League of Legends: LCK Week 4 Recap

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League of Legends: LCK Week 4 Recap

The fourth week of the LCK has wrapped up, meaning we’re finally halfway through the Spring Split. The matches have been exciting to watch, and everyone seems to be playing with renewed energy after their week-long break for the Chinese New Year. We also got to witness the “one-week meta” full of Frostfang users and Kleptomancy abusers.

Day 1

SKT vs. Kingzone

The break ended and immediately brought SKT and Kingzone Dragon X together. Kingzone dominated game one, holding SKT to just one kill, while Deft brought his KT Rolster spirit to bear on Ezreal. In game 2, we were presented with a much tighter battle. Despite the kill count being 8-7 in favor of SKT, macro was the focus for Faker & co. as they killed every Kingzone Tower in a 38-minute marathon. Game three was much the same as game two for SKT: it was Faker making the plays as SKT had an iron grip over the map once again.

Hanwha Life Esports vs. Gen G

Gen G’s woes continued this week. Part of that continues to be Fly, who has been inconsistent and exploitable. Another part of it, at least in this match, was Hanwha Life being a good team. Thal has looked like a completely different player since leaving SKT. He’s been a key part of HLE’s success and has shined, away from the constant scrutiny and overwhelming expectations.

Game one was a bloody affair for professional LoL. However Hanwha Life never lost control, and Thal was able to weather the storm against Roach’s “frostmancy” Karma thanks to Vladimir’s insane sustain capabilities. Gen G’s attempt to fight back came simply too late. While they were able to repel Hanwha Life’s super minion with Ruler’s incredibly strong Sivir, one champion isn’t enough to make a difference these days at the pro level. Tempt, and the minions secured the victory a few seconds after the 36-minute mark.

We got to see a classic scenario for Gen G next. CuVee came in to replace Roach, a decision which baffled many. He proceeded to do almost nothing, his only contribution being to the overwhelming advantage Hanwha Life was building. Peanut’s Lee Sin, which has been famous as his best champion, had equally less impact. At least Hanwha Life was merciful, ending the game in a swift 29 minutes.

Day 2

Damwon Gaming vs. Afreeca Freecs

Since joining the LCK through the promotion tournament last September, Damwon have looked at home in the top flight. Their performance against Afreeca was no exception.

Game one for Damwon was a walk in LoL Park. Afreeca decided not to pull any shenanigans, and played a relatively normal team-comp, aside from Kiin on Darius. Unfortunately for the Freecs, normal didn’t exactly work. Both Showmaker and Nuclear brought the pain, each with a KDA north of 10. Ucal never managed to find relevance in the game, as he put in another lackluster performance. Nuguri managed to record Sylas’ first win in the LCK, as another game with a close kill score turned into a one-sided macro performance. Damwon were merciful at the very least, ending the game before 30 minutes.

The second game of the series was even more one-sided. This time Spirit subbed in for Dread, and it quickly became clear that maybe it’s time for him to pick a role an stick with it. Damwon claimed every neutral objective and didn’t even lose a tower in the process. Punch, coming in for Canyon, played lights out on Lee Sin, and most definitely carried his team. With a 15k gold lead, Damwon destroyed Afreeca’s nexus just seconds before the 30-minute mark.

SANDBOX Gaming vs. Jin Air Greenwings

Jin Air’s woes continued in their first match. Game one was a slaughter: only Ghost and Joker died, both to Route. But Route’s heroics were not enough to win Jin Air a chance. SANDBOX were patient and accrued a nearly 17k gold lead as they slowly and methodically dismantled Jin Air’s base.

Game two brought some hope for Jin Air. Malrang played Elise, and his heroics on that champion nearly gave Jin Air an actual chance. SANDBOX switched into macro mode. Despite Malrang showing dominance in fights, what matters is if you kill the enemy nexus. SANDBOX did just that, as OnFleek managed to keep his Lee Sin relevant and in control. This victory moved SANDBOX to 6-1.

