[Worlds 2019] Semifinals Preview: SK Telecom T1 vs. G2 Esports

The upcoming 2019 League of Legends World Championship Semifinals matchup between SK Telecom T1 and G2 Esports is nearly a full season in the making. The five-game epic between the LCK and LEC champions at the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational ended in a narrow 3-2 victory for G2 Esports, but the for the European side to continue its bid for the first Grand Slam in LoL Esports history, it will have to defeat its toughest opponent all season once again. 

The Teams

SK Telecom T1:
Top Lane ⁠— Kim "Khan" Dong-ha
Jungle — Kim "Clid" Tae-min
Mid Lane — Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok
Bot Lane — Park "Teddy" Jin-seong
Support —  Lee "Effort" Sang-ho

Substitute [Support] — Cho "Mata" Se-hyeong
Substitute [Jungle] — Kang "Haru" Min-seung
Coach — Kim "kkOma" Jeong-gyun

G2 Esports:
Top Lane ⁠— Martin "Wunder" Hansen
Jungle — Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski
Mid Lane — Rasmus "Caps" Winther
Bot Lane — Luka "Perkz" Perković
Support —  Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle

Substitute [Support] — Hampus Mikael "promisq" Abrahamsson
Coach — Fabian "GrabbZ" Lohmann

▲ photo by Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games

How We Got Here

SK Telecom T1 was expected to have the easiest route to the Semifinals out of all eight qualifying teams in the Knockout Stage. The champion of South Korea faced off against LEC 3rd seed Splyce, and came into the Quarterfinals as the heavy favorite. Splyce managed to take a game off of SKT, but fell 3-1 as the T1 dynasty marched one step closer to an unprecedented 5th Worlds Grand Final.

▲ photo by Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games

G2 Esports was bested by Griffin in the second round robin of Group A and settled for the 2nd seed, but the LEC champion was all business against DAMWON Gaming in the Quarterfinals. Rumblings throughout the community before the Semifinals that DAMWON had one of the greatest scrim weeks in the history of any World Championship, but G2 shut down the LCK 3rd seed 3-1 by besting it in both execution as well as compositional dynamics.

Matchup to Watch: Jungle

The upcoming Semifinals between G2 and SKT might possess more on-paper talent than any other best-of-five in the history of the League of Legends World Championship; pinpointing one pivotal factor in a storied, illustrious match at the most elite level of competitive play is the equivalent to picking a needle out of a haystack. That being said, the clash between the star-studded rosters will come down to what happens in the Jungle.

▲ Image Source: Riot Games; photos by Michael Konkol, Colin Young-Wolff

Clid has been excellent, acting as the team's sole catalyst for the early game by making more out of Faker's Mid Lane pressure than any Jungler before him in the SKT organization. Jankos, however, has left much to be desired compared to his MVP-winning form in the 2019 LEC Summer Split. 

Jankos looked better in the Quarterfinals against DWG than he did in Group A, but still has yet to play a game at the 2019 World Championship that inspired confidence. Jankos must stabilize and match Clid's pressure for G2's triple threat style to play to remain balanced enough to overwhelm SKT. Clid, arguably the best Jungler at Worlds 2019, is the sole point of aggression for the controlled T1 quintet to step to G2's breakneck pace in the earlier phases of the game.

Gods and Monsters

Due to the level exhibited by both teams as its last best-of-five series progressed at MSI 2019, it's considered by a majority of the scene that whoever is able to win between G2 and SKT will go on to win the entire World Championship. FunPlus Phoenix looked far more like the dominant LPL champion it was billed as pre-Group Stage, but would almost inarguably be considered the underdog regardless of the result of the second Semifinal series.

G2 Esports is an absolute monstrosity. The roster is the most talented in Western history, and is already in the conversation of one of the greatest teams of all time despite only being together for a single season. G2 plays League of Legends in a way that no other team can, and it is a sight to behold to watch the team execute on rule-bending compositions that would render any other World Class team ineffective.

▲ photo by Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games

However, monsters don't strike fear into the heart of a God the same way they would to mere mortals. Faker's return to the Worlds stage has been triumphant, and while G2 stands tall as the last Western hope, the Unkillable Demon King will not be denied. Expect the greatest series of the LoL Esports season at Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, and when the dust has settled, SK Telecom T1 will be the team still standing after a grueling 3-2 victory over G2 Esports.

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