SK Telecom T1 vs. Gamania Bears: Avenge the CJ mistake!
The SEA region wildcard winner had to go versus the third seed in the Korean LCS point system. Despite this circumstance almost 99% of the viewers would have predicted a win for SK Telecom T1. The team lead by the enigmatic Faker was facing a foe seemingly inferior to them. This time the Koreans learned their lesson as the mistake by CJ Entus Frost ( Azubu Frost back then) to underestimate Taipei Assassins was not made that day.
In Game 1, the Taiwanese seemingly got outplayed in every aspect of the game from their Korean counterparts - from the pick/bann phase to laning phase and finally, team fight execution. Their champions had no cohesive combo with which to counter the enemy line-up. Combined with SKT1's incredible objective control, defeat seemed inevitable for the Bears.
Game two followed similar fashion as the Koreans played an incredibly smart match, trading as efficiently as possible. They reduced the threat targets of Gamania Bears to only their bot lane duo and after relocating the pressure there, the one thing they had to do was activate their abilities on time after they see the enemy. A brilliantly played match, strategy-wise by SK Telecom T1 that ensured their place in the semifinals.
Gambit Gaming vs. Najin Black Sword: RU vs KR take 2
The brightest of foreign champions since the Season 2 World Finals, Gambit, was facing yet another Korean threat. Solidifying their foreign "hope" status after the amazing run at IEM Katowice where they beat both CJ Entus Frost and Blaze to win the tournament, Gambit entered the match after a very rocky group stage affair. Outright one-sided loses to Fnatic, shaky victories versus the rest and an almost "thrown" (forgive me for using this ugly word) game against Samsung Galaxy Ozone. Things did look grim as the Russians were about to face a Korean champion who had been off the radar since early 2013.
Game one started with no advantages for both teams. As the game progressed Gambit got more aggressive and managed to thwart any attempt at objective taking or organised siege of towers by Najin. The two Russian stars in this game were Alex_Ich whose Fizz play made Nagne's international debut a nightmare and Genja who was an absolute sharpshooter with his long-range Varus kills. Despite the best efforts of the Koreans, including a stolen Baron Nashor, the first game went to Gambit Gaming.
Once the break was over, on the Fields of Justice entered a completely different Najin Black Sword. The monstrous bottom lane that made the game a living hell for Gambit starred PraY, regarded as the best AD Carry in Korea and also a part of the All Star line-up that destroyed everyone in Shanghai. The other thorn in the eyes of the foreigners was Cain and was living proof that Thresh must be banned against all Korean supports. This time the shoe was on the other foot, the Russian efforts were in vain as Najin were unstoppable as they took objective after objective. This time, Nagne's Ahri was a lot more dangerous and charms were landing all over the place just minutes prior the nexus exploded. The score was equalised.
The third game was like watching Gambit gaming against TPA a year ago. A momentum-robbed team, being outplayed and starved to death. Ironically, the thorn in their eye was once again a Nidalee, this time played by Nagne. "I wish I could show this game to all the Solo que bad players, Najin Black Sword basically had no fog of war" was a tweet by Michael "zechs" Radford which described the situation perfectly. All the efforts of Diamonds were in vain as nothing but pink wards stood on the Russian side of the map. Game, set and match Najin Black Sword.
RoyalHZ vs. OMG: Brothers versus brothers
Unfortunately for China, both representatives were drawn together and one had to go. This match however, also contained a bit of back story. After the LPL finals took place, rumors said that OMG intentionally let RoyalHZ win. Despite having to face their compatriots, each team had to dispel the horrible myth one way or another.
Game one started in an excellent manner for OMG who secured first blood on the enemy support and quickly pressed objectives. Respecting their opponent's strenght, RoyalHZ poked and calculated their aggression and mid-game contests to a great extent. The one to bring back the momentum would be Uzi - the star AD who became a true terror with his Caitlyn after pick up a couple of kills. The match was decided when Royal were allowed a Baron pick up for an inhibitor while having the advantage item-wise. A terrible choice by their opponents as what happened afterwards was a simple and quick defeat despite the score being relatively close for the majority of the match.
Game two was not as close, but featured quite the flashy picks as RoyalHZ opted for Zed and Vayne which saw many people grinning given the mechanical prowess of the Chinese players. Their opponents traded horribly in the early game, giving both aforementioned champions enough gold and experience to afford their core builds and unleash their full potential onto the field of justice. The one fight that swung the tides heavily was a 4v4 near dragon where RoyalHZ cleaned house and asserted their domination on the entire map for the remainder of the game. A big blunder on their opponent's side was the Trinity Force pick up on Varus which proved utterly useless. Convincingly, game two went to RoyalHZ proving that there was no fixing once and for all.
Fnatic vs. Cloud9: Europe versus the United States of America
Despite all other matches of the quarterfinal bracket contained quality of the highest standard, this was probably the most expected one. The reason is simple, one region is in denial and another is desperately trying to reclaim its identity. Which is which is up to you to decide. In the end a reddit quote describes the situation perfectly - "NA and EU are arguing over which region is less worse." Europe's champion had to face the most dominant LCS team so far.
