SKT outlast Samsung Galaxy in 2016 World Championship finals

SKT holding the Season 6 Summoner's Cup, courtesy of Riot Games
SKT holding the Season 6 Summoner's Cup, courtesy of Riot Games /

The best Worlds ever concluded with a classic, five-map match of attrition. SKT proved that they are clutch once again and repeat as World Champions.

Whews! What a Worlds! League has grown by leaps and bounds since the Season 3 World Championship was held at Staples Center. The encore was even better as LCK giants SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy clashed in an epic setting.

Many saw this as a straightforward series for SKT, but we weren’t so sure. Sure enough, after getting beat down, Samsung found a way back into the series and forced the first Game 5 in World Championship Finals history.

Game 1: SKT started fast

SKT picked Orianna for star mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-heyok and Jhin for Junsik “Bang” Bae. Using the early zoning and lane pressure of those champions, they built big CS leads in the mid and bot lane. The game was a relatively bloodless affair as jungler Seongung “Bengi” Bae worked around Faker’s pressure to create large zones of SKT vision. They starved the map and built a big lead before the teamfighting began.

Samsung was put on the back foot the entire game because Minho “Crown” Lee lost control of mid lane. But despite the loss, the had good takeaways: they had dragon control and Chanyong “Ambition” Kang and Sungin “CuVee” Lee’s teamfighting was much cleaner than Hoseong “Duke” Lee and Bengi’s. In what could have been the turnaround in the game, CuVee (in full vision of SKT), pulled of a great Poppy flank that caught Faker and Bang, with SKT’s Trundle and Olaf watching helplessly, unable to peel.

Game 2: SKT started faster

SSG decided to change things up in the draft phase, giving CuVee Kennen on red side. The pick simply didn’t work out for them as SKT opted into a traditional teamfight comp. A couple creative ganks to the top side gave Duke a lead he would not relinquish, and despite solid dragon control from Samsung again, SKT owned the waves. It looked like they had advantages at all positions.

Game 3: SKT throw

This was the gold map in Game 3:

Worlds Finals G3 Breakdown, courtesy of Riot Games
Worlds Finals G3 Breakdown, courtesy of Riot Games /

So how did SKT lose? They threw.

After getting an almost 10k gold lead, they took a free Baron. Instead of exiting and prepping siege, they decided to fight at the pit. Faker was popped at the outset and the team fell apart:

After two pretty miserable games, Samsung’s rookie ADC Jaehyeok “Ruler” Park pulled out a massive appearance on Ezreal, dueling SKT members all over the map. And remember that dragon control? Samsung took four elemental drakes, making their late-game incredibly scary. Both teams made lots of mistakes as the game dragged well beyond an hour, but that power was too much for SKT to overcome.

We finally had ourselves a series!

Game 4: Samsung turned the tide

Feeling some life for the first time in the series, Ruler picked Jhin away from Bang for early control and it paid off. SKT, coming off a loss, brought Sungu “Blank” Kang in to play Zac. Whether it was part of their strategy all along to give Bengi a breather and insert some new life, we won’t know. What we do know is that it didn’t work.

Ambition again ceded lane pressure to control dragon and SSG took the first three. Crown and CuVee looked at home on comfort picks Viktor and Kennen, respectively, and Ruler was outright dominant on that Jhin. Bang actually didn’t play poorly, but SSG did a much better job playing that side of the map and SKT, like they have so many times, looked lost around Blank.

Game 5: Bengi saves the day…again

You knew this was coming. You knew after Blank was brought in to start Game 4 that Bengi would find a way to impact the series. And did he ever.

First blood for his bot lane. Revenge for Faker in the mid lane. SKT just look so much more comfortable with him in the game. Faker took Viktor and after getting his items, shoved Crown’s Cassiopeia in repeatedly.

It was a return to Games 1 and 2 as SKT controlled the map (including dragon) and simply starved SSG. The boys of October did it again and SKT won another Summoner’s Cup.

What a performance

What a series! This has already gone down as the best Worlds ever. Add a 5-map finals? It wasn’t cleanly played on either side, but didn’t lack for drama. And SKT again came out clutch. The indominable monster struck again and another Worlds is theirs.

Faker, Bengi, Bang, and Company, can now stand on the Mount Rushmore of Esports, with names like BoxeR and Flash. They are legends, and we witnessed history. What a game.

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