It’s been a year and a half, but Afreeca Freecs have finally done it. They have defeated their demons in the form of a 3-1 victory over Kingzone DragonX in the LCK playoffs. With it, the final three teams are set: there’s the aforementioned Afreeca Freecs, who have looked once again like the team that made the finals last split, Griffin, the team full of rookies, hoping to continue their historic run, and finally KT Rolster, the team that needs to prove that they’re the best once and for all.
Which teams will face off in the finals? Which team will win it all? Let’s take a look.
KT Rolster vs Afreeca Freecs
Out of the two possible matchups, this will likely be the closest. The two teams had a 3-3 game record against each other during the regular split and it’s hard to see it being any different now. So far in their two series, Afreeca have completely countered the enemy’s strategy in pick ban. This was a huge reason we saw Afreeca completely dominate Gen.G and Kingzone as those teams often lost in the draft alone.
However, against KT, who has been great in drafts since Rift Rivals, this may not help them as much. Instead, there are key matchups in the top and jungle that both teams must focus on. In the top lane, the matchup between Afreeca’s Kim “Kiin” Gi-in and KT’s Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho will be important as both serve as important playmakers that frequently carry their team.
A big win condition for both teams will be to shut down the enemy top lane which will fall primarily on the junglers. The matchup between Afreeca’s Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon and KT’s Go “Score” Dong-bin will be important for more reasons than snowballing the top lane. As Spirit best put it in an interview after their victory against Kingzone (translation courtesy of Inven Global):
“As you all saw today, our team wins as long as I don’t UNDERPERFORM. Today, I think we won because I did well. That’s why I’m the key player. Everyone on the team plays well — so if I step up, we can win.”
Unfortunately for Spirit, if there’s any jungler that will be able to completely shut him down, it would be Score. For Spirit to have a good time in the jungle, Afreeca needs to help him out and keep Score in check.
While the two teams are fairly close, I give the edge to KT. The team together has simply looked better even with Afreeca improving every series. But with a mismatch in mid and a small advantage to KT in the bot lane as well, it’s hard to see Afreeca getting 3 wins. Expect to see some interesting pick bans as both teams have had great drafts recently. It’s likely that we’ll see some more unique picks like Kiin’s Quinn come out again.
Ultimately, I see KT taking it 3-2.
KT Rolster vs Griffin
While Griffin has been a great success story so far, if they were to make finals against KT Rolster, that story may be cut short. During the regular split, the only team Griffin was unable to defeat in a series was KT Rolster. As a team, KT seemed to have figured out the weaknesses of Griffin, which I briefly outlined here. This led to convincing 2-0 and 2-1 victories against the rookie team.
Since then, Griffin has not shown anything that would lead fans to believe that they’ve improved. Support player Son “Lehends” Si-woo still appears to have a small champion pool while jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong still performs poorly when bullied around.
Unless Griffin shows something different, the same thing will happen. Score will have a field day in the jungle against Tarzan while the bot lane tandem of Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu and Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong will absolutely dominate Griffin. This will lead to KT taking their first championship in the LCK era.
It should be obvious at this point, since the past results speak for themselves. Unless Griffin show up to the finals as a different team in terms of how they play the game, KT will take it easily. This doesn’t mean it won’t be an exciting series to watch. Every player on each team are all very mechanically gifted players and as a result, fans will be treated to some high quality League of Legends.
With that being said, KT will crush Griffin and take the series 3-0.
Afreeca Freecs or Griffin?
So the real question becomes: who wins between Afreeca and Griffin and will get the chance to face KT in the finals?
During the regular split, both teams took a 2-0 series win against the other. In the last series, Afreeca seemed to have figured out Griffin much as KT did. However, Griffin as a team were playing worse than usual around that time. Fans should be expecting a very close series between the two teams this time around. Since their last meeting, both teams have looked great. Griffin is back to their dominant form as they’ve been crushing the enemy teams through their mechanically gifted players. Meanwhile, as mentioned before, Afreeca has looked great this entire playoffs so far, completely destroying Gen.G and Kingzone.
The key matchup this time around will be in the mid lane as Afreeca’s Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng will need to keep Griffin’s mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon in check. However, if Chovy gets an advantage over Kuro, it’ll be an easy win for Griffin. While Afreeca can still win the game in this case, it’s hard to imagine Kiin being able to take over the game and apply the same amount of pressure from top lane as Chovy will through the mid lane.
Fans are going to be treated to a close and competitive series between the two. Both teams have something to fight for. Griffin will want to complete their fantastic run and take the whole split while Afreeca will want to finish what they started last split and win it all. Ultimately, it’s hard to imagine Kuro being able to keep Chovy in check for two games, let alone three for Afreeca to win the series.
As a result, I see Griffin taking the series 3-1.
Regardless of what happens in the coming series, LCK is sure to finish this era of the region with some memorable games.
To watch the LCK, visit watch.na.lolesports.com. For more information on the Split, teams, standings, and players, visit www.lolesports.com. Recaps of former weeks and other LoL content can be found at https://thegamehaus.com/league-of-legends/.
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