After five weeks of League of Legends' World Championships ping-ponging across the United States from venue to venue and gradually shedding teams the final contenders, SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy, went head-to-head at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the deciding best-of-five. I appreciate a bunch of you might be waiting to watch the rebroadcast or be saving up the VODs to watch over a leisurely Sunday so I'll keep the spoilers until after the jump. Read on to find out how Season 6 ended...
But only after I do this first... So you know how the semifinal between SKT and ROX Tigers was so good I insisted on posting all of the game VODs one after another before telling you what happened in case you wanted to watch them? The final was exciting enough and had enough drama that I'm doing it again:
Finished? Exhausted? Still occasionally shaking your head over how game three turned out?
SK Telecom T1 scored their third World Championship win (and some new jackets) after a truly breathtaking best-of-five series against Samsung Galaxy.
The first game was a tense affair, with Samsung playing from behind as SKT took the lead, but it wasn't the sort of game which feels like a foregone conclusion. Even with their nexus exposed like some weird throbbing tooth protruding from their base Samsung were pushing back against SKT's advance, getting kills and scoring several objectives. It was too little too late, though - or rather, SKT had accomplished too much too early and so Samsung didn't have enough of a buffer to keep their base from a final collapse. It was far more of a robust performance than I think a lot of people had been expecting, though.
Mood: Cautious optimism in terms of the series not being a stompy SKT win.
The second game had a very different flavour. Samsung felt like they'd lost their fighting spirit. SKT pulled ahead, but without Samsung being able to exert any pressure of their own. Samsung seemed sloppy, and their play betrayed a lack of energy or coherence. Samsung would achieve these little victories, like their support player getting away from SKT's damage dealers, but SKT would be taking a bigger advantage - a tower, perhaps, instead of just staying alive. This was more the sort of LoL I think everyone I'd spoken to was afraid would happen. At the end of the match, Samsung's mid-laner Crown looked utterly miserable.
Mood: Abandon all hope of a real series SKT will win in a 3-0 sweep so is there a new way to say that in a news article?
The third game... Oh that beautiful third game. The first half, people were kind of checking out with an SKT win all-but secured. Job done. Pyrotechnics. Press conference and then home in time for tea so - wait. Samsung are doing WHAT? The efficient crushing machine of SKT had not efficiently crushed the elemental drakes - those are the neutral monsters who spawn sporadically and bestow certain advantages to the team that kills them. Samsung had crushed four of them - two infernals (they give attack damage and ability power boosts), one ocean drake (mana regeneration) and one cloud drake (out-of combat move speed). A baron attempt for SKT went awry as Samsung managed to take out two of the team. Gotta respect the drake buffs. Taking turrets and then scoring the baron buff for themselves, Samsung put a massive dent in the gold deficit which had built up, clawed back more map control and nabbed some crucial kills on SKT's lineup. SKT were able to take the elder drake - that's the big dragon which boosts the buffs you've already got from those earlier elemental drakes - but with SKT's zero drake situation the benefit wasn't exactly substantial.
At this point fights in and around the baron pit became so frequent I started having to double check whether I was watching a replay of a baron fight or whether this was a new baron fight. The teams would go in, start dealing damage, then peel away to see if they could do anything to their baited opponents. During one baron fight SKT lost three of their team. The game had gone on for so long that the times until dead champions could respawn were really lengthy, giving Samsung enough opportunity to do serious damage to the SKT base, taking out not one but two inhibitors. After this, my notes become increasingly hard to read and sometimes just a mixture of swearing, exclamation points, underlinings and question marks. That goes on for a while and then it's just "AMBITION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" which will be the point at which Ambition (Samsung's jungle player) managed to pull off this Elder Dragon steal:
— lolesports #Worlds (@lolesports) October 30, 2016
Then, reading the rest of the page it's: squiggle squiggle "beanstated" OH sorry, that says "Baron started" squiggle "massive waves pushing in" squiggle exclamation marks "OH MY GOD". This roughly translates as "Samsung were then able to just carry on piling on the pressure thanks to buffs, minion waves and so on until SKT's nexus creaked and fell apart and... Samsung won!"
Mood: In need of a cup of tea and a sit down but delighted at the surprise turnaround of what had looked like a lacklustre clean series for SKT.
Game four saw SKT's alternate jungler, Blank, picking up an unexpected Zac. Zac is a blobby, stretchy champ, who can catapult himself into fights but needs a decent start to really get going. That start was denied to him by Ambition on muscly melee fighter, Lee Sin. SKT's synergy slumped over the course of the match and Samsung assumed the role their opponents are known for as they played far more reactively, punishing mistakes and pulling off some masterful plays. Samsung top-laner, Cuvee, teleporting onto a ward in order to flank SKT as energetic little Kennen, essentially ruining SKT's day. I will say that Ambition seemed more of a liability this game, his game three brilliance giving way to an aggression that felt like it was trying to force the win rather than reading the game by taking risks that didn't need to be taken. But overall, this was a far more comfy victory for Samsung and the 2:2 scoreline meant one thing... Game Five anthem, Silver Scrapes!
Mood: Silver Scrapes.
Game five saw the unbenching of Tahm Kench for Samsung's support player, CoreJJ while his counterpart on SKT, Wolf, picked up Braum. Braum ended up feeling the more impactful of the picks as his shielding ability repeatedly prevented crucial damage from landing on his allies. Both teams were able to pick up kills and punish errors made by the other side. The similarly structured team compositions and lack of a definitive early lead for anyone offered a picture of two evenly matched teams, but SKT started to pull away. As the game progressed SKT were playing with a familiar fluidity, their composure contrasting with Samsung, who were playing in that stilted way that reads like a team increasingly scrambling for the way back into the match. SKT grew their lead and in the end the Samsung base was drowning in minions.
SKT claimed their third World Championship. Also some snazzy jackets and over $2m.
Mood: I forgot to stop Silver Scrapes and I have now been listening to it for so long I think it has broken my brain.