a League of Legends analysis blog
It is St Patrick’s Day but Jin Air Green Wings have nothing to celebrate about. I’d like to declare: You don’t beat SKT and expect to come out alive the next round. This team hates losing. You see it in their eyes, their posture… a burning quietness that’s almost unsettling. When asked repeatedly if they felt a lot of pressure at Worlds, their answers revealed more about themselves than the situation they were in. Their loss at MSI 2015 though painful, only made them World Champions.
If history repeats itself, this dismal first half of LCK Spring Split 2016 is merely a progression for SKT to rise again. While they swept IEM, many were quick to point out that the real test is when they return to face the top teams in the LCK.
Game 1 of 2
They’ve already won their first 2 sets beating the current no. 2 seed JAG, so I think we can finally say with confidence “SKT are back in form”.
Typical SKT winning game
The best thing about this series is that out of all 30 games (21 in LCK, 9 at IEM) played so far, this is the first game where SKT created their own unique start to give themselves win conditions that were never let go.
The little revelations at the beginning with an Ashe Volley over the wall onto Wolf and Bang indicated that standard lanes were being observed. When junglers start at top, bot usually takes Krugs and Gromp respectively to gain free experience.
Ezreal and Braum chose not to, while Ashe and Alistar did. Wolf and Bang intentionally went to lane early to clear out the melee creeps even before their opponents arrived—a small move that rolled out big rewards.
“Alistar! I have a cow you should meet.”
Why manipulate the wave? The deaths of melee minions coincided with Ashe and Alistar entering bot lane in between a wave. There was no wave to shield them from Braum’s and Ezreal’s Q pokes, and Ezreal could freely autoattack Ashe while taking minimal damage from minion aggro. Sure Alistar was there to stand in front of his ADC, but already at half health from tanking Gromp, there was nothing Pilot and Chei could do except retreat.
Denied the first wave of XP and gold, SKT’s advantage over JAG’s bot lane meant Wolf could walk off freely to ward JAG’s blue buff for Nidalee, giving Blank a 3-buff start.
Notice Wolf joined Blank to show his face while blue was being taken away to further deter any counter move from JAG. All this while Ezreal continued farming safely in lane with his 1150 range Mystic Shot. Overall it was a solid plan that played to all their champions’ strengths executed with precise timing, unsettling their opponents the moment the game started.
Ladies and gentlemen, SKT are back.
Casters observed too, that SKT are also showing more decisiveness and I could not agree more. Before this gank at bot, Faker saw Kuzan (who did not run teleport) recall, while Gragas crossed his path in mid to head up to the top jungle. At the same time Duke, with a Tiamat over Poppy in an already uneven lane match-up, pushed the wave all the way to her turret. This meant that any collapse onto JAG’s bot would have zero interference.
“Pleased to meet you.”
SKT cleverly invested 4 members—bot lane to run down JAG’s bot lane, Blank to take the arrow to the face, leaving Faker unperturbed after teleporting. SKT made a play where they clearly had the advantage based all the information leaked. JAG certainly looked like that they did not expect such early aggression from SKT who mind you, failed to exhibit any for the last 2 months in the LCK. I know I didn’t.
TEAMFIGHT: Let’s play a game—spot all the similarities and differences between the two fights around dragon.
Fight around 2nd dragon
Fight around 3rd dragon
First off, JAG starting these team fights onto SKT’s carries were on point. Azir ulted Ezreal and Nidalee into a Pulverize, while the 3rd dragon saw Alistar Pulverize right onto Ezreal. They’re targeting the carries…and that’s it. JAG’s follow-up in both team fights left them empty-handed because they made the same mistake twice: Comboing all their ults (Emperor’s Divide into Pulverize into Enchanted Crystal Arrow into Explosive Cask) one after another onto a high mobility SKT backline where not a single time did all 3 SKT squishies get locked up fully.
Granted it’s not easy to lock down Bang’s Ezreal with an Arcane Shift and Lulu’s Wild Growth as back-up, which is precisely why hard CC against SKT should not be burnt all at once. SKT turned right onto the offence the moment those spells were used, and there’s simply no way out.
Two zones of fighting constructed by SKT
As a support main scrutinizing every decision he made, I know Wolf was playing absolutely perfectly and deserved MVP in these fights. He ate Ashe’s arrow with Unbreakable in the first, while in the second transited between the 2 zones, protecting SKT’s backline and joining Duke the moment he arrived to flank JAG’s vulnerable carries. His Glacial Fissure single-handedly muted Azir in that battle, preventing Kuzan from grouping with his big guys stuck in dragon pit.
I cannot repeat enough: SKT’s zone control in team fights are immaculate. They wait. They’re patient. They never expand all their CC immediately, and rarely do they combo more than 2 ults at the same time. If teams burn their key spells, SKT will pounce.
Only thing is, ROX’s team fighting is comparable. They control their fights just as well, so even though the first 2 tests were cleared, the final examination starts tomorrow in SKT’s rematch versus the number 1 LCK team.