For the third time in four years, SK Telecom T1 is the League of Legends world champion. The Korean dynasty became the first team to ever win back-to-back titles Saturday night in Los Angeles, taking down fellow Korean juggernaut Samsung Galaxy three games to two. The games were played at the Staples Center -- the site of SKT’s very first world championship in 2013.
It was yet another impressive performance for SKT despite two shaky games, holding off Samsung’s attempted reverse sweep. Over the course of three world finals, SKT holds an astonishing 9-3 record. For Faker, Bengi and coach Kkoma, it’s their third title. For Bang and Wolf, it’s number two. For Duke and Blank, it’s their first.
It is the first time in Worlds history the final has gone the full five games. In the series, Faker also surpassed Uzi as the player with the most kills in Worlds history.
SKT took an exciting Game 1 that was one of the longest games of the tournament. The defending champions took an early lead when Bengi killed Ambition in his jungle, but Crown’s Viktor took down Bengi in response. The Viktor was one of the high points for Samsung in the game, solo killing Faker’s Orianna early on.
With a gank bot a minute later, Ambition looked like he could break out a big advantage for his team. But after killing Wolf, Bang took down Ambition with Jhin’s fourth bullet, killing him with the critical strike.
With that slight lead in the mid game, SKT started to take control. By 17 minutes, the team had a 3-0 advantage in towers, and an Infernal Drake at 19 minutes built that lead even more.
Ambition managed to steal the next Infernal Drake at 28 minutes, but an uncontested Baron at 32 minutes allowed SKT to start the siege.
Samsung survived the siege quite well with its counter-engage comp, repeatedly surviving and picking off SKT members in its own base. SKT took another Baron at 40 minutes to set up for another siege, but Samsung waited it out once again and went for a desperation fight before SKT’s super minions crashed its base.
At 47 minutes, it was Samsung who was able to take Baron, but it wasn’t enough. Six minutes later, another fight in Samsung’s base started with Faker killing Crown, ultimately resulting in a 3-2 trade for SKT. The defending champions were able to close the game out, winning 12-9 at 54 minutes.
Game 2 was ... not quite as close. Ambition brought out the first Kindred of Worlds, and picked up First Blood thanks to beautiful patience: he waited for Bengi’s Lee Sin ult before using his own to secure the kill.
That was pretty much the last positive moment for Samsung. At 12 minutes, the team attempted a dive bottom and used nearly all of its resources, but SKT was able to turn it around for a two-for-two trade. From there, Samsung looked completely out of it, as SKT rolled to an easy victory and a 2-0 advantage in the series.
At 30 minutes, an SKT ace secured the win, taking it 20-3 in 31 minutes.
In Game 3, Samsung pivoted to the Aurelion Sol for Crown for some roaming power. But here’s the problem: Crown’s not a very good Aurelion Sol. He had never played it in competitive play before and was 1-4 on it in five games of NA solo queue.
At eight minutes, he roamed to the bot lane to try and pick up a kill, but SKT played it perfectly and picked up First Blood for Bang.
By 20 minutes, SKT was up 4-0. By 25, it was 7-0, with a 9k gold lead. At 29 minutes, however, Samsung won a 3-0 fight near Baron thanks to a huge output of damage from Ruler, taking back some hope in the game.
Samsung repeatedly won fights around Baron, closing the lead to 3.5k. At 50 minutes, another fight went 3-1 Samsung’s way.
But at 58 minutes, another Baron fight went disastrously for SKT. Despite all three SKT inhibitors being down and Samsung taking the objective, SKT won the following fight 4-1.
At 67 minutes, after a long time posing around Elder Dragon, SKT attempted to take it down quickly but Ambition jumped in and stole it.
Samsung followed that up by taking Baron, and marched into SKT’s base to win 19-17 in a 71-minute marathon, the longest game at this year’s Worlds.
In Game 4, SKT subbed in Blank for Bengi in the jungle. It was ... not very effective.
Cuvee, the solo kill king of the tournament, struck once again in the Kennen vs. Gnar matchup top.
SKT was able to fight back with some picks, but Samsung held control throughout.
At 45 minutes, Samsung won a fight in SKT’s base hard, and closed the game out 17-12.
Game 5 saw Bengi return in the jungle and both Zyra and Karma banned, which means we were treated to a pair of melee supports, including CoreJJ’s signature Tahm Kench. The Tahm Kench died three minutes in when Bengi went bot for an early gank, and SKT took a further lead with a 3-1 fight mid lane.
But Samsung pulled it back, once again. At eight minutes, Ruler killed Bengii after a bad invade. Three minutes later, Samsung picked up another pair of kills bot and got the first tower of the game.
At 23 minutes, Samsung forced a fight in the mid lane, killing both Faker and Duke and evening up the tower score. As the games traded kills back and forth, SKT found an objective at 36 minutes with a pair of kills and a Baron to follow.
After the Baron, SKT caught Crown with an Enchanted Crystal Arrow and rotated to take Elder Dragon. SKT was unable to mount a meaningful siege, but took Baron once again at 44 minutes. This time, SKT took down all three inhibitors before peeling off for another Elder Dragon.
SKT finally finished off Samsung 49 minutes in, winning the game 13-8 and taking the title.