The 2016 League of Legends World Championship is coming to a close with only the grand finals remaining between reigning world champions SKT T1 and explosive challengers Samsung Galaxy. Here are some tidbits to remember for this richly storied matchup.
Both SKT and SSG have previously won Worlds: SKT in 2013 and 2015, SSG in 2014. Looking at their current squads, however, SKT has the clear upper hand in terms of experience. Most of SKT have won Worlds at least once, and all have played in the finals of an international tournament.
While SKT may have the incomparable edge in terms of experience, SSG's form in this particular tournament has been incredible. Samsung are on perhaps the hottest rookie streak seen in Worlds history, having emerged out of the toughest group draw with a 5W-1L record before sweeping both their quarterfinal and semifinal opponents 3-0.
Recent match records between two teams leave SSG with the short end of the stick; SKT defeated SSG all four times they faced off during the 2016 LCK season. This is not to say that history will repeat itself. Considering SSG’s amazing momentum, SKT will have their work cut out for them.
The two teams have had polarizing roads to Worlds 2016. Ever since their slump in 2014, SKT has not dropped a beat. This year, SKT won LCK Spring, IEM, and MSI, only leaving without a trophy in the LCK Summer playoffs. They qualified to Worlds through circuit points.
On the other hand, SSG had an extremely bumpy road to Worlds. After their Worlds 2014 victory, all of Samsung's players were bought out by LPL teams. After struggling in the relegation zone for most of 2015, SSG ambitiously signed veteran Chanyong “Ambition” Kang, looking to add his experience and shotcalling to their mostly rookie roster. Ambition made a huge difference, but it was nearly not enough. Samsung grabbed the last ticket to Worlds only by a miracle run through the Gauntlet.
What strategies these two teams will bring to the finals is anyone's guess. SKT possesses two stylistically different junglers, Seongung “Bengi” Bae and Sungu “Blank” Kang. As shown in their semifinals against ROX, SKT's jungle substitutions are impactful enough to change the course of an entire series. SSG also has a substitute player with a different approach to the game, although the chances of Samsung leaving out Yongin “CoreJJ” Jo seem much lower.
Both teams have also utilized unorthodox and/or uncharacteristic picks to great success, including CoreJJ’s Miss Fortune and Bengi’s Nidalee. The fate of the 2016 Summoner's Cup very well may be resting up in the two teams' sleeves.