Afreeca topples Kingzone in playoff clash

Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon and Afreeca Freecs took down Kingzone DragonX in the League Champions Korea playoffs. Provided by Riot Games

The Afreeca Freecs continued its run in League Champions Korea playoffs with a 3-1 win over Kingzone DragonX on Wednesday in Seoul.

The Spring Split final in the LCK was a one-sided affair that went in favor of Kingzone DragonX but Wednesday was Afreeca's time in the Summer spotlight. From the getgo, Afreeca was in the driver's seat, setting the pace in Game 1 through immaculate objective and vision control. The Freecs got a big boost from its side lanes, with top laner Kim "Kiin" Gi-in putting up a career performance over Kingzone's Kim "Khan" Dong-ha, while Afreeca AD carry Ha "Kramer" Jong-hun shined across multiple games, picking up solo kills against his lane counterparts and dominating teamfights.

Afreeca clearly did its homework leading into this matchup as it seemed to have just the right answers for Kingzone's preferred playstyle of splitpushing, forcing the team to blindly facecheck everything and routinely punishing its overextensions. While this wasn't a perfect series from the Freecs, with the biggest downside being mid laner Lee "Kuro" Seo-haeng -- who got bottled up for most of the series by his lane opponent Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong -- Afreeca was the better team when it counted. Its fans will, for the time being, rejoice along with KT Rolster fans as Afreeca's win today guarantees KT a spot at the upcoming World Championship through either cumulative circuit points or outright winning the Summer split.

While Afreeca celebrates and prepares to take on the next leg in the playoff gauntlet, Kingzone is left to figure out what went wrong before the team goes into the Regional Gauntlet for the third and final seat to Worlds. Spring saw Kingzone reign over the rest of the LCK as unstoppable juggernauts, and many predicted that it would smash everything in its path on its way to a World Championship. As time went on, however, Kingzone has looked increasingly vulnerable.

Wednesday's performance showed that this team is susceptible to being scouted, as Afreeca had answers to everything in Kingzone's playbook. What's more, while Bdd played well, the rest of his team faltered, with AD carry Kim "PraY" Jong-in having a particularly poor outing. In Kingzone's sole win in Game 3, the team looked proactive for the most part, but outside of that isolated game, it merely responded to whatever Afreeca wanted to do, always playing catch-up against a team that likes to play fast.

Kingzone awaits the Regional Gauntlet while Afreeca now turns its attention to rookie sensation Griffin when the two clash at 4 a.m. ET on Saturday.

--Noah Waltzer