Day 3

Griffin vs. KT Rolster

The most dominant LCK team since SKT in 2015 started their week with a smackdown. Chovy once again did the heavy lifting for his team, alongside Lehends, whose support Galio paved the way for much of that success. KT were able to score two towers and two drakes, as well as six kills of their own. The gap between them and Griffin, however, is still too great. After 16 minutes of hotly contested Barons, Griffin decided it was time to end the game anyway.

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Game two was a different story. If the previous game was slow and methodical, this one was swift and painful. Viper brought Darius to the Rift, this time in the botlane. He controlled the lane, opposite Zenit’s Yasuo, which he played much like the solo queue nightmare we all fear. Tarzan’s Lee Sin was even more in control. As a champion that loves the early game and constant aggression, Lee Sin is a pick on which Tarzan thrives. Griffin ran their will over the game from start to finish, making KT look like a challenger team. KT’s nexus fell a hair shy of 27 minutes, nearly ten minutes faster than game one.

Hanwha Life Esports vs. Kingzone Dragon X

This was one that Initially thought Kingzone would be in a position to win. Considering their superiority in the standings, and Hanwha’s relatively up-and-down time so far, it should have been an easy one. It most certainly was not.

Hanwha Life was in the driver’s seat for game one from the get-go. Everyone except bonO and Key played a carry and proceeded to dominate their respective lanes. PawN attempted a very early all-in against Tempt’s Yasuo but forgot he was using Aery on Lissandra instead of Aftershock. Of course, giving Yasuo any kind of advantage only accelerates that champion toward dominance. Some early rotations around the dragon pit cost PawN his life again but gained Kingzone the first drake. It would prove to be one of the few positives of the game for Kingzone. PawN -we keep talking about him -found himself at 0/3/1 at just 15 minutes and certainly wanted the game to be over soon. Hanwha would make it last another 15 minutes before they killed the enemy nexus.

With their backs against the wall, Kingzone found themselves experimenting and hoping. Their comp – Sylas, Gragas, Yasuo, Cassiopeia, Fiddlesticks – looked more like a solo queue mash-up than a professional-level group. It worked for a while. Deft quickly took control of the early- and mid-game. On the other side, Tempt matched him kill-for-kill, and managed to be enough of a threat to make Kingzone think twice at every juncture. A fight in midlane at 30 minutes nearly turned into a baron take for Hanwha Life, but Kingzone forced the turn and a 2 for 2 trade. Three minutes later, Hanwha found their pick and immediately went to work on Baron. A re-engage from Kingzone went awry as Sangyoon was left alone to hit enemies, claiming a double kill and the baron. A few more back-and-forth team fights later, Hanwha Life found themselves in Kingzone’s base and killed the nexus just after 41 minutes.

Day 4

Gen G vs. SKT Telecom T1

The 2016-2017 rivalry between Samsung Galaxy and SKT showed it’s shining face again, with new names. Game one was an absolute slaughter for Gen G. It was probably the strongest they’ve looked so far, which is something to say against SKT. Ruler was finally able to show the world why he’s still considered one of the best botlaners in the world, and he took SKT to school. Not much can be said for SKT in regards to game one, as Clid was the only member able to claim a kill. The spark of life we saw was a very good sign for Gen G, but SKT were quick to stamp it out over the rest of the match.

SKT began their reverse sweep with a macro domination of Gen G’s base. SKT claimed every drake and left only two towers alive on their way to victory. Fly chose to play Zoe again, and once again did not do well. The rest of Gen G equally struggled as SKT showed some amazing adaptation between games. Khan and Clid both dominated their positions, and while Clid may have only recorded assists, he was everywhere he needed to be. Teddy and Mata showcased some amazing synergy on the bottom side, as they ran riot all over Ruler and Life with their Kalista/Thresh wombo-combo.

The final game of the series was a clinic from SKT’s perspective. Faker took the Zoe and said “Fly, this is how you play this champion” and then went 5/1/8 on the pick. Teddy was once against unlocked. We all knew Mata was a huge pick up for SKT, but how would he make Teddy look good? This game showed you how. If game two had the bottom lane duo in control, then this game left Gen G’s duo no opportunities to come back into it. SKT put in another dominant performance, killing every drake and all but two of Gen G’s towers.

