The 2017 World Championship is down to its final four teams. It’s going to be an all out battle between the Chinese and South Korean teams, with Royal Never Give Up facing off against SK Telecom T1 while Team WE takes on Samsung Galaxy. Viktor, Jonas and Corey are back again to answer some of the important questions heading into the Semifinals.
Q: Which two teams do you see making it to the Finals this year and why?
Viktor: Based off what I saw in the Quarterfinals and the performances the remaining teams have shown throughout the tournament, I think RNG and Samsung will be our finalists. I just don’t think SKT has it in them this year. They’ve looked way too vulnerable while RNG has looked great as a whole despite a less than perfect Quarterfinal showing against Fnatic. Samsung also looked very good against Longzhu and are the favorites against a Team WE squad that seems very one-dimensional.
Jonas: Despite being taken to five games by Mistfits, I think SKT have what it takes to win. They underestimated MSF, but that won’t happen with RNG. RNG will also probably play more meta picks that SKT has prepared for than MSF did. Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok showed in that series that he is the best player in the world, and I think he can win two more series this tournament. RNG are definitely going to put up a big fight, but SKT are the stronger team in a series in my opinion. SSG are definitely going to win against Team WE. They stomped the tournament favorites and looked fantastic doing it. WE had a hard time against C9, and while a win is a win, it wasn’t convincing enough to make me think they can take down Samsung. Another SKT vs Samsung final would be my prediction.
Corey: My predictions are RNG winning 3-2 over SKT, and SSG taking down Team WE in a 3-1 series. It’s risky to pick RNG over SKT but certainly not impossible to envision with how shaky SKT have looked. I believe RNG have shown enough good play to make us believe they can do it. Samsung is a clear outmatch for Team WE. I’ve been pretty solidly convinced about their talent since last year.
Q: Who has been your tournament MVP so far and why?
Viktor: Probably a controversial pick but my personal tournament MVP has been RNG’s Yan “LetMe” Jun Ze. He’s been very underrated and has been outstanding since groups. Although his effective champion pool used to be small, he has fixed this issue and has improved a lot.
Jonas: A little bit of an obvious pick but my MVP would be Faker. Not only is he proving again and again that he is the best player in the world, he put his team on his back and carried them through their quarterfinal series and is showing that he refuses to lose. Definitely the most valuable player in the world in my eyes.
Corey: It’s gotta be Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao or Li “Xiaohu” Yuan Hao for me. I know these are kind of cop-out answers, but that team looks way too different without either of those guys. The literal definition of “valuable”.
Q: Who is your candidate for the “Dade Award” and why?
Viktor: It would have to be Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. I don’t think he’s a bad player at all. He’s still one of the best Western players in history. However there’s no denying that his impact in TSM’s games was barely felt and he needed to step up and be more proactive in order to lead his team to victories.
Jonas: Bjergsen was hyped up to be the best mid laner in the west yet again, but was also on a team predicted to take first in their group. He had a totally lackluster performance this tournament, and really did not live up to his potential. I’ve been following the scene since Season 1, and he is my favorite player of all time, but he left me really disappointed, especially with the hype behind him.
Corey: For me it kind of has to be Bjergsen. I don’t really feel it’s an individual mistake, but I also feel that TSM not playing through their perennial MVP made it certainly look like he couldn’t perform to the hype. I also feel like he’s a bit of a default for this, since there wasn’t a ton of hype around anyone that wasn’t Korean or Chinese.
Q: What has been your favorite match of the event? What made it special for you?
Viktor: Definitely the third game between SK Telecom T1 and Misfits. Not only was it exciting to see such an innovative strategy like Fervor of Battle on Leona, it was also done against SKT of all teams. Props to Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun for having the courage to do it and for being good enough to win with it. The casters also had a lot of fun covering that game which made the broadcast even more enjoyable.
