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SK Telecom T1 defeats ROX Tigers for 3rd consecutive Korean League of Legends championship

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The defending Worlds champions will look to improve on last season's second place MSI performance.

SK Telecom T1 has won League Champions Korea for the third straight split, defeating the ROX Tigers in the finals Saturday, three games to one. With the win, SKT has qualified for the Mid-Season Invitational in Shanghai, where it will face Royal Never Give Up, Counter Logic Gaming, G2 Esports, Flash Wolves and either Hard Random or SuperMassive eSports.

The defending Worlds champions, SKT struggled at the beginning of the split, finding itself in the middle of the LCK table. But a strong finish to the split transitioned into a dominating playoff performance, and SKT was able to defeat the team many thought was the best in the world in a four-game final.

SKT was Korea's representative at MSI last season, as well, finishing as runners-up after losing to Edward Gaming in the finals. Edward Gaming nearly qualified this year, but lost to Royal Never Give Up in the four-game LPL finals. This was SKT's fifth LCK championship in the team's history.

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Game 1: SK Telecom T1 vs. ROX Tigers

Win: SKT (14-1, 28:47)

Blank picked up First Blood in the all-important jungle matchup in this one, ganking Kuro three minutes in and taking him out with an assist from Faker. Faker used that advantage to bully around Kuro's Corki with his Zilean, and Blank extended SKT's lead with a kill on Smeb 7:30 into the game.

Smeb picked off Faker 17 minutes into the game with a great teleport, but SKT was able to turn the fight in its favor thanks to a good re-engage from Duke, resulting in two kills. SKT engaged a good fight after Blank picked off GorillA 23 minutes in, resulting in an eventual 4-0 fight and a free Baron. From that point, the game was pretty much decided. SKT took all 11 turrets and three Dragons unanswered, and rolled to an easy win with the "no one ever dies" Kindred-Zilean-Tahm Kench composition.

Bans: Nidalee, Sivir, Ryze; Maokai, Azir, Ekko

SKT K/D/A CS Gold Earned ROX K/D/A CS Gold Earned
Duke (Poppy) 1 1/0/10 213 11.6k Smeb (Nautilus) 2 1/6/0 148 7.6k
Blank (Kindred) 2 7/0/7 133 12.8k Peanut (Graves) 1 0/2/0 165 9.0k
Faker (Zilean) 3 0/1/8 275 12.6k Kuro (Corki) 2 0/3/0 234 8.8k
Bang (Lucian) 2 5/0/5 287 13.7k PraY (Ezreal) 3 0/2/0 264 9.3k
Wolf (Tahm Kench) 3 1/0/8 36 8.5k GorillA (Alistar) 1 0/1/0 34 5.9k

Game 2: ROX Tigers vs. SK Telecom T1

Win: ROX (15-8, 38:25)

The two superstar players for each team started the game with two kills apiece: Smeb picked off Bang for First Blood with a good teleport, and Faker responded by killing Peanut. Then Smeb killed Duke in the top lane, and Faker responded by killing Smeb.

ROX took the first three turrets of the game unanswered before SKT took an outer at 19 minutes, and Smeb picked up his third kill after SKT's second tower a few moments later. ROX rushed Baron at 21 minutes and was able to take it down, picking up a kill for Kuro in the process.

Since Smeb made a play, Faker had to respond again. He made a big solo play on PraY, setting the enemy marksman up perfectly for a kill by Bang, and the resulting team fight went 3-1 in favor of SKT. But ROX was able to take the next two team fights, and held a 4.5k gold lead at 30 minutes. The Tigers were able to turn that into a free Baron and used that to take SKT's middle inhibitor, but SKT responded with a pair of picks at 37 minutes: right before Baron respawned.

SKT forced the Baron fight, outnumbering ROX five to three, but a fed Ezreal for PraY allowed ROX to still win the fight 3-0. The Tigers were able to close out the game, evening up the series at one game apiece.

Bans: Zilean, Maokai, Sivir; Nidalee, Ryze, Kindred

ROX K/D/A CS Gold Earned SKT K/D/A CS Gold Earned
Smeb (Ekko) 1 4/3/6 270 15.1k Duke (Poppy) 2 1/5/3 251 12.5k
Peanut (Elise) 2 1/3/9 150 14.0k Blank (Graves) 1 0/1/5 201 12.1k
Kuro (Corki) 3 5/0/5 365 17.4k Faker (Azir) 1 4/2/3 356 15.0k
PraY (Ezreal) 3 5/1/8 344 16.9k Bang (Lucian) 2 2/3/3 361 15.1k
GorillA (Alistar) 2 0/1/13 34 10.8k Wolf (Braum) 3 1/4/4 49 9.2k

Game 3: SK Telecom T1 vs. ROX Tigers

Win: SKT (19-19, 37:46)

We saw two Twitch games in the LPL finals: both went well. PraY picked up First Blood on the champion in this game, thanks to an excellent Flash engage from GorillA's Alistar. A huge fight erupted in the bottom lane 11 minutes in, with all three teleports coming in, and a perfect Poppy ultimate from Duke onto GorillA allowed SKT to clean up, picking three unanswered kills. The ROX Tigers picked up a pair of kills on the other side of the map as a response, and the two teams were tied in kills and gold at 15 minutes.

