While Twisted Fate has seen play prior to patch 4.5—Jin Air’s Song “Fly” Young-jun drew bans in LoL Masters, while other NACS teams have played him as well—the Card Master’s tricks were brought to the forefront in high-profile matches in both LCS and OGN this past week. Counter Logic Gaming’s Austin “Link” Shin played him in his LCS Spring semifinals match versus Team SoloMid, while SK Telecom T1 K and Samsung Galaxy Blue did the same in their OGN quarterfinals matches. Just yesterday, Hai “Hai” Lam played TF for Cloud 9 in the deciding match, also against Team SoloMid.
The group stages in Champions Spring 2014 featured a number of exciting games and upsets, leading to a very interesting bracket draw this past week. KT Rolster Arrows escaped a highly turbulent Group A that forced a tiebreaker between the two SK Telecom T1 teams, with K pulling out a decisive victory. Samsung Galaxy Ozone continued their solid, consistent dominance over group B with CJ Entus Frost predictably taking second place. Ozone’s sister team, Samsung Galaxy Blue, eliminated NaJin Black Sword from the group of death, earning top spot in Group C with the KT Rolster Bullets narrowly following. Group D was the only group that required a tiebreaker to determine first and second place; NaJin White Shield claimed victory over CJ Entus Blaze. Continue reading
Cloud 9’s dominance in the North American professional League of Legends scene dates back to last season, and their sustained success comes in large part to their internationally focused approach to regional competition. They pay attention to the world metagame, but incorporate their own strategies based on local influences as well. The emergence of solo lane Soraka in the North American solo-queue challenger scene is one such influence, which the team has incorporated into the highest level of professional team play. Over the course of the past few weeks, Cloud 9’s mid-laner, Hai “Hai” Lam boasts a 3-0 record with Soraka, earning a target ban status heading into their regional playoffs.
With two weeks of preparation and absolutely nothing left to lose, the bottom-feeding underdog of group A, Prime Optimus, went into their final match against SK Telecom T1 S with a solidly-executed strategic game plan. They took two decisive games away from an SKT organization mired in distractions following a loss by T1 K against a similar underdog in KT Rolster Arrows. The combination of both SK Telecom losses resulted in a two-way tie between T1 S and T1 K, requiring a tie-breaking match that will surely raise eyebrows, regardless of its outcome.
At the very least, you should not.
I was brought up a baseball fan first, with all sports – including the money machine that is the National Football League – second to this so-called America’s Pastime. One of the things I quickly came to accept is that there would be bad calls. Awful, indefensible decisions that somehow could be justified in game, but retroactively panned by Major League Baseball and fans alike. In fact, even with systemic advancement towards using replays after specific calls, there are those who would still argue that human error is a part of baseball, and will always be a part of baseball.
The last time SK Telecom T1 K lost a best-of series was on October 16, 2013, during the semifinals of the World Cyber Games Korean Qualifying tournament. They lost to Samsung Galaxy Blue, an up-and-coming team with young talent, an established organization supporting them, and a veteran sister team that has experience beating the World Champions from previous events.
Like champions that fall in and out of favour in League of Legends, professional teams have changed over the course of the lifespan of the game, and tonight’s Legend match between CJ Entus and NaJin e-mFire is a fantastic reminder of how far the game has come, particularly in Korea. For NaJin e-m-Fire, their history is as storied and as fascinating as they come, made even more dynamic by its original team’s split into the two entities known today as NaJin White Shield and NaJin Black Sword.
A comparison between the two teams over the past year is almost as black and white as their names imply. For NaJin Sword, their up-and-down season 3 is reflective of their incredible individual talent, but inconsistency and a lack of direction has resulted in disappointing performances and initial inability to adapt to season 4. NaJin Shield, ever the opposite, has grown steadily in their teamwork and impeccable strategy, but has yet to taste victory at the highest levels due to merely average individual mechanics and playmaking potential.
The immediate nature of shifts in both strategies and rosters doesn’t lend itself to remembering League of Legends events in the distant past of last season, or even the week prior. Therefore, in the continued, and well deserved, hype surrounding SK Telecom T1 K (formerly SK Telecom T1 2) it is easy to forget that they were not the first SK Telecom team, nor the initially-favored one.
The KT Rolster organization flexed their strategic muscle over the past weekend with impressive wins in IEM Katowice and OGN Champions Spring 2014 by the Bullets and Arrows, respectively. While the former, more senior, team accomplished a flawless run en route to the world championship, they employed an interesting team composition in the semifinals against Gambit Gaming, one which was used mere hours earlier by their sister team, KT Arrows, in their own 2-0 sweep against Prime Optimus.
The composition centres around Kha’Zix in the jungle, a champion that will surely see an incredible spike in usage in most of the major pro leagues. A recent buff to his Evolved Active Camouflage enabled an incredible amount of mobility that allows the Voidreaver to slip in and out of teamfight situations and do considerable amounts of damage while taking barely any in return with the help of Void Assault and a number of other abilities offered by specific champions, namely Karma and Shen.