Korea’s Third Seed: Who will Take it?

“Every team Korea sends is in contention of the world championship” - Joshua “Jatt” Leesman


[Spoiler warning if you haven’t watched the Afreeca vs Jin Air game]

With Afreeca Freecs’ phenomenal reverse sweep to conclude the Afreeca Freecs vs. Jin Air Greenwings series, it’s time to look ahead for their battle against Samsung Galaxy (September 1st), and then, for the Gaunlet’s finals, between the winner of Thursday’s game and SKT’s slayers, KT Rolster (September 3rd), to see which team will claim Korea’s third seed at the World Championship.

Players left to right: ikssu, LirA, Mickey, Sangyoon, SnowFlower
Afreeca Freecs’ players. Names left to right: ikssu, LirA, Mickey, Sangyoon, SnowFlower

Samsung Galaxy has not been the same since the infamous Korean exodus, where all ten players have departed the team for opportunities in foreign grounds. Currently, the roster consists of Seong-Jin “CuVee” Lee in the Top lane, Chan-Yong “Ambition” Kang in the Jungle, Min-ho “Crown” Lee in the mid lane, and Jae-Hyuk “Ruler” Park in the AD Carry position with Ji-Min “Wraith” Kwon as his support. They have alternative players, such as Yong-in “CoreJJ” Jo (former dignitas ADC), but the five mentioned prior are the usual starters.  

Players left to right: Stitch, Ambition, Helper, Wraith, CuVee, Crown, CoreJJ
Players left to right: Stitch, Ambition, Helper, Wraith, CuVee, Crown, CoreJJ

Ruler in his rookie split did above and beyond anyone’s expectation, with a 533.1 Damage Per Minute (DPM), ranking 4th in the league, as well as the highest Creep Score Per Minute (CSPM) of 9.3, tied with SKT’s Bang. Considered to be one of the best rookies Korea has ever produced, he should be the player to keep an eye on, especially when compared to his opposition, Sang-Yoon “Sangyoon” Kwon, who dealt the least damage in the league with a 497.5 DPM and a 8.8 CSPM. Expect Afreeca Freecs to have priority on support carries or bust out the Kog’Maw to compensate.

I personally see Crown as a “mini-Dade,” with his king-like aura in his plays. Holding a DPM of 657.4, only rivaled by SKT’s Faker and ROX’s Kuro, who has only played 21 games compared to Crown’s 40. These two will provide the biggest threat compared to the opposition of Afreeca. Afreeca has their own mid lane threat, with star mid laner Yong-min “Mickey” Sun, who is right behind Crown’s DPM with 620.1. However, Mickey could be viewed as more of a team player than Crown, as Mickey averages a 75.3% Kill Participation (KP), whereas the latter player only hovers around an average of 70.2% KP. As much as this matchup is between two incredibly influential players, we are expected to see each team’s Jungle orbiting the lane to help winning midlane possession, and potentially, the game as a whole.

Ever since his change in position out from the midlane and into the jungle, Ambition has built up the reputation to a strong jungler. Despite this, Ambition’s statistics show however a low KP of 70.4%, only to be followed up by SKT’s Blank 70.3%, essentially sharing dead last in the league. On the other hand, he makes up for this by providing extensive vision for his team, with 0.81 Wards Per Minute (WPM), placing 4th, and 0.54 Wards Cleared Per Minute (WCPM), placing 5th. Compared to how well Ambition will brighten up Samsung’s map, Tae-yoo “LirA” Nam falls behind to place only 7th in both WPM and WCPM ranking (ignoring CJ Bubbling’s one game). Expect this matchup to be one sided, as Ambition should take over the jungle, not only in terms of the warding aspect, but the veteran status he holds in a Best of Five series.

Afreeca being interview
Afreeca being interview

The biggest shining point for Afreeca Freecs are their top laners, Ik-soo “ikssu” Jeon and Man-heung “Lindarang” Heo. They both hold the first and second highest KP in the top lane as they affect the map with a global presence of 77.7% and 72.2%, compared to Seong-jin “CuVee” Lee’s low KP of 63.0%, coming in 7th in the league ranking. In spite of this incomparable team influence, Cuvee comes ahead as a solo player against both of Afreeca’s top laners. His third highest CSPM at 7.9 forces Ambition to not only pay attention to the midlane, but also impact the top matchup, especially when today’s meta emphasizes the top laner to snowball stronger than the opposition to determine the shape of the game across the map. Expect focus on Shen and his popular counter pick Gnar.

