SK Telecom will advance to their third World Championship final after a 3-2 victory over ROX Tigers.
This was always going to be a highlight match-up, and it delivered. Two-time World Champions facing off against this year’s tournament favourites. Faker and Smeb fighting for the title of the best in the world. This was perhaps the greatest series ever played at World’s.
The series started well for SK Telecom, taking the early lead with some solid Orianna play from Faker, arguably his most comfortable champion but one that the meta hadn’t enabled him to play in quite some time. In response to the loss, game two saw the Tigers bring out their secret weapon, picking a Miss Fortune support for GorillA. Meanwhile, Bengi was subbed out for Blank despite a victory for SK Telecom in the first game.
The unexpected pick along with some solid Ashe play by PraY saw the Tigers tie it up, ultimately rushing down SKT’s open base while delaying recalls to prevent them from contesting at the Nexus until it was too late.
Game three was again a story of PraY’s Ashe. Consistently finding kills for the team with perfect arrows, the Tigers’ AD Carry lead his team to a series lead, the first time that ROX had ever won more than a single game in a best of five against SK Telecom. For their part, SKT needed to find a response to a strategy they may not have anticipated going into the match.
The other two-time World Champion came into game four with a pick perhaps even more surprising than the earlier Miss Fortune – Nidalee. While the huntress has been consistently banned throughout the tournament so far, it slipped through in game four likely because Bengi had, until this point, never played a professional game on the champion.
As it turns out, that’s not because he’s entirely incapable with it. Alongside Faker, Bengi helped turn the game quickly in SK Telecom’s favour. This time managing to largely avoid the arrows from PraY’s Ashe, SKT didn’t give the Tigers many opportunities to gain a lead and closed it out cleanly. The series would be decided on the fifth and final game.
The start couldn’t have been more tense. The teams traded back and forth, with the Tigers finding advantages in the side lanes but Faker once again asserting his dominance over Kuro, back again on Orianna.
The play that decided the game came arguably from Bengi. As the Tigers tried to rush an early Baron, Bengi went in on Lee Sin and though he couldn’t contest with Smite, did find Peanut. The Tigers’ jungler was deleted and though Smeb was able to secure the Baron SKT came in to clean up four kills. From there they built a substantial lead and played it out perfectly, not giving the Tigers’ the slightest of openings as they choked them out of their final game to secure a spot in the final.
It’s the end of the line for the Tigers, and SK Telecom are now poised to take their third World Championship – half of the six in total there have ever been. Faker had a phenomenal series and has re-established himself as the best player in the world, a terrifying prospect for whichever of Samsung and H2k will eventually face SKT in the final.