Jonas: SKT vs MSF was a truly amazing match. Not only do you have the third seed from EU taking the most dominant team in League history to five games, every game was entertaining. I’ve probably re-watched the whole series three times now, and I’m sure I’ll watch it again at some point. Faker was a pleasure to watch and carried his team, but my favorite player of the match was IgNar. He fought harder than anyone and showed that Misfits were a force to be reckoned with.
Corey: The SKT vs MSF set was obviously a classic. There’s no doubt about it. The fact that a Western team took the dynasty team to five games (and had a chance of winning that deciding game) says a lot for the point of playing to your own strengths. An honorable mention is the C9 vs WE series.
Q: What has disappointed you about this Worlds?
Viktor: Team SoloMid and EDward Gaming. For two teams that are considered the premier squads in their region, failing to make it out of groups as the #1 seed is a major disappointing. Especially since both teams were expected to make it out for sure by a lot of people.
Jonas: I’m disappointed with two major things. First, TSM, as usual. The hype was at an all time high, and it died as quickly as their chances of getting out of groups. It was disappointing and soul-crushing, but I learned to cheer them on in NA and jump on the C9 train internationally. Second is the fact that 1907 Fenerbahçe was the only team from a developing region to make it to the main event. I know we want only the best, most competitive teams, but I love seeing teams from other regions besides the major ones I’ve always watched.
Corey: The #1 seeds, particularly Flash Wolves and TSM. I realize they were in the same group, and, especially for Flash Wolves, I didn’t necessarily expect them to make it out, but I expected it to look much better than it did.
Q: What do you hope to see in the Semifinals?
Viktor: This is a bit biased from me but I hope at least one of the Chinese teams can make it to the finals. I think it’s going to be RNG if it happens so I’ll be cheering for them. But it would be equally amazing if both LPL teams make it to the finals and have a huge showdown to crown the first ever Chinese World Champions in League of Legends history.
Jonas: I hope to see a tough, well-fought match between SKT and RNG. A lot of people think RNG will win it, and as much as I would love a change of pace and a new world champion, I really want to see SKT win this series. I wish RNG were on the other side of the bracket for another SKT-Royal final like Season 3 for nostalgia sake, but watching them play in the semis is almost as good.
Corey: Matches that were as good and competitive as the Quarterfinals were. Last year, I was pretty disappointed by most of the quarterfinal matches (none went to five games). But this year was much better. I hope that these matches will be just as fiery.
Q: Who is your pick to win Worlds and can your pick change depending on how the Semifinals go?
Viktor: Contrary to what many people might think, my pick to win Worlds is RNG. They’ve been impressive throughout the whole tournament. Although their Quarterfinal showing wasn’t as impressive, I still think they played quite well and of the four remaining teams they’ve shown the highest overall level of play in my eyes. My pick won’t change unless RNG lose to SKT.
Jonas: My pick to win worlds is SKT. I just think they are the most likely to win each series going forward, and Faker is on a whole new level in the playoffs. I personally hope Samsung wins, and I’m willing to have my pick ’ems take the hit for it. I’d like to see them take down this dynasty, not because I’m not enjoying SKT’s reign, but because I love the players and the organization of SSG. If RNG take down SKT, I think SSG will win worlds.
Corey: Like many realistic individuals, I expect SKT to capture title number four. It could absolutely change, not only if they got upset this week, but also depending on how strong Samsung come out from their match if they also win. After a rougher group stage, they stomped Longzhu last week. It was a nice improvement but I still think SKT’s ability to win clutch games will come through.
Q: Any closing thoughts?
Viktor: I really feel like this is finally China’s year and I hope we’ll have some amazing games in the remaining stages of the tournament, culminating in the crowning of a Chinese World Championship team.
Jonas: It’s been a really solid tournament. There were a few upsets, but more than that, there were a lot of great series from a lot of great teams. There was no mind-blowing results, but a lot that made you think, “Wow, okay. I guess this team’s pretty good”. I hope to see more great games in the Semifinals.
Corey: Nothing different — expecting a lot of fun, and hopefully a shake up to our expectations. All of these teams are so good, and honestly a bad day is the only thing that can ruin this setup.
Photographs taken by Riot Games