After defeats from the Chinese region at both MSI and Rift Rivals, the dominance of Korea has been questioned. Korea has never looked as vulnerable since the original Korean exodus. They’ve shown that the gods can bleed.
Now more than ever, Korean teams need to step up and defend the throne at Worlds. But which teams will represent the region and accomplish this task? With only six possible teams left and all three spots still up for grabs, something must give. Here are a few of the teams that have a great shot at taking those spots.
KT has finally done it, after years of disappointment for the org and fans, the team clinched 1st place this Thursday with a 2-0 victory against MVP. With it, KT now wait at the grand finals for a team to challenge them. But how did they ultimately get here? It was very much a team-wide effort.
It starts with improvements from two carries from mid laner Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon, who returned to his dominating form that made him one of the best mids in the world. In addition, ADC Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu, whose own play on carry ADCs has returned to the form it once was on EDward Gaming and Samsung Blue. With the two at the top of their game once again, the team became a threatening team with all positions (aside from support) being able to carry games.
The rest of the carrying for the team comes from top laner Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, who is once again in the conversation for best player in the world and jungler Go “Score” Dong-bin, who is still completely taking over the jungle every game and shutting down the enemy jungler. With four possible carries on the team, it’s still hard to forget legendary support player Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong, who leads the team as the primary shotcaller.
With solid drafting, great team fighting, and a dominating early game, KT looks like the current best team in Korea and almost a guarantee to qualify for Worlds. Unfortunately, due to the history of the team, fans will remain skeptical until it actually happens.
The biggest story of LCK Summer continues, as newly promoted Griffin continue their dominating run in Korea. Dropping five sets all of Summer, Griffin has managed to lock in the second seed going into playoffs.
A lot of this has been off the back of mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon and ADC Park “Viper” Do-hyeon. While these two player are usually relied on to carry, they’re provided with all the assistance they need from the rest of the team. Top laner Choi “Sword” Sung-won has been an amazing front line with tanks such as Dr.Mundo, while jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong has been great in accelerating the carries to their power spikes. Lastly, there’s support player Son “Lehends” Si-woo, who has been able to play whatever role that’s needed of him by the team. Together, the team has looked mostly unstoppable with the entire team absolutely dominating their respective KDA charts thanks to their clean play and impressive team coordination.
While the team has some weaknesses, such as like meager champion pool of Lehends that can be exposed as seen by the likes of KT, they’re still a huge favorite to win the entire split. However, waiting for them as the final boss will be KT, the only team that has a 2-0 record against them. Will Griffin be able to complete their amazing run and make worlds? Only time will tell.
Coming into the season, most saw it as Kingzone DragonX’s official coronation as the new kings of Korea. While the Spring Split followed that trend, Kingzone has hit a few walls the rest of the season. At MSI and Rift Rivals, Kingzone’s performance left a lot to be desired, as they slowly gained a reputation of being international chokers. Meanwhile during LCK Summer, the team has looked weak at times despite what their record shows.
While top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha and mid laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong continue to be amazing players, the rest of the team needs to step up. While Jungler Han “Peanut” Wang-ho can completely take over a game with his aggressive playstyle, he’s still a largely inconsistent player. Moreover, the bot lane tandem of Kim “PraY” Jong-in and Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon have somewhat fallen off from their dominating performance last season. When the whole team is playing well, the team still looks unstoppable, but this has proven to be rare in the past weeks.
Thanks to Kingzone’s Spring Split win, the team still has a great chance at making Worlds through Championship points. However, the question is no longer whether they’ll qualify for Worlds. Instead, the question is whether the team will be able to finally live up to their original hype and prove themselves internationally. With one last hurdle in their way to becoming the new kings of Korea, Kingzone will have a lot to prove in the coming months as Worlds gets closer to starting.
Before the 2018 season, Afreeca has always been a mid-tier team, never good enough to make Worlds. But with the arrival of the 2018 season, that changed. The team found themselves with the second seed and eventually in the finals of LCK Spring. While the story doesn’t end with a victory, Afreeca officially moved up to the top-tier of Korean teams.
A lot of their newfound success can be attributed to new top laner Kim “Kiin” Gi-in, who has slowly become one of the best top laners in the world. On some days, Kiin has been the only reason the team has won any games at all.
When the weight is taken off his shoulders, it usually gets taken on by either mid laner Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng or ADC Ha “Kramer” Jong-hun. These two players are mostly consistent and capable carries, but have their streaks of poor performances, something that is shared by the rest of the team too. Jungler Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon and support Park “TusiN” Jong-ik, while mostly great players that complement the carries of the teams can sometimes be the reason the team losing games.
As a result of the inconsistent play of Afreeca Freecs and poor use of substitutes such as substitute ADC Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram, the team fell down the standings a lot. Now, Afreeca find themselves in the wildcard match of the playoffs against GenG. If the whole team can show up for the entire playoffs, then Afreeca should still be favorites to win it all.
While Korea has looked weak internationally so far this season, the region itself has been very competitive. But based on the last few weeks of play, the likely representatives for the region are quite obvious.
Taking the first seed will likely be KT Rolster. While this is still a risky prediction due to the history of KT choking when it matters the most, the team has simply looked unstoppable. KT needs to win this split and fully erase the stigma the org has built in the past.
Taking the second seed as a result will likely be Kingzone. While the team has looked like one of the weakest in the playoffs, their great results from LCK Spring will help them get the second seed regardless. This will be an important Worlds, as it may be the last chance for Kingzone to fully prove themselves. Otherwise, they may be forever known as international chokers.
Taking the last seed will be the rookie team of Griffin. While the team has a tough road ahead of them with no championship points from the Spring Split, they do look like one of the best teams in Korea. Will they be able to replicate the run of then rookie team Origen at Worlds 2015, or will they be able to make an even better run and win it all? With the talent on this roster, anything is possible.
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/.
Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr.
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