a League of Legends analysis blog
In this short 2-game series, 5 champions were played twice. KT’s mid, ADC and support picks were grabbed by SKT in Game 2. Ekko was used by both Duke and Ssumday respectively while the supports did a direct swap on Alistar and Trundle.
We’re in a meta where Sivir and Ekko were buffed (unnecessarily), so much so that both teams first-picked Sivir on blue side, giving the Ekko to red. Iceborn gauntlet-core tank Ekko is simply OP now with buffs to almost all his skills.
The main reason why KT beat SKT this round is because they built a team comp to suit their style, which maximized their ability to create advantages in team fights around terrain and vision. Might seem strange, but one problem SKT has this season is choosing all the power-picks they can get without drafting sensitively enough to their opponents’ team comp. We saw it for instance, in their Game 2 loss to Jin Air (think Quinn, GP and MF) and their Game 1 loss to Longzhu (think Ezreal, Lucian and Fiora).
Lissandra will go in with roots, slows and a tomb. Alistar will Pulverize and Headbutt. Kennen will stun at least one with Slicing Maelstrom. On top of that, Lissandra, Nidalee and Kennen together with Sivir’s ult gain so much more mobility. What did SKT have? Ekko’s conditional stun, a pillar plus slow from Trundle and Karma’s movement speed boost. Yes, CC doesn’t automatically win games—look at SKT in Game 2—but we all know how useful CC is at edging out a victory especially when teams are even in gold.
The difference between Game 1 and 2, was that KT’s CC was matched with a carry jungler while SKT opted for Elise instead of Nidalee even though she was wide open. Coupled with the fact that Blank doesn’t spin webs like bengi, relying on Bang entirely in game 2 might not have been the best choice during Champ Select. Also Ssumday was playing a squishy utility-mage so Wolf’s Trundle couldn’t really ult anyone except the support Alistar, while in Game 2, SKT opted for Poppy who was an easy Subjugate for Hachani’s Trundle.
Here’s a comparison of how KT and SKT utilized Lissandra, Ekko and Alistar differently, and how KT nabbed 2 victories over SKT with better vision control, positioning and use of terrain:
TEAMFIGHT: Dragon no. 3 is live and instead of going for it, SKT try to sneak a Baron after securing vision control around the objective. However, they were found out and teams back off for the moment. The problem for SKT now is that KT has vision control around dragon, yet SKT chose to engage with Trundle’s Frozen Domain into fog of war with a teleport flank by Duke.
Every encounter, the man would do his job: You’ll consistently see Duke’s Ekko jump right into Sivir’s face. But that is also a move that KT can use to their advantage. For a good 5 seconds Alistar hovers around Sivir but doesn’t actually use any spells to CC Duke because tank Ekko is sticky, not bursty. Arrow relies on On The Hunt and Flash to survive so Duke decides to Chronobreak back without damaging anyone in the area.
Meanwhile, Faker knows Lissandra is posing a threat from the side, but couldn’t do much as Karma to stop what he already foresaw: The rest of his team, including Ekko who ulted right into the choke, got led into a spot by KT they really did not want to be in. Kennen on one side, Liss on the other, Alistar in the middle. Let the chain CC begin.
With a reverse in champions, SKT’s key in Game 2 is likewise to utilize choke points to stack Lissandra’s and Alistar’s CC on multiple members of KT. These plays require flawless execution, but in SKT’s case I’d say what they needed was better vision control.
2nd Dragon is live so the contest again revolved around this objective. Again, SKT are the ones who initiate the fight but why are they doing so in enemy territory without any vision? Look at the setup—KT’s wards flooded both their own jungle and SKT’s. They even had one at blue which caught sight of Alistar.
The idea to pick off Kindred to eliminate Lamb’s Respite is definitely beneficial for SKT. The catch was well executed with On the Hunt, Cocoon and Elise’s burst combo. The intention to fight in this choke was also a plus so they sent Wolf to KT’s blue for a surprise Flash into Pulverize with Lissandra’s Ring of Frost and Frozen Tomb. Except, none of this happened.
