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SKT eliminates ROX Tigers in thrilling Worlds semifinal

SKT recovered from a 2-1 deficit to make another finals appearance.

Riot Games

The defending world champions will have a shot at defending its title. Despite falling down 2-1 in the series, SK Telecom T1 rebounded to win two games in a row and defeat the ROX Tigers Friday, eliminating their Korean rivals and advancing to the finals. This was the first Worlds series to go a full five games since the Star Horn Royal Club vs. OMG semifinal in 2014.

It was a rematch of last year’s Worlds final, which saw SKT become the first team to ever win two Worlds. SKT will have the chance for a third title and the opportunity to become the first team to repeat as world champions when it takes on the winner of Samsung vs. H2K next week at the Staples Center.

In a back-and-forth Game 1, SKT never truly gave up control despite ROX Tigers taking three Infernal Dragons and an excellent game from Smeb on Poppy. Peanut finally got to play his Elise, but three failed early ganks put Bengi way ahead as Faker built up a lead in the mid lane.

ROX finally picked up the first kill of the game after a hero play from Smeb in the bot-side river.

But it wasn’t enough: SKT showed patience and drew out the game, riding a powerful late-game Viktor/Caitlyn combo to a 12-6, 43-minute victory.

In Game 2, ROX brought out one of the most surprising picks we’ve ever seen on such a big stage — Miss Fortune support. While at first it appeared like a misclick, it actually made some sense — it’s one of the advantages of an evolving one-patch meta. The MF was picked into Zyra, which has been a dominant pick at Worlds, and won the lane hard. MF’s E clears Zyra’s plants, and her ult synergized very well with the rest of ROX’s team comp, and the early pressure negated many of SKT’s strengths.

ROX’s success started on the opposite side of the map, however, as Peanut hid in the top lane for a crucial gank and First Blood.

That play gave Smeb the freedom to teleport to the bottom lane a few minutes later, giving ROX a lead it would never relinquish.

By 15 minutes, ROX was up 9-2 and 4k gold, with Miss Fortune 0/0/7. At 27 minutes, ROX took Baron and a 4-1 team fight, building a 6k gold lead by 30 minutes.

But just as SKT was on the ropes, it responded with a 4-0 fight at the end of the Baron, as Duke used Ekko ult into three ROX members. But ROX won the game in even more improbable fashion, pushing into ROX’s base and stopping Duke’s teleport with an incredible ult across the map.

ROX won the game 20-11 in 33 minutes.

In Game 3, ROX once again locked in the Miss Fortune support, thanks to the perfect storm scenario appearing again: an Ashe AD Carry for ROX and Zyra locked in for SKT. Once again ROX won the bot lane hard in laning phase, effectively chaining ultimates and utilizing ganks from Peanut.

SKT responded by building an advantage top for Duke, but ROX was able to consistently get kills thanks to Pray’s perfect Ashe arrows and the incredible follow-up damage from Rumble, Viktor and Miss Fortune.

At 28 minutes, ROX set up for Baron and killed Blank as he came in for the steal, securing the objective. But SKT held strong, picking off PraY with an excellent Shockwave from Faker’s Orianna.

SKT appeared to turn the game on its head by picking up three kills on the top side, but ROX responded with an ace thanks to three kills from Peanut and two from a late-arriving PraY.

At 36 minutes, ROX took an uncontested Baron, using the buff to finally push its lead past 10k gold. After killing Duke and Blank in base, ROX won 19-11.

In Game 4, SKT banned the Miss Fortune, and ROX responded with an Ashe-Zyra first rotation. ROX also left the Nidalee open, hoping Bengi (who had never played a competitive game with the champion) would pick it. Bengi obliged, and a gank at five minutes earned First Blood for Faker’s Zilean.

That lead turned into a 3-0 advantage quickly, with two kills for Bang over the following few minutes. A top lane fight went SKT’s way around 20 minutes thanks to a crucial heal and follow-up from Bengi, who dominated the early game.

ROX was able to get some kills back, but three of their first four were for GorillA — not the ideal gold distribution for the team. But at 38 minutes, a disastrous fight for ROX allowed SKT to push into the base, taking an inhibitor and one Nexus tower.

With a 15-5 lead and a gold lead of over 10k, SKT took Baron uncontested at 40 minutes and Elder Dragon uncontested a minute later. SKT charged into the base and finished ROX off 20-5 in 42 minutes.

Game 5 started off with a bang for ROX, as Peanut invaded Bengi (who had jungled both of SKT’s wins) and killed him at four minutes for First Blood.

At seven minutes, Peanut snuck into the bottom lane with the help of three pink wards, setting up a kill for PraY. Bengi responded with a gank bottom lane two minutes later, picking up a kill for Wolf. He picked up a kill for himself at 11 minutes on Peanut, opening up SKT to take the first tower and the lead.

In an even game at 22 minutes, ROX tried to rush Baron while Bengi’s Smite was down. SKT killed Peanut before the Smite, but Smeb secured the Baron. Then SKT picked up four kills, completely turning the situations.

Bengi’s Lee Sin continued to dominate, setting up huge plays for SKT with kicks on multiple targets. Armed with a 10k lead at 37 minutes, SKT picked off PraY and peeled back for a second consecutive Baron.

At 41 minutes, SKT marched into ROX’s base, breaking it open and picking up two kills. That allowed the defending champions to close out the comeback, winning 16-7 in 42 minutes.