One more week! Yes, time does fly and the 2017 LCK Spring Split is nearly at an end. The last-minute scramble is on for (most) teams to secure the best possible playoff spot, or a spot at all (or maybe just not get relegated). Here’s the standings through week 9.
It was a pretty crazy week in LCK, all things considered, with three top-four teams losing a bit unexpectedly. While many of don’t have any bearing on who makes the playoffs, they certainly shake up the order heading into them.
ROX Tigers best MVP
This might be the least surprising of the upsets this week. ROX have looked like a different team since subbing in Park “Shy” Sang-myeon and Kim “MightyBear” Min-soo for good. So let’s stay on that train of thought. The Tigers are 9-4 in games with both Shy and MightyBear. They were one of only three teams with a gold differential per minute above 50 in week 9, and were the only team to have averaged a dragon before 15 minutes. This series against MVP in particular was always competitive for ROX, until they broke it open in a 26-minute, game 3 stomp. This strong objective control, coupled with strong, informed rotations are turning this ROX team into the team we knew they could be. They likely will miss out on playoffs, but are setting themselves up nicely for a productive mid-season break.
Samsung Galaxy sweeps SK Telecom
“SKT loses.” It’s not something we get to say often, but when we do, we’ve witnessed something great take place, and Samsung’s victory over them was nothing short of supreme. Their two wins came extremely systematically, off the back of the famed mid-game strength that made them a problem for SKT in the World Finals. It’s nearly impossible to know who to talk about on this squad, because they possess all the tools needed to play anyone, and only trail SKT in consistency (a little). Samsung makes a serious challenge at winning the spring title, and even if they don’t, they are getting into their summer form pretty much right on time. More on this one later.
MVP, Kongdoo Monster topple KT Rolster
The roller coaster ride keeps going for KT fans, as a shocking 0-2 week has dropped them into a tie for third place going into the final week. We noted back when KT and SKT faced off that their early strength needed to be transitioned better into the mid-game, where the bulk of the game lies, and where many Korean teams excel. KT looked largely discombobulated outside of lane this series, to the extent that they weren’t able to punish any mistakes.
Incidentally, KT has a lot to do with the playoff race, despite being a lock themselves. The final week sees them facing both Afreeca and Longzhu, who are two of the three teams that can still claim the final spot. But more importantly for them, it will determine whether they get a second wind, or go limping into the playoffs.
As I said earlier, it’s difficult to praise just one or two members of Samsung Galaxy, especially when their team play is what leads them to the success that they’ve seen. This exceptional mid-game decision-making is what allowed them to cruise through the league’s top team, SKT. Samsung utilized similar strategies to obtain an advantage in both games on Saturday. See this clip from game 1:
A minute and a half before the taken Baron, Samsung gets a control ward down, then rotates down toward the mountain drake, first pushing out top lane to draw someone from SKT there. Samsung snag the drake and fight SKT out toward the east quadrant of the jungle. All according to plan for Samsung, as they know SKT have no vision around Baron, and can Realm Warp in for the easy take, off of which they get three turrets. Now check out this clip from game 2:
Samsung take advantage here of Kim “Profit” Joon-hyung’s lack of Stand United (that he used just a minute prior) by initiating a 5v4, with pretty much one intention: nullifying damage. They spend a few minutes setting up this play, most notably drawing the Shen away from Baron. Notice a pattern here? Samsung converges quickly. They luckily to pick off Ahri, and in doing so know they can take Baron relatively safely. And from it and the subsequent ace, they get five turrets and an inhibitor.
Samsung has shown (ironically) SKT-like ability to efficiently use the Baron buff, and more importantly, have demonstrated they know many ways to get it. This is only one part of their mid-game prowess, but it’s important to be able to follow a plan like this from beginning to end. Knowing what it is you are attempting to do is crucial, as this is a strategy game. Yet many solo queue players just sort of go lane, and then they either stumble across an advantage, or they don’t. Planning is often the difference between high- and low-level players.
Check out the action from the final week here Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday at 1 AM PST!