The opening semifinals series at the League of Legends World Championship pits familiar foes against one another. SK Telecom T1 won their second World Championship last year against the ROX Tigers – formerly the KOO Tigers. A team who entered the LCK in 2014 tripping over themselves, ROX Tigers finished first this year in the Korean region, but it didn’t require taking down the well-oiled defending World Champions.

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Game 1

ROX TIGERS: Smeb (Poppy) – Peanut (Elise) – Kuro (Viktor) – Pray (Caitlyn) – Gorilla (Karma)

SK TELECOM T1: Duke (Trundle) – Bengi (Olaf) – Faker (Oriana) – Bang (Ashe) – Wolf (Zyra)

Bans: Ryze, Ezreal, Syndra ; Nidalee Aurelion Sol - Jayce

Notably, both Syndra and Aurelion Sol were banned, not allowing either Faker or Kuro the option khổng lồ dominate on them. But Faker still greatly impacted the trò chơi with his play on Oriana.

The action started heating up after the 13 minutes mark with two successful Teleport plays. Following two failed ganks by the ROX Tigers, Smeb TP’d behind an overextended Faker and chased him into the bot river with the his team in tow. A quick execution of Faker led khổng lồ First Blood & the first Infernal Drake. But SKT responded by not only rolling their early game pressure into the first turret kill in the midlane, but with an excellent TP play by Duke in the bot jungle lớn kill Peanut.

The start of the mid game was marked by extremely tight fights with back-and-forth objective takes. With Peanut caught out in the bot lane, SKT pushed on to take the bot turret. SKT took Pray and Gorilla off the map, but a roaming Kuro worked with Smeb to take back two kills. However, SKT were able khổng lồ take the turret. As soon as both teams were fully spawned, they jockeyed for control over Infernal Drake. Smeb went in but his backline did little damage & the đứng đầu laner fell. However, Peanut was able lớn steal the Infernal và escape. Focus then turned to the Baron.

The game opened up at the 27-minute mark. With vision control near Baron, Wolf was able lớn find a pick on Gorilla in the mid lane, allowing SKT khổng lồ easily take Baron. ROX conceded and went for the third Infernal. SKT were able lớn push down the outer turrets but failed to do much on ROX’s base. SKT took control of the map, & with their pick comp, it looked as though they would have no problem holding control of the impending second Baron. But ROX were able to catch SKT off guard with a rapid rotation over khổng lồ the Baron. Before SKT could react, ROX had already melted the objective down.

Despite the mistake, SKT were able lớn play the maps more effectively than ROX. With superior vision, Faker pushed the bot lane down to take the first inner turret, và though Smeb và Kuro engaged to nab a kill, Duke sat alone top to take the inner top turret. Knowing ROX were forced lớn be more defensive, SKT started the Elder dragon 42 minutes in. ROX were slow khổng lồ respond and Peanut was forced lớn attempt a Smite steal. But it was Bengi who secured the objective. A second after, Faker landed a massive, debilitating Ultimate khổng lồ take four kills & allowing SKT to lớn push for the win.

Game 2

SK TELECOM T1: Duke (Ekko) – Blank (Olaf) – Faker (Viktor) – Bang (Ezreal) – Wolf (Zyra)

ROX TIGERS: Smeb (Rumble) – Peanut (Lee Sin) – Kuro (Karma) – Pray (Ashe) – Gorilla (Miss Fortune)

Bans: Aurelion Sol – Jayce – Jhin ; Syndra – Ryze – Nidalee

ROX Tigers shocked everyone in Madison Square Garden with a nigh unbelievable Miss Fortune pick for Gorilla. But the pick seemed indicative of their buoyant spirits. Peanut laughed at his computer after a successful counter-gank vị trí cao nhất lane to grab the First Blood. A minute later, Smeb roamed bot and tower dove while deep in SKT territory. Despite a mombo line to lớn escape, it was a successful play to kill both Wolf and Bang. Và ROX justified the support pick a few minutes later with a bot-lane wombo bộ combo to take out SKT’s duo.

It gave the team an advantage that rolled over lớn a 12-minute Teleport play in the bot lane that led khổng lồ the first turret as well as SKT’s bot lane second-tier turret. SKT were able to lớn respond by taking both the top & mid tier-ones, but in leveraging their bot-lane lead, ROX ended up with a 2K gold advantage. Và at the 15-minute mark, SKT attempted to contest the first Infernal Drake, but their disorganization led to disaster as they concede four deaths.

