As SK Telecom T1 prepares to take on Samsung Galaxy for the Worlds 2017 crown, it is apparent to all that neither team has been without its flaws this tournament, and that, however much skill it takes to reach a World Championship Final, neither team is infallible.
Starting with SKT, their problem is not only that their current strategies of soaking up enemy pressure – even to a deficit – to allow for one late game team fight to be the decider are risky, but that they are too dependent on individual players. Not to mention that individually, SKT have been poor this tournament, even in the face of all their victories.
Faker could easily be singled out for his mistakes. With his missed ultimates and over-aggression, it is far too easy to single out the few misplays of a man both expected to, and often delivering in, carrying an entire team single handily- even when made to play five consecutive tank Galio games.
It is instead SK Telecom T1’s Toplaner, Huni, that should be looked at to shoulder a higher proportion of the blame for his team’s uninspiring performances.
Even if, like Faker, Huni has an unfair amount of attention placed upon his mistakes by virtue of the fact that he is a key part of one of SKT’s only two strategies, the amount of times he has been caught isolated and over-extended is simply unacceptable for a player given the responsibility and trust of playing isolated on the side lane.
Though he may split push well and win games, he also invades the enemy jungle without vision and refuses to back because of his hubris, miss-reads entire situations and simply gets himself killed too often.
However, he has always been able to keep up the pressure on his opponent regardless of his mistakes, meaning the only question now becomes: will he be able to keep that pressure up against a team like Samsung Galaxy?
A team seemingly unstoppable and at the peak of their performance level, a team that will punish him for every miss-step he takes, or every second he stays too long on his opponent’s side of the map?
However well Huni performs, it will be the sole hope of this neutral spectator, that his presence is more apparent in this match than in his last – wherein the legendary Top Laner seemed little more than a ghost haunting The Rift, a fleeting vision that did naught but startle any RNG member he infrequently appeared to.
Wolf and Bang should also take their share of the blame in the failures of their team, Not simply for their inability to adapt to off-meta picks by the opposition, such as Leona and Blitz – as all of SK Telecom T1, including the coaches, are guilty of that – but for their poor laning performances.
Extremely susceptible to being dominated in the early game, the Bottom Lane for SKT’s laning phase mentality this tournament has always appeared to be more towards damage control, in keeping their CS deficit close and their Death score low, than in the pursuit of victory.
To Bang and Wolf’s credit their laning phase against the great Chinese opposition of their Semi-Final was quite good. However this seemed to come at the cost of their team fighting ability that had served them so well until this point, and in many ways was the main reason they got to the Semi-Finals.
Bang’s positioning was woeful to say the least. His inability to know where to stand to lay down DPS and not be instantly killed or chuncked out, was not befitting the legend of the man, and his pathing before, after and during fights, appeared as though out of solo queue.
If SKT are to continue with their preferred tactic of late game team fighting for their final against an on form Samsung Galaxy, they must hope their ADC does not have the repeat team fight performances of the last round, or this will be a short series.
In almost exact contrast to their LCK counter-parts, whose entire team, but for their star, is faltering, Samsung Galaxy’s main problem seemingly stems from only one individual – while the rest of the team flourishes.
Now it could be said that although Ambition’s mistakes up to this point have been unacceptable, they have not made him a liability. However in having to play against an SKT side that is still able to punish even the most basic mistakes of their opposition and exploit them to their fullest, Ambition could easily be the break in the impenetrable lines of the SSG ranks.
From being caught out on numerous occasions, to missing more Sejuani Ultimate’s than would be possible were he to simply eject them randomly into the fog of war, Ambition often looks like a ringer on team of players whose skills far exceed his own.
With his over-staying and over-extending so common place now it hardly bares mentioning, it is increasingly his miss-judgment that seems the most worrying attribute in the Samsung Jungler’s game play.
Seemingly unable to adequately judge the damage output of Towers or Enemy Champions, or account for the amount of time it will take his allies to reach him if he engages a fight, Ambition must step-up and think more carefully about his actions at every moment, lest he become the sole reason for his team’s demise.
For once it really feels like SK Telecom T1 are not the unstoppable juggernaut going into the final – in my eyes, it's Samsung #Worlds2017
— Chris Smith (@PapaSmithy) October 29, 2017
In the match-up of a shaky team of SKT players all preforming at sub-optimal levels, yet still able to grind out victories, and a Samsung Galaxy team seemingly infallible but for one player operating far below the standards of a professional on the world stage, it is seemingly impossible to predict who will emerge victorious from this final.
A game that will undoubtedly be a match of “he who preforms the least badly wins”, this final should be a fine example of the overall game-play at this tournament, and as such, will be a fitting end to Worlds 2017.