League of Legends

The "Awakened" Ambition and SSG's Wise Drafting: How SSG Took Down LZ


One of the biggest upsets in this year’s 'League of Legends World Championship' happened during the civil war between the two LCK teams, LZ and SSG. When the match was about to go underway, everyone assumed that LZ was going to win.

There is no need to find and watch LZ's games from the LCK to get an idea of how strong LZ is. The results from the group stage say enough. With LZ winning the last 6 games in a row, they truly showed that they were not a team that is to be easily messed with.

SSG's start, however, wasn't too great. Samsung was placed second under RNG during groups. Because of this, the team was matched against LZ. There was no surprise from the draw as it was already a 50-50 chance for Samsung to be put against Longzhu. Korean fans just showed a sign of displeasure as they wanted every Korean team to make it as far as possible. In other words, Korean fans were sad to see one of their teams, Samsung or Longzhu, to be eliminated so early on into the competition.

The reason why fans highly favored LZ for this matchup is not that SSG is a bad team, but because LZ just looked like titans. In the LCK, LZ was a thug. Khan having no real adversary as he doesn’t hold back to destroy his opponents in the toplane. BDD would never give the enemy a kill. PraY and GorillA, or in short PrillA, were the veterans of the team, recognized internationally for their talent. Even the seemingly weakest link, Cuzz, made little to no mistakes most of the time. This is because his laners were all high in terms of skill level.

However, SSG didn't get pushed around by Longzhu. No... in fact, the opposite occurred, and SSG dominated LZ. During today's series, the core of the team that allowed this win was Ambition.

■ The Core of SSG’s Win and Today’s MVP, 'Ambition'

Ambition’s impact in all 3 games was extremely important, to say the least. He dictated his team’s early game, and Longzhu’s dominant laners were suppressed in the process. Starting from the disassembling of Longzhu’s lanes in the early game, Ambition carried this onslaught to the late-game, creating opportunities for his fed team to close out the game. If the gap between Longzhu was bigger than it was, the game would have outright ended before the late game even kicked in.

In other words, Longzhu’s pattern of losing is when they face a strong early game comp. They start crumbling from the start of the game. Of course, this is not an easy thing to do against a team like Longzhu. There needs to be a high level of execution in picks/bans alongside the ability to beat the laners in the early game to pull off such an amazing feat.

This was only possible because of Ambition. The image of Ambition’s jungling was already set in stone by the LCK fans. No presence in the early to mid game, but a strong presence in the late game. This was the image of Ambition leading into this game.

However, in the game against Longzhu, Ambition’s jungling was near perfect. Aiding the laners from the get-go, he carried this onto the late game. Perfectly executing his CC without making a mistake. When needed, Ambition would show all-out aggression. A hint from the past, when we saw him perform mechanically flawlessly as a mid laner. Ambition’s boldness and calculations can be seen as a prime example in the last game, 8-minutes in.

Although it was still early into the game, Ambition showed the bravery to dive onto the battlefield that contained 4 enemy champions. Even after burning his Flash, he didn't simply run; he remained calm and calculated the situation correctly to rejoin the fray and secure the blue buff. Ambition played out the fight near perfectly and did everything that a jungler should've done. As Ambition played his heart out, Cuzz was taken aback, and the SSG laners started benefiting from the difference in jungle presence. 

■ Winning the Game Before It Starts

The other factor that contributed to SSG winning the series, came from their ingenious drafting. On all three games, every player aside from Crown settled on champions with similar styles. As for Crown, he was the player who added diversity to SSG's composition.

During the 1st game, Crown played Malzahar, a champion that excels at crippling a single target. LZ's strength comes from their strong individual players - but this can also be seen as a weakness. SSG's strength doesn't come from their individual players but the teamwork that comes from all of them combined. As long as there are at least 1 tank and 1 DPS remaining on the side of SSG, they remain a threat. As for LZ, every time a member is either killed or forced away from a fight, their "fighting potential" largely weakens. The Malzahar was picked to either force a 4vs4 or a 4vs5 fight. 

To add more insight explaining the above paragraph, SSG heavily focuses their resources on protecting Ruler. So as long as Ruler, the primary DPS member of the team, remains alive, SSG can continue the fight without much worry even with a couple members dead. You can see this from SSG's positioning during teamfights. Although LZ is also similar to that of SSG, LZ's separation of the "DPS and tank roles" aren't as clear. 

▲ This picture sheds some light into SSG's teamfight positioning

During the 2nd game, Crown took Taliyah, a champion that excels at roaming. On top of the Taliyah, CuVee took Shen, a champion that can roam freely. SSG built a team composition that put emphasis on roaming - and it worked. Then, on the 3rd game, Crown was given Lissandra, a champion known for its teamfighting potential.

Lissandra's role in teamfights is actually quite simple - she's a teamfight initiator that excels at "holding" enemy champions in place. By creeping into the enemy team and ulting herself only to activate Zhonya's afterward, Lissandra can shake up and disorient the enemy's positioning, hence the reason why she was frequently used as a toplaner in the past. She isn't only limited to her great teamfighting, however, as she also has the potential to nuke and decimate squishy carries. 

Taric and Sejuani are also strong teamfighting champions. CoreJJ and Ambition didn't fail to become a sturdy and reliable shield for Ruler's Tristana.

On the other side, LZ's draft was "okay" at best. Their picks and bans weren't optimal in any way, as they didn't try to draft into a counter matchup or had any real "strengths" in their team comp. In good words, their comps were standard and feasible. In bad words, the comps lacked characteristic or color. For the last match, LZ chose red-side over blue to shake things up, but in the end, the result remained the same. SSG took yet another clean victory off of LZ.

And just like that, the most unexpected happened. Out of the 3 LCK teams, SSG was rated by many to be the weakest. But despite the expectations, SSG managed to take down LZ, the team that everyone rated as the strongest team coming into the tournament. No excuses can be made for this outcome. SSG was just simply better. It's still a shame for LZ, but Worlds 2017 seems to have gotten even more interesting now. 


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