However, despite the exciting early game, ROX looked fairly anemic during the early portions of the mid game. SKT maintained control of their jungle & even nabbed a few picks. But at 27-minute mark, ROX were able lớn chunk Faker down enough khổng lồ finally attempt Baron. SKT responded, but were hesitant lớn move in; especially Blank who seemed indecisive when lớn move in. SKT’s jungler fell before the Baron was low enough, và Peanut was able to lớn secure the objective. This led lớn a 4-for-2 teamfight win by ROX và an Inhibitor. In retreating, though, ROX forfeited four kills to lớn SKT.

It looked as though SKT made their way back into the game, but in attempting lớn push down top and mid, it opened up ROX khổng lồ sneak into SKT’s base and push for Nexus. In what ended up being the most memorableplay of the game, Pray was able to land Ashe"sUltimate across the bản đồ on a Teleporting Duke. It gave them enough time khổng lồ continue pushing and finish the game off.Peanut laughed và hugged Smeb as ROX walked off the stage with their win.

Game 3

SK TELECOM T1: Duke (Ekko) – Blank (Olaf) – Faker (Oriana) – Bang (Caitlyn) – Wolf (Zyra)

ROX TIGERS: Smeb (Rumble) – Peanut (Lee Sin) – Kuro (Viktor) – Pray (Ashe) – Gorilla (Miss Fortune)

Bans:Syndra–Ryze–Karma;Aurelion Sol–Nidalee–Jayce

If ain’t broke…

ROX Tigers went with the exact same team comp and again, they dominated the bot lane. Like a sweet science, Pray landed his Ashe Arrow on lớn Wolf and Gorilla followed up with Miss Fortune’s Ultimate, resulting in the First Blood. They had an identical solo kill two minutes later. Thirteen minutes in, they took the first turret to lớn extend their team’s gold lead – though Faker kept it close with his typical lane dominance. & once again, ROX’s duo bot lane were able to transfer their power nguồn around the maps into the mid game.

SKT were managing to find consistent picks on Smeb in the đứng top lane with the oppressive slows between Duke’s Ekko và Blank’s Olaf. But a roaming Gorilla và Pray were able lớn counter for the đứng top lane tier-one turret. Pray simply put the team on his back by landing his Ashe Arrows with amazing consistency. Soon after the top-lane play, ROX began khổng lồ siege the mid lane turret at the 19-minute mark. Like clockwork, Pray dropped an Ultimate on Bang and helped pick up the kill as they took the crucial tier-one mid turret.

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As the two teams postured for mid lane control around the 27-minute mark, Pray landed a crucial Arrow on someone not named Wolf: Faker. ROX subsequently blew up SKT’s best player & they rotated over khổng lồ Baron and took it, even getting Blank in the process.

Thirty-two minutes in, SKT decided to lớn pounce. With Pray & Smeb missing, Blank chased down three other members of ROX in the đứng đầu lane. Kuro, Smeb & Gorilla fell, but despite facing down four members of SKT, Pray and Peanut turned it around. Pray’s fed Ashe, Hurricane in hand, & Peanut’s slippery Lee Sin, Guardian Angel in hand, completed the Ace. With the maps control và severe gold lead, they melted down Baron minutes later, for Inhibitors in mid and top & with Baron-buffed Super Minions, ROX drowned SKT.

Game 4

SK TELECOM T1: Duke (Gnar) – Bengi (Nidalee) – Faker (Zilean) – Bang (Jhin) – Wolf (Karma)

ROX TIGERS: Smeb (Rumble) – Peanut (Olaf) – Kuro (Viktor) – Pray (Ashe) – Gorilla (Zyra)

Bans:Miss Fortune – Jayce – Aurelion Sol ; Syndra – Ryze – Cassiopeia

SKT banning Miss Fortune after game 2 và 3 wasn’t particularly surprising. However, ROX Tigers leaving up Nidalee for SKT to first pick certainly wasn’t expected. Nidalee has been 100% picked-and-banned throughout the tournament. She also boasts the second highest win percentage among champions with more than six picks; she only sits behind Zyra. But Bengi, who sat out trò chơi 2 và 3, has never played a competitive Nidalee. Of course, it didn’t matter.

