Samsung Galaxy beat Immortals in the IEM Gyeonggi quarterfinals Tuesday, advancing with a 2-0 sweep. Immortals will still have a shot at advancing to the semifinals later on in the day, when it faces the winner of J Team vs. Vega Squadron in another best-of-three.
Samsung Galaxy retained the roster that was within one game of winning Worlds, but after a disappointing quarterfinal exit to ESC Ever in the KeSPA Cup and an unconvincing win over Vega Squadron earlier in the day, there were reasons for concern entering the series against Immortals. But Samsung looked much better, combining the late game decision-making and team-fighting the team has been known for with stronger play in the laning phase.
Even in the loss, Immortals looked surprisingly clean for a roster that was only finalized this week, showing only a few synergy problems despite a new lineup working in multiple languages. In its first game earlier in the day, Immortals destroyed J Team with a near-perfect performance.
In Game 1 against Samsung, three of the new starters combined for a flashy play and First Blood:
OLLEH. @JJOOSUNG https://t.co/HmJSNryxSR— Immortals (@Immortals) December 14, 2016
Samsung pulled out a surprising Taliyah pick for Crown — the only odd pick among many familiar faces from last year’s meta (Poppy, Karma, Jhin, etc.). Taliyah’s not exactly in a strong state right now compared to when she was considered a must-pick champion, but her roaming capabilities can still make her dangerous.
Crown used Taliyah’s roaming to continue pressuring the bottom lane, as Samsung clearly prioritized the side of the map that included Immortals’ brand new bot lane of rookie Cody Sun and Korean support Olleh, only signed a few days ago. Ambition’s Lee Sin and Cuvee’s Maokai frequently joined Crown in the bottom lane, as Samsung was able to overcome an early deficit to win convincingly, 19-7 in 26 minutes.
Samsung’s focus on the bottom lane continued in Game 2, suffocating Cody Sun’s Varus in what was a tough series for the rookie. Immortals earned First Blood once again (this time from a Dardoch gank mid), but Samsung easily gained control through Ambition’s Lee Sin making plays around the map.
Immortals had a chance to really take hold of the game at 13 minutes, when all 10 players squared off in the bottom lane. IMT won the initial skirmish 3-0 but misplayed the follow-up, getting caught near Samsung’s tower by Taliyah’s Weaver’s Wall. That gave Cuvee an easy triple kill and Samsung an easy first tower.
The North American side found a window back in the game by taking Baron at 31 minutes, aided by a key Poppy ultimate from Flame to send Ambition away, but Samsung took away nearly all of the buff’s power by killing everyone but Flame in the ensuing fight. Five minutes later, Samsung picked off Pobelter, mounting a siege that broke the game’s first inhibitor, picked up two additional kills and earned an uncontested Elder Drake.
Samsung secured Baron at 39 minutes, knocking down all three inhibitors and eventually winning the game 29-16 in 43 minutes. Immortals was hindered all game in its map movements by its inability to take towers — the team did not take a single one in Game 2.
Samsung’s success at Worlds was an unexpected one: after finishing sixth in the Spring Season and fourth in Summer, the team made a surprise run through the Regional Qualifier and upset KT Rolster to make Worlds.
Despite getting drawn in the “Group of Death” with North American champions Team SoloMid and Chinese runners-up Royal Never Give Up, Samsung went 5-1 in the group stage before sweeping Cloud9 and H2K in the knockout stages. Samsung eventually fell to SK Telecom T1 in the final, three games to two.
Immortals, meanwhile, had to deal with a disappointing twist to its Worlds story: not attending. As a rookie organization last year, IMT put together two excellent regular seasons (17-1 in Spring, 16-2 in Summer). But failures in the playoffs and a loss to Cloud9 in the Regional Qualifier meant the North American power had to stay home this October.