Finals Predictions By the Coaches: Reapered and Lustboy Votes for SSG, and Captain Jack Votes SKT


How to Enjoy the Worlds Final Stage. Special Guests: Reapered, Lustboy, and Cpt Jack.

The final stage of 2017 League of Legends World Championship is just around the corner. Just like last year, this year’s finalists are SKT T1 and Samsung Galaxy again. Remember the last final stage? The whole community was amazed by the games; they were enough to make the fans feel proud to be eSports fans. Those fans would be looking forward to seeing such games once again this year.

In order to enjoy such an important game, it would be helpful to study a bit ahead of the match. We thus present to you these three very special guests: Han-gyu “Reapered” Bok, Jang-sik “Lustboy” Ham, and Hyung-woo “Cpt Jack” Kang. With coaches Reapered and Lustboy having been to Worlds themselves, the three guests discussed the final stage with their professional, experienced perspectives. Below is the full text of the discussion.

*t/n - Each speaker’s name is indicated by their nickname initial (R = Reapered, L = Lustboy, C = Cpt Jack)



Hello, it’s been a long time. Good to see you all.

R, L, C: Hi.


I bet there are lots of things you are ready to share with us, so let's go straight to the point. SKT T1 vs. Samsung Galaxy. Any predictions on who will become the World Champions?

C: This is by far the hardest final stage to predict the result of. I would have chosen SKT without hesitation if it were in the last few years. I am still leaning towards SKT to win, but Samsung has been showing better performances than SKT and it makes me hard to pick a side. SKT is not as strong now compared to last year, so I think they will have a tight win. (Laughs.)

L: I want to bet on Samsung to win. SKT has been to and won many big tournaments, so I don’t have too much confidence even as I cheer for Samsung. (Laughs.) Still, if I had to bet house deed on the result, I would bet it on Samsung to win.

Each team has its strengths and weaknesses, but this year SKT really shows their two sides clearly. Except for mid, each lane has shown some unstable performances, and I think Samsung can take advantage of the weak spots. It would be a tight game since Samsung’s mid lane is weak too, but it seems like Samsung is going into the game with an advantage.

R: I think Samsung will win. Since Chan-yong (Ambition) is married, it would be a good wedding gift. (Laughs.)
Jokes aside, whereas SKT junglers have not been performing so well, Samsung has a really strong and stable jungler. Also, in such a bottom lane-carry meta, Samsung’s bottom duo has shown more impressive plays than SKT’s bottom duo did.

For Samsung to win, I don’t think Samsung needs to worry about laning phase. What is important is how they prepare for the game when they are on the blue side. If you look at their semifinal games against WE, they lost the lead a little when they were on the blue side. It has so much more advantage during this meta, and I think Samsung cannot make the best out of it. If they do that part right, I think they will be able to win.

But then... I am not too confident about it either. If Chan-yong didn’t get married I might have betted on SKT. (Laughs.) Because Jung-gyun (coach kkOma) is not married yet.


Why is everyone having a problem proudly picking Samsung to be the winner!? (Laughs.)

C: Because of Faker, of course. We also can’t leave SKT’s experiences aside. Faker has been showing performances that just show how desperately he wants to be the champion. Each year he is always breaking his own records on how good his performances can be. I respect and am scared of it at the same time. I am sure his teammates in SKT are affected by how eager Faker is to become the champion again. I know you can’t just become a champion because of eagerness, but it surely is a big factor that Samsung needs to fear and stay alert for.

L: People didn’t come up with the phrase “SKT will win anyway” for no reason. SKT and Samsung were the two teams known for turning a disadvantageous game around this year, but the two teams do it a bit differently. Samsung is more like “try our early game, we’re dragging it to late game and will eventually win,” but SKT... I don’t know how to phrase it...

C: Unintentionally give the enemy team the lead, but they manage to hold out with a disadvantageous team composition.

L: It’s like you just fall into SKT’s traps. Objectively SKT is at a disadvantage, but I’m worried that Samsung too would fall into their traps. It has been that way for years.

C: I agree. It wouldn’t have been surprising if SKT lost to Misfits or RNG. But they then win a crazy team fight in the middle of their base and win the game. It happened way too many times

R: We (Cloud9) almost won against SKT in the group stage... We had a team composition for team fights, and theirs was for split-pushing. Generally, it is almost impossible for a team fight-based composition to lose the game after they get baron. But then, our players got too excited and started making mistakes here and there. They were too excited to win against SKT. I think many teams that play against SKT make mistakes that they wouldn’t have made normally. It’s the power of their name value.

