Despite starting out in an 0-2 hole, SK Telecom T1 battled back to come away with a 3-2 victory over KT Rolster in Seoul, South Korea during the semifinals of the League of Legends Champions Korea playoffs on Saturday.
Four of the five games were complete blowouts one way or another, as matches between the two titans of the LCK tend to be. KT Rolster started off the series stronger than it's ever looked in the past; it absolutely buried SKT not once, but twice, a feat the team had difficulty doing previously. Unfortunately for KT Rolster, however, two wins simply isn't enough, and the substitution from SKT of Han "Peanut" Wang-ho for Kang "Blank" Sun-gu for SKT completely turned around what seemed to be a hopeless series. While KT jungler Go "Score" Dong-bin managed to do what he wanted in the jungle in the first two games, he was neutralized once Blank stepped into the picture. This, coupled with SKT's ban of Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu's Kalista that went off in Games 1 and 2, neutered KT's early game pressure, allowing SKT to get the comeback train going.
It could, in fact, be argued that the pick phase had an outsize effect on the outcome of the match on a whole, as two major picks completely dominated the series, and only one of them ever found its way to the ban list. In addition to Deft's dominant Kalista running rampant early on in the series, Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok's Corki was another factor that completely reversed the outcome of the series. Once Faker got his hands on the champion, he completely neutralized Heo "PawN" Won-Seok in the mid lane. This had the added effect of preventing KT from gaining much jungle pressure due to having to be wary of Faker's might.
The series MVP was none other than SKT T1's support, Lee "Wolf" Jae-wan, who made such numerous game-saving plays to secure the honor. His Rakan play was especially solid, with his four-man The Quickening in Game 5 setting up an early triple kill for AD carry Bae "Bang" Jun-sik's Xayah. With such strong plays in these final three games from essentially every position on SKT, it was no wonder that the reigning World Champions managed to bounce back and take the series.
While SKT will now prep for its grand finals matchup against Longzhu Gaming next Saturday at 4 a.m. ET, KT will wait with bated breath on its outcome, as its spot at Worlds rides on it. An SKT win will give KT a spot based on points alone, while a Longzhu Gaming win means it will have to wade through the regional qualifiers.