Possibly the most anticipated matchup of the quarterfinals is H2K squaring off against Albus Nox Luna. Western Europe versus Eastern Europe. The last hope of the European LCS against the first wild card region to ever make it out of the group stage. Whatever the outcome of this series, it would be quite the event for players and viewers alike.
Game One: Winner, H2K
Just looking at the team compositions, one would think that Albus Nox had won the draft phase. They had the coveted Syndra in the mid lane, one of the strongest marksmen with Caitlyn, and a solid frontline with Olaf and Gnar. H2K weren’t dissuaded however, and quickly set about shutting them down. It began in the top lane where a gank from PvPStejos went horribly wrong, giving Odoamne a double kill. After that, he targeted Smurf to get back in the game, killing him repeatedly, with or without help from Jankos. The other lane that was shut down was the bottom lane. Despite Albus Nox getting Caitlyn, H2K took Zyra for themselves, and Vander went off on her, denying any kind of attempted engage by Albus Nox, and setting up return kills for his team. Despite being behind in two out of three lanes, Albus Nox was not afraid to put up a fight. As H2K began to siege, they started to slip up a little, and their opponents capitalized each time with a pick or two. Unfortunately, Ryu wasn’t about to let a few picks go unanswered, as for every one of his teammates who went down, he made sure to take at least one or two members of Albus Nox in response. In the end, H2K simply overpowered their adversaries, snowballing from the laning phase. For Albus Nox, they’ll have to take solace in the fact that H2K struggled to close the game out even with a big lead. If they’re going to overcome H2K’s oppressive laners, Albus Nox will need to capitalize on those mistakes even harder and not give up as much of an advantage early on.
Game Two: Winner, H2K
The two teams seemed content with their drafts from the first game, and as such, the compositions for game two were relatively unchanged. The early game started off fine for Albus Nox, until the eight minute mark when things went horribly wrong. Albus Nox tried to start a fight in the bottom lane, but there was a serious miscommunication between the team members, as aMiracle didn’t follow up and Smurf’s teleport was very late. This lapse in shotcalling led to Albus Nox losing the fight four for one. After that, H2K went full speed ahead, not looking to make the same mistakes that they did in game one. They even borrowed a page from Albus Nox’s playbook and snuck a baron at twenty minutes, using that to end the game in just over twenty-three minutes. Even more so than game one, this match spelled trouble for Albus Nox. Their first game had relied too much on H2K making mistakes, and this game, H2K didn’t make any, as to not let their opponents back into the game. Albus Nox are going to have to change something up either in their draft or in their play if they want to start mounting a comeback. More specifically, PvPStejos is going to have to step his game up. None of Albus Nox’s laners can match up against their opponents in a straight fight, and they need the help of a proactive jungler to keep from falling behind. During the group stage, PvPStejos’ early ganks were a big part of the reason his team picked up wins, but so far Jankos has been two steps ahead of him at every turn. PvPStejos will need to get back to that former level if his lanes are going to survive.
Game Three: Winner, H2K
After two games of losing to virtually the same team composition, it makes sense that Albus Nox would try to disrupt something about H2K’s lineup. Unfortunately, they decided that banning Sivir was a higher priority than something like Jayce or Zyra. They also didn’t pick Syndra, allowing Ryu to pick her up and he immediately made Albus Nox regret it. With Jankos’ help, Ryu utterly destroyed Kira in lane, diving him multiple times and allowing Ryu to roam freely to other lanes and set up other kills for his teammates. Despite this disparity, Albus Nox didn’t give up, making aggressive plays in the bottom and top lanes, capitalizing on H2K often being over extended. Even with those little trades however, H2K always made sure to take at least one tower and slowly snowballed out of control. The one bright point for Albus Nox came around thirty minutes, when the successfully took picks in the bottom lane and pushed all the way into H2K’s base to take an inhibitor, while Likkrit and Smurf delayed H2K at baron. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough, as H2K still got the baron and were too far ahead at that point. They pushed into the base and closed the game out, finishing the series with a clean three game sweep. Even though they didn’t drop a single game, H2K should still be wary going into their series with Samsung Galaxy. Losing an inhibitor while over ten thousand gold ahead is a worrying sign, as a team like Samsung Galaxy will punish mistakes like that even harder than Albus Nox. Even so, the European team looked strong, and if they’re going to live up to the expectations of being the last non-Korean team, they’ll need to keep up that level of play going forward. As for Albus Nox Luna, they gave it their best shot. They did what no other wild card team has ever done before, and they’ve paved the way for future teams to really step up and challenge the other major regions. They can leave this tournament with their heads held high, knowing that they made history this year.
With the end of this series, the number of teams left at Worlds has been reduced to four: SK Telecom T1, ROX Tigers, Samsung Galaxy, and H2k Gaming. All three teams from Korea and one team from Europe, these semifinals are a little lopsided in terms of regional representation. That being said, it can’t be denied that all four of these teams earned their place here and the last few weeks of the tournament should be some of the best League of Legends yet. ROX Tigers will play their rivals SKT on Friday, October 21st. For both teams, this series is almost more important than the final, as regardless of the winner, they will be the favorite to win the whole thing. The other matchup will be Samsung Galaxy squaring off against H2K on Saturday 22nd. While an all Korean final is the most likely outcome, H2K aren’t going to go down without a fight. Whatever the outcome, these semifinals are going to be incredible to watch, and you won’t want to miss one minute of it.