I look forward to SKT becoming the champions because I saw that in semifinals their bans and picks were really well-prepared. It was unpredictable yet spot-on. If you play the game in the same meta for a month you find out lots of different ways to get around it. For example, thoughts like “Aurelion Sol wouldn’t be a bad idea,” “AP Signed is actually pretty good,” “Caitlyn is not bad either” come up. These thoughts make an unexpected win every now and then, and SKT was well prepared for facing such variables.


Speaking of unpredictable picks, was there anything special that your own team planned on? Since you wouldn’t have any more official match in this patch?

R: It was Sona for us. Samsung showed amazing performance with Taric in the quarterfinals. Ever since that, all practice games had Taric in it, and we tried hard to figure out a counter pick for the champion. Out of the tactics that we came up with, focusing on getting towers with Sona putting pressure on the enemy bottom duo was a good one. If Taric and Tristana come in together quickly, it is quite scary, but if that is not the case, all he can do is stay under the turret.

We actually tried to challenge WE so we can use Sona in the quarterfinals. If we pick Taric when we are on the blue side and win the game, we thought that the next game they would do the same – which we could then counter with Sona. Ben, the support of WE, prefers Taric quite a bit. But he ended up not picking him...


How about TSM? Did you have a special tactic or champion planned?

L: Hmm... There was a tactic that we used when practicing against C9, and it was sad that we couldn’t actually use it. It’s a tactic you can use only when you are on the red side...

R: Ah. I remember that.

L: The first 3 picks from the red team have to be really specific. Varus with Janna or Lulu, and Ezreal for the third pick. Around when the first buffs would come up, mid-jungler-bottom duo all invade to the enemy jungle on the red golem side. If the enemy champions are pretty strong on level 1 they try to stop it. But then, our composition would be way stronger on level 1, and we can shoo them all the way to the 2nd turret.

While that happens, Varus or the support moves to where krugs are on the enemy side. As the first minion waves spawn, you just tank the minions and freeze the lane. The enemy bottom duo has to come quickly to stop the lane freezing, and when Ezreal jumps out from behind with the red buff then it’s a disaster for them. I don’t think I have lost a game where we used this tactic.

Speaking of Ezreal, I think we are seeing the same junglers over and over again within the tournament. Sejuani seems to be dominating the pick percentage. Whoever wins, I think the Worlds skin for the jungle champion would go to Sejuani.

C
: Sejuani is so broken. She tanks twice as good as the other jungle champions.

R: What’s so good about Sejuani is that: even when you know all 5 of your enemies are in the bush, you can trust your passive and just go in to check it. I don’t know what other jungle champions can do this. She can be attacked for the entire time and still get out using her Q. When the enemy team chases her too far, she turns around to initiate a team fight with her ult. It just doesn’t even make sense. 

C: Her only weakness is that her early jungling phase is a bit slow-paced, but she gets the scuttle so fast that overall it is not even a weakness. If you have both rift scuttlers, then it doesn’t even matter whether the enemy jungler comes ganking or not.

R: She even regens her health while getting the scuttle. Our team just decided to always ban Sejuani. There are more reasons to it than the ones we already mentioned. Firstly, Sejuani forces the enemy mid laner to take cleanse. And then she creates an amazing synergy with the top laner. Especially if you pick a carry top champion and Sejuani for jungle, it’s game over. What’s funny is that even if the enemy team picks a carry top champion, if we have a Sejuani we can still destroy that top lane. Lastly, she has such an easy method of initiating a team fight. While other champions need to go into where the enemies are to initiate one, Sejuani can just throw her ult from a distance.

L: How the two teams feel about and make usage of Sejuani would be a key point to keep an eye on for this final stage.


Now, let’s talk about Galio. Faker picked Galio for all five games in semifinals. Do you have any idea what they would do with Galio this time?

C: I don’t think RNG had any other reason to leave Galio unbanned than that they thought it would be better for Faker to play him than other champions. They would have thought that it would be worse if he tried playing a carry champion. RNG did leave Galio open and still won a couple games against SKT. I think it was their strategy to leave him open and that’s how they practiced throughout the tournament. It would have been more chaotic, after all those practice games with Galio unbanned, if they decide to change it last minute and ban him.


On a side note. What do you think about the three-in-a-row Sejuani pick by Samsung against Longzhu in quarterfinals?