Overall, Samsung is not a team to underestimate, as their damage dealers are ranked within the top 4 in almost every category. The question lies in how well they can overcome their weak early game, as Ambition has a concerning KP, and whether Afreeca Freecs will bring out their top notch game out of their inconsistency. This series will greatly rely on Ambition’s ability to provide vision to not only have a smooth transition into the mid game and letting their carries lead the team to victory, but also to stop LirA’s early ganking, proven effective by his 77.2% KP along with ikksu’s ability to change tides of the fight with his teleports.

KT Rolster is currently the overwhelming fan-favorites from their playoff performance, showing vendetta against SKT with a reverse sweep and an extremely close final against ROX. The starting roster consists of Chan-ho “Ssumday” Kim in the top, Dong-bin “Score” Go and Geun-young “Steal” Moon in the jungle, though Steal has yet to debut, Young-jun “Fly” Song in the mid lane, and Dong-hyeon “Arrow” No in the AD position with Seung-chan “Hachani” Ha in the support position.

Left to Right: Arrow, Fly, Ssumday, Hachani, Score, Steal
Left to Right: Arrow, Fly, Ssumday, Hachani, Score, Steal

The creator of Trinity Force Ekko, Ssumday, is statistically the best player on KT. He has a CSPM of 8.1, rivaled only by SKT’s Duke of 8.2, and a KP of 69.6%, placing 4th in the league. In spite of these numbered statistics, Ssumday showed difficulties during many of his laning phases. Although he has a CS Difference against his oppositions of 4.1 at 10 minutes, (3rd highest with the exclusion of SSG’s Helper of 3 games) which indicates his potential to be a consistent laner, rising number of solo deaths in 1v1 situations has prevented him from being recognized as a reliable one. If these issues, which Ssumday has even addressed himself, are not resolved before the upcoming match, we could see a fluctuating performance from the KT Rolster top laner.

Fly, much like his teammate in the top lane, is statistically a solid mid laner, as he is ranked 3rd or 5th in almost every relevant category. The one stat he fails to meet this consistency, however, is his CSPM, as he ties for 7th place with a mere 8.2. But arguing against what the numbers show, poor laning isn’t the sole reason why his CSPM is extremely low. Rather, Fly tries to help the side lanes get ahead and takes the utility role in the game, sacrificing his scores in his own matchup. I personally like to call Fly the “Rich Man’s HuHi,” as their jobs are similar; becoming the solid mid laner and helping the side lanes.

Arrow has similar stats to Fly, as he is top 5 in almost every relevant stat except his CSPM, which he ranks dead last with 8.4 (excluding the 8 games of LZ’s Emperor and the 2 games CJ’s Ghost holds). This is quite amazing, considering the fact that he is ranked 5th in DPM with 523.1 and 4th in KP with 71, specifically when compared to those who have higher CSPM like Jin Air’s Pilot (9.1), who is ranked 3rd, but is ranked 6th in DPM of 521.2. His Jhin performance in playoffs is also something we can look forward to.

Stats only tell half the story. One cannot numerically calculate interference such as tilt, strategic misplay, or unpredictable condition downfall. Yes, SSG does have stats that overwhelm KT on paper. But there is a reason why KT took ROX to 5 games, while SSG failed to take a single game off KT in the playoffs. KT Should take the entire thing and become the Third seed of Korea. Ssumday exerts pressure across the map as long as he does not get solo’d, Fly holding down the mid lane and Arrow with Ssumday dealing damage and getting the win screen.

20 year old ssumday considered a Veteran
20 year old ssumday already considered a Veteran

Fun fact: If KT wins the gauntlet, it will be the same teams representing South Korea at Worlds, when compared to last year, only change being ROX and SKT swapping their placement with each other.


Stats Taken from:

Afreeca Freecs: https://mmos.com/editorials/esports-weekly-032116

Samsung: http://lol.esportspedia.com/wiki/File:Samsung_2016_Spring.jpg

Afreeca Freecs interview: http://lol.esportsmatrix.com/zh-TW/News/Detail/2386

KT Rolster: http://lol.esportspedia.com/wiki/File:KT_Rolster_2016_Spring.jpg

Plat 5 NA, 19 years young, Made in Korea.