Bengi looked revitalized throughout the game, starting with a five-minute gank mid. Faker locked down Kuro behind ROX’s mid lane turret và Bengi followed up with a Nidalee Spear. Despite Peanut standing right behind Kuro, Bengi dove the tower, secured the First Blood & escaped, no problem. As expected, the Nidalee pick helped apply pressure to all lanes, blowing Flashes whenever errant Spears emerged from the Fog of War. SKT’s overall tốc độ around the maps led lớn kills for Bang’s Jhin, which allowed them khổng lồ begin encroaching into ROX territory.

After the manic game 2 and 3, SKT seemed in control during the first 30 minutes of game 4. Twenty minutes in, SKT really began khổng lồ pull ahead with a tower dive by Bengi in the đứng đầu lane. Picking off Smeb, Bengi was then chased away by ROX, but the sufficiently ahead Bang Ulted on lớn Kuro, allowing Bengi to assist in blowing up the midlaner. This led khổng lồ a Mountain Drake & more control on the maps for SKT. But in spite of Bang, Faker and Bengi possessing positive KDAs, SKT only led by 2K gold.

Much of the mid game was posturing for Baron, and it looked as though SKT may not be able to lớn find a big play to open up the Baron. Instead of waiting late game & hoping for the right team fight, ROX decided lớn go for the risky Baron play. They were able lớn bait Smeb’s Teleport – perhaps the original plan – but Bang simply flashed into ROX và picked off Gorilla. SKT then used their superior mobility to chase down for a kill on Kuro. As a bonus, during all of this, Duke was taking ROX’s bot Inhibitor. The game was lost from there, as SKT took total command of the Rift và finished ROX off with a 20-5 score.

Game 5

ROX TIGERS: Smeb (Jayce) – Peanut (Elise) – Kuro (Karma) – Pray (Jhin) – Gorilla (Zyra)

SK TELECOM T1: Duke (Poppy) – Bengi (Lee Sin) – Faker (Oriana) – Bang (Ashe) – Wolf (Nami)

Bans:Ryze – Syndra – Olaf ; Miss Fortune – Nidalee – Aurelion Sol

In the final game of the series, SKT opted for a late-game team comp that would be at a disadvantage early. But each thành viên of SKT stepped up khổng lồ finish off the ROX Tigers và take the series 3-2.

The jungle battle between Peanut và Bengi became the focus early. First Blood arrived when Peanut managed to lớn sneak into SKT’s jungle và catch out Bengi for the solo kill. But soon after, Bengi & Faker teamed up for an amazingly choreographed kill on Peanut. These back-and-forths defined the first đôi mươi minutes of the game, where each team matched each other, remaining even in kills và gold into the mid game.

But again, it was another risky Baron attempt by ROX that opened up the game. Bengi finally dove decisively into the Baron pit lớn help take out Peanut & start the team fight off right. Smeb ended up securing the Baron, but SKT walked away with four kills for none, Duke with a triple kill.

Also of note: Syndra, Aurelion Sol and Jayce were banned through the first four games of the series, but with Bengi’s dominance on Nidalee and the target ban of Miss Fortune, one of them needed lớn enter the fray. It was Jayce who made it through, and it was SKT who offered it up khổng lồ ROX’s Smeb. It felt like a dare: if you’re the best in the world, better than Faker, then carry with Jayce. Thirty minutes into the game, Smeb sat at 1/2/3 while Duke held a dominating 5/0/0 KDA.

Smeb failed to vị much with the powerful poke of Jayce and Peanut stopped showing up with his Cocoons, while Faker evaded death and landed clutch Shockwaves và Duke effectively zoned with his Ultimate and dominated in team fights. At the forty-minute mark, SKT forced their way into ROX’s base, taking the mid inner turret & the Inhibitor. But the poke from Pray, Smeb & Kuro was enough to lớn chunk SKT low và force them out. Smeb quickly Teleported behind them & looked poised khổng lồ clean up all of the kills. But after missing a Shock Blast, he turned around và headed back lớn base.

The series was well & done after that. SKT sauntered into ROX’s base and wrapped up the series, moving on lớn the final of the League of Legends World Championships 2016.


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