2016 World Championship: ROX Tigers dismantle Edward Gaming

ROX Tigers quarterfinals win over EDG, courtesy of lolesports.com and Riot Games
ROX Tigers quarterfinals win over EDG, courtesy of lolesports.com and Riot Games /

For the first time in history, three Korean teams have made the Worlds semifinals after ROX Tigers took down Edward Gaming.

There’s been a lot of talk of “the gap” at the 2016 World Championship. After INTZ e-Sports and Albus NoX Luna knocked off tournament favorites EDward Gaming and ROX Tigers, respectively, the gap was closing. After Team SoloMid failed to make it out groups and Cloud9’s loss ended NA’s hopes, the gap was widening.

Going into the bracket stage, it was assumed that the gap would remain. SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy were heavy favorites over Royal Never Give Up and Clou9, respectively. The only team that stood in the way of a Korean whitewash was EDG.

This is the same EDG that has actually beaten a Korean team in a best-of series. Yes, their 2015 MSI win over SKT was a long time ago, but this team has proven that it cannot be taken lightly on the international level. And while ROX were pegged as a pre-tournament favorite, their stumbles against ANX and Counter Logic Gaming could not be ignored.

Let’s take a look at what happened as these heavyweights met on Saturday.

EDG’s draft failed them in Game 1

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Playing with Tong “Koro1” Yang in the top lane due to Chen “Mouse” Yuhao’s family emergency, EDG was expected to put Koro1 on a tank he was familiar with and concentrate on the bot lane. After all, ADC Hyeokgu “Deft” Kim and Support Ye “Meiko” Tian are their stars.

Instead, perhaps not wanting to be predictable, Koro1 went with Rumble, hoping to at least compete with Kyungho “Smeb” Song’s Jaycve in lane.

He failed.

ROX jungler Wangho “Peanut” Han ganked top twice early, giving Smeb a lead he would not relinquish. On the other side of the map, EDG botched a tower dive by taking unnecessary tower shots and missing skill shots. Yechan “Scout” Lee picked up a double kill but Rox came out ahead.

Unable to match the roaming potential of Seohaeng “Kuro” Lee’s Aurelion Sol or Smeb’s split push, EDG could only watch helplessly as their nexus was taken.

EDG’s Draft fails them in Game 2

Seeing Koro1’s failings on Rumble, EDG decided… to put him on Kennen???

Listen, Kennen is a great pick in this meta. In fact, he’s kind of similar to Rumble, only with better pushing potential. They paired Kennen with Kai “Clearlove” Min’s Hecarim and Deft’s Jhin, a comp that needed to win early.

On the other side, ROX calmly drafted Maokai, Lee Sin and Zyra. You know, champions designed to keep Kennens and Hecarims away.

The game was even more one-sided than the first. EDG had absolutely no hope of every fighting ROX as a team. They knew it. ROX knew it. And so ROX roamed around as five, EDG bled objective after objective, losing the few teamfights they were forced in to. Clearlove’s Hecarim was a disaster and the game was a total suffocation by the Tigers.

Smeb’s Fiora made an appearance in Game 3, but EDG won with teamfights

Fiora splash art, courtesy of Riot Games
Fiora splash art, courtesy of Riot Games /

EDG’s Game 2 comp was a disaster, but like any smart organization, they adapted. In this case, they basically drafted everything ROX was using. Aurelion Sol? Take it. Caitlin? Take it.

On the other side, ROX drafted somewhat arrogantly. Smeb’s Fiora in the Season 5 Worlds was one of the most breathtaking displays of skill I’ve ever seen, but Scout smartly used the pushing power of his Aurelion Sol to roam up for dives, helping Koro1 stay relevant.

The turning point was a teamfight at 13:30 in the bot lane, initiated by ROX. EDG was behind and lost Meiko early, but their superior teamfight comp allowed them to win this one and win the game.

Game 5: the Peanut show

Before Worlds, Clearlove was ranked #4 in the Top 20. Peanut was one spot behind him. This was one of the most hyped matchups between these teams, a pairing that should have been very equal.

Nobody told Peanut.

He solidly outplayed Clearlove in nearly every game, and his pathing to start Game 4 was a masterpiece. He was a split-second ahead of Clearlove, reading his opponent and punishing every move.

They both showed up in the bot lane at 9:25, Clearlove jumped in first, but Peanut’s Olaf answered with a Triple Kill:

Clearlove never recovered, and EDG went down to Peanut, swinging axes like a madman.

ROX Tigers finally showed us the form we’ve been waiting for. We’ll save a discussion for the size of the gap for a later date. But with three Korean teams through to New York’s semifinal round, it can’t be denied that a gap remains. For now, let’s let Smeb describe his team:

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