SKT could not see that the entire team was there to defend Kindred, and by that time, Bang was completely exposed in the frontline. Faker had set up Glacial Path where he would have caught at least 3 members of KT, but did not go through with it because his team’s plans were foiled. Between Parallel Convergence and Pillar of Ice, Sivir had nowhere to go and no one to help.
When faced with hard all-in CC in Game 1, SKT were the ones required to dance around with Karma’s movement speed and really only won team fights when they tackled KT at the river wide. It’s also interesting to note that both of these teams fought heavily around Dragon and Baron, prioritizing these objectives and were unafraid to contest them.
Only twice in Game 1 did SKT perform a well-tapped dance. After all, SKT has no tools to keep KT stationed in the open, while on the other hand it is that much easier for KT to funnel SKT members into narrower points with the threat of their hard engage with teleport, flanks and objective control.
It was clever of SKT to use the river terrain, scuttle crab movement speed and the expense of dragon pit to break up KT’s potential CC sandwich. Score’s Nidalee attempted to contest the dragon and ended up inside the pit with Wolf’s Trundle. Alistar moves in to corner him as well but not after being poked out. You can see how Arrow’s Sivir wanted to join, but retreated with his backline because SKT could easily run them down like a herd of wildebeest over the Serengeti.
Graves stepping into the pit with Duke and Wolf prompted Sssumday to Kennen ult 3 of them, albeit awkwardly while Fly ulted Lucian without being able to burst him down thanks to Karma’s Inspire. Without stacked CC, KT’s comp showed they would not be able to win in disjointed skirmishes.
The second major waltz for SKT was around Baron. Prior, Duke’s Ekko took down Nidalee in an extended pursuit which gave SKT the 5v4 advantage here as she resurrected in base. Ekko’s annoyance onto Kennen force out the Zhonya while Alistar, Sivir and Lissandra surround Faker.
As much as credit should be given to SKT for being able to separate lettuce from the beef in this scuffle—Ekko, Trudle and Wolf ran down Sivir and Kennen in a choke while Lucian/Graves tackled Lissandra—I also think it was a mistake from Fly not to immediately Frozen Tomb Faker’s Karma who was conveniently delivered next to his side by Alistar. Perhaps distracted with an attempt to steal baron with Ice Shard, the opportunity was missed and Faker escaped with a Flash out.
Hachani is like ‘Nope, see ya guys.’
This was one of the few times Hachani used his combo aggressively, and it did not work out for KT. They succeeded more when he was used as a meat shield defensively because SKT initiated majority of fights. The difference in Hachani’s and Wolf’s playstyle of Alistar are apparent when we compare a similar scene in Game 2.
SKT opens the engage with Alistar’s Headbutt and Pulverize. While Bang’s Sivir does manage to survive the first onslaught of Ssumday’s Ekko, watch how the teamfight plays out as more SKT members funnel into the narrow path trying to reach KT’s backline. Bang intended to join them but Ekko stuck onto him. Wolf could do nothing because all his tools had been burnt to create a pick.
Perhaps Elise or Lissandra could have stuck with them instead of joining the healthy Poppy who was not in danger. Another exposed Sivir meant another wining fight for KT, a quadra for Ssumday’s Ekko and eventually, the game.
It’s no secret that SKT likes to use Alistar aggressively to create picks, which is why they were dominant at worlds with their famed Kalista-Alistar combo. Because of this playstyle, Faker is therefore relied upon for utility to save Bang in combat.
So the question for SKT going into the Playoffs is: When Lulu is out of the picture, when they don’t have Azir to be both a picker and protector with Emperor’s Divide, when Alistar’s CDs are burnt for aggression instead of defense, how are they going to adapt their team composition, vision control and playstyle so that their AD carry can carry?
We’ll find out soon enough in the Playoffs, win or lose.