Last night, Korea’s SKT Telecom T1 beat China’s Royal Club in a best-of-5-series to claim League of Legend’s highest honor: the title of World Champions, and the massive trophy that accompanies it.
The much-hyped showdown was the culmination of a championship tournament that ran for three weeks prior, with teams from around the world fighting in a tournament structure that resembles the World Cup. 10 teams, broken into two groups, duked it out during the first week to earn the right to take on the top teams from each region, who were each given a bye through the group stage.
Korea’s SKT Telecom T1 showed signs of brilliance as they carved their way through the group stage, while China’s Royal Club was afforded a bye into the quarterfinals. Both teams toppled giants on their way to the finals (including North America’s Cloud 9 and Europes Fnatic), but the analysts and pro players interviewed heavily favored Royal Club to win. Montecristo, a shoutcaster for the Korean OGN tournament, was the only one to stand firmly behind SKT before the match. But despite the consensus, everyone expected a tough and exciting fight for the ultimate title.
They weren’t disappointed in the first game. The teams wasted no time launching into some amazing ganks. The junglers worked overtime to give Uzi and Faker–the heros of their respective teams–each two kills early in the game, guaranteeing that the stakes were high right from the start.
But while Uzi shortly stalled out as he farmed instead of fought, Faker kept feeding himself kills and escaping ganks with perfect timing. With that momentum from Faker, SKT steamrolled forward, playing near-perfect for the full 29 minutes. Royal simply never had a chance to catch up.
Lesson for the rest of us: Don’t start a snowball race you can’t finish. Feeding the enemy team’s carry is a very risky thing to do, even if you think you’re trading it for kills on your own carry. If your team lets up even a little bit on feeding your carry, the enemy will roll right over you.
SKT made fans nervous at the start, playing like they were continuing the previous game, with all that same power advantage. They were tower-diving and running deep ganks like they had a 10k gold lead. But they didn’t, and they ended up throwing away blood and summoner spells for very little in return.
Some great ganks from SKT’s jungler Bengi and a safe Dragon kill brought them back and secured another strong lead for SKT by the 11-minute mark. Royal had a chance to take control when they won a miracle teamfight 16 minutes in, but threw it away with uncharacteristic rookie mistakes.
Royal split up as they chased an weakened-but-still-dangerous SKT team. That might work in solo queue, but when you’re facing some of the most skilled players in the entire world, you can’t expect to run three towers deep with half health and expect them to let you get away unpunished.
Piglet (involved in 25 of SKT’s 30 kills) took advantage of Royal’s overaggression. With brilliant kiting and shooting on Ezreal, he cleaned up two fights that Royal would’ve won if they’d just known when to stop chasing SKT members fleeing back into their base. Piglet’s plays in those two fights won them the game.
Lesson for the rest of us: It’s not only the losing team that needs to know when to call it quits and run away. If you’ve decisively won a teamfight, it’s okay to the let the fleeing enemies escape if it’s very risky to chase. You’ve already won the fight; use the time to take an objective while they have to go back and heal.
The analysts were already jumping back on board the SKT hype train before the third, and potentially final, match. The consensus in the crowd was that SKT had no chance of losing the match–they were playing incredibly well and Royal Club seemed to be on tilt.
It was never even close. Bengi, who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, got the first kill with another great gank. The teamfights were completely lopsided, as SKT simply outplayed Royal in pretty much every aspect.
At one point, Royal’s mid-laner Wh1t3zZ dove onto an almost-dead support Zyra with his Fizz under a tower, and couldn’t even get the kill thanks to Zyra’s incredible movement and Fizz’s poor plays. It was embarrassing, I’m sure it was frustrating, and it was a good summation at the series at that point. SKT continued to play absolutely flawless, and Royal looked ready to go home.
The game was over in 20 minutes, one of the fastest wins we saw in the entire tournament. It was a bit of a letdown ending for the grand scale of the event, feeling inevitable and easily won in the last match. But it showed just how truly dominant and consistent SKT Telecom T1 truly is, and how much they deserve to be the best League of Legends team in the world.
Lesson for the rest of us: It’s easy to go on tilt–a phrase used in the community to mean play poorly after you start losing. Many pro teams tend to spiral out of control once they start losing matches, but the best find ways to stay consistent. If you’re on a losing streak, find a way to get your brain mentally back on track. Some players jump to a different game for a short while or play a fun-only Custom game with a goofy champion you enjoy. Find what works for you.
SKT’s consistency allowed them to go 16-3 across the entire tournament, a great record for you and I in ranked games, but a downright amazing record for a team playing against the best teams in the entire world back-to-back.
Congratulations to the members of SKT! We can’t wait for the next season to kick off in January, where we have no doubt that SKT will return strong. In fact, they told press after the event that they had no real plans to celebrate–they’re just going to get back to practicing as soon as possible.
If you’re just jumping into League of Legends and want to know what champions to pick, check out ourbest League of Legends champions for beginners guide.