Today is the day you either put up or shut up. One team will go on to become the Best in the World with a cool sum of a million dollars. The other tasting bitter defeat knowing if they had just played a little better it’d be them in the spotlight. Fans have been hyped, moreso this year for this moment with the start of a professional league that feeds into Worlds. While it may not be the team they rooted/envisioned for, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the apex of our version of the Super Bowl is here!
Coming from Group Stage and representing Korea and it’s league Champions will be SK Telecom T1
Top: Jung “Impact” Eon-yeoung
Jungle: Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung
Mid: Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok
ADC: Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin
Support: Lee “Poohmandu” Jeong-hyeon
Coming from Quarterfinals and representing China and it’s league League Pro League will be Royal Club
Top: Xiao “Godlike” Wang
Jungle: Liu “Lucky” Jun-Jie
Mid: Pun “Wh1t3zz” Wai Lo
ADC: Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao
Support: Pak-Kan “Tabe” Wong
Before we head into tonight’s epic best of five series to crown the Season 3 World Champions, Riot had some big news to announce! Starting in 2014, Season 4 will feature the long requested Challenger Series, (name pending) that will strengthen not only the scene, but will feed into the NA and EU LCS respectively, much like Korea’s NLB. By partnering up with Coke Zero, 32 teams will participate in this new series which will feed into the LCS broadcasts. The top three teams that win in the Challenger Series will go on to face the LCS teams in Promotion/Relegation for their spot to go pro.
While we got a significant reason to be hyped for Season 4, Season 3 isn’t over just yet! With hyping of the match tonight from other professional players, video packages, music performances and what-have-you. With a full week of preparation for both teams and fans around the world, we can finally say let the games begin!
Game one will feature SKT T1 on the red side and Royal Club on blue after the Koreans won the coin toss. From there, Picks and Bans were fast and furious with SKT banning out Zed, Annie and Renekton. Royal Club in response would ban Vi, Shen and Lee Sin. The pick to watch here was Royal picking up White’s devastating Orianna in what many believed would be the deciding champion in this series. The rest of the team for game one would shape up to be and in order of being picked:
Unlike the semi final match of Royal and Fnatic, level 1 went relatively tame. SKT had a near scare of Impact face-checking the tri-brush of bot lane, but with nothing gained or spent. Royal enacted the strategy of keeping Impact down with his hyper scaling Jax taking first turret blood and drawing Bengi up to help support.
While the strategy did work for a while, with the turret down, Impact was free to freeze the lane and farm and allow Bengi to aid his fellow teammates. The perceived disadvantage of being down a turret turned into a gank on White and rewarding Faker with first blood. Bengi made another trip to mid, this time with an unexpected Flash+Cataclysm rewarding yet another kill. Godlike would respond with his teleport, only to wind up wasting it, but with all the attention at mid, Uzi was able to pick up two kills for nothing in bot lane.
If there anything SKT does well, it’s the fabled Korean vision control and lane rotation into objectives. With Impact defending mid, it allowed the rest of the team to four man dive Uzi and Tabe for a kill, the bot turret and the first dragon. It seemed like SKT did their homework on how to completely counter China’s famous aggressive meta and the team that performs it so well.
Desperate to get rolling and stop the snowball that is SKT, Royal made a choice to dive straight through mid after securing a kill on Faker. However, they crucially used nearly all their initiation ults to get him with the shutdown gold going to Tabe unfortunately. What resulted from that hastily crafted play was a massacre with SKT taking out nearly everyone while Impact was happily farming and taking the inner top turret.
From here, SKT took complete control of the map in their typical dominating fashion. The icing on the cake was a sneaky 25 minute Baron, but with the cost of Impact and Bengi after trying to bait them in with their facechecking. The Korean squad got a little too trigger happy, but they did crucially save Baron on the most important members evening out the kills with Lucky and Tabe in return. It didn’t take long for SKT to pick up the first game in 30 minutes after a deciding team fight in the bot lane.
If there was anything for Royal Club to learn from this game, it’s warding more and keeping in mind of the universal law: Show SKT something once, shame on you, show SKT something twice, they’ll beat you with it. Hopefully, with that in mind they came to play with more than one practiced strategy as we head into game two.
SKT stayed with the same banning strategy only swapping out Zed for Corki. Royal did essentially the same swapping out Lee Sin for Orianna. Thus, the world knew that Royal Club made the biggest mistake of their professional careers which was giving Faker Zed. Though, to be fair, they did have a strategy in mind with at least keeping up with Faker’s roaming with teleport Kassassin. The rest of the team for game two would shape up to be and in order of being picked:
Once again we had a relatively safe level one, albeit with more wards being put down safely. With virtually no pressure on Impact, Bengi was free to jungle and aid anyone he pleased. Magic was going to happen with Faker having Zed and Impact Lee Sin, immediately picking up first blood on White. Not to be outdone, Royal answered with two kills in bot lane with that teleport Kassadin going to work after Uzi died to Piglet.
Time and again Impact would try to gank Godlike and each time he would live with barely a sliver of health. Even though it wasn’t a kill it forced him to go back and allowed two things to happen. The first being Impact’s Jax getting stronger and denying Godlike’s Rumble. And two, SKT turning it into first turret blood. From there, they snowballed it into another with mid lane and dragon once again reminiscent of their first game.
