The League of Legends Season 5 World Championships have provided an amazing ride for both the fans and players. We’ve seen completely one-sided games, incredible comebacks, and huge upsets. Teams have crushed their fans’ dreams, while others have performed well beyond expectations. It’s all come down to one final match: SK Telecom T1 K vs KOO Tigers.
Few expected KOO to get this far. They had a decent, but not great, group stage, and were supposed to end their Worlds run with a loss to KT Rolster in the quarterfinals. Instead, they used their late-game focused style to take the series 3-1, before sweeping Europe’s Fnatic 3-0 in the semifinals.
On the flip side, just about everyone expected to see SK Telecom in the finals. This is a fairly different team than the one that claimed the Season 3 championship, but every bit as deadly (and perhaps even more so.) SKT has yet to drop a single game in this tournament, and they’ve looked to have completely outmatched every opponent so far.
Now, let’s break down each individual position on the Rift, to see where each team can claim their advantages.
MaRin has broken out in a big way on the World stage. While teammate Faker has traditionally taken most of the hype, SKT’s top laner has shown everyone that he is a star in his own right. MaRin has posted the second-highest KDA of all top laners at Worlds, while also amassing the highest CS/min to make sure he constantly has the income necessary to carry. The carry top meta has fit MaRin perfectly, and he has quickly thrust himself into the conversation for best top laner in the world.
If there’s one player who might challenge that last point, it could very well be KOO’s Smeb. The only top laner in the tournament to post a higher KDA than MaRin, Smeb has been incredibly critical for the Tigers’ wins. This is a player that knows a thing or two about proving himself, and he has been an absolute force in this tournament. His Fiora play has been a thing of beauty, while he’s also shown a willingness to bring out unconventional picks such as Hecarim and Kennen when his team needs them. Lest you think his high KDA is from not being a part of fights, Smeb’s kill participation is at 67.1%, significantly higher than that of MaRin. This is truly a battle of two of the best in the world at this position.
Bengi has really returned to form as one of the top junglers in the world. It’s no secret that Faker generally demands jungle attention, but no matter where he is on the map, bengi is instilling fear in his opponents. He’s a big part of SKT’s impeccable warding, and has posted the second highest jungler KDA at Worlds. Having only played Gragas once, he’s not hurt by the champion being disabled, and has proven to be a huge threat on Elise. We know he has been a fantastic Lee Sin player in the past, and has the ability to pull that pick back out if necessary.
There’s a running joke that KOO benefited from replacing Lee with Hojin in the jungle, with the latter performing significantly better. Of course, they are the same player, but the name change certainly seemed to do him some good. Hojin went from being a liability to a world-class jungler, and has changed the way KOO can play the game. The only issue here is that bengi traditionally is able to apply more pressure in the early game, as evidenced by KOO often falling behind early. Hojin has turned into a fantastic player, but SKT might be able to use bengi’s early game prowess to snowball a game.
The two-headed monster of Faker and Easyhoon make up arguably the scariest mid lane in professional League of Legends. Faker is still considered by many to be the best player in the game, capable of excelling and outclassing his opponents both in laning phase and in team fights. Easyhoon is the substitute, but unlike most subs, SKT makes sure he gets time to play, even in the biggest games. Easyhoon is actually generally considered better than Faker on some control mages, with Azir being one of the most notable. SKT may very well utilize both players in the finals, and no matter who plays, the team expects big things.
Kuro actually posted a slightly higher KDA than Faker in this tournament, with a much higher kill participation. However, KOO’s mid laner has suffered with inconsistency throughout Worlds. He’s had games where he’s looked almost unstoppable, and others where he’s seemed almost lost. If he plays at his best, he should be able to at least hold his own in the mid lane, and help his team in the later portions of the game. However, that’s about the best anyone is hoping for.
Bang has been one of the brightest stars at this year’s Worlds. He has the highest KDA in the tournament (except for IG’s Time, who only played one game), but Bang’s performance goes beyond that one statistic. While he’s not one to make huge flashy plays and pick up a ton of kills in laning phase, he plays extremely solidly, and is always precisely where his team needs him. His positioning in team fights is fantastic, leading to only 7 total deaths throughout the 12 games he’s played. Bang has shown what an ADC is capable of in a meta that some considered to be unkind to the position.
After some thought his career might be all but over, KOO’s PraY has stepped up in a big way. There’s no doubt that playing with GorillA has had a significant impact, and it’s paid off. Only Bang and Arrow had higher KDA’s from the ADC position, and PraY actually had a slightly higher kill participation than his SKT counterpart. There’s no question that PraY has returned to form as a top-tier ADC, and against almost any other opponent, he might be favored.
Bang’s lane partner since the days of SKT T1 S, Wolf has been the perfect Support for his ADC. Given Bang’s statistics, it should come as no surprise that SKT’s Support leads the position in KDA. Wolf has shown proficiency on a variety of champions, with Alistar and Tahm Kench particularly notable. He works well with Bang in lane to make sure the two are able to claim even a small advantage, and serves the team well throughout all stages of the game.
It can be said that an ADC is only as good as their Support, and if that’s true, then it’s no wonder that PraY has shown up in a big way in this tournament. GorillA is a true star at the position, with some considering him the best in the world at what he does. While no player is perfect, it’s hard to find much fault with any part of GorillA’s game. He isn’t afraid to innovate with his champion pool, as he is credited with helping to bring Janna to prominence last year. Until it’s proven otherwise, it’s difficult to claim there’s anyone clearly better in this role.
It’s impressive that the KOO Tigers have made it all the way to the finals, and they’ve proven that there are a variety of ways to win a game of League of Legends, even at the highest levels of competition. Several members of the team have taken advantage of the stage to show the world that they deserve to be feared and respected, which is exactly what you want out of a team that’s made it this far.
With that said, it’s been a shaky road at times for KOO, needing to win multiple times after digging themselves into a hole. More than any other team here, SK Telecom T1 is unlikely to allow the Tigers to claw their way from such a deficit. SKT has appeared to completely overwhelm their opponents so far, and I don’t expect that to stop now. Given KOO’s creative playstyle and strong teamwork, I do think they’ll be able to win a game in this series. With that said, I predict that…
The Season 5 World Champions will be:
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