Months after its second straight League of Legends World Championship and third in four years, SK Telecom T1 took the rift once again Wednesday in its Spring 2017 LCK opener against Jin Air Green Wings. SKT had very little problems in the opener, sweeping the opposition 2-0.
It was the debut performance for two new SKT members: top laner Huni and jungler Peanut. Both had good days — Huni showed he can play tanks, with strong performances on Maokai (3/1/10) and Poppy (2/1/14), while Peanut continued his carry jungler ways with games on Kha’Zix (3/1/8) and Rengar (7/5/7).
But it was of course Faker who stole the show. After a solid 8/4/8 performance in Game 1 as Orianna, he brought out Katarina for the very first time in competitive play for Game 2. Currently his favored champion in solo queue, Faker showed the power of the pick, going 8/2/6 and helping carry his team to the series sweep.
Game 1 was much closer than expected, as Jin Air brought out a surprise Kled pick (the first time we’ve seen it in the LCK) to deal with Maokai and Umti’s Lee Sin came through with some early game plays. It was Faker who earned First Blood, however, as Peanut’s Kha’Zix ganked for him at four minutes for the kill.
Umti returned to that lane two minutes later to kill Faker, and Jin Air took a lead with a 2 vs. 2 kill in the bottom lane. A few minutes later, with Peanut killing Ikssu in the top lane, Jin Air took the bottom lane first tier tower for the first tower of the game and a larger lead.
After Jin Air took its second straight tower at 16 minutes, the team attempted to continue its good fortunes with an ambitious tower dive top. This one did not work all that well, as SKT defended the tower, won a 2-1 trade in a 4 vs. 5, and got the bottom lane tower on the other side of the map to take the lead.
The two teams traded towers and picks until 24 minutes, when SKT rushed a quick Baron after picking off Umti in his jungle. But with relatively low damage and low death timers, Jin Air was able to force a chaotic fight directly after, led by Iksuu’s Kled charging in and picking off multiple SKT members. Jin Air won the fight 4-3.
Iksuu’s Kled was effective in the early to mid game, but in late game team fights he was unable to properly target SKT’s back line. Whenever he ulted in, Huni’s Maokai would simply step in his way (or flash in his way, as he did for an early kill), stopping his path and preventing him from getting to the juicier targets like Ashe, Orianna and Zyra, who all also have relatively good disengage in their own rights.
This was on display at 34 minutes, when Jin Air engaged a fight through Iksuu but SKT was able to survive, turning it around for two kills for Faker.
SKT took another Baron after this, breaking open the first inhibitor of the game and really squeezing the life out of Jin Air’s chances. Five minutes later, SKT took all three inhibitors. At 44 minutes, SKT won the game 17-10. In their SKT debuts, Huni (3/1/10 on Maokai) and Peanut (3/1/8 on Kha’Zix) had strong games, while Faker (8/4/8 on Orianna) had yet another starring performance.
The second game was much bloodier, as SKT brought out a fighting-based composition led by Peanut’s Rengar, the first LCK appearance of bot lane Ziggs, and the first appearance in competitive play from Faker’s Katarina.
That triple threat composition proved its worth, as each had three kills by 15 minutes and five by 25. That’s even after Jin Air started the game with two unanswered kills thanks to some more nifty playmaking from Umti’s Lee Sin.
Bang’s Ziggs was one of the highlights of the game, especially early on when he somehow avoided death with Umti’s Lee Sin right in front of him.
Repeatedly in the mid game it was Jin Air attempting to force fights with Jhin, Lissandra and Lee Sin and SKT turning it around for kills of its own. At 14 minutes, Peanut was picked off in the jungle (and not for the first time), and SKT turned it around for two kills. A minute later, Jin Air tried to dive the bottom lane tower, but SKT responded perfectly, winning a 3-1 trade and picking up the game’s first tower.
SKT spent the next five minutes trying to siege the mid lane with Ziggs, and Jin Air once again tried to collapse. This time, it looked promising, with Umti picking up two early kills, but a heroic series of plays from Huni’s Poppy led to four SKT kills and the tower.
From that point, the game was firmly in SKT’s control. The defending World champs built up a 10k gold lead quickly, controlled pretty much all objectives and bled Jin Air dry until a 25-16, 39-minute win.