This season’s third leg of Intel Extreme Masters, taking place in Gyeonggi, was one of ups and downs. “Uncertainty” is a word that comes to mind; there was uncertainty in which League of Legends teams would compete after several qualifiers declined to participate. The quality of each roster after many teams underwent massive overhauls in the off-season, and the players’ individual skill level coming back from vacations into a somewhat new meta is unclear.
The announcement of Samsung Galaxy, Immortals, Team Liquid, Kongdoo Monster, Giants Gaming, J Team, Vega Squadron, and Dark Passage left many fans wondering how these teams would match up. Will Samsung be able to show, yet again, that they truly are a top international team? Have Immortals’ and Team Liquid’s roster changes better prepared them to face non-North American competition? Can Kongdoo Monster follow up on their showing at the KeSPA cup?
Of course, fans and analysts alike knew that the teams coming into this tournament would look a bit unrefined due to new players having limited practice with one another and a lack of preparation time since most pros are coming off of a break. Setting these variables aside, as the matches progressed, there were clear strengths and weaknesses visible within all of the organizations. Here are the players who truly stood out, for better or for worse, at IEM Gyeonggi 2016.
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett
Although his KDA was middling, Dardoch had the highest Kill Participation of all Junglers at the event: 77.2%. It was apparent during Immortals’ games that he was calling the shots. He visited lanes frequently, taking advantage of enemy blind spots and over-aggression. The high points that come to mind are games 1 and 2 of the Semifinals versus Kongdoo Monster. In the first game, Dardoch locked in a surprise Gragas pick. He enabled kills in all three lanes and Immortals took the Infernal Drake within the first 10 minutes. Kongdoo did come back to win, but there was nothing more to ask for from a Jungler. In game 2, Immortals put Dardoch on Hecarim and he proceeded to go on a rampage. A 5.33 KDA, 5.68 CS/minute, and 88.9% Kill Participation — I would award him the MVP of that game, and of Immortals’ roster at IEM Gyeonggi.
Jin-sol “Ssol” Seo
The only ADC that stood out to me at the tournament, Ssol put on an Ezreal clinic. Overlooking his one silly over-aggression of the entire showing, the Kongdoo Monster marksman showed strong mechanics and understanding of his damage. His overall KDA for the tournament was 4.54, but when only focusing on the seven out of ten games he played on Ezreal, that KDA goes up to 5.77. Pair that with a win-rate of 71%, I am surprised this pick did not get banned away from him more. Although, he did go 17-2-8 against Giants in the Group B Winners match while playing Jhin. I am looking forward to watching Ssol play against other LCK bot lanes this Spring after his performance at Gyeonggi.
Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong
The most impressive player at IEM Gyeonggi was Ambition. It is no coincidence that Samsung Galaxy was able to take home the trophy at the end of the day. This squad proved to be dominant in their games and a lot of it had to do with Ambition’s veteran experience and true control of the map. I cannot find any stellar statistics to back up my claim, so I guess you will have to just go watch the games. He went five for five on his Lee Sin, and put up a 5.67 KDA on a pocket Kha’Zix for Game 2 of the Finals. The Samsung Jungler did not skip a beat in matches against Dardoch, Son “Punch” Min-hyuk of Kongdoo, and Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin of Liquid. Ambition allowed his laners, especially Lee “Crown” Min-ho, to truly shine against their opponents.
Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin
Piglet looked mediocre at this tournament. A 4.2 KDA is not bad; it is middling. 62% Kill Participation is a similar statistic. But his CS Difference at 10 minutes averaged -5.4. That ranks him tenth worst out of all players at IEM Gyeonggi and second worst among the ADC’s, specifically. In Team Liquid’s series against Dark Passage, Piglet finished his games 7-1-8 and 14-1-4. He made those games look easy. Giants’ bot lane, however, seemed like a more even match-up. The preliminary Best-of-1 and the later Best-of-3 showed Piglet’s inconsistency: 1-5-5, 8-4-6, and 7-0-13. I would even argue the third match-up was completely enabled by Matt “Matt” Elento’s aggressive Thresh plays. Finally, Piglet seemed completely out-matched against Samsung Galaxy, going 3-3-5 and 0-6-2, which knocked Liquid out of the tournament. I don’t think many expected such dissonance from this veteran AD Carry.
Olof “Flaxxish” Medin
Honestly, all of Giants Gaming did not look too hot at this tournament. But, of all the players on Giants, Flaxxish looked the worst, especially when compared to Na “NighT” Gun-woo and Elias “Upset” Lipp. Leaving IEM Gyeonggi with a 1.8 KDA, 44.4% Kill Participation, and 7.4 CS behind on average is pretty bad. Add to that the several solo deaths he had in the top lane and it does not paint a pretty picture. Part of the blame should be put on Kim “Mightybear” Min-su, but he was only playing these few games on loan from Team Vitality. Hopefully, the Jungle-Top synergy gets better when Giants sign someone else. Either way, Flaxxish needs to do better if the team is going to find success in the 2017 EU LCS.
Cody “Cody Sun” Sun
You know how I said Piglet had the second worst CS Difference at 10 minutes among ADCs at IEM Gyeonggi? Well, Cody Sun was the worst–an appalling -6.8, or 7th lowest of all players in the tournament. Formerly known as “Massacre,” Cody Sun came into Gyeonggi with the rest of Immortals’ new roster. To be fair, this was his first international competition, but it just was not there for him. His Support, Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung, did seem to over-extend regularly and did not seem to be on the same page, but Cody Sun looked afraid to fight at all. This bot lane was a glaring weak spot for the Immortals’ roster. Hopefully, more time, practice, and experience brings these players together in a more cohesive way.
Evgeniy “Drobovik” Belousov
Although neither Wild Card team won a single game, Vega Squadron did have the more difficult group. Regardless, Drobovik had a tough time in the mid lane. He finished with a 1.0 KDA, -9.3 CS Difference at 10 minutes, and 26.2% Death Share over 3 games. Seemingly out-classed by Crown, Pobelter, and Chieh “FoFo” Li, there are no highlights from Drobovik at this tournament. J Team even gifted the 100% pick-ban Syndra to the Russian mid laner, but FoFo was still able to go 5-0-8 on Ekko. If this team wants to stand a chance in the LCL in 2017, then they will certainly need to shore up their play around Mid.
Furkan “Immortoru” Tekeş
If Drobovik stood a chance against any mid laner at IEM Gyeonggi it would be Immortoru of Dark Passage. Viewers could not help but feel sorry for this guy. Playing Mid for the Turkish squad, he finished at the bottom of the barrel with a KDA of 0.4 and averaged 450 gold behind his opponents at 10 minutes. Competition within Mid in Group B was not easy. Lee “Edge” Ho-seong of Kongdoo Monster, Team Liquid’s Goldenglue, and Giants’ NighT all had solid performances at various points in the tournament. But this was another case of a player looking a tier below the rest of the field. Dark Passage better hope the other teams in Turkey sport lesser mid laners or there will be a tough road ahead.
Anıl “HolyPhoenix” Işık
Rounding out the “Ugly” portion of IEM Gyeonggi is HolyPhoenix, also of Dark Passage. The ADC finished the tournament with the lowest KDA, 0.5, and Kill Particiption, 56.3%. Compared to his stats from the 2016 TCL Summer Split, the Turkish marksman struggled against the international competitors. This was particularly apparent in their two games against Team Liquid in the Group B Losers bracket. Piglet, who looked shaky against other opponents, popped off in both games by dominating HolyPhoenix and Rogue in bot lane. Finishing 0-6-0 and 2-7-3, HolyPhoenix’s performance was devastating for his team at this event.