2016 World Championship preview: SKT vs RNG

SKT with the Summoner's Cup, courtesy of lolesports.com
SKT with the Summoner's Cup, courtesy of lolesports.com /

Korea and China once again battle in the 2016 World Championship quarterfinals as SKT T1 face RNG.

Korea has simply dominated this year’s World Championship. The third-ranked Korean team, Samsung Galaxy, completely decimated NA’s Cloud9 in the first quarterfinal match yesterday. The Koreans don’t care who you root for, what comp you play, or who’s on your team. As C9’s Jung “Impact” Eoyn-yeong found out, they don’t even care if you are Korean.

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Samsung breezed through the Group of Death with crisp play.  But it’s hard to put them above SK Telecom T1. The defending champions had a similarly easy time with the group. On the final day of games, it really looked like SKT were just trying things out, hoping not to reveal their true strats.

You know a team’s good when they turn the Worlds group stage into an extended scrim.

On the other side, Royal struggled to get out of groups. They showed incredible inconsistency playing the map, letting Splyce pull them around with a split push before dominating TSM’s bottom lane and controlling vision. At their best, they can compete with anybody. But it’s anyone’s guess which version of RNG will show up today, or even which version will show up from game to game.

The matchup

Talent wise, the teams are actually very even. Lee “Duke” Ho-seong is an impeccable laner but Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok can at least keep him busy. Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok needs no introduction, but Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-hao stood up to him at MSI and has that Aurelion Sol in his pocket.

In the duo lane, Bae “Bang” Jun-sik proved again why he is an S-Tier ADC, but Jian “Uzi” Zi-hao is the original S-Tier ADC. Both can be lane bullies and both can solo carry games. Bang is a bit more consistent than Uzi though, who can sometimes go a bit too ham.

With all that talent in the lanes, the game will likely come down to the supporting players. It was uncertain which SKT jungler will surface, but now it looks like Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung has been awoken in place of Kang “Blank” Sun-gu (at least for Game 1).

At support, RNG’s Cho “Mata” Se-hyoung is the venerated World Champ, but SKT’s Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan is no joke – and has one more World Title to his name. I will be interested to see if Mata can find the time and space to pull of his signature roam plays or if Bengi can combine with Faker and Wolf to ward up and sniff things out.

Who wins?

SKT are heavy favorites in this one. Uzi might get a game. But SKT’s macro is too good. RNG failing to pick up a win against Samsung in groups certainly does not bode well for their chances against SKT.

Royal might actually have a slight advantage early, if they pick strong wave clear and push the lanes. They are known for strong synergy between mid, jungle, and support, pushing and roaming for invades and buff steals.

The problem is, SKT’s vision control is stronger than that of most western teams, and they know how to fight around objectives more comfortably. Then there’s the famous SKT midgame – it’s fine for them to give up buffs, kills and towers, but when that midgame spike happens, there’s very little anyone can do. Other than make Faker or Bang total irrelevant, RNG will have to find some way to weather that storm.

The match will also test RNG’s ability to adapt. They play one style: aggro from the start. Sure, camping Faker and feeding Uzi might give them a game. But what happens when SKT adapt?

At the end of the day, SKT are too well-coached and coordinated, and our prediction is a 3-1 series from Faker and company.

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