Gen.G Esports, Afreeca Freecs, and kt Rolster… These 3 LCK teams have a few things in common. First, they’re the teams that have been performing well in the past few LCK splits that made it to the 2018 LCK Summer Playoffs and World Championship Main Event. Second, they currently have a player that performed as a Korean International team representative for the 2018 Asian Games. And third, unfortunately, these 3 teams are now struggling hard to avoid a possible relegation in this 2019 Spring Split postseason.
Yes, it’s official...One team will 100% perform in a Promotion / Relegation Match this Spring, and as a matter of fact, we might be seeing Gen.G, Afreeca, or even the 2018 LCK Summer Split champions, KT performing in the Korean LoL second-division league, Challengers Korea (CK) starting from this Summer.
Although the 3 teams went through some small to big tweaks in their roster going into 2019, most of us didn’t expect them falling this low in the Spring standings. To be honest, it’s still highly awkward to even hear their names being considered as a possible CK team this Summer.
7th place, Gen.G Esports
Series: 5W - 11L / Game score: 15W - 24L (-9)
8th place, Afreeca Freecs
Series: 5W - 12L / Game score: 14W - 27L (-13)
9th place, kt Rolster
Series: 4W -12L / Game score: 13W - 25L (-12)
Currently, Gen.G is on 7th, Afreeca on 8th, and KT on 9th place. And yes, looking at their remaining matches Gen.G do seem a bit more on a safer spot compared to the others. However, it’s yet early to give out a concrete prediction on which team will fall to the Promotions Match since there are so many odds left for each team. So, before the last week for the 2019 LCK Spring starts, let’s see what would be some remaining hopes and doubts for the 3 teams.
7th place: Gen.G EsportsRemaining matchup: DAMWON, SANDBOX
Just looking at their current position in the standings, they’re on 7th place and has been stacking quite an average Game record compared to the other two teams. Gen.G is currently on a 15W-25L (-9) Game record and, even if they get swept in their remaining 2 fixtures, it still makes them on a -13 Game record which is still okay compared to the other 2 teams. Moreover, chances seem a bit slim for Afreeca and KT sweeping their remaining matchups. If Gen.G can simply defeat DAMWON on the 28th, they can avoid going to the Promotions / Relegations.
Nevertheless, the presence of Ruler will be a big help. He has been performing exceptionally in his recent few games and no doubt this talented bottom laner will stand up for his team once again for the remaining two series.
To be honest, Gen.G do seem to have secured a safer spot compared to the other 2 teams. However, there are scenarios of Gen.G going to the Relegations and the worst case for them would be losing against DAMWON and SANDBOX. If they lose both series while Afreeca and KT win their remaining matches, Gen.G heads to the Promotions / Relegations.
Also, if they decide to stick with their traditional late-game carry focused playstyle, Gen.G might possibly need a plan B since they've been struggling numerous times against teams that aggressively snowballed in the early to mid game; their remaining opponents, DAMWON and SANDBOX are both capable of dominating the gaming early. Of course, sticking with their go-to would be best, but they should be ready to switch to their plan B if things don't go as planned.
8th place: Afreeca FreecsRemaining matchup: SKT T1
Looking back at their latest games, although it might be harsh to say, their ‘hopes’ mostly rely on their top laner, Kiin carrying the team once again. But, like we’ve seen numerous times this Spring, sometimes it’s even hard for Kiin to lead Afreeca to victory.
So, another hope for Afreeca might be their remaining opponent, SKT securing a 2:0 victory against Jin Air on the 28th which will make SKT on quite a high percentage of finishing 2nd place. Who knows... SKT T1 might possibly sub in their bench members against Afreeca Freecs.
Their final opponent for this Spring is SKT and looking back at both teams’ recent performances, it seems difficult for Afreeca to even get a single set victory against the current 2nd place team. Also, SKT’s 2nd place spot is not confirmed which gives them no excuse to use their bench members against Afreeca. They’ll have to simply prepare well and try their utmost to defeat SKT regardless of a possible change in their starting lineup.
On the 24th of March (KST), Kiin displayed exceptional performance on Akali in game 3 against Kingzone. He finished on a 7/2/1 KDA and appeared in the majority of that game's official highlight clip. Despite his absolute performance, Afreeca still couldn't win that match. If Afreeca is looking for a win against SKT on the 30th, something more should be prepared than just a "Kiin one man carry" strategy.
9th place: kt RolsterRemaining matchup: Hanwha Life Esports, DAMWON
Although they’re currently on 9th place, their situation rather seems positive looking at their remaining matchups. Their opponents, Hanwha and DAMWON have already a ‘fixed’ spot in the standings: 6th and 5th place. KT will also be their last match for the Spring Split so Hanwha and DAMWON have a high possibility of using their bench members in their starting lineup. Moreover, DAMWON will have no reason to reveal their strategies in that match since they have the playoffs in just 3 days.
SKT seems like a big wall for the 8th place team, Afreeca. It's likely that SKT will defeat Afreeca and even if they succeed to win a set against SKT, KT can simply avoid going to the Promotions / Relegations if they win one of their remaining matches. So, it all goes down to how much KT can focus against Hanwha and DAMWON since they have a high possibility of not using their starting members nor their main win strategies they’ve used during this Spring.
Let’s think of how Gen.G and Afreeca Freecs won their matches this Spring. Gen.G went with their traditional late-game carry focused playstyle whereas Afreeca utilized some highly unique picks/bans to surprise the opponents. And, the main reason why they were able to do this was because of the presence of a ‘hyper-carry’ player: Ruler and Kiin. With the support of his teammates, Ruler safely scaled up and carried Gen.G which is such a familiar thing this team has been doing ever since winning the 2017 Worlds. In case of Kiin, this Spring he was on champions such as Akali, and even marksmen champions such as Lucian or Vayne in the top lane and dominated the Rift.
On the other hand, KT does not seem to have that kind of player. Their prominent mid laner, Bdd who has been solid this Spring, for sure is a reliable asset for KT. However, he still seems to fall 2% short compared to what Ruler and Kiin have displayed for their team throughout this Spring. And most definitely, these 2 players will stand up for their team big time like they’ve been doing for the past few splits in the LCK. Whether it’s their veteran players Smeb, Score, and SnowFlower or their youngsters, someone else will have to carry the burden with Bdd in order to secure a possible win against their remaining opponents.