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2017 World Championship: SK Telecom T1 books fourth appearance at Finals after surviving Royal Never Give Up

The defending champions, SK Telecom T1 set the bar even higher as they are set attend their fourth Finals appearance after an exciting series with the hometown favorites, Royal Never Give Up.

The Chinese team Royal Never Give Up showed a strong performance throughout the Group Stage and quarterfinals. Because of this, they became one of the teams that had potential to do the impossible, defeat SK Telecom T1. The defending champions on the other hand looked shaky in the Group Stage and even more so in the quarterfinal series against Misfits. However, just like their series against Misfits, the Koreans showed why they are the defending champions as they closed out the series in five games despite strong games from Royal Never Give Up.

GAME 1

SK Telecom T1 opened the series by changing things up from the Quarterfinals by bringing out Galio for their star mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and a Gangplank for their top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon. Because of the Gangplank pick, it was clear what the Chinese team had to do, not let the Gangplank farm and this was exactly what they did. The jungler of RNG, Liu “mlxg” Shi Yu showed himself at 5 minutes with a gank on Huni in the top lane which gave the Shen of Yan “LetMe” Jun Ze an early lead. This lead gave the rest of RNG the space to dominate their respective lanes.

This good early lead gave RNG the confidence to pick off the SKT members time and time again. SKT showed their heart as they were able to win some scrappy team fights throughout the game. However, the gold lead of the Chinese second seed was far too big for even the champions to claw their way back into.

A teamfight by the Elder Drake at the 37 minute mark for the Chinese was what allowed them to close out the game open the series, 1-0 in their favor.

GAME 2

Both teams adapted amazingly well after Game 1 and they decided to bring out some pocket picks. SKT decided to pick Camille and Leona for top and support, respectively while RNG decided to pick Nocturne after a number of junglers were taken off the list of champions. Nocturne was last seen played by the GIGABYTE Marines in the Group Stage and it was effective because GAM had committed their resources fully into the Nocturne. Because mlxg wasn’t able to have a good start, his Nocturne had no pressure in the laning phase. This opened the door for the SKT jungler, Kang “Blank” Sun-gu to pressure the lanes of the Chinese team.

With a lead in their pockets, SKT continued to press on and keep their opponents at bay. This time it was their vast crowd control sources that allowed them to engage and disengage at their own time. Huni‘s Camille also proved to be a handful for the Chinese team as they had to send multiple people to deal with him, time and time again.

All these conditions made for an easy snowball for the defending champions as they closed out the game in 31 minutes.

GAME 3

Game 3 had even more adjustments in the draft after RNG put together a late game scaling composition with a lot of crowd control, similar to their composition in Game 1. SKT on the other hand put the best of their previous drafts together.

These adjustments were immediately felt as both teams exchanged kills and towers for the closest start in the first semifinals. However, it didn’t take long for the hometown favorites to show their coordinated and strong team fighting especially with their composition that can easily lock down champions. As the mid game came to full swing, the Chinese team had taken the lead as they took kills and objectives one after the other.

An uncontested Baron at 20 minutes gave Royal Never Give Up the confidence to storm the the base and take down the structures in the middle lane. In the end, it was the star Chinese ADC, Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao that led the charge to force SKT to match point.

GAME 4

With their backs against the wall, the defending champions decided to bring out their substitute jungler Han “Peanut” Wang-ho. Unlike their previous games, the defending champions put their eggs in the basket of their ADC, Bae “Bang” Jun-sik with a protect the Kog’Maw composition.

RNG took an early lead in the game but SKT kept themselves close through objective-taking and farm. All this changed as the game hit 25 minutes as SKT had tried to sneak in a Baron. RNG looked to contest the attempt but a misstep from Uzi and their mid laner, Li “Xiaohu” Yuan Hao allowed SKT to take two kills and a Baron to follow. From what was a game with 500-1000 gold between the two teams, it blew up to a 2000 gold lead for SKT.

The Chinese team was able to stop the initial onslaught from the defending champions, but the damage had been done. The Koreans used their tank line to push the Chinese team back and Bang knocking on the mid tower and inhibitor. With the middle lane in shambles, SKT took a couple of kills and the Nexus to force a Game 5 after 33 minutes in the game.

GAME 5

Peanut’s substitution worked well for the Koreans after an impressive Game 4 which allowed him to stay for the final game of the series. Despite all the changes in throughout the series, one thing remained constant, Faker held the mid lane with Galio and he closed out the series with the same champion.

SKT was off to a blazing start with after Peanut‘s Jarvan IV took two kills in the top lane. Despite watching their bottom tier one tower go down, SKT held their ground and looked elsewhere to gain an advantage. The Koreans showed the familiar sharp rotations. This gave the Koreans the confidence to push the advantage.

After taking the Baron, the defending champions took the Elder Drake and won a massive team fight that started with a three-man Gnar! at the back of the Drake pit. This left Letme to defend a base against a Baron-ed and Elder Drake-d up five-man SKT. This fight closed the fate of both Royal Never Give Up and SK Telecom T1.

Despite looking weak in the Quarterfinals, the defending champions returned to their familiar form in the Semifinals and is set to defend their championship next week.

 

Photos courtesy of lolesports

 

 

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