R: As for the game between Longzhu and Samsung, Khan was not careful enough of Sejuani even though he frequently uses carry champions. Carry top champions are so vulnerable to Sejuani. I think Longzhu had a “do whatever you want” attitude, but they underestimated Sejuani. Had they banned Sejuani, the result might have differed.

L: There is a lot to go over regarding their quarterfinals match indeed.


Now, back to our conversation about Galio.

C: It’s most likely that they will ban him in the final stage. 

R: I think Samsung might leave it open just once. 

L: I agree. I think they might want to test it.

R: Regardless, I think it’s great that Samsung is able to use the champion Malzahar. One thing that I really regret as my team was eliminated was that we did not practice using Malzahar. We didn’t have enough time.

C: Oh yeah, Easyhoon used to play as Malzahar when going against Galio. Looking at his plays I thought that unlike many other mid champions who have difficulty laning against Galio even when they have most core items built, Malzahar was actually not as bad.

L: What’s more important than Samsung banning Galio is whether SKT would target Crown with bans. Crown is not really doing so well right now, and I don’t think he would come up with an unexpected, creative champion. There are only a few champions that he can pick from. If SKT targets their bans towards Crown, they are likely to get some advantage.

But then, SKT has a tradition of being a bit prideful when it comes to banning mid champions. They might just let Crown pick whatever he wants to play as. I wonder what they would do.|

R: I just hope that Faker doesn’t use the tactic of letting Crown take Taliyah and then choosing Fizz to go against it as. Even though he is really good with Fizz and Fizz can put some pressure on the enemy Taliyah, but it is also a very dangerous pick. Especially against Samsung.


Everyone agrees that Faker is at an advantage in mid lane. How could Samsung snatch the lead out of his hands?

C: I believe they would have to make it happen somewhere else, not mid lane.

R
: If they really wanted to make something happen in mid lane... They might be able to do it when they are on the red side. If they ban Orianna during the second ban phase and take Syndra, the enemy would be left with only a few choices – like Corki. I think this makes an easier situation for Samsung to win. Corki is good against Syndra only in the range and holding out under the turret, and the laning phase actually isn’t that easy. If Samsung wanted to play rather aggressively, this would be a possibility.


Because Crown has not been in his best condition throughout Worlds, there wasn’t really anything impressive about him playing Syndra. Would it still be okay?

R: I want to believe in the saying that “condition is temporary, but the class remains”

L: Overall I think the final stages’ games will focus on 5v5 team fights rather than trying to destroy a single line. For Samsung, it is what they like and is good at, and for SKT it is the only thing they can do since other than mid lane, there is not another lane to take as much advantage of. But then, even if SKT wanted to focus on mid and win the lane completely, all mid champions’ matchups have been made so I don’t think there is a breaking ball they can throw at Samsung. Unless, of course, Faker decides to play something really, really random and new. That would be another story. Because it’s Faker. 

R: I think there is a tactic that Samsung can use with Crown in the center. It’s really good if the AD carry plays either Varus or Caitlyn, and then the mid laner picks Aurelion Sol. If Aurelion Sol can survive the laning phase and carry the game onto 5v5 team fights, they can dominate the game. He is especially strong around half way into the game.

He also doesn’t even have a counter champion, because you always have to pick him after the enemy mid is chosen. (Laughs.) In the meta this Worlds is based on, you can use it against Taliyah-Ryze-Corki. Not so much against Galio. Aurelion Sol wouldn’t make much out of laning against him, and Galio is too tanky for Aurelion Sol to poke and take down.

As for the Syndra conversation that we had before – if Crown is not confident playing Syndra, they should never ever allow Faker to take Orianna. There is no champion like Orianna who can carry late game, as long as early laning phase wasn’t absolutely terrible. With the champion herself being so good, it would be a nightmare if Faker decides to play it.


Let’s shift the conversation to bot lane. About Varus, specifically. While Samsung loves him, SKT doesn’t really play him. What would be the reason?

L: Varus can be considered a late game carry champion, but not as much as Kog’Maw or Twitch. I think that is why SKT, who prefers hyper-carry AD carry, doesn't play him as much.

R: He is a good champion to pick first in this meta. Despite his difficulty carrying late game, he is so good besides just that. If there’s a champion like Taliyah in the same team, it is easy to make an unexpected good play mid-game. Samsung has already shown a lot of examples.

C: Samsung prefers security and stability. I heard that they pay close attention to the number of CC skills within their team composition. Because Varus has so many CC skills, he is a perfect pick for Samsung. 


