How KT Rolster stunned SKT in the LCK playoffs

KT Rolster vs SKT Header
KT Rolster vs SKT Header /

A recap of an amazing upset in the LCK as KT Rolster took down SKT.

When KT Rolster met SK Telecom T1 last week in the LCK 2016 Summer Playoffs, it was hard not to look ahead to the Finals, where a potential SKT vs. Rox Tigers rematch loomed. This is no disrespect to KT — it’s just that SKT is that good.

It’s hard to talk about SKT without the use of superlativ

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es. They are the Kings of League. They are the

Golden State Warriors

96 Bulls. Their mid laner — Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok — is the best player in the

history of League

; he is quite possibly one of the best in all of Esports.

Along the way to all those accolades, they’ve run over many teams. Royal Club. The Tigers. Even EDG. But perhaps no team has had its heart broken by SKT like KT Rolster.

The only thing they haven’t accomplished — that no team has ever done — is make it back to World’s as defending champions. That’s why they needed this win over KT. Once more to make history by breaking Rolster.

So…. what happened?

This series started 2-0 for SKT, but it wasn’t entirely straightforward. But remember that 2-0 lead — it will come back.

Game 1 started well for KT. They killed SKT all over the map, catching Kang “Blank” Sun-gu, Lee “Duke” Ho-Seong, Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan and Bae “Bang” Jun-sik overextended. But after getting a lead, KT misplayed their comp, failing to pressure any of the lanes, allowing SKT to control objectives. Top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho couldn’t get a split push going on Ekko while Duke’s Maokai brought more to teamfights.

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Still, SKT’s only hope was Faker, and the God of League delivered. Fly’s Aurelion Sol made it hard for Faker to roam early, so SKT decided to just kill him and grab an early Baron. With that buff and more engage tools, they outfought KT for victory, but it wasn’t pretty.

KT banned Maokai in Game 2, but Duke took another teamfight champion in Gnar and again out-played Ssumday, picking up an early 1v1 kill in lane while the rest of SKT were diving on the bot side. With that lead, SKT snowballed with a split push — KT’s bread and butter.

The series starts to turn

Two very different games, both won by SKT playing the map better. This should have been a straightforward series, right? After all, SKT was winning teamfights


split push — what else did Rolster have? It seemed their only chance was to try and focus on Blank –- he lived in their jungle and if they punished that, it may have allowed them the vision they needed to actually push up the lanes.

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But first they needed to ban Faker’s Malzahar, and wisely did -– KT’s itemization was extremely suboptimal in Game 2 because they were afraid of Faker locking them down. With the first pick, KT took Rek’Sai from Blank. Shoutcaster Christopher “Montecristo” Mykles didn’t like this pick but I did –- Blank gets out of a lot of sticky situations with Rek’Sai tunnels and if you’re trying to shut him down, taking that away is a start.

KT surrounded the Rek’Sai with more early lane pressure: Gnar top and Jhin/Bard in the duo lane with a surprise AP Ekko for mid laner Song “Fly” Young-jun. Lane pressure gave jungler Go “Score” Dong-bin more presence and he delivered, helping Ssumday get an early kill before rotating to the bot lane, synergizing with No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon and Ha “Hachani” Seung-chan for kill after kill and a KT win.

In Game 4, KT went back to the Aurelion Sol that helped keep Faker in lane in Game 1, and it worked again. Faker and Duke won lane matchups, but Blank’s Gragas was severely outplayed by Score’s Rek’Sai. KT heavily punished SKT’s lack of vision and won the duo lane matchup; that lead with a better scaling comp meant Game 5.

Here we go again

This is where some history is helpful. KT has been at the top of the LCK for years. And for years, they’ve been overlooked as SKT, Samsung, and Tigers have taken their turns as the champions. Their cruelest failure was in the 2013 Summer Final — against SKT. They had a 2-0 lead in that series before getting reverse-swept by the soon-to-be World Champions.

Facing another Game 5, this time on the other side of the table, KT couldn’t let that history get to them. They needed to forget it. To be honest, KT outplayed SKT for vast swaths of Games 1, 3 and 4. In Game 5, KT needed to just play with the confidence that they


should win. They did.

Making history by ignoring it

They ignored the history and ignored Faker by picking on the SKT rookies. SKT replaced two-time World’s-winning jungler Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong with Blank because of the latter’s superior mechanical skills. But skills don’t matter if you’re not in the right place to use them. Score took control of the river again, KT lit Blank up with pings whenever he stepped into the water, and they punished him for telegraphed Blue buff invades.

Then there was Duke. A strong laner, as we saw from numerous solo kills on Ssumday, Duke’s primary weakness has been an inability to consistently arrive in the right spot at the right time for teamfights. That was no different in Game 5.

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Ssumday beat him to fights time after time. Moreover, Duke’s poor positioning –- on Ekko of all champions –- made it easy for KT to dive Bang, SKT’s only reliable source of damage. Meanwhile, Arrow was hardly touched in fights and fired away with abandon.

With advantages in those two areas, KT won fight after fight after fight. They controlled the map and played around SKT’s protect-Sivir lineup beautifully. KT Rolster finally dethroned the Kings of Korea — and the World.

The only way SKT will be able to make World’s now is through the Gauntlet. Let’s see if they have it in them.

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