After nearly two weeks of action, four teams enter the new year with the hopes of winning KeSPA Cup 2019. With some great teams set to face off, which two teams will take their series and face off in the finals? With some great teams remaining, the semifinals will surely provide some amazing matches for fans to witness. So here’s a look at the two series and which team has the edge going in.
SANDBOX Gaming vs T1
Out of the two semifinal series, this will likely be the bigger mismatch. Both teams had a different experience in their quarterfinal matchups coming into this series. For SANDBOX, a match against Griffin, arguably the weakest team in the playoffs, should have been smooth sailing. Instead, SANDBOX had a rough start in Game 1 that could have spelled disaster against a better team. Despite a rough Game 1, SANDBOX was not fazed and managed to come out with a strong Game 2, allowing Griffin to only take two turrets and a dragon on their way to a near-perfect win in 29 minutes. Through the whole series top laner Park “Summit” Woo-tae and jungler Kim “OnFleek” Jang-gyeom were amazing while rookie ADC Han “Leo” Gyeo-re didn’t look out of place and kept up with the rest of the team.
Meanwhile, T1 had a much tougher opponent in Gen.G. In the best series of the tournament thus far, the two teams went the distance as T1 took a close 2-1 victory. While T1 had some help from their former jungler Kim “Clid” Tae-min underperforming through the series, there were still some clear issues throughout the three games. As a team, T1 did struggle a bit during the early stages of the game, but as always their superior late game gave them the edge. On an individual level, rookie top laner Kim “Canna” Chang-dong was solid during laning phase but looked out of place when grouped up with the team. Luckily, these issues can be easily fixed and T1 should still be a threat heading into the new season, especially with Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Park “Teddy” Jin-seong leading the way.
While both teams had some rough moments in their series, it’s hard to see SANDBOX taking down T1. Their hope will come in the top lane match up where Summit should outclass Canna. While SANDBOX should be able to take a game off T1, it’s hard to bet against the defending LCK champs in this series and they should take the series 3-1.
Afreeca Freecs vs DragonX
This series could become an early contender for series of the year if both teams are able to avoid underperforming. Both teams come into the semifinals with strong rosters that have shown some weaknesses. For Afreeca, the team has been fortunate that mid laner Song “Fly” Yong-jun has shown a lot of improvement since last season. However, junglers Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon and Lee “Dread” Jin-hyeok all provide their own issues to the team. When Dread is in, Afreeca clearly lacks any leadership despite all the veterans on the team, leading to very sloppy games. However, while Spirit provides that much-needed shotcalling, he’s clearly outclassed by other LCK junglers. If Afreeca can solve this issue, they’ll quickly become a clear contender, but for now, their jungle issues could make or break them.
For DragonX, the issue remains the same since their roster was announced; will the young players of the team be able to perform at a consistent level? While they all had great performances against DAMWON Gaming, their struggles against Spear Gaming can’t go fully unnoticed. Overall, the team has been mostly solid and has shown that when everyone shows up, they’re the best team in Korea. Now their only challenge is to ensure nerves aren’t a factor as matches become more and more important.
This series will be a close one. While both teams are fantastic on paper, it’s their weaknesses that will be the ultimate decider on who takes the series. While the young players of DragonX could struggle, the leadership of Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu and Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon in-game along with Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho outside of the game should prove to be enough to keep them steady and get them through the BO5 series. Meanwhile, the vast differences in the level of play for Afreeca depending on which jungler is playing could be exploited by a top team like DragonX and could end up becoming the difference-maker. Overall, the series will be close, but DragonX will likely take it 3-2.
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