Nemesis: a long-standing or unavoidable foe, bound often by circumstance or fate to be a powerful adversary or even archrival. Batman has Joker, and Superman has Lex Luthor. In sports, there are often fierce player rivalries and even rivalry between teams that spans generations of fans and players.
Such competition is also found in esports. There are rivalries like kt Rolster vs SKT T1, which started in Starcraft 1, and there's also rivalry across all teams, as players strive to prove who is the best in their respective positions.
Of the many rivalries within the history of the LCK, few are as well known as the one between Faker and Ambition. In the 2013 OLYMPUS Champions Spring, Faker had a very successful debut by solo-killing Ambition, who was regarded as the best mid laner of the LCK. From that day onward, Faker always seemed to be standing in opposition to Ambition during many of his most important battles.
At the semifinals of the Spring of 2015, Ambition and the members of CJ Entus pushed Faker and SKT to the edge of the cliff by leading 2-0, but they ended up losing 2-3. In the 2016 World Championship, Ambition and Samsung Galaxy made it to game 5 against SKT, yet the last game was won by SKT and Faker, along with the championship. In the 2017 LCK Spring Split that followed, Samsung once again lost to SKT in the playoffs.
But defeat only further fuels the fire of vengeance. Samsung reached Worlds at the last minute through the regional finals. In the quarterfinals, they shut out Longzhu Gaming, who was seen as the strongest team in the competition, and finally claimed their revenge by defeating SKT 3-0 at the finals.
The fated conflict between the two players continued into 2018. Faker met Ambition (KSV) twice during the spring split and SKT won both times 2-0. The two met in two games during this period, and Faker won at each encounter, enacting his own revenge for the last Worlds tournament. Due to their loss against SKT in round 2, KSV stumbled in the leaderboard and almost fell out of the playoffs.
This ceaseless clash between the players is continuing again in the first round of the playoffs of the 2018 LCK Spring Split; SKT will be playing against KSV in a Bo3 wildcard match. Since they start the postseason at the bottom, they are relatively weaker than the other three teams. However, no one can be certain as to who will win and advance in the playoffs.
CuVee will be responsible for KSV’s top lane. Compared to Untara and Thal, who weren’t able to deliver dominant performance, KSV seems stronger in the top lane. The mid lane and jungle positions weren’t that consistent for either team this season, while at the bottom lane, Bang has been playing well and is relatively stronger than Ruler. All in all, neither team seems to have an extreme advantage over the other at the moment.
They also have had a peculiar pattern since 2017: when Faker’s team plays against Ambition’s team, the match ends with a shutout, so many fans are curious to see if the pattern will carry on.
The record in the Spring Split between the teams that reached the playoffs is also interesting. SKT lost all matches to the top 3 teams, but won both matches against KSV. However, KSV had a 1-1 record against each of the top 3 teams, including a win against Kingzone DragonX who lost only twice this split. In other words, SKT is the biggest obstacle for KSV record-wise.
In this situation, as the main pillars of the two teams, Faker and Ambition will be at the center of it all. Both players weren’t always at peak performance during this split, but in the matches where they were, victory followed. Also, Ambition’s record against Faker was higher than that of Haru, so it is likely that Ambition will be starting in the jungle for KSV.
The upcoming match between SKT T1 and KSV will be the first step for each team on the path to MSI. For many of the onlookers, the battle between Faker and Ambition embodies the clash between the teams themselves. Who will reach the next round of the playoffs? We can only wait and see.