Faker just barely managed to avoid being solo killed by Kuro at 18 minutes, and SKT responded with a 4-2 team fight to take the lead. At 31 minutes, ROX picked off Wolf directly before a team fight started, taking the ensuing skirmish 3-2 but getting stopped from a free Baron by some shifty Ezreal play from Bang.

With the game within .1k gold at 33 minutes, ROX Tigers went for a play around Baron. After bringing the objective to around half health, SKT was able to push the Tigers away from the objective and push for the team's first inner turret. ROX engaged for a fight directly after, but SKT was able to turn it around for a 3-0, taking down an inhibitor and both Nexus towers before staying too long in ROX's base and losing all five members.

SKT engaged on ROX as soon as the team came back to life and aced ROX 5-3, thanks to an excellent engage from Duke and beautiful kiting from Bang. SKT was able to simply march into the base and end the game, taking the lead back in the series.

Bans: Nidalee, Ekko, Ryze; Maokai, Zilean, Sivir

SKT K/D/A CS Gold Earned ROX K/D/A CS Gold Earned
Duke (Poppy) 1 5/3/8 316 15.0k Smeb (Nautilus) 2 8/2/7 272 15.1k
Blank (Elise) 2 4/5/10 133 13.0k Peanut (Kindred) 1 4/4/11 162 13.8k
Faker (Vel'Koz) 3 2/5/8 266 13.8k Kuro (Lissandra) 2 1/4/7 333 13.8k
Bang (Ezreal) 2 8/2/7 318 16.9k PraY (Twitch) 3 5/4/4 320 15.0k
Wolf (Tahm Kench) 3 0/4/14 46 10.1k GorillA (Alistar) 1 1/5/9 36 9.4k

Game 4: ROX Tigers vs. SK Telecom T1

Win: SKT (15-8, 49:58)

ROX picked up first blood eight minutes in by picking off Wolf, building a 1k gold lead by 10 minutes. Smeb initiated a good fight at 13 minutes by slamming Faker into a wall, but SKT responded well to keep the fight even at 2-2 (and pick up two kills on Duke's surprising Rammus pick). Another teleport initiation at 17 minutes resulted in another kill for ROX (this time for Kuro), but SKT responded well once again, taking the game's first turret.

SKT baited a Baron fight at 20 minutes, picking off Kuro when he wandered up the river to check. The ensuing fight ended up 3-1 in SKT's favor, taking the kill lead but still trailing slightly in gold. SKT went for Baron again two minutes later and was able to take it this time, but ROX was still able to take two towers to SKT's one during the duration of the buff.

SKT forced a fight at 33 minutes and won it 2-0, finally taking the lead and turning to take Baron. ROX was able to stall until the next Baron at 41 minutes, taking the objective and only losing the ensuing team fight by a margin of 2-1. ROX picked off Duke in the top lane a minute later, taking two towers off the one-man advantage and earning the gold lead back.

ROX went for Baron one more time at 48 minutes, but a perfect engage from SKT and an excellent ultimate from Blank's Kindred allowed Faker and Bang to unload damage onto the Tigers, acing ROX and winning the game.

Bans: Zilean, Maokai, Sivir; Nidalee, Ryze, Ekko

ROX K/D/A CS Gold Earned SKT K/D/A CS Gold Earned
Smeb (Poppy) 1 3/2/3 408 19.6k Duke (Rammus) 2 5/1/9 456 21.1k
Peanut (Graves) 2 3/5/2 254 18.6k Blank (Kindred) 1 2/4/10 217 17.8k
Kuro (Lissandra) 3 2/3/4 406 18.5k Faker (Cassiopeia) 3 5/1/6 397 19.5k
Pray (Corki) 3 0/2/3 445 19.3k Bang (Ezreal) 2 3/1/9 444 20.2k
Gorilla (Trundle) 2 0/3/4 83 13.1k Wolf (Alistar) 1 0/1/12 62 13.1k