After 10 weeks of intense back and forth action, the five teams contending for the LCK title in the playoffs have been decided. Starting things off in the wildcard round is a showdown between SK Telecom T1 and Afreeca Freecs. For both teams, it’s a surprise that they find themselves in the wildcard round. For SKT, they manage to find themselves in the playoffs after looking like they could be playing in relegation to start off the split. Meanwhile for Afreeca, after looking like one of the best teams in the region to start off the split, their inconsistency dropped them into the final playoff spot.
With two teams both struggling as they enter the playoffs, which team will get the advantage and move on? Take a look and find out.
SK Telecom T1
Despite looking great for most of the final half of the split, SKT faltered near the end with losses to the likes of Hanwha Life Esports. Now they find themselves in the wildcard round. Throughout the second half of the split, SKT was able to show that every player on the team can still be a huge threat at any given time with some spectacular performances from Park “Teddy” Jin-seong and even Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok who popped off against SANDBOX Gaming with his trusty Azir.
For SKT, their concerns are clear. First the team needs to remain consistent and not struggle to make plays around the map, especially if jungler Kim “Clid” Tae-min is unable to snowball the carries in the early stages of the game. Second, they must manage the roster well going forward. While Lee “Effort” Sang-ho has been much better than Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong, a playoff environment may provide nerve issues for a player that finds himself in his first playoff run. If Effort struggles at any point, SKT needs to make the right call. Whether that call is to bench Effort in favor of Mata or to place trust in Effort to turn things around is yet to be seen.
Considering Afreeca’s disastrous Spring Split, it may be a surprise that Afreeca find themselves in the playoffs one split later. But the team was able to finally decide on a set roster for the Summer Split, allowing the starting roster to finally build synergy throughout. Along with that, the resurgence of mid laner Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon was a huge boost to the teams original strength of strong solo laners in the aforementioned Ucal along with top laner Kim “Kiin” Gi-in.
For Afreeca, their issues are quite similar with SKT. Despite Ucal finding his groove again, he and the rest of the team is still fairly inconsistent. While they have the potential to beat any team in the region, they struggle to perform at that level most of the time. Along with that, their bot lane tandem of ADC Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram and support Park “Senan” Hee-seok is one of the weakest out of the playoff teams and is a huge area that can be exploited by the enemy teams. If they’re able to avoid this weak spot from being exposed then the team will have a solid shot at making it to the next round.
With the recent inconsistencies of both teams this match has the potential to be either a major stomp or a match of the year. This time around, the series will go SKT 2-1.
While the solo lane matchups will be entertaining, the advantage does go to SKT by a sliver. With their biggest strength likely gone, it’s hard to see Afreeca take two games off SKT. On top of that, SKT’s bot lane tandem will easily dominate Afreeca’s bot lane. Unless jungler Lee “Dread” Jin-hyeok is able to take over the early game and control the flow of one of the games, the series will easily be 2-0 for SKT instead.
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Featured image courtesy of LCK.
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