Again SKT exerted their dominance and kept the aggressive nature of Royal in check. With the Korean Squad roaming down to the extended pair of Uzi and Tabe, the pair realized what was coming and tried to back right away. A cheeky ult from Piglet would stop Uzi from backing successfully and allowed Bengi to pick up another kill.
The game seem perpetually over until Tabe man’d up so to speak with a Flash+Crescendo and get his team back in the game with an eventual ace. From there, SKT respected the disastrous team fight power of Royal and were content in farming up for the next big fight. While Royal tried to make plays happen in mid lane, they would hesitate every time they saw Impact’s Jax nearly whacking away at their inner turret. In uncharacteristic fashion, they would back off to deal with him only to try and go back to their aggressive nature effectively wasting time.
After a lull in the action, things picked up once again with the spawning of dragon. SKT lost the team fight at first, but Royal would chase and overextend. Piglet crucially was able to re-position himself behind the team for a two kill cleanup from a low health Royal squad.
The game seemed reminiscent for Royal in their series against Fnatic. For every kill Fnatic got, Royal would take an objective. In this series, the positions were reversed with Royal getting the kills, but SKT picking up the bounties and objectives. SKT would pick up a 32 minute Baron and Royal once again appearing caught with their pants down. The Korean Hype Train that is SKT cracked into Royal’s base and almost took game two if it wasn’t for the unfortunate fact of being low health. However, it didn’t take long for them to brute force their way in and scumbag Bengi denying Piglet his pentakill in securing game two.
While the first game is usually a feeling out process, the second game showed a much better adaption for the Chinese squad. However, Royal Club now found themselves with the hard climb of having to win the next three games consecutively. If Royal were to take anything from this game: Don’t. Give. Faker. Zed.
That being said, game was underway with its Pick and Ban phase. SKT kept the same strategy of banning Annie and Renekton and swapping out Corki for Zed. Royal kept the same strategy as well of Orianna, Shen and Vi. Once again, Impact was allowed to have Jax which has been a constant thorn in Royal’s side. While it was curious to not see them ban him, it did question if they had a solid plan after two games of being wrecked by him. The rest of the team for the potential final game three would shape up to be and in order of being picked:
Being the potential last game they play, Royal wasn’t going to chance a dangerous level one. However, because of what many felt like overly cautious behavior, Godlike nearly died to a surprise 2v1 by the Hundred Acre Lane. Exhaust for Flash which meant Piglet and Pooh had their way with the 2v1 scenario of just bullying out Godlike’s Kennen every chance they got.
This would force Royal to adapt and send the level 3 Kennen down to face what was a level 6 Jax while they tried to stop the bleeding by the Hundred Acre Lane. However, this proved to be a terrible strategy with Bengi and Impact waiting for Kennen to get down and secure an easy first blood.
The bleeding persisted for the Royal squad, once again desperate to make any sort of aggressive play. They would almost die to Impact’s Jax in a 3v1 dive on the outer bot turret wasting quite a lot of their time. It was enough for the rest of SKT to secure the outer top turret although Royal pushing just enough to secure the outer bot turret and turn it into a slight advantage.
Impact looked confident throughout his games with Jax and wandered alone into the enemy jungle to find White, Tabe and Godlike waiting for him. They would nearly secure the kill on him, but Impact simply outplayed each. He was able to pick up a kill on Tabe and get out with the help of his fellow teammates who turned it into more kills and another objective in the form of a turret.
Every time Royal tried to play their aggressive style, SKT would always be a step ahead waiting to secure another kill or two along with an objective if it was possible at the time. The Chinese squad just seemed lost throughout the game making mistakes they typically wouldn’t make. Their indecisiveness so to speak would come to haunt them with their inner mid turret gone and another kill after desperatly trying to make another move to get themselves back into the game.
Fastforward a minute or two, Faker went up to distract the team in top lane by shoving up the wave/poking them down while his team secured a sneaky 19 minute Baron. From here, it was only just a matter of time until SKT cracked open the base. It only took a minute for them to completely demolish Royal in a last team fight and become the Season 3 World Champions in just 20 minutes.
To put perspective on how huge this win is for SKT, they were a team where three of their members had no prior professional experience. Not only that, they’ve only been together for six months since April taking third place in Champions Spring in their debut and a few months later winning Champions Summer. Not to mention they did what Azubu Frost (now CJ Entus Frost) couldn’t do and bring the Summoner’s Cup to Korea.
Unfortunately for Royal Club, they were unable to overcome the mighty Korean Hype Train despite an impressive showing throughout their time in Worlds. Perhaps more disappointing is the retirement of Royal Club’s captain and support player Tabe win or lose. However, none of the team, especially Tabe should feel ashamed after their performance in getting to the finals. We do wish Tabe the best in his future endeavors and enjoys his retirement from professional League of Legends.
That being said, SK Telecom go home a million dollars richer and the right to call themselves the Best in the World. We also like to extend our congratulations to all of SK Telecom T1 for their amazing performance throughout Worlds. We can’t wait to see what they bring to Champions Winter in OGN as World Champions.