A rematch at the Worlds Finals. There is a lot of weight on Crown's shoulders.
'Samsung Galaxy' is the very first team in the history of League of Legends to enter the Finals of the World Championship with the exact same roster, two years in a row. As a matter of fact, even their opponents are the same from last year, 'SK Telecom T1', a team that's shooting for their 4th World Championship Title. There will undoubtedly be a mountain to climb in order for SSG to defeat these well-known titans of a team.
The best midlaner in the world is undoubtedly Faker. The role of Crown, the player that is set to clash against the very entity with the title that he desires to be, will arguably be the most important factor in the upcoming series.
■ SKT T1's Guardian Angel, 'Sang-Hyeok "Faker" Lee'
SSG displayed unstoppable-like performance during Worlds 2016, clearing their Group Stage 5-1 and beating both C9 and H2K with a 3-0 record in both quarters and semis respectively. Their limits felt endless... and if there was a team that could've prevented SKT from securing their 3rd victory at Worlds, it was SSG. At the time, there was a tremendous amount of anticipation surrounding the Finals between the two teams, and when the day finally came, SSG brought SKT to a game 5 and was one win away from engraving their names on the Summoner's Cup.
During the 5th set, SKT blind-picked Viktor, to which SSG responded by taking Cassiopeia. SSG's game plan was fairly transparent from the get-go; to snowball off of the lead that Crown secures in lane. As expected, the match began and Crown kicked things off by taking control of his lane. After tower-diving and securing a kill in the midlane, Crown pulled off a successful roam down bot; SSG had taken the early-game lead. As time passed, however, Faker retook control of his lane, and SSG's rolling snowball came to a halt.
SKT started making a comeback. Whenever a teamfight took place, Faker displayed near-perfect positioning and consistently dealt damage whenever possible. As Faker's kills and CS racked up one after the other, his laser showed no discrimination between tanks and carries; leaving behind wounds to whatever it touched. In the end, after a 49-minute battle, SKT came out on top.
Everyone on the side of SKT showed spectacular performance. But even amongst the many stars, Faker shined the brightest.
■ Faker, Coming Back Stronger Than Ever. Crown, the Player Who Has to Face Him
After his departure with the trophy in 2016, Faker came back stronger the following year. By overcoming many crucial moments, he played out his role accordingly and did everything that was needed to be done. During the quarterfinals, SKT was down two games, one loss away from being eliminated. But by putting Faker on his famed champion, Ryze, SKT brought MSF to match point and bounced back for a comeback. During their series against RNG in the semifinals, Faker was put on Galio five times in a row, and his presence on the map brought despair to their oppositions.
In similar fashion to Faker, Crown is also a key member of his team, SSG. His major strength, being able to blend in with his teammates during the late-game and display spectacular teamfighting - regardless of his laning phase outcome - is one of SSG's most valuable assets. His champion pool is also fairly large; being able to play champions such as Galio, Syndra, Taliyah, Malzahar, and much more, with no real troubles.
However, at Worlds 2017, Crown's ongoing underperformance during the laning phase was highly noticeable. Against '1907 Fenerbache' during the Group Stages, Crown went on a three-death streak, and during the two games against RNG, his carry potential was far below Xiaohu's. On top of being solo-killed by Bdd during the quarterfinals, Crown futilely fell to ganks and brought concerns to his fans.
Of course, there's no exaggeration on the praises that Crown receives; on how he wears his team color perfectly and pushes for victory with in-sync teamwork. But the problem rests in the fact that his upcoming lane opponent is Faker. SSG tasted defeat and was denied the final step towards the championship title in 2016, despite setting Faker behind during the laning phase. And so comes the need for SSG to do everything that they possibly can to prevent him from dominating the game as early as from the laning phase and stay even at the least - to not repeat the same mistake they made last year. Crown will need to remain on guard and alert throughout the entire series.
There, however, is some relief in the fact that Crown's performance has gradually improved as the tournament progressed. Just by looking at the numbers provided by statistics alone, you can easily notice Crown's ongoing improvements. During the Group Stages, Crown had a KDA record of 3.7 and a K/P of 64.7%. During the quarterfinals, he left behind a KDA of 6.5 and a K/P of 83.3%. And from his most recent series, the semifinals, Crown left behind a KDA of 5.6 and a K/P of 87.5%.
The increase in the numbers of his stats was an outcome of Crown starting to play for the better. During the 2nd and 3rd set in the semifinals, he had Xiye's feet constantly tied. And during the mid-to-late-game of the two sets, Crown and his team showcased superior macro and teamfighting to that of RNG's and pushed for the convincing wins. During the 4th and final set, Crown came back to life. By taking Galio to the midlane, he executed perfect plays from the beginning to end. Atop the foundation of being a stable and reliable midlaner, came fast backup roams and flawless CC chains.
■ He Must Be Stopped at All Cost! Will Crown Reveal a Hidden Card?
Although Ardent Censer and "tanks" have nearly taken over the current Worlds meta, the role of a midlaner pretty much remained the same. Taking the lane advantage in the midlane allows the player and his team to macro more flexibly, as taking vision control brings the merit of opening up more opportunities for making plays. In addition, depending on the champion played, the ways in which a midlaner can affect the outcome of a match is vast - it's highly possible that Crown had prepared a hidden card for the sole purpose of the Worlds Finals.
During the 3rd set of the quarterfinals against 'Longzhu Gaming', Crown picked Lissandra, a champion that he hadn't used since last year's regional qualifiers, into Bdd's Taliyah. The blade was hidden, but it was maintained well. He didn't show any signs of weaknesses during the laning phase, but rather, greatly utilized the champion's fantastic minion clear capabilities to keep Bdd in lane. Later on, Crown invaded the enemy jungle with his teammates to secure the first-blood. And during the teamfight that decided the outcome of the match, Crown did everything that he needed to do to cement the victory.
Both SSG and SKT must give it their all, as their upcoming match will be the final series of their Worlds journey. And for it, Crown's assignment would be to limit and suppress Faker, no matter what it takes. If by any chance Crown has another hidden blade tucked away beneath the Lissandra, he will have to wield it.