Gen G’s spiral continues, which is not a good sign for the organization.

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Jin Air Greenwings vs. Damwon Gaming

Jin Air put in their best performance of the split so far. Despite that, Damwon are continuing to improve.

Game one was perhaps the strongest Jin Air has looked so far. They did struggle in the early game but were able to use their fighting priority to score two early kills. Damwon, though, used their early macro priority to score five drakes. Without a dedicated ADC, their late game control quickly faded in the face of Damwon’s comp. Damwon was able to steal away the second Baron from in front of Jin Air, and they carried that advantage to an Elder Dragon kill at 39:20. The game would end a mere minute later as Damwon simply marched down the midlane.

The Greenwings hopes and dreams quickly shattered as they saw their best shot at a win fall away. Damwon dominated, only recording one death on Nuclear. They secured every drake again, and this time didn’t even need a baron buff. Jin Air simply looked broken and seemed as if they were playing on autopilot. For their part, Damwon ended the series mercifully, killing Jin Air’s nexus nearly ten minutes faster than game one.

Day 5

Griffin vs. Afreeca Freecs

The first match of day 5 brought ninth place Afreeca against the goliaths of Griffin. Game one was close by Griffin standards: Though only Sword died, Afreeca managed to claim an early drake, and maybe they could have stayed in the game. Griffin, though, have the best players in nearly every position, and they continue to show why. Every moment from that first drake onward belonged to Griffin, and at 30:52 Afreeca’s nexus went down.

Game two was one of the most one-sided games I think I’ve ever seen. Afreeca scored three kills this time, as well as one drake, but were dwarfed by Griffin’s power. Recording a combined 17/1/17 KDA, Tarzan and Viper led the way for Griffin as they showed that truly no one except SANDBOX can touch them.

Griffin’s final match of the first round robin will be against Gen G, and any sane man will bet on Griffin going 9-0.

SANDBOX Gaming vs. KT Rolster

Week 4’s final match proved to be an exciting one, as KT took SANDBOX to three games.

Game one was a slow and methodical map-destruction for SANDBOX. KT certainly did well to set up some early game control with a few kills and a quick mountain drake. At this point, it looked like KT was going to make it an easy victory. SANDBOX, though, recognized their split-pushing advantage and quickly turned the game around. Five unanswered kills later, SANDBOX killed the Baron under KT’s noses and went right back to a total dismantling of KT.

KT would not go quietly, however. While it didn’t start the way they wanted – UmTi died early in a jungle skirmish, and two turrets went unanswered – But bbq Olivers coach LS called the turn-around team fight at 30 minutes. Zenit scored a double-kill on the Vladimir and immediately became the threat KT needed. Despite Ghost’s Sivir having 4 items and infinite waveclear potential, KT was determined to win. That proved to be enough, and once KT claimed the Elder Dragon, Smeb’s Yorick was finally ready to end. SANDBOX’s nexus fell around 38 minutes to three swift autos.

For game three, SANDBOX returned to the things that worked for them in game one. On Fleek played Camille and Summit piloted the Aartox, the two picks that set up Ghost for his late-game heroics. This time it would be a setup for his Ezreal, which went 6/1/6. The game quickly turned into version two of game one, as SANDBOX gave up early-game fights and dragons for late-game macro. KT, try as they might, couldn’t stop the onslaught. Zenit’s Viktor could only be in one place at a time, and SANDBOX was pushing everywhere. A late double cloud drake only added to SANDBOX’s rotation ability, and they patiently suffocated KT, killing the nexus at 36:40.

Round One Almost Done

Wednesday will be the final day of the first round-robin for the LCK, and so far we have seen many of the great names struggle and new names rise to greatness. Will the second half of the split be the time for those veterans to take back the top spots, or is this the beginning of a new era in Korean League of Legends?

Image Via: Hotspawn

Major Castleman
Major has been an avid esports spectator who lives and breathes competitive gaming for several years. He has seen how games evolve over time, loves to think critically about professional gameplay, both to understand it and improve his own. He combines this with four years of professional copywriting to share his ideas and insights with the broader community.