The playoff race is tightening as we head into the final two weeks in the LCK, and it’s becoming easier to speculate who that field will include after a (mostly) unsurprising week 8! Updated standings for those who need them:
Realistically speaking, the thing left to settle is whether Longzhu Gaming or Afreeca Freecs take the fifth and final playoff spot (though surprises have happened and still could shift the fortunes of MVP or ROX Tigers). In a battle that has shifted momentum multiple times so far this split, this past week could mark the final turn of the tide, and the upcoming has huge implications.
The Good: Longzhu’s Second Wind
The Longzhu squad came up with a 2-win week that is pleasantly surprising given their dwindling morale and 0-3 record since the departure of Kim “Ssong” Sang-soo. Whether the uptick came from within or was the result of a forgiving schedule, they couldn’t have had picked a better time to lead the league in gold per minute or first tower rate. Or to do so in such convincing fashion as the 20-minute obliteration of ROX Tigers in game 3 of their series (more on that later).
This shift in momentum, combined with other factors (below), put Longzhu more in control of their playoff destiny, especially considering their Week 9 faceoff with none other than Afreeca.
The Bad: “Intentional Disconnects”
Just one week after the announcement was made that Samsung Galaxy would face a set score penalty following Jaehyuk “Ruler” Park’s second disconnection of the split, the news came that the Freecs would face the same punishment, for the same offenses by Seohaeng “KurO” Lee and Dayoon “Spirit” Lee during each of their losses to ROX Tigers on Sunday.
Now whether you agree or not with the punishment is one thing (that I’m not going to discuss here or anywhere). But the fact still remains that by the rules, this puts Afreeca at a further disadvantage beyond the 0-2 week they already had, and could very well mean the difference between fifth and sixth place. It’s been a rough week for them, and it’s going to take a familiar bounceback to overcome.
The Ugly: MVP’s Clown Showdown with Jin Air
Thanks to Jeong “Max” Jong-bin, support Elise is something for which stats exist this split, and that is somehow the cherry on top of the wonderful mess that was game three in the MVP-JAG series. The slow, 50-minute brawl somehow only netter 28 total kills and two inhibitors, but fourteen total turrets — not to mention two Barons and a gold lead from 17:00 on for the losing team. This game had all the late shenanigans we expect from the Green Wings, and lacked the clean macro play that MVP have exhibited over the past few weeks. There isn’t a whole lot to really take from this, except that teamfight positioning is important, Elise is less than ideal as a support, and this vod link is a quick way to enjoy one of the zaniest games of the split.
It’s hard to ignore the absolute smackdown that Longzhu laid on ROX. But when something so pronounced take place, the best thing we can do as players is study it to find out why it happened and what we can learn from it.
There are a lot of little reasons Longzhu absolutely destroyed in this game, but the most significant thing that went perfectly were rotations around the map, which were consistently faster than those of the Tigers. And although it’s common sense to say this was due to consistent vision, it usually goes over the heads of us as average players that we have to look at the map to take advantage of vision. Check out this first tower dive by Longzhu:
Longzhu has vision perfectly placed to spot Seonghwan and Mickey out invading for their blue buff. Pings immediately go down on the Tigers and their destination. Seeing all five members, Crash immediately pings ROX’s blue buff, and when it’s not there to steal, he decides to make an appearance bot lane for a gank. Expession comes in for assistance, and they get the clean two kills, plus trade the turrets. This kind of rotation is a recurring theme throughout this game. Here’s another clip, showing the shortcomings of the opposite side:
Note in this clip how quickly every member of Longzhu gets to the scene of the fight, knowing that there’s at least one objective they can (and do) take. On the flip side, the long time it takes Sangyoon and Key to get up there (hesitation and all) means that they arrive nearby at precisely the time their ally dies (who was late to the initial fight by pure chance in the first place). How many times have you seen this in your games, where someone (maybe you) fails to gauge accurately how quickly they can get somewhere and whether they can help, then continue to press forward in a disadvantage to “finish it off”? These are important things to know, and generally just come with practice. And sometimes you’ll slip up (no doubt the members of ROX already know these things anyway), but knowing what needs to happen greatly increases the chances that you’ll be able to execute it.
Catch the next games of the LCK here at 1 a.m. PST on Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday!
Photos & video provided by Riot Games