League Champions Korea, unquestionably the top domestic League of Legends competition in the world, began its Summer 2016 season Wednesday with a pair of best-of-three series between potential playoff contenders. Afreeca Freecs, a surprise playoff team from spring with an exciting young roster, opened up against star-studded Longzhu Gaming's new seven-man roster. In the day's other series, newly promoted ESC Ever looks to continue on the success it built (and trophies it won) as a Challenger team by proving it belongs with the big clubs in Korea's top league.
Below, the VODs for each game, as well as results and observations. If you are hoping to avoid spoilers, do not click the "show/hide series results" button. If you do want to know the results, click away!
Afreeca Freecs vs. Longzhu Gaming
Game 1: Afreeca Freecs blue side, Longzhu red side
Win: Afreeca Freecs (16-5, 34:59)
Bans: Kindred, Lucian, Trundle; Nidalee, Ryze, Sivir
|ikksu (Ekko) 1||3/1/10||Expession (Maokai) 2||1/4/1|
|LirA (Rek'Sai) 2||1/1/14||Chaser (Elise) 2||2/2/2|
|Mickey (Fizz) 3||3/3/6||CoCo (Azir) 1||1/3/3|
|Sangyoon (Caitlyn) 2||8/0/5||Fury (Ezreal) 3||1/2/3|
|Snowflower (Bard) 3||1/0/14||Pure (Alistar) 1||0/5/4|
Afreeca Freecs picked a terrifying 1-3-1 composition in the first game of the split, with global presence from Rek'Sai and Bard, two threatening split pushers and a Caitlyn behind it all to provide consistent damage and siege. It worked.
Even without much reliable engage, Afreeca Freecs was able to spread Longzhu around the map, getting picks in favorable situations and using those advantages to take objectives.
Twice in the late game, Longzhu's favorable team fight composition nearly came to fruition by getting an early pick to start what appeared to be an advantageous fight near Baron. But both times, Afreeca Freecs kept Longzhu around longer than was wise, allowing Sangyoon's Caitlyn to clean up the low-health opposition for aces. The second such time was enough for Afreeca Freecs to finish the game.
Game 2: Longzhu blue side, Afreeca Freecs red side
Win: Afreeca Freecs (12-9, 56:38)
Bans: LeBlanc, Bard, Ryze; Kindred, Nidalee, Rek'Sai
|Expession (Ekko) 2||2/3/5||ikksu (Maokai) 1||1/3/8|
|Chaser (Elise) 2||2/3/3||LirA (Lee Sin) 2||3/2/7|
|CoCo (Azir) 3||1/2/5||Mickey (Viktor) 3||2/2/6|
|Fury (Lucian) 1||4/2/3||Sangyoon (Sivir) 2||3/1/8|
|Pure (Nami) 3||0/2/7||Snowflower (Karma) 1||3/1/8|
These two teams brought very different team compositions into Game 2, but Afreeca Freecs was able to take the win once again thanks to simply playing its comp better. Longzhu Gaming had plenty of disengage with Nami, Azir and Ekko, but repeatedly tried to engage into Afreeca Freecs' high-speed composition that was able to deal with both picks and team fight situations.
Sangyoon had another high damage game, this time on Sivir, but it was LirA who really came through for Afreeca Freecs. He got a kill early in the game by catching an overextending Expession, and played very aggressively on Lee Sin in general. Longzhu held a lead nearly 50 minutes into the game when LirA made an incredible play to kick CoCo into the middle of Afreeca's team, killing him and two others.
Thanks to small advantages like that and repeated mistakes from Longzhu, Afreeca was in a position to push into the base, taking all three inhibitors and the game.
ESC Ever vs. CJ Entus
Game 1: CJ Entus blue side, ESC Ever red side
Win: ESC Ever (17-11, 38:17)
Bans: Trundle, Ryze, Sivir; Lucian, Zed, LeBlanc
|Untara (Maokai) 2||1/1/9||Crazy (Ekko) 1||4/2/7|
|Haru (Kindred) 1||1/4/7||Bless (Nidalee) 2||6/2/8|
|Bdd (Viktor) 3||7/3/3||Tempt (Azir) 1||2/1/11|
|Kramer (Ezreal) 3||1/5/6||LokeN (Ashe) 2||4/3/9|
|MadLife (Braum) 2||1/4/9||Key (Bard) 3||1/3/12|
ESC brought out a more unconventional pick composition in this game, with its most reliable form of engage coming in the bottom lane from Ashe and Bard ultimates. That worked quite well in the early game, as ESC established firm objective control by taking the first three dragons (two Ocean, one Infernal) and picking off CJE members with its long-range engage.
At 20 minutes, the first big team fight erupted, and it went 4-1 in favor of ESC Ever. Bless had built up a big farm advantage on Nidalee, and picked up a triple kill in the fight, widening his lead.
As CJ Entus has been known to do, however, the team mounted a comeback effort. At 23 minutes they picked off Key before Dragon spawned, taking the team's first neutral objective of the game and winning a 3-1 team fight. The game slowed down from that point, allowing CJ Entus to take Baron at 30 minutes, and it looked like ESC Ever was falling apart, getting picked off repeatedly by Bdd's Viktor.
But at 37 minutes, CJ Entus strayed too far away from Baron and ESC made them pay. ESC quickly burned down the objective, taking the buff and turning around with excellent ultimates from LokeN and Key to pick up the 4-1 team fight and the win.
Game 2: ESC Ever blue side, CJ Entus red side
Win: ESC Ever (9-2, 31:18)
Bans: Zed, Kindred, Ekko; Ashe, Nidalee, Azir
|Crazy (Ryze) 1||1/0/1||Untara (Maokai) 2||0/1/2|
|Bless (Elise) 2||1/1/6||Haru (Rek'Sai) 1||0/2/2|
|Tempt (Varus) 2||3/0/3||Bdd (Veigar) 2||1/0/0|
|LokeN (Caitlyn) 3||4/0/4||Kramer (Lucian) 1||1/3/1|
|Key (Bard) 3||0/1/6||MadLife (Thresh) 3||0/3/2|
With Key on his signature Bard, ESC Ever pulled out another pick composition for this game, this time with a triple carry siege threat thanks to the long-range damage coming from Caitlyn and Varus. ESC picked up an early lead with some Level 1 cheese, as Bless, LokeN and Key used Bard's Magical Journey to sneak into CJE's jungle and kill Kramer at his Gromp.
ESC continued its strong neutral objective control from the first game, taking all three Dragons in the game. At 25 minutes, CJ Entus attempted to go for Baron after picking off Key for its first pick of the game, but that turned out to be a grave mistake. While CJ Entus stayed in the Baron pit, attempting to take the objective, ESC did simply an absurd amount of poke damage between Varus and Caitlyn, picking up three kills and the Baron.
By 29 minutes, ESC had built up a 10k gold lead and had taken down all three inhibitors. That was enough of an advantage to easily secure the win.