LCK Playoffs: Upset of the century or business as usual in Korea
The LCK post-season is back in full swing as SKT look to take the long road on their way to the top. Can either KSV, SKT or kT stand up to the looming presence of KING-ZONE or the Afreeca Freecs in the later stages? Heading into the first round this weekend, it’s time to take a look at the possibilities of an upset as Faker looks to make history yet again.
Crazier things have happened
It’s been a long and winding road for SKT as they have clawed and fought their way into a playoff spot after a dismal start to the season. After a few early hiccups in relation to roster swaps, SKT finally started to get their bearings after enduring another three loss streak at the hands of KZ, kT and BBq Olivers. Their first game back to form with a 6-9 record coincidentally came against KSV where Blank really came into his own in the jungle position and started to take over the series with ease.
This series also lead to the return of Effort in the Support role for SKT. He was not featured on the main roster for several weeks after his early performances but his reintroduction into the squad proved much more solid. Bang was already having a solid year stats wise as one of the few bright spots on a lackluster SKT squad, but his supportive play made him all the more dangerous as he stayed with the team and enabled his carries at crucial moments.
While Faker hasn’t been at his absolute best in Season 8, his impact on SKT is never dormant. With the recent mid changes in 8.4 and beyond, his core champion pool has become that much more dangerous as he’s shown his improvement in the recent three game win streak SKT has enjoyed. If Faker can rely on his key champions as threats, the chance of winning against KSV increase exponentially as his champion pool overlaps with Crown’s quite extensively. In terms of momentum, KSV is on the exact opposite side of the spectrum of SKT as they are currently on a 3 match losing streak.
Tough Talk or Wishful Thinking?
In the OGN teaser leading up the LCK playoffs, SKT mentioned they’re looking to take all the pressure they faced in the regular season and exact it on their opponents one-by-one in the gauntlet. To do that, SKT will need to break barriers this specific roster hasn’t broken before as they face tough match-ups on each rung of the ladder. In contrast, KSV are also looking to repeat their LCK Summer 2017 gauntlet run and put all their efforts together in another bid to sneak the rug from under their opponents.
For the first stage, the classic match up of SKT and KSV is pretty much a coin toss. Momentum says the luck will be on SK Telecom’s side, but KSV have shown they are more complete as a playoff team than a league format team, and there is still time for KSV to show off their true form. All in all, the winner of the first stage on either side has the personnel to combat kT, but the kT Rolster have shown vast amounts of improvement as the weeks wore on, avoiding the roller coaster seasons of KSV and SKT.
kT and Afreeca reside on similar pedestals where their styles are set. Every game has a distinct pattern depending on team composition focus. But nothing either team has shown so far can compare to the sheer dominance KING-ZONE DragonX has shown throughout the season. After a commanding 16-2 run, KZ look poised to make it an easy Spring Split yet again as they’ve made good teams look bad, and bad teams look hapless.
The strength and pressure is exacted at every point of the map as Khan, PraY, GorillA and BDD are all top contenders in their roles. Peanut’s assimilation to the roster in the latter half of the year has been the icing on an already layered cake that was building at KZ.
If everything pans out correctly, KING-ZONE DragonX will once again be crowned the champions of LCK Spring. Lying ahead of their goal will be the eventual winner of the gauntlet over the course of the next two weeks. With the stage set for a World Championship in Korea later in the year, the stakes have never been higher for LCK teams as they are incentivized to play and win the World Championship on home soil.
Whether it’s SKT, KSV, kT or Afreeca, the excitement for the highest-tier of League of Legends play is palpable as all teams are focusing their efforts in securing victory.