his new role, he was a serviceable support, but not a great one.
At Worlds, he hasn’t lost a single game.
His aggressive roams have become a Samsung signature. Whether it’s on his patented Tahm Kench, the Zyra pick that has seen so many bans against him, or the Worlds standard Karma, CoreJJ has been everywhere on the map, joining up with jungler Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong to snowball the other lanes.
But that can only happen if he and AD carry Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk are able to effectively shove the lane to allow him to roam. And that will only happen against the likes of SKT’s star duo by way of heavy intervention from Ambition. If SSG is able to gain lane priority down bottom, it’ll free up CoreJJ to make plays elsewhere.
CuVee will be SKT Duke’s next challenger (Jeremy Wacker)
Control the draft
Much has been made of the difficulty teams face in drafting against SK Telecom T1. Faker is impossible to ban out due to his ridiculous champion pool, they have two junglers with very different champion pools, and their bottom lane has succeeded on both meta champions and their own pocket picks.
The drafting phase for SSG is less about which champions they can keep out of the hands of SKT, and more about who they can get for themselves.
The biggest point of contention will be the support role. Both CoreJJ and SKT support Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan have shown a propensity towards the premier lane bullies of the tournament in Zyra and Karma, two key elements for winning the all-important bottom lane fight. Working under the assumption that CoreJJ will be the starter for the series, expect some prioritization from both teams on those champions.
What will be interesting is if CoreJJ decides to pull out his pocket Tahm Kench. The pick loses lane early to some of the big mage support picks, but it can create a tremendous amount of pressure throughout the map.
Jungle will also likely see priority picks and bans. Olaf has been a popular pick by all three junglers that could see play in the finals, but that’s largely due to the likes of Nidalee and Elise being banned against them.
Previously, most of us thought that if SKT jungler Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung was in the game, it would be safe to leave up Nidalee, a champion that most consider to be overpowered. Despite Nidalee’s ubiquity in 2016, Bengi had never played her in a competitive game. ROX Tigers learned the hard way that his reason for this was certainly not an absence of skill, as he rolled over them in Game 4 of the semifinals, going 6/2/7. Meanwhile, in SSG’s lone game with Ambition on Nidalee, he went ¾/4 on the champion, having a significantly smaller impact on the map.
Needless to say, if Bengi is playing for SKT, he won’t be seeing Nidalee.
With Ambition’s predilection for champions that run directly in the face of his opponents, he’ll be looking to get his hands on Rek’Sai, Olaf, or Skarner (his champion with the highest KDA). And combined with CoreJJ’s roaming, high CC support picks, it wouldn’t be a bad choice.
Taylor Cocke is expecting a 3-1 for SKT, but is hoping for some Worlds magic. Follow him on Twitter @taylorcocke.