a League of Legends analysis blog
It’s less than 2 months to Worlds 2016. The story of ‘The Curse’ is hovering above everyone’s minds. They started off Summer season strong, only slip back to consistent inconsistencies series after series.
Their fall to KT in the semifinals highlighted every single one of SKT’s weaknesses in neon red; their entire Summer encapsulated in the 5-game series. They were up 2-0. They beat KT even when KT were on comfort picks. SKT were set to take game 3 to end the night early and face the Tigers again as contenders of the Cup with a ticket to Worlds.
Results of the last 10 SKT matches
None of that happened. You could say they played badly, they made mistakes, but really all they did was go back to tendencies that have surfaced time and again in their last few matches.
Consider this: SKT have been making it very hard for themselves to win. If there’s one thing we can agree on, is that their potential is sky high. Faker and Bang are top 3 in the LCK at damage per minute. Duke has proven to be able to hold his own. Bang/Wolf’s bot lane synergy is a force in itself.
However this isn’t the SKT we knew from Worlds 2015 who dominated the early game into swift victories. Far from it. Everyone had expectations that 8 months into the year they would finally polished enough for Worlds. No more excuses that Duke is new and needs time to assimilate. No more saying Blank needs experience because he already performed on the international stage at IEM and MSI. Yet, something is still out of place.
Here’s my list of the top 3 recurring gaps that SKT still needs to plug before Worlds:
What makes a team comp? Lol Esports nicely sums it up:
What makes a good team comp? Picking champions that gel and can collectively execute the game plan.
Now the million dollar question: What makes a good team comp in this meta? I touched on this in the last 2 posts. Nerfs to carry junglers and revamping dragon led to objective-oriented junglers and the rise of team-fighting comps. But that doesn’t mean everyone has been drafting entirely initiate. The LCK has exhibited a mix of pick/initiate with very good use of layering CC.
SKT is capable of putting together such flexible, well-rounded comps…sometimes. We don’t have to look at Playoffs to start to wonder.
Second last series of the season in game 2, SKT went up against JAG with Nidalee and Jhin for poke plus a wall and pillar to deter their full-on engage. They even held on a gold lead throughout mid game—but they couldn’t close. Jhin doesn’t take down towers as fast as an Ashe would, and JAG had plenty of wave clear, which resulted in SKT prioritizing objectives so that they could push with empowered minions.
The one thing about JAG’s comp though, is that they are both reliant on themselves to position+execute as much as they are waiting to capitalize on mistakes+windows that SKT gives them.
A single recall by Blank’s Nidalee on a ward turned the tides, opening up picks and Baron and the first inhibitor of the game and equalize the gold and lead by 5 kills.
Then came an over pursuit and positioning errors by the team which JAG gladly exploited.
“It is in motion.”
“Their time is short.”
On the same side of the coin SKT did not have a solid team fighting or pick or poke or disengage comp. Who’s gonna dive into the back line? It’s a support Trundle. Tanky triforce Ekko’s not going to burst anyone down. Nidalee certainly can’t just pounce in with all that CC. Plus their poke ceased effectiveness against the tankiness that Taric and Lee Sin had built up.
Squarely you could say SKT were the ones who made mistakes that allowed JAG back into that game and that their team comp wasn’t the key problem, so direct your sights to the Playoffs vs KT.
After an extremely convincing game 2 in under 30 minutes where we saw the SKT Worlds standard of play with near perfect rotations, constant pressure, utilizing strong engage with pick potential, early game damage with scaling, they decide to shoot themselves in the feet.
Why in a crucial game 3 would you suddenly opt into 3 scaling lanes? Why make things so hard for themselves? KT is certainly not a team that would wait for them to scale.
KT vs SKT LCK Summer Playofffs semifinals Game 3 – KT’s gold lead
On red side, SKT could have easily flexed the Ekko pick but instead locked in Sivir and Tahm Kench. Her only escape, Tahm Kench, could not do much against the immense zones KT drafted where they very smartly picked on Bang throughout because top lane was an easy win in itself, while mid Kass
a) Is hard to catch post-6 and
b) Has no wave clear.
“Someone’s day is about to get wrecked.”
KT’s plan was clear – push the wave mid with Ekko which forces Kass to stay to pick up the wave, then focus efforts bot. The kills added up and KT never let go for the last 3 games of the series nabbing their well-fought reverse sweep.
So how do you apply early game pressure when in the first place, your team comp doesn’t have any?
Drafts need to be tweaked and someone needs to step up. Many point towards the jungle. Ironically, KT’s Score is exactly what SKT needs but does not have.
In game 4 SKT already had the upper hand in top lane with Gnar vs GP, a lane that naturally wins itself. Yet the moment Blank shows himself up there just because it was an option with the river bush being pinked doesn’t necessarily mean it was a good choice.
His presence set off a chain reaction, with Score’s Rek’sai ganking bot to burn SS, freely taking SKT’s blue, then repeating for a guaranteed kill. KT’s game 3 strategy of ‘picking on Sivir’ was relentless and SKT still had no response to it nor did they choose to draft otherwise.
Less than 5 minutes later, Score returns, targeting the easiest lane to gank with summoner spells down and utilizing Jhin + GP ults for zoning. Meanwhile, Gragas was walking from base.
KT didn’t even need deep wards in SKT’s jungle this series. Score kept Blank’s Gragas in check knowing clear/fountain timings—and took every opening aggressively. The absence of an impactful jungler for SKT was deeply felt.
The team that kept track of CDs, teleport timings, opponent jungler’s whereabouts were characteristic of SKT at Worlds 2015. Part of putting pressure is capitalizing on every window of opportunity. Every mistake is punished.
Well, that and you really shouldn’t be making big mistakes on your own accord.
Listen to Monte’s commentary for I couldn’t agree more. Blank did a good job of creating early pressure this game 5. When buffs are challenged, the enemy jungler would be forced to smite in order to secure, which therefore denies the mid laner one.
But then…the horsie went in and did not come out alive.
SKT’s speedy comp versus KT’s were about singling out one or two targets out of place for swift annihilation. Their goal would be never to fight 5v5, especially not against the amount of CC KT were packing. Needless to say, the early lead was thrown, and KT won the series by capitalizing on SKT’s recurrent mistakes.
KT vs SKT LCK Summer Playofffs semifinals Game 5 – KT’s gold lead
From non-existent early game pressure to too much, to not keep tracking of teleport timings or playing to their comp’s win conditions—these do not make World Champions. It’s not good enough to hear how SKT put up a great defense each time they set themselves behind, or how impressive they were able to come back in Game 3 vs JAG from a large deficit in an hour+ long game.
We’ve seen this SKT squad slip in MSI but they did not fall. Instead they rose and beat the same competition that took them down in groups. Not holding up the LCK Summer Cup is a slip. Whether it turns into a fall depends on what this team can fine-tune starting with drafts, if they want to reach what they accomplished at Worlds again.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt, never bet against SKT. Looking forward October!