LCK Spring 2016 – Promotions Recap –

SBENU vs. Ever and Kongdoo vs. MVP – who will make it to LCK Summer 2016?


SBENU Sonicboom vs. ESC Ever
For the first match of the series, both teams banned a whopping 5/6 junglers. It makes sense in a roundabout way, as one of SBENU’s best players is Seong “Flawless” YeonJun, the jungler, while conversely Ever’s worst player is Bless, the jungler, and the trend would continue through the next few games as well. Regardless, SSB still picked up a nice team fighting comp with Lulu, Ryze, and Lucian, with the goal being for Ryze and Lucian to be a frontline themselves while doing absurd amounts of damage. ESC on the other hand took Ekko, Gragas, Alistar, and Sivir for a powerful pick-into-team fight composition. 

Sonicboom came into Game 1 swinging because, of course, they want to stay in the LCK. Unfortunately for them, Ever’s phenomenal engaging power completely demolished any defense SSB tried to put up, but SBENU would not be counted out., They put up a fight every single step of the game, and by fighting long enough they found their chance, as SSB caught a few nice picks and pushed that all the way to the nexus turrets to win ga…er no. Ever stopped them dead in their tracks just before the game would’ve ended.

It was all good though, as SBENU kicked back for a while and bided their, time trading frequently with Ever – however no discernable lead, and certainly no opportunities to close the match would occur. As we mentioned earlier, ESC have a fantastic pick comp, of which they used to take out the oh so valuable Ryze. With such an important piece of their win condition gone, SBENU couldn’t stop the game winning siege by Ever - and before we knew it, this was an 80 minute game.

Just as before, Ever took a team fighting composition with solid engage; specifically Rek’Sai, Azir, Sivir, and Alistar – as engage comps like these work extraordinarily well for less skilled teams because they only rely on mechanics instead of macro game strategy. SBENU doesn’t seem to understand that, and instead tried to pull off the more complicated triple AD with Graves, Corki, and Lucian. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an okay draft on paper, but if they can’t make it work then it’s not worth it.

Playing any game for 80 minutes can be tiring, and playing at this level of competitiveness with your career on the line is likely exhausting and nerve wracking, which I suppose explains SBENU’s awful early mistakes. Early into Game 2 Shin “Nuclear” JeongHyeon gave up first blood after trying to harass the enemy jungler and biting off a bit more than he could chew in the process. Over towards the bot side Flawless and Seo “Soul” HyeonSeok whiffed on a tower dive blowing many of their own summoner spells and getting nothing in return. Then, to top it all off, Oh “Sasin” SeungJu died to a gank – not a great start. The rest of the match was simply SBENU making mistakes, while Ever kept cool and capitalized on those misplays which brought them that much closer to playing in LCK Summer 2016.

Game 3 had Ever on more engage with Maokai and Sivir, while Sonicboom did literally the exact opposite with Ryze, Kindred, Zilean, Kalista, and Braum. At most they had the Kalista ult, which is unreliable and requires Kalista to be all too close; and maybe a Ryze teleport flank – but that’s it. Generally they will always have to play at Ever’s pace, which is not a great situation to be in.
Surprisingly, despite the poor performance of prior matches and their poor composition, SSB laid everything they had left on the table with some nice aggression across the map.

They got picks and pushed turrets, and all they would have to do with that lead was snowball it and not make any major mistakes. However, they got a bit over-aggressive by going for an early Baron; Ever, of course, booked it over there, stole the buff, and destroyed SSB for their mistake. Regardless, SBENU kept the momentum and pressure up by continuing to siege and even went for another Baron, but once again saw the same result as Ever hard engaged with Sivir and Maokai, handily winning both fights. With every obstacle out of the way, Ever made their way to the nexus to finish the game and the series with a comprehensive 3-0 scoreline. It is astonishing in a way, as Korean challenger teams actually winning the promotional tournaments is not a common occurence, far less so with a clean sweep.

Kongdoo Monster vs. MVP
The next series in line was a touch more competitive, this time it was the struggling KDM against the ‘trying to regain their former glory’ MVP. Kongdoo opened with a skirmishing comp of Ekko, Kindred, Azir, and Ezreal, while MVP took the slightly more aggressive Maokai, Graves, Corki, Lucian, and Alistar. If that looks familiar, it’s because it is pretty much what SBENU lost on previously, with the big difference being the Maokai and Alistar, both of which have a solid level of engage while being a great frontline for the vulnerable, but high damage backline carries.

A recurring theme throughout this whole series, and one that has really stuck with me, is how much MVP love dragons. Although it may just be them capitalizing on KDM’s indifference, as you’ll see they put dragons on priority one, and seemed to always be gunning for the 5th dragon win condition (sounds an awful lot like KT Rolster). Alongside picking up 3 dragons, they stole a Baron and massacred KDM when the plucky one eyed monsters tried to sneak the great buff. After a hard fought 5th dragon, MVP aced KDM and finished the match, putting themselves in the driver’s seat for the series.

Game 2 had both sides on team fighting comps, MVP with Ekko, Corki, Sivir, and Alistar and KDM with Maokai, Rek’Sai, Cassiopeia, and Lucian. By switching up their game plan KDM didn’t fall prey to their own hubris like the stubborn SBENU before them, although this still turned out to be a surprisingly uneventful match. Kongdoo started a snowball early with a kill on Sivir plus a dragon which would lead into a hard earned teamfight a bit down the line. When KDM were looking to end the game they headed to Baron, which MVP hardly even tried to stop. Kongdoo then aced the shaky MVP after taking dragon then finished the game. MVP’s performance that game was quite shocking, they just crumbled and died when they were only a bit behind.

Despite handily winning Game 2, Kongdoo discarded their winning formula of good engage, instead favoring a more skirmish heavy comp of Ekko, Rek’Sai, Azir, and Lucian. MVP picked up the Maokai followed up by Graves, Ahri, and a Sivir to round out a pick composition. As we mentioned before, MVP love to rack up the dragons – and rack up they did here.

After acquiring a whopping 4 dragons to 1 they took down KDM in a fight near the Baron. What was awesome to see was how Maokai and Sivir seemingly 2v5’d Kongdoo; the massive tankiness of Mao and the hyper carry damage of Sivir is terrifying. A 5th dragon, another Baron, and a pick on Ekko later, MVP finished the match, putting themselves only a single win away from taking the series.

MVP stuck with their tried and true Maokai alongside Rek’Sai, Lucian, and Alistar – allowing them hard engage and great follow ups for team fighting power. Kondoo managed to pick up Sivir but didn’t build for team fighting as I feel they should have, instead opting into a more pick composition with Azir and Elise.

Very quickly MVP, probably riding on a winner’s high, took control of the map and pushed lanes hard. KDM weren’t going to give up their spot without a fight, and several picks, dragons, and teamfights later they actually looked to bring the series back in their favor. They looked the part anyway, but all their fighting in the mid game meant nothing when they threw at dragon. All it took was a single misplayed fight of an ace for nothing for KDM to lose the series. Oh well, I for one welcome our 2 new teams, ESC Ever and MVP, with open arms. Here’s to a great summer split.

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