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Korea Qualifiers Preview: Second Seed Tiebreaker between SKT T1 K and Samsung White
SK Telecom T1 K and Samsung Galaxy White have a long and heated rivalry. Samsung White has seen success against Faker and his crew within Korea, while SKT T1 K have overshadowed White in international competition. After three seasons of OGN Champions, the two have managed to tie for second place in Korean Circuit Points, resulting in a tiebreaking best-of-five series in order to determine Korea’s second seed at the Season 4 World Championships. The winner of the series secures their spot in the Group Stage for S4 Worlds, while the loser is forced to wait at the top of the Korean Regional Finals for one last attempt to reach the world stage.

SK Telecom T1 K

SKT T1 K has become a household name in League of Legends ever since their dominant streak during Season 3 & Season 4, which included two back-to-back OGN Champions victories, one of them a 15-0 undefeated sweep, and a World Championship title. However, during OGN Champions Spring, SKT K were dethroned by none other than Samsung White, a team which they had swept in the finals of the previous season of Champions. SKT K were relegated to NLB, where they also saw defeat at the hands of CJ Entus Frost. They managed to pick up a win against the weakened KT Rolster Bullets in the NLB third-place match, but it was apparent that SKT K were not playing to their previous level.

SKT T1 K saw a glimmer of hope during the 2014 All Star tournament. They entered the competition looking confident and ready to return to their old form, and they did not disappoint. SKT K managed to win All-Stars without dropping a single game. It was not certain, however, if K were ready for competition back in Korea. The final series of Masters gave fans the first look at a “revitalized” SK Telecom T1, and the results were rather disappointing. Samsung Galaxy won the series with a 3-0 sweep, with both Samsung teams beating SKT T1 K decisively. The group stages of OGN Champions Summer looked better for K. While they did get swept by Samsung Blue 2-0, it was an incredibly close series against the then-top Korean team. During the bracket stage, SKT T1 K faced Samsung White. Faker was able to pull out a surprise Zilean mid pick to take game 1, but they lost the series 3-1.

Following their win over CJ Entus Frost in NLB, SKT T1 K faced off against the JinAir Stealths, a team that surprised almost everyone by making it out of the group stage of Champions before losing to Samsung Blue in the quarterfinals. Bengi had been underperforming for a long time, to the point that some fans wondered why he was not benched from the starting roster. Despite a poor performance on Rengar in the first game, Bengi went on to perform well for the rest of the series. While Bengi appeared to be revitalized, Faker and Impact were solid. Faker pulled out multiple games of AP Kog’Maw while Impact showed dominance on Maokai. The Hundred Acre Lane, however, severely underperformed, with Piglet having little impact throughout the series. SKT T1 K still managed to come out on top and went on to face NaJin Black Sword in the NLB finals. There, SKT T1 K as a whole looked even better. With Faker making massive plays in the mid lane against kurO, Bengi using Nunu to control Lee’s Lee Sin, and Piglet looking more like his former self, SKT T1 K was able to sweep Najin Black Sword 3-0, securing the tiebreaker match against Samsung White for the second seed to the Season 4 World Championship. SKT T1 K appear to have gained some recent strength back, though they had to show quite a lot in order to have the opportunity to face Samsung White at all. The largest factors for SKT T1 K are Bengi and Piglet. They can carry the game, or they can disappear in a loss.

Samsung White

Last year, White attended the Season 3 World Championship as Samsung Ozone, one of two newly acquired Samsung teams that used to be a part of the MVP organization. Ozone had high expectations for Worlds, but their performance disappointed. A large reason for their failure was that their mid laner dade’s main champions were nerfed on the Worlds patch, limiting his effectiveness. Ozone failed to make it out of the group stages, a devastating result for a top Korean team. The next time we saw Samsung Ozone was in Champions Winter. Ozone looked strong during the group stage and the bracket stage, dropping only two games to NaJin White Shield by the time they reached the finals. On the other side of the bracket was SKT T1 K, who, at that point, hadn’t dropped a single game all season. What looked like an even matchup turned out to be devastatingly one-sided as SKT T1 K swept Samsung Ozone 3-0 to win their second Champions title. Ozone were left needing to regroup for OGN Champions Spring.