Throughout this Worlds, SKT’s bottom duo has not been like before. Would there be a way for Samsung to take advantage of this?

R: It’s incredibly hard for one side to dominate the bottom lane with just 2v2 laning. 

C: Other laners need to invest a lot of effort into the bottom lane. 

R: It might be possible if SKT picks Kog’Maw or Twitch first, but I don’t think they will do it that way. 

L
: It’s not like the SKT’s bottom duo is terrible right now, they just make a few more little mistakes than usual. 


Would it be possible to see another non-Ardent Censer support at the final stage?

L: For SKT, I don't think they will pick Blitzcrank again since they have lost a couple games with him. They did win a game where they had a Leona, but the overall performance was not so impressive so I don’t want to bet on it.

I am pretty close with CoreJJ of Samsung, and he loves playing aggressive support champions. Like Blitzcrank, Thresh, or Alistar. But I think the coaching staffs of Samsung wouldn’t let him play any of them. So, not really likely on either side.

R: I think CoreJJ himself would know not to play those champions. Non-ardent censer supports are too risky now because one tiny mistake leads to losing lane. I think he will prefer Taric over them.


Let’s also talk about the OP champions. How good is this Xayah-Rakan chemistry?

C: Top tier. Hands down.

R: It’s beyond just “top tier.” More like god tier. There was a game where Samsung left Xayah and Rakan open, and Ruler took Tristana. Theoretically, Tristana can disable Rakan’s W and has a lead compared to Xayah in the late-game. But then, Xayah-Rakan duo has so much greater advantage up to that late game. There is so much the duo can do. 

C: On a little side note, Rakan’s flash-ult-W combo is impossible to dodge and is thus so scary.

L: But then, when we were playing practice games against Longzhu, PraY was so good at dodging them. TSM had a big discussion about “how the heck he can dart them.” (Laughs.) We concluded that it is a question we can never figure out on our own. 

R: My team decided that it’s whoever failed to land the skill shot’s fault.

L
: We were so curious we actually asked PraY in person. He answered that “Rakan’s eyes were too suspicious.” (Laughs.)

C: Exactly. You can’t avoid it unless you already saw it coming.

R: That’s the support’s fault for making it so predictable.


Okay, but back to our conversation about the OP bottom duo. Why on earth can’t we see Kalista even once?

C: She is so strong in the laning phase. But, since she was banned THIS much, no team would be familiar with her, so there may be a chance...

L: A few teams left her unbanned during scrims, but I’m sure she hasn’t shown up in official matches because they learned the lesson.

R: Kalista is already a playmaker, but she goes really well with the ardent censer. She used to have a phase in-game where she is exceptionally weak, but for this meta, she doesn’t even have one of them. She deals so much damage even if she builds Runaan’s Hurricane as her first core. 

L: She needs to be killed at once with a hard CC, but it’s too hard to do that right now. 


Wouldn’t the teams be unprepared to play her anyway? Like what Cpt Jack said?

R: Players can play her even if they’re unprepared. She came up so much up to now that everyone has somewhat mastered her. I think the players would have gotten to play her even a few times recently, too.


Now let’s talk about top lane. Kennen comes to mind first, but it’s a bit unclear whether he’s good or not.

R: I think he’s good against Gnar, and Gnar only.


But Samsung picked Kennen against Shen.

R: It’s not impossible to oppose Shen with Kennen, but I’m not sure if it’a that good. Against Shen, I think Singed is by far the best. There is no way you can lose lane. It’s a free win. Singed can make use of every advantage he has, and Shen cannot really do anything against Singed.

C: Wouldn’t it be because Impact is so good at Singed? I don’t think Samsung or SKT will avoid picking Shen because they worry about facing Singed.


Would there be another surprise pick like Singed for top lane?

C: Other than Faker, I don’t think other players will do anything surprising.

R: SKT hasn’t used Rumble a single time during Worlds, and I think they might use him in the finals. I remember Huni being really good with Rumble. When he was playing in NA LCS, Rumble was banned a lot to target Huni.

Rumble-Jayce combination is pretty good, and Faker is really good with Jayce. The combination is really hard to play against in this meta. Rumble on his own, not so much. It’s the best if the mid lane also has an advantage, and the overall AD-AP balance is well formed. So Jayce or Lucian mid goes the best with Rumble.

It’s okay if you laugh, but I want to say that Yasuo-Sejuani combination is really good against Gnar. Yasuo is already good on 1v1 against Gnar, and adding Sejuani to the fight is even better.


