League Champions Korea: Spring 2017 Playoffs So Far

All you need to know to get up to date on League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK)

With LCK’s semifinals for the Spring Split coming soon, now is the optimal time for a brief update before the League’s premier games. In this article, the logistics of the League’s gauntlet style tournament as well as a short recap of how playoffs have been will be discussed.

How it Works: LCK Gauntlet

LCK, like its western counterpart, LCS, has ten teams facing each other twice throughout the split; fighting for their place in the standings that will inevitably result in promotion/relegation tournaments for the bottom two teams, and playoffs for the top four. Tiebreakers occur when two teams have the same game record and head to head record. This occurred between MVP and Afreeca Freecs this season. While this tiebreaker did not hold much weight, as the two teams would then replay each other in the first round of playoffs, it did decide who gets side selection for the next round.

The LCK playoffs operate very differently than their western counterparts. In the LCK, the first place team does not play until the final round, receiving a bye for their performance throughout the normal split. The playoffs consist of the third place team playing against the fourth place team. Then the winner of that team plays the second place team, ultimately leaving one team to play against the first place team. This manner of competition puts much more weight on the individual split, as there are more games where a bye can be achieved. Overall, this is very healthy for LCK, as teams must go through a gauntlet of playoff games before playing against the first place team. This format rewards dominant performances in the regular split, which have become all too typical in the LCK.

 

MVP Jeong “Max” Jong-bin, two kills into his quadra kill on support Sion. Courtesy of OGN.

Playoffs So Far

With Afreeca Freecs (AF) taking the tiebreaker, they were poised to win their next best of five against MVP, in order to play against the third place, kt Rolster. While this was the expected result, AF was subdued by underdog team MVP, a team that just pushed into LCK through the promotion tournament this time last year with a mostly rookie roster. This was in large part due to the momentum MVP took off of a play around baron. Kt Rolster expended too many resources stealing the baron during game one of the series. One over-extension led to MVP taking the first game, which quickly translated into a follow-up victory, securing the series with a zero death MVP bot lane.

After sweeping AF, MVP went on to get swept by kt Rolster. This allowed kt Rolster to play against second place team, Samsung Galaxy, in a best of five that ended much like the previous series (3-0). Kt Rolster flaunted their obvious strengths in both sweeps, with solo laners Wonseok “Pawn” Heo mid, and Kyungho “Smeb” Song top. Renowned 2014 world championship MVP from Samsung White, Sehyoung “Mata” Cho, had a huge impact on Malzahar in kt Rolster’s game against MVP, with pick after pick. Neither MVP nor Samsung Galaxy had a chance to truly challenge kt Rolster, both being 3-0s.

The mistakes they did show played into their commonly criticized characteristics. When kt Rolster is criticized, it is for their lack of team play. Kt Rolster is known largely as a team of Super-Star players, and less known for their meta gameplay and map movement. While their sweep against Samsung Galaxy showed that they can play as a team, albeit a bit messy, their true strengths lie in the power of their individual players as expected.

 

Kt Rolster’s Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong. Courtesy of OGN

The Finals to Come: Kt Rolster vs SK Telecom T1

So far, playoffs have been composed entirely of 3-0 sweeps. I’m sure all League of Legends fans are looking for a closer series between Kt Rolster and SK Telecom T1 (SKT). That being said, what can we expect to see between these two powerhouse teams? SK Telecom T1 is looking as strong as ever. Kt Rolster with their most recent roster seem to be gaining steam, as they have plowed through Samsung Galaxy 3-0.

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