The League of Legends Champions Korea season started early Tuesday morning with a rematch of the 2017 Summer Season’s title game, but the two teams who took the stage looked nothing like the teams we saw just a few months ago. Only two players who played in that series were present Tuesday, and both play for KT Rolster (top laner Smeb, formerly of ROX, and jungler Score).
ROX’s all-new lineup was no match for KT’s super team, as one of the LCK favorites swept its opposition in clean fashion 2-0. With the win, KT Rolster moves into first place in the LCK.
This was one of the first times we’ve seen the new 10-ban drafting format, and it added some interesting wrinkles to the team selection process. In the first game, KT Rolster pinched the jungle pool, forcing Seonghwan onto Graves. After already picking Ashe, ROX banned Varus and Jhin to try and limit Deft’s options.
That did not work. Deft picked his Ezreal instead and absolutely popped off on the Tigers in his first game with KT Rolster, going 5/1/4 with this impressive triple kill.
Deft’s only death in the game came at the very end, when he jumped into the fountain just as KT Rolster secured the 12-13 victory. ROX Tigers’ pick composition, led by the first-pick Malzahar support, held the kill lead for most of the game, but KT never lost control of the game and held a tight control over objectives.
In Game 2, it was the support pool that was pinched by both teams in the second phase of banning. This worked out quite well for KT Rolster, who ended up picking an unexpected Tahm Kench, completely countering ROX’s pick-oriented style.
By 10 minutes, KT led four kills to two, with kills for all three carries. For the second game in a row, ROX was unable to answer KT’s split-pushing (PawN’s Ryze in both games, Smeb’s Fiora in Game 2).
At 26 minutes, ROX attempted to take advantage of a pick by forcing an early Baron. But KT had a ward in the pit and was able to respond in plenty of time, picking up three kills and the objective for themselves. KT eventually won the game 16-12 in 43 minutes.
3 things to know:
- Deft popped off. The former Samsung White star shined in his first series back in Korea, following up his 5/1/4 game as Ezreal with a 6/2/5 game as Varus. After his dominating performance in the first game, Deft was up 20 CS over his lane opponent by eight minutes, winning the lane despite being hampered by a melee support (Tahm Kench) against a ranged support (Bard). KT was able to snowball off of Deft’s advantage to a win, which is a sentence we’ll probably repeat many times this year.
- KT still has some kinks to work out. KT looked like a great team, but KT also looked like a great team playing its first series together. Smeb was caught out overextending on eager dives or split-pushes multiple times and Mata had an iffy first game on Miss Fortune. This is an absurdly talented team, but it’s going to need to play smarter when faced with SKT and Samsung Galaxy.
- ROX kept things relatively close. The new-look Tigers never really had a lead in either game despite taking First Blood in both, but the team effectively counter-punched KT and earned a lot of kills with pick compositions. Lindarang (two Poppy games) and Key (Malzahar and Bard) in particular had strong series, and if the team can successfully focus around Mickey’s damage output, it could still be a successful year for the organization.