Articles:Season 3 World Championship - Semifinal Preview - NaJin Black Sword vs SK Telecom T1
|Season 3 World Championship Semifinal Preview - NaJin Black Sword vs. SK Telecom T1|
NaJin Black Sword - by Darin
It’s an odd thing to say that a team has been “faltering” when they are competing in the World Championships. That’s what the record shows for NaJin Black Sword, though. A 1st place finish in OGN Winter was the last time Sword found any real tournament success, as an OGN Spring loss ushered out MaKNooN, a Season 2 World Championship favorite. After that, the team limped along to a number one seed finish in Korea, but still, the doubt had been placed. How has NaJin Sword made it this far?
The Korean scene is like a revolving door when it comes to players and teams. The culture there facilitates a high turnover rate due to their “first place or no place” mentality. Sword’s ability to remain relevant and (mostly) together worked heavily in their favor, allowing them to secure a 1st place seed out of Korea for the Season 3 World Championships.
Where am I going with this? Well, persistance is a powerful agent. Sword’s ability to survive in Korea translates well into their actual League of Legends play. Being counted out has happened before, and they’ve constructed glacial comebacks on the back of their AD Carry PraY. Simply put, they aren’t apt to quit.
Everyone will be going on about how Faker is going to stomp Sword’s midlane sub, Nagne, but you can’t be so sure after seeing how Nagne stepped up against Gambit Gaming. Alex Ich is no slouch; he’s a class act and world renowned midlaner. While Nagne is no Faker, he was able to put up great numbers against Gambit, including a combined 12/0/10 KDA in Game 2 and Game 3.
On top of this, SKT’s jungler, while dominant, focuses more on farm than ganks. Sword’s Watch, however, loves to place an emphasis on presence. We’ve seen him take up Nunu and Elise, both being early pressure junglers, so far in the Quarterfinals. While Bengi and Watch both love Lee Sin, Watch is all about the gank. Watch will be chucking snowballs and cocoons at Faker, and Bengi will be off in the jungle farming. This is a great jungle playstyle for an assassin-centric midlane meta that will allow Nagne to thrive.
Lastly, Sword has been scrimming against their sister team, NaJin White Shield. Where have they been doing this? Here in America. They were flown out specifically for the purpose of preparing Sword. What’s cooking behind those doors? Unconventional picks? Composition testing? Whatever they are doing, it’s working.
The knack for survival, a wildcard midlaner, a more influential jungler, and a top-notch practice squad. This is what Najin has over SK Telecom T1.
Prediction: Sword takes down SKT 3-1.
SK Telecom T1 - by William
Najin Black Sword would really have to pull off something incredible to beat the formidable SKTT1, the favorites of the Season 3 World Championships who only dropped one of fourteen games leading up to the OGN grand final. They eventually went on to win OGN Champions Summer 2013 and the Korean Regional Finals to secure their spot in the World Championships - and haven’t slowed down yet. The Korean gods destroyed group A with a 7-1 record and made quick work of the Gamania Bears in the quarterfinals. The only weakness SKTT1 is known to have is a lackluster performance in the beginning of a tournament or set, an issue for them that is currently nonexistent after the 10 matches they have played so far in this tournament. No single team has found a way to crack the code of SKTT1 so far in Season 3, and for good reason. All of their lanes are extremely mechanically skilled and their rotations work like clockwork.
While SKTT1 ascended to OGN glory, Najin didn’t make it past the group stage of OGN. This is because Najin has a few key weaknesses that SKT T1 can exploit. The first of which is the inexperienced mid lane Nagne. Next, Najin’s early game weakness in OGN and NLB games. This early game weakness plays right into SKT T1’s hands, as they love to snowball early leads and end games early, as we saw in the 13 minute inhibitor push. This contrast in playstyles can also be seen in their average game time, Najin averages a long game time of 37:55 (in NLB), while SKT has one of the shortest game times in the WC at 31:13.
PoohManDu and Piglet don’t only have the best summoner names of any bot lane, their playstyles are made for eachother. Pooh’s strong control of a lane with his famous Nami combined with Piglets sometimes overly aggressive play on picks like Vayne or Corki make for a seamless duo. Najin Sword will particularly struggle in this lane due to their history of a very weak early game. Once Pooh and Piglet get rolling, it’s pretty difficult to stop them.
Then, we talk about the man whose name strikes fear into the hearts of his opponents - Faker. SKTT1’s midlaner has a passive playstyle during the laning phase but brings the pain when it counts. With picks like Ahri and Zed, he will always burst any carry in his path and let his team steamroll through the enemy base. You can’t catch him, you can’t escape him and don’t even think about trying to kill him. The inexperienced Nagne will struggle to stay relevant versus Faker. If Najin does not find a way to keep Faker under control they will certainly fail to defeat SKTT1.
Overall, SKTT1 excels when it comes to Najin Black Sword’s greatest weakness, the early game. Each member of SKTT1 seems to win every lane they are in regardless of the circumstances. Najin Sword usually banks on a team to make a mistake in the mid to late game in order to use their strong teamfighting to take the lead, but they simply won’t be able to keep up with the unstoppable SKTT1.
Prediction: SKTT1 will win this match 3-0.
So, who do you think will win and why?