It was Day 2 of the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational. Although the excitement of the opening day had subsided, things were heating up fast as the first match of the day pitted NA’s favorite TSM against arguably the best team in the history of League, SKT T1. The match itself wasn’t too long, and the gap was glaringly obvious. TSM wasn’t able to topple the giant known as SKT T1.
At first glance, it would seem like the match was a one-sided domination. Upon further examination however, one might find that the match was decided quite early in the game. It was just past the 2-minute and 30-second mark when it happened.
▣ TSM’s thought process behind the draft
By looking at their draft, you can assume that TSM was aiming for the long game by taking Braum as the third pick and banning Lucian and Ashe as the fourth and fifth bans. TSM wanted to counter Twitch after forcing him out from SKT T1. In fact, TSM’s heart was in the right place. Bang has shown his prowess with Twitch in the LCK grand finals. Fully knowing this, TSM aimed to neutralize Bang’s plague rat with a counter pick. And Bang ended up choosing Twitch as expected.
Additionally, TSM bolstered their comp with Shen and Kha’Zix to bully the bot lane. Thanks to Kha’Zix’s Leap and Shen’s Stand United, TSM’s comp looked to be extremely dangerous for SKT T1’s bot lane. Not only that, TSM’s strategy came with minimal downsides other than a slight loss of CS in the top lane. On the other hand, SKT T1 went ahead with their standard comp. From Faker’s signature Orianna to Huni’s flexible Rumble, SKT T1 drafted champions that have a strong laning phase as well as late game utility. In short, SKT T1 had many options even if things didn’t pan out early in the game.
Even though TSM’s comp had a clear purpose, they didn’t consider one thing. For Shen to play aggressively, the jungler must actively move around the map. In other words, Svenskeren’s Kha’Zix had a lot riding on his shoulders. Unfortunately, SKT T1 already had a deadly trap in place to hold down the enemy jungler, one that TSM couldn’t escape from without having prior knowledge of it.
▣ Jungler pathing and a match sealed early
Svenskeren started out with a standard jungle route, starting from Crimson Raptor and going to red buff. Conversely, SKT T1 Peanut on Lee Sin was unconventional as he rushed to the enemy Blue as soon as he secured his Raptor, even though that area was obviously warded. Peanut didn’t plan to steal the Blue without alerting the rest of TSM; he had to be caught for the SKT T1’s plan to work.
This is when SKT T1 laid down the first trap for Svenskeren. TSM learned that Peanut came down to steal the Blue early, which made Svenskeren change his jungle path after getting his red buff. If TSM wasn’t privy to this knowledge, SKT T1’s timing may have been off.
Understandably, Svenskeren rushed to the SKT T1’s Blue because it was only logical at that point for Lee Sin to go for his own red buff. Not only that, Faker’s Orianna may get the blue and dominate the lane phase if left unchecked. Svenskeren’s choice was an obvious one, and SKT T1 capitalized on.
Peanut’s Lee Sin went around the Red and passed by it to move to the left area where he predicted where Svenskeren would be. At the same time, Huni’s Rumble, who was the in middle of harassing Shen in the top lane, moved toward the jungle as well. Hauntzer, TSM’s top laner, used an Enemy Missing ping right away, but Svenskeren must not have felt the immediate threat, for he likely thought he just needed to use Leap to go over the wall if Rumble arrived, and Lee Sin would be too busy with the Red. Svenskeren did show caution by warding, but the place he warded was a little off as he could not see Lee Sin moving. And when he was about to go around the corner at the Blue, he came upon Lee Sin.
Since he thought this was a one-on-one fight, the trap was set. While forcing Svenskeren to move towards the Blue, Rumble moved towards him, even though he didn’t see Kha’Zix move via warding. At this point, if Svenskeren saved his Leap, he would have likely survived. He still had his Flash ready to use, and Shen was coming right after Rumble to help. However, this is when he caught sight of Lee Sin, still level 2 with no red buff. It would be a huge benefit for the team if he were to kill Lee Sin and escape afterwards. There was no moment for hesitation and that’s when he leaped towards Lee Sin. It was his mistake failing to realize that SKT T1 wanted this to happen, as Rumble and Orianna were already close enough to partake in the killing. This is when the snowballing began.
▲ Faker got all the red and blue goodies.
Faker got all the Red and Blue goodies. With two buffs, Orianna proceeded harassing Syndra in the mid lane, and Shen, who was no match for Rumble in the lane phase in the first place, had no choice but to freeze the lane near the turret and endure his enemy destroying his turret little by little. All of this didn’t help the bottom laners, who were looking forward to winning the lane with perfect support from Shen and Kha’Zix. However, since they could not actively harass their opponent laners, they had no choice but to play safe. The moment Kha’Zix lost control in the jungle was when the strategy TSM came up with became pointless, and they handed their chance of victory over to SKT T1.
▣ The power of strategy and the charm of League of Legends
However, it’s too hasty to say that the fault all lies with the jungler alone. SKT T1 T1 was obviously aiming for this opportunity, and they were certain of Svenskeren’s movements. Svenskeren was already in the trap SKT T1 had set; after Peanut cleared Crimson Raptor, he was after the Blue in TSM’s side of jungle, and meant for Svenskeren to take notice of him on purpose.
If a strategy like this was made up right on the spot, that means there is a genius tactician on their team, but that’s very unlikely. It must be one of the many strategies they prepared beforehand. The strategy TSM was aiming for failed with the early death of their jungler, and they didn’t have the chance to make up for the loss.
Afterwards, one side was dominant- SKT T1 set traps, and foresaw what TSM would do in these traps. The moment TSM set off that first trap, SKT T1’s victory was assured. This is what is so charming about ‘League of Legends’. One can be victorious even with the simplest strategy, and this is what makes League of Legends stand out in the world of esports, having more than just mechanics as a crucial factor.
▣ More MSI 2017 Article
- SKT Huni: "I wanted to prove that SKT is the best team and Huni is the best top laner."
- WE Condi: "I want to meet Peanut and put up a good fight against him."
- GAM Levi: "Our loss against TSM in the Play-in Stage gave us the motivation to win."
- G2 PerkZ: "SKT will be very hard to defeat, but I'm sure we can do it."
- TSM Hauntzer: "After losing versus GAM, we realized that the 1-3-1 split push comp suits us better."
- SKT Faker: "Huni brightened the team's mood up with his 'crazy' vibe."
- The Moment: MSI 2017 Group Stage Day 2 Highlight
- FW Karsa: "We are going to work on our mistakes in upcoming games."
- WE Mystic: "We are just as strong as RNG and EDG."
- G2 Zven on Nunu pick: "We've actually practiced it, and it always worked for us."
- SKT Peanut: "I'll say that G2, FW and WE will move on to semis."
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