Are there any trap cards? Cho’Gath hasn’t been coming out that much lately.

R: Neither Samsung nor SKT should take Cho’Gath. The champion is really bad when playing against certain few teams. Both teams fall into the category.

It’s because both top laners have a wide range of champions they can play. Both CuVee and Huni are so good with champions such as Gnar, Trundle, or Shen. Cho’Gath is a champion that needs to farm peacefully until late game, in which he can finally be put to use. He tanks and has CC skills, and deals tons of damage. But both SKT and Samsung would crush him early game and never give him a chance.

C: Cho’Gath is good against passive tankers like Maokai. Unless the enemy Gnar, Trundle, or Shen is not very skilled.


That may be why Chinese top laners had a difficulty playing against Korean teams.

R: My team likes to play tanks too, but we tried to broaden the range of champions and add more variety. Since I used to be a top laner, I ask for a lot when talking to my team’s top laners. It’s a lot of effort, but I hope they make good results. With that said, Impact is a great top laner.


The conversation got sidetracked, but let’s focus back on the finals. Both teams utilize their sub players quite well. Let’s first talk about SKT’s sixth-man.

C: Peanut performed better in the most recent games, but then...

L: After the semifinals, I can’t really say anything.

C: What we know for sure is that, if one of them loses two games the other one will be put in.


For now, the two players do not differ as much both condition-wise and playstyle-wise. Would the sub player still mean anything?

R: Even if skillfulness, champion range, and playstyle are similar, sub players surely do mean a lot. The most important job for the sub player is to turn the atmosphere around. There is surely a change in the energy of the team as the new player is subbed in.

C: I agree. It’s the atmosphere change, above all.

R: It’s also important that the sub player had watched the game from a 3rd person point of view before being substituted in. He can then give the team objective and clear feedback about the previous games.

L: It still means a lot... because the teams do win games after the substitution.

C: To be honest, if the players do not feel enough responsibility for the team the sub player system works against the team. One may think “the sub player will come in and win the game for me.” As long as the players have the passion and thirst for the win and the career as a professional gamer, the system brings about great synergy.

In order to make the best out of the sixth-man system, it is critical that the coaching staff has to motivate and encourage the player – for which, the coaching staff of SKT is beyond excellent.


What if Haru is subbed in? Ezreal jungle would rise back to the surface. How would that be?

R: There is a possibility that Haru would come out. Ezreal jungle has to have a really detailed plan up to level 4 and make the best out of the early game. It’s not terrible during the late game, but it is very weak during the mid-game when tanks just push in.

L: I actually think SKT might take Ezreal jungle. He has a great synergy with Galio. There’s no way SKT is unaware of it. When Peanut was subbed in during the semifinals, RNG banned Ezreal right away. There are many factors that make it possible for SKT to play Ezreal.


That was a long conversation. As we finish up, let’s hear your score predictions.

L: Samsung’s 3-1 victory. If I had to predict SKT to win, 3-0.

R
: If I bet on SKT, I agree with 3-0. If they decide to take things fast and go hard since the early game, the pressure would be beyond indescribable. If they don’t give Samsung a chance to build themselves up over time, it would be a quick 3-0 win. Since I don’t think Samsung can make a quick win against SKT, if Samsung wins, I think it will be a tight 3-2.

L: Faker said in an interview that he wants to finish quickly and so he can go eat. Maybe it’s a foreshadower. (Laughs.)

C: I’m betting on SKT, 3-1.


Lastly, although we still have the finals remaining, do you have any comments about Worlds overall?

L: Korean teams were dominating, once again. However, I think the gap is surely closing. Although NA LCS still wasn’t good... I think it will continue to close

R: All international teams showed their own colors. I think that’s why the gap is closing. Up to now other teams tried so hard to play like LCK during Worlds and failed. It seems like everyone concluded that they would lose if they try to play like LCK. If they continue to secure their own playstyle and improve on performances, they might be able to take revenge on LCK. This year’s Worlds was really fun.

L: This year’s Worlds means a lot in that each team realized that keeping their own style actually works.

C: They said all the good things already... So I’ll talk about something different. I wish they adjusted some extreme contents like the ardent censer before going into Worlds. I think every Worlds had a problem like this. I don’t like how they don’t make adjustments before proceeding to the tournament.

R: Many support players were nominated as playmakers, and it was sad to see them forced to play only supportively during Worlds.

L: Lots of support players hated the ardent censer. We need a patch with a variety of possibilities.

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