Once considered as the uncontested titans, the 2018 LCK Worlds Contenders are looking to prove that they have not fallen off as much as most people would come to expect after seeing all of the tournaments in recent memory going towards LPL’s way. And, with the annual tilt being held in South Korea this year, they have even more of a reason to step up their game.
Having said that, we’ve taken the time to discuss our thoughts and what we think are the key strengths of the 2018 LCK Worlds Contenders heading into the 2018 League of Legends World Championship.
KT Rolster — 1st Seed
In 2017, a super team was formed with the idea of taking down SK Telecom T1. The squad consisted of former ROX Tigers top laner Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, world champion mid laner Heo “PawN” Won-seok, former Edward Gaming AD Carry Kim “Deft” Hyu-kyu, world champion support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong, and KT loyalist Go “Score” Dong-bin.
This super team, however, did not deliver on that intention, and was not even able to go to Worlds that year. However, the roster stuck together for this season and trainee Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon was promoted into the main roster, at first sharing time with PawN in the spring, and eventually taking the place of starter in the middle lane.
Soon enough, the team’s decision to play through their pains paid off as they got third in the spring and eventually won the summer split in a close series against Team Griffin.
KT Rolster is a team that likes to play around lane priority. They almost always attempt to get winning matchups in lane so that they could empower Score to invade and starve the enemy jungler out. A common way for them to play is to take the bottom lane turret early in order to unleash Mata across the map on playmakers like the Alistar or the Rakan. They have also shown to be very flexible in terms of drafting— any member of the team can take the mantle of being the carry.
KT Rolster killed some memes when they were finally able to win the LCK championship, but the question remains on whether or not they’ll end up winning it all at the end of the season.
Player to Watch: Score
Score is arguably the best jungler in the world. His jungle pathing is one of the best on almost any champion. He is often capable of starving enemy junglers out, getting both rift scuttles in the early game, and getting a triple buff start. Score is capable of empowering his laners with supportive picks like Sejuani, or can look to carry the game by himself on champions like the Nocturne, Taliyah, or even the Camille.
Score will try to make up for six years of not winning big tournaments, and the world championship is on his mind.
Betting: KT Rolsters to win LoL Worlds 2018 at 3 odds. (GGbet)
Afreeca Freecs — 2nd Seed
The Afreeca Freecs often fly under the radar because it’s not a team with the flashiest players in the LCK. However, I would go on to say that they are the best team when it comes to preparation: one can only look at how they handled their summer playoff run.
With creative picks like a Gragas with the Predator keystone rune for Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon, a split pushing Quinn for Kim “Kiin” Gi-in, and an Anivia for Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng, they often shock their opposition.
The usual playstyle for the Afreeca Freecs is to enable Kiin as much as they can, whether it’s on a carry or a split pusher. As split pushers are currently in the meta, there are so many ways that Afreeca can look at to win games.
Park “TusiN” Jong-ik is one of the best initiating supports in South Korea on picks like the Rakan. Kuro is often a solid team fight performer, and their bottom laners in Ha “Kramer” Jong-hun and Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram can be counted on to deal damage on traditional marksmen, or on the non-conventional bottom laners such as the Swain or the Yasuo.
Player to Watch: Kiin
The South Korean representative’s top laner, Afree Freecs pours a lot of resources into Kiin. But, that’s a given, he is one of the best top lane carry players in the world, after all, especially when he’s playing Gangplank — he is one of the only players capable of blind picking the champion in the current meta.
If the split push meta stays, expect Kiin to push all the way to an enemy nexus and help Afreeca Freecs go on a deep run.
Betting: Afreeca Freecs to win LoL Worlds 2018 at 6 odds. (GGbet)
Gen G — 3rd Seed
The reigning world champions, Gen G are looking to become the second team in the world to successfully defend their championship.
Suffice to say, Gen G have had a rather lackluster year. Though they made it as one of the 2018 LCK Worlds Contenders, their path was far from easy. They finished fifth in the spring split and fifth yet again during the summer. They had to make it through all three roudns of the regional qualifiers just to be in a position to defend their title. Although, it is worth noting that they’re not exactly strangers to making it through the gauntlet; they have qualified the same way for the past two days and ended up making it to the Grand Finals both times.
Of the three 2018 LCK Worlds Contenders, Gen G are arguably the slowest. Their style of play is to allow Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk to safely scale into the late game, and carry in a team fight. Lee “Crown” Min-ho is usually counted upon to set up for Ruler on champions like Malzahar and Lissandra. Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin is usually on tanks, but can perform on carries if needed.
Between their two junglers, Kang “Haru” Min-seung is the more aggressive option, providing a lot of coverage for Crown in the early game, usually on champions like Camille and the Gragas. On the other hand, Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong is the more reserved jungler. His focus is on power farming and shadowing the lanes on champions like the Sejuani or the Zac.
Gen G may not have had the ideal season, but it will be foolish to count them out come Worlds.
Player to Watch: Ruler
Ruler is the true carry of the team, and he played only marksmen when they were not favored in the meta.
Gen G usually drafts into his lane’s favor. He has shown phenomenal performances on champions like Tristana, Xayah, Ezreal, and especially on the Varus— no one could forget his Flash and Chains of Corruption on Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok in the 2017 World Championship Final. In recent memory, he has been able to stop Rakan engages with the Varus ultimate.
Good luck to any opponent who’s foolish enough to let Ruler scale safely into the later stage of the game.
Betting: Gen G to win LoL Worlds 2018 at 4 odds. (GGbet)
Korean teams usually have no trouble getting past the group stages. Don’t expect things to go any differently for the 2018 LCK Worlds Contenders. However, the fact remains that they’ll be playing with a huge chip on their shoulder.
For a region that expects so much out of their teams, second place just won’t cut it — the only way to heal the pain of finishing as runner-ups at international tournaments this year is to keep the title of World Champions on home soil in front of the home crowd.
All odds courtesy of GGbet.
Which of the 2018 LCK Worlds Contenders do you think will defend the region’s honor at Worlds? Do you think another region will bring their streak to an end? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.