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League Of Legends: And The Winners Of Worlds Are...

Featured post This is a non-spoiler image. Enjoy it.

Spoilers ahead for the grand finals of the League of Legends World Championship [official site]:

The winners of the 2015 League of Legends World Championships are SK Telecom T1.

The win marked the end of a phenomenal run at Worlds for the side, only dropping a single game across the whole tournament before hoisting the Summoner’s Cup in front of the assembled Berlin crowd.

KOO Tigers didn’t go down without a fight, though. KOO proved early in the series that they could start games strongly against SKT but mistakes and SKT’s ability to apply pressure all over the place (seriously, that team’s approach is a kind of strategic whack-a-mole) ensured SKT’s eventual victories.

After the final SKT’s top laner, Marin, attributed some of the advantages to mistakes made by his team: “I think in the first game they tried too hard to take advantage in the early game and I think that’s why they failed but in the other games that they were ahead in the early game it was because SKT made mistakes.”

The third game was the one which electrified the atmosphere at the arena with KOO clawing a victory back – the sole game SKT would drop in the whole of Worlds. It was at that point that the Tigers got their wish and their name was being chanted near-constantly by the assembled thousands.

The game itself was one of those emotional rollercoasters where it looked like KOO might be about to squander all their progress after several teamfights went the way of SKT and Hojin’s Lee Sin – a jungler who had been running rampant throughout the game – finally got taken down. That was before the camera switched to their top laner Smeb.

Smeb had been busy split pushing and farming. He had gotten FAT and had made a lot of progress on the bottom lane. How much progress and how fat, you ask? Well, enough to take a 2v1 fight against MaRin and Bengi in SKT’s base under a turret. And kill both his opponents. And the turret. And the inhibitor.

Watch from the 44:30 timestamp

The final game swung in completely the other direction – a beautiful performance for SKT with great drafting and execution which cemented the organisation’s second World Championship title.

Speaking to shoutcaster Jake ‘Spawn’ Tiberi after the pyrotechnics had calmed down he referred to game three as KOO saying, “We refuse to leave the tournament only showing this – we’re going to play our champions, we’re going to play our style of League of Legends and have fun.”

In the on-stage interviews after the series had concluded jungler Bengi – one of two players who was in that older Worlds-winning lineup for SKT – said he didn’t think he had performed that well this series. “I think our team struggled in the second and third games because of me so I’m really sorry to my teammates and also thankful at the same time.”

I ask Spawn whether he thinks Bengi was being too harsh on himself.

“One hundred percent. Bengi to me is now the best jungler in the world. His Elise play was stellar, his control, his ability to be able to adapt – one game go cinderhulk, next game go sightstone – what do my team need me to do?

“I think he plays League of Legends the way he did the interview – he will do whatever his team wants and if anyone has to take a bullet he’ll be one of the people to step up. I think he’s a humble guy and his career hasn’t always been kind to him but he’s once again back to being one of the premier – if not the premier – junglers in the world.”

The thing with this Worlds victory is that SKT has been this terrifying force all tournament. Not infallible, but consistently strong – a team-powered crushing machine. I ask whether having one team seem quite so dominant felt unhealthy for the scene in general, tournaments having this sense of being SKT’s to lose.

“No, it’s the opposite. We see this all the time where one team is brilliant and a team has never gone back to [immediately win a second] World Championship because other teams literally take what they did and now have months to put it under a microscope and dissect why they’re so powerful and come up with a counter.

“The thing I love about SKT is they play between 10 and 8 [in terms of rting their match performance]. They’re always nearly perfect. But you do have these teams that play between 5 and 11. If they get them on an 11 day SKT will still lose the series.

“AHQ is one of those teams, I think Fnatic is very much one of those teams. When Huni flies that team is incredibly good, I think Origen now they’ve discovered Niels is their primary carry will turn into that team. If it’s an AD carry meta I guarantee Origen will be the team to beat in Europe next year.”

At the post-game press conference Faker – SKT’s superstar mid laner and the other two-time World Championship winner – was asked what happens next.

“After I won Worlds in 2013 I was not able to make Worlds the year immediately after,” he said. “I think that shows how difficult it is to stay at the top. That will mean to stay at the top I will have to put in a lot of effort.”

But that’s next season talk. The only remaining order of business from the 2015 tournament was that promise he had made to SKT’s fans yesterday – that he would eat broccoli as a joke tribute to his fluffy hairdo. And so…

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