a League of Legends analysis blog
It’s there, the freckle on an almost flawless face. SKT lost 2 straight games to Afreeca Freeecs after facing off with former team mate MaRin hyung.
What happened? Did SKT go on a win streak merely because they’ve been playing against teams at the bottom of the table? Is their loss to AF a cause for concern? Does it foreshadow that SKT will struggle against top tier teams?
Since then SKT pulled through against Longzhu, and went 2-0 against Samsung quite convincingly. Yet this 0-2 to Afreeca still sticks like a thorn in the side, revealing where opponents could pinch the giants. Here are the top 3 reasons why SKT went down to the Freecs:
1. They gave the Superstar what he wanted
SKT on red side target banned Kuro’s Sol and Spirit’s junglers in game 1, leaving MaRin open. Blind picking Rumble may not be a good idea on paper especially since SKT can flex Jayce, but hey this is MaRin’s Rumble and he certainly held his own against Huni.
There was more value gained by Rumble’s AoE zoning compared to SKT’s single target burst. Poke from Corki and Varus pressured HP bars while downing towers quickly with triple AD, while Rumble’s AoE dissuades an all-in from SKT, an equalizer they know all too well.
So what did SKT do in game 2 on blue side? They target banned MaRin. Carries Rumble and Kennen were off the table, except he locked in Maokai!
3v1 at top without flash? MaRin’s Mao has no problem, even taking down Huni in the collapse under tower.
“There is no escape.”
What’s interesting about the whole “MaRin-the-carry-shotcaller-leader-demanding of resources from the team” was AF’s creative start. What bengi did for SKT by covering ground for MaRin at top side jungle to prevent/counter ganks, AF adapted with a control ward start at the bush in between raptors and Baron pit in both games whether AF was on red or blue side.
The ward was especially important because MaRin was on Rumble and Mao—champions who naturally push the wave up to the opponent’s tower and therefore more susceptible to ganks.
2. They didn’t prioritize tanky initiation
Sure SKT has won with poke comps and worked around Faker’s Katarina, but for these 2 games they did not have any reliable hard initiation. Game 1’s draft was an anomaly. All season SKT have ran a standard tank top composition to start off a series. Testing waters, if you like. Huni has surprised everyone with his high KDA tanks and large champion pool.
In the end, initiation was entirely on Bang to land Ashe arrows for picks, but they either missed, or didn’t matter because AF clumped up and had enough counter initiation with Varus’s chain, Rumbles zoning, and defensively, Karma’s shield/speed.
AFs did a great job of drafting sensitively to SKT’s comps and had well-versed answers:
Karma in response to Rengar
Cass in response to Ryze
Sivir in response to Varus’s ult
In Game 2 picks and bans, SKT again did not choose tanks in phase 1, which incentivized AF to ban Poppy, squeezing SKT’s choices for top. SKT knew they needed someone tanky with initiation CC, and went for Gragas. Shen was available but they had not shown this pick yet and at that time was not an option they went for (Note: Subsequently SKT did use Shen against Samsung, showing that they are now capable of running this pick).
Needless to say the out of the ordinary Gragas top pick did not go so well.
3. They were outsmarted by MaRin’s teleports
I surmised that because SKT was the nest where MaRin grew to become a game-changing teleport player, they wouldn’t let him bite their tails.
I was totally wrong. Teleport Maokai was a win condition for AF to get into SKT’s immobile backline. Instead of standing around getting poked out, MarRin and team sandwiched SKT from the back.
Flash forward, he does it again by taking advantage of AFs vision control around Baron and went ham on Bang’s Varus to claim a resounding victory.
“I will end this misuse of magic.”
It is regular season so teams will always try out different drafts throughout the patches. More characteristically, maybe it’s a weakness, maybe it’s just the natural order of things, but SKT’s early game the past year has always been slow. In 2016 the times they really got rolled was when ROX upset the calmness of the early game and knew how to snowball leads. Otherwise SKT are quite primed to play from a gold deficit with discipline, and find the edge to win. Other times, they fail to find the much needed leverage because of absent reliable initiation.
Don’t hold your breath for a repeat Gragas top performance from Huni anytime soon!