On February 12th, it was announced that dade and PawN would swap teams, so that PawN was the new starting mid laner for Ozone, and dade would play for Blue. PawN was known for being able to keep up with Faker in mid lane, something that almost no other mid laner could claim at the time. In Champions Spring, Samsung Ozone were drawn into an easy group consisting of CJ Entus Frost, Incredible Miracle, and Midas FIO. They were able to go through the group stages without dropping a game. After the bracket stage drawing, Samsung Ozone would have to face SKT T1 K in the quarterfinals. SKT T1 K was not looking as dominant throughout this season, where they dropped one game to their sister team SKT T1 S and lost two games to the KT Rolster Arrows, forcing them into a do-or-die tiebreaker match with SKT T1 S to advance into the bracket stage. Samsung Ozone was able to unseat SKT T1 K from their throne and move on to the semifinals to face their sister team Samsung Blue. To most people’s surprise, Ozone was upset by Samsung Blue in 4 games. Their loss pushed them into the 3rd/4th place game which they won in five games to secure third place and 150 Circuit Points.

Samsung Ozone would then go on to play in the semifinals and finals of SK Telecom LTE-A LoL Masters, where, with sister team Blue, they were able to sweep both CJ and SKT T1. Both Samsung teams showed dominating traits, signaling the beginning of a change of power.

Before the start of Champions Summer, Ozone changed their name to Samsung Galaxy White, following Ozone dropping sponsorship of the team. Samsung White entered the group stage against SKT T1 S, CJ Frost, and Bigfile Miracle. White managed to only drop one game to SKT T1 S, and advanced into the bracket stage as the No. 1 seed out of Group C. As fate would have it, the bracket stage of Summer looked exactly like the bracket stage of Spring, with Samsung White facing off against SKT T1 K in the quarterfinals and Samsung Blue as a potential opponent in the semifinals. Samsung White managed another 3-1 victory against SKT T1 K only to match up against sister team Samsung Blue once again. History would repeat itself as Samsung White lost to Samsung Blue in the semifinals 1-3. In the 3rd/4th place match, White showed clear dominance against the outmatched SKT T1 S, sweeping them and claiming 3rd place for the second season in a row.

Samsung White’s bottom lane has shown to be one of the most volatile in Korea, making incredibly aggressive plays and attempting to dominate in-lane at all costs. Mata’s contribution to the vision game has also been a key staple for Samsung White; he will often go incredibly deep into the enemy jungle alone in order to get down key wards. Looper is one of the best top laners in Korea at the moment thanks to the Teleport meta. He has a knack for showing up at key moments to turn the tide in fights and swing the game in White’s favor. PawN has shown to be a worthy challenge to Faker, but lately his key champions have seen some heavy nerfs. Will he be able to overcome the nerf gun and keep up with Faker’s massive champion pool, or will he follow in dade’s footsteps as another pretender to the throne?

SKT T1 K and Samsung White have clashed in a best of five for the past 5 seasons of Champions. Currently, Samsung White holds the series advantage over SKT T1 K. With a guaranteed seed to the 2014 World Championships on the line, there is no doubt that SKT T1 K will be looking to tie the series score 3-3 and gain the coveted spot. However, the SKT T1 K lineup will have to overcome their inconsistencies against Samsung White. Samsung White, on the other hand, has their sights set on the world stage in order to reclaim their international reputation and gain a World Championships title for themselves. Only one team will be able to escape the gauntlet of the Korean Regionals Qualifier and secure their spot in the Season 4 World Championships.


Published on 26. Aug 2014
Written by Michael Lee - @mikenikeys
Edited by @RheingoldRiver and David “RtA” Stull @GkStull