LCK: SKT, KSV TO FILL UP LAST PLAYOFF SPOTS
It was a showdown as we have barely ever seen it. It all came down to the last matches of this year’s League of Legends Korean Champions’ Spring Split to finally determine the last two playoff spots. In the end, it was only due to one more point in the overall map count for fan favourites SK Telecom T1 and KSV eSports to secure their fourth and fifth positions in the table. One could talk about so many ‘what if’s’ here, but in the end, ROX Tigers had to bite the dust. Although the team has shown some strong performances throughout the entire season, they will be eliminated for now. One could definitely feel the great desperation and disappointment a couple of days ago. But let’s look back at what happened in the final Week 9 of the LCK Spring Split Group Stages.
March 21: A promising start for ROX
For KSV, the match-up on March 21 against ROX Tigers was a match point game in order to qualify for the Playoffs. All they needed was that one last victory. One last victory that would make fans and staff forget about a somewhat messy Spring Split. In 2018, the reigning champions have not really been able to find their form so far. In just one single game they could have given their fans something back, making it to the next stage was the least their fans were hoping for. Yet, they failed.
ROX Tigers went on to beat KSV eSports in a series that showed some good games. Whereas both of the teams were able to win one game each in a pretty dominating manner, it all came down to a very close Game 1 which was eventually won by ROX Tigers’ superior teamfight composition. As a whole, someone always felt that ROX was a bit more focused, a bit more determined to take the series and the playoff spot. Things worked out for the team. At first.
March 22: SKT to stay in the race
Now, it was up to SK Telecom T1 to deliver. They knew that they had to win against underdog MVP. Not only win, win convincingly since everyone knew that single map counts might be super important in the end. And they managed to do so. After a hard overall season, they had finally been able to put everything together, stay focused, and take the series in a convincing fashion with a very important 2-0 victory.
With ROX Tigers and SKT both winning their match-ups, the table appeared to look even crazier than it had in the beginning of Week 9. KSV was now sitting at a record of 9-8 (map count 21-20), ROX at 9-8 (map count 21-21) and SKT1 at 8-9 (21-22). Madness! Writing a better script for this situation seems nearly impossible! Everything had now to be decided in the last matches of the group stage. Matches that might form careers, determine individual fates or entire sponsorships for seasons to come.
March 24: All that’s left is hope
The day could not have started out better for ROX Tigers. After KSV eSports had, unsurprisingly, lost to King-Zone DragonX in a close series where they, however, put up a very good fight, the Tigers knew what they had to do. In order to qualify, the team would simply have to beat Jin Air Green Wings to secure a solid fourth rank on the table. ‘Simply’. Well, it turns out that the Green Wings were not so eager on giving this series away so easily which finally ended in a huge upset:
ROX Tigers 1-2 Jin Air Green Wings
Who could have seen that coming? Within moments dreams were crushed, even worse: ROX Tigers were showing a strong and almost immaculate first game, beating Jin Air after only 32 minutes into the game. However, there was one specific player who did not quite want to finish this Spring Split with a loss, Jin Air AD Carry Park ‘Teddy’ Jin-seong. The undisputed star of the team played the series of his life, posting 11/0/3 and 8/0/7 KDAs on Xayah and Jinx, being voted two-times MVP in this very series and carrying his team to a final and last win of this Spring Split.
With this loss for ROX Tigers, two things were certain: Due to one more map winning point to KSV’s name, they had now finally managed to qualify. No matter what the outcome of SKT’s last series might bring, they knew they had done it. ROX on the other hand were crushed. All they could hope for was Kongdoo Monster beating SK Telecom T1. Their last hope was a team that had not won a single series since 13 consecutive match-ups. All that’s left is hope!
March 25: Experience kicks in
SK Telecom T1 found themselves with their back to the walls. They knew they HAD TO win against Kongdoo Monster in order to make it into the next stage of the LCK Spring Split. However, one could definitely sense their nervousness in the early stages of all the games as they knew what was on the line. Especially, after Kongdoo Monster took the second game, things were starting to look bad for SKT after struggling during the early game in Game 3. So it was, once again, SKT’s Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok’s turn to shine again. He stepped up his game and showed a brilliant performance on Anivia. After being able to secure Baron, Faker and his team were able to take over the control of the game. In the end, SKT’s experience paid off, securing them yet another Playoff Spot in the team’s history.
With these results SKT is now facing off against KSV eSports on March 31. The winner of this match-up will move on to play KT Rolster, the team that finished 3rd in the Spring Split 2018. After that, Afreeca Freecs (2nd) and King-Zone DragonX (1st) are waiting to determine the LCK Spring Split Champion 2018 who will also receive their immediate ticket for the Mid-Season Invitational 2018, to be held in Berlin and Paris throughout the month of May.