The Seoul OGN e-Stadium in South Korea continues to be the focus of the League of Legends world, as ten teams battle in the LoL Champions Korea (LCK) 2017 Summer Split. SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy currently lead the way, with Longzhu Gaming and KT Rolster still strongly in contention.
SKT Still the Team to Beat
Just over halfway through the Summer Split of Korea’s LCK, three-time world champions SK Telecom T1 sit atop the standings with a 9-1 match record. Jungler Peanut was the prize of the off-season for SKT, but he has continued to struggle to find consistency on the Rift, leading SKT to play Blank in the jungle during critical games. Of course, Blank was in the same position as Peanut last year, as he was consistently removed for Bengi during SKT’s most important matches.
The other significant change for SKT has been the top lane, where Untara has also joined Blank in playing in important match-ups. Huni, after performing well to start the Spring Season for SKT, has seen his playing time and performance diminish as time moves on.
The ever-present and consistent presence for SKT has long been mid laner Faker, widely regarded as the best player in the world for upwards of three years now. Faker’s ability to completely dominate a game while being focused on by the enemy team is unmatched in the League of Legends scene. While SKT have only dropped a single series, they have at times looked more vulnerable than in previous roster iterations, given their need to change lineups so frequently. That being said, they are still the best team in the world and, in all likelihood, will continue to pick up the victories to end the season.
Samsung Galaxy Stunned
Currently sitting in second place are Samsung Galaxy, a team that had been in a tie for first (with a head-to-head win over SKT) for a majority of the Summer Season. In a stunning turn of events this past weekend, the fifth-placed Jin Air Green Wings defeated Samsung in a swift 2-0 rout. Even more shocking than the result was the manner in which Samsung were defeated, as Jin Air achieved a perfect game in game one (meaning Samsung destroyed zero turrets and killed no dragons or Jin Air members). Even with that loss, however, Samsung still find themselves as one of the few threats to SKT’s throne.
As the only team this year to defeat SKT in a best of three, Samsung have shown the potential to beat anyone. One of the most interesting decisions made in the season thus far is Samsung’s willingness to only use Ambition in the Jungle. Previously, Samsung used Ambition only on the red side (or the team that picks second), while using Haru on the blue side. Thus far, the trust in Ambition has paid off, yet some wonder if using Haru in game two could have changed the outcome against Jin Air. While their last match was a stunner, Samsung are still expected to be in contention to win it all when the World Championships roll around.
Jin Air Could Spring Further Surprises
Despite lying in sixth place, the Jin Air Green Wings are a team with serious potential down the stretch. With their dominant victory over SSG, Jin Air showed they possess the ability to beat anyone on their day, even while sitting in the middle of the table. Jin Air’s struggles have manifested themselves in poor drafts so far, coupled with an inability to find any semblance of consistency.
However, the highs of this team are incredible, with a willingness to play new picks such as Akali top lane (which secured a pentakill) giving them the surprise factor. Jin Air are built around AD carry Teddy and mid laner Kuzan, both of whom have continued to show improvement this year. While it is difficult to see any team surpassing the likes of SKT, KT, and Samsung to make it to Worlds, Jin Air have shown they have the tools to do so.
ROX Not Out of It
This biggest wildcard for the remainder of the season is the ROX Tigers. ROX removed Mickey, arguably their best player, just a few weeks ago in an attempt to fix the team’s chemistry. Many expected ROX to continue their struggles, yet with new mid laner Lava in the lineup, they shocked KT Rolster with a 2-1 upset. While they currently sit in seventh place, the ROX Tigers do have a chance to cause an upset if they continue to improve post-Mickey.
With five teams to qualify for the playoffs, there is still a lot to play with the top seven teams realistically still in with a chance. Only bbq Olivers, Team MVP and Ever8 Winners appear overmatched, but for the rest, the next four weeks will be crucial.