The first game started explosively as xPeke immediately locked his faithful Kassadin as first pick. This move proved vital as the Spaniard needed just a couple of kills to snowball and completely devastate the American line-up. Hai had nothing to do with his Gragas as his team was being dismantled all over the map. Their ability to move as a single unit is the only thing that kept them from a swift defeat. The Americans seemed out of place in the first game and a simple hesitation was the final nail in the coffin as they decided to retreat 10-15 seconds later than they should have. At this point, fnatic took a middle inhibitor which was a big enough advantage to seal the game minutes later.
The second game was a completely different affair as an overconfident fnatic was punished in every possible way. It was not as one-sided as game one, but still Cloud9 definitely left no breathing space and comeback opportunities for the Europeans. The duo of Meteos and Hai was a strong enough combination to equalise the result in a fashion which made the whole venue explode with "USA, USA, USA!" chants. One game was left, one game that matters so much and yet so little. All eyes were on the contenders as they prepared to enter the Fields of Justice for the third time.
Game number three started the best possible for the fnatic as Cyanide got a double kill before the creeps even spawned. A master of the jungling craft, the Lee Sin maestro snowballed this advantage and wreaked havoc in the line of the enemy. Outplayed in almost every aspect, Cloud9 managed to get a kill only after fnatic scored 22 first. The Europeans stood victorious while the last American team had to leave the most prestigious League of Legends competition.
The semifinals continue today as SK Telecom T1 take on Najin Black Sword. Will the monstrous line-up lead by Grand Marshal Faker defeat PraY's troops who despite the shaky performance against Gambit, did show that they have the ability to execute strategies flawlessly? The best Korean representative for the final will be decided in a matter of hours!
Former lead editor and interviewer for SK Gaming
Follow me on twitter - @Adddler or LINK
iNNERFiRE - multi-game journalist and Editor-in-Chief: 2012
onGamers - League of Legends Feature Producer: 01.2014 - 02.2015
SK-Gaming - League of Legends Lead Editor: 11.2012 - 08.2015
My journey into eSports started in 2004 when I accidentally caught a small video on TV from the WarCraft 3 WCG 2004 final. I opened up the SK Gaming website from my father's laptop and never stopped reading to this day. In early 2010 I started writing at a Bulgarian news website simply because I disliked how the current editor was handling his job and with time, I got to be Editor-In-Chief. My main writing interests back then were StarCraft 2, QuakeLive and League of Legends.
Fast-forward to 2012, after a small hiatus and moving to England to attend university, I decided to start writing news posts again, inspired by a couple of industry figures who have taken their turns taking eSports writing to a new level. With the beginning of IPL5, I was given a trial with SK Gaming which was successful and I never looked back.
In early 2014, onGamers presented me with an incredible opportunity to join their ranks which I took. Although I believe my 2014 was rather poor (in terms of work ethic and results), I have made changes during the winter break to ensure that sufficient effort will be made to repair that. Unfortunately, due to the collapse of the team, the project was at a stand still which marked the end of my stint with the oG crew.
I continued producing 1 on 1 interviews with SK members until July 2015. After that, other commitments arose and I figured I could not provide the flow of content I promised my superiors and took a step back, leaving SK.
If you are an eSports fan who is looking to get into writing or simply want to chat about eSports across the years, you can always find me on my twitter - @Adddler . Below you can find some trivia about me.
BroodWar / StarCraft 2
BW pro: sAvi0r and Flash (for different reasons)
BW race: Terran
BW series: Hana Daetoo MSL
SC2 pro: Creator and Stephano (different reasons)
SC2 race: Terran
SC2 series: ThorZain vs Polt at DreamHack Open 2012 and any big final played by King MvP
StarCraft related article: God of the Battlefield
Pro: Alexey 'Cypher' Yanushevski
Map: Aerowalk, BloodRun (100% Eastern European choices)
Series: Cooller vs Cypher. Especially the brilliant defensive Cypher game on Aero (game 4).
Rivalry: Rapha vs Cypher
Quake related articled: The Quadra Interview and the one and only Cypher PoV
League of Legends
Pro(s): FORG1VEN, Faker, WeiXiao, NaMei and Mata.
Position: AD Carry
Series: All the World Elite games at IPL5, KT Bullets versus SK Telecom T1 K OGN Summer 2013 Final and LPL Summer Final between StarHorn Royal Club and EDG (The perfect Jinx game by Namei).
League related article: Most of TeamLiquid.net's takes on the 2012 and 2013 OGN tournaments.
Team: Fnatic (2008-2009)
Series: AGAiN vs Fnatic at WCG 2009. Literally broke a cup after the game. One of the most emotional series for me as a spectator.
Gfinity League of Legends - August 2013 (SK Gaming)
EU LCS Week 5 London - June 2014 (SK Gaming / onGamers)
GamesCom 2014 Cologne - August 2014 (SK Gaming / onGamers)
EU LCS 2015 Week 7 Spring Split - March 2015 (SK Gaming)
Intel Extreme Masters Season IX Katowice - March 2015 (SK-Gaming)
Team Curse announce new roster
Behold your Season 3 World Champions!
Season 3 World Finals: Semifinals recap
Season 3 World Finals: Group stage recap
Countdown to the Finals: Korea
THE NEW JERSEY