The dust has settled on the Korean regular season, and five teams will fight it out for supremacy in the best region in the world. Esportsranks is here with the lowdown on all five teams with the 2017 LCK Spring Playoffs Preview.
Tomorrow (7th April) sees the start of the 5 team gauntlet that will determine who has the bragging rights for the 2017 LCK Spring Split. The king of the hill format will see afreeca Freecs take on MVP in the best-of-3 wildcard round. The winner goes on to face the next challenger in the gauntlet in a best-of-5, and whoever comes out it all unscathed gets crowned champion.
Unlike previous splits, this time around there is a clear favourite in the form of SK Telecom T1, whose seven-man squad blitzed their way to the top of the standings, and are now simply one best-of-5 away from claiming yet another title. Samsung Galaxy and KT Rolster also had strong showings, with the former taking a series off of SKT.
Defending champions ROX Tigers missed out in 6th place, although in truth it would have been a miracle to see them back in given the complete roster reshuffle at the end of 2016.
#5 – MVP – 10-8
MVP are ranked after being defeated in a tiebreaker by the Freecs. This doesn’t mean much other than MVP only get side selection for Game 2, and the Wildcard round will be hotly contested. Many did not expect MVP to get into this position, but they are the epitome of the sum being greater than the parts. Good macro-play and communication has seen MVP win games that they simply had no right to. Look for the bot lane duo of Oh “MaHa” Hyun-sik and Jeong “Max” Jong-Bin to cause some real problems.
#4 – afreeca Freecs – 10-8
One of a number of teams to replace their entire roster during the off-season, the afreeca Freecs are back in post-season business. One could almost argue that they are the polar opposite of their Wildcard opponents. Whilst the communication and teamwork isn’t quite all there, the individual talent most certainly is. ADC Jong-Hoon “Kramer” Ha is in the form of his life, and midlaner Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng has a title to defend, having been a part of the ROX Tigers when they won the 2016 LCK Summer Playoffs.
#3 – KT Rolster – 12-6
The big winners of the 2016 Chinese exodus, KT Rolster have three of the best Korean players who played in China in 2016. Heo “PawN” Won-seok and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu both arrive from EDward Gaming, whilst Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong left Royal Never Give Up. The squad, on paper, are the second-best team in Korea. League of Legends is not played on paper, however, and the team has had consistency issues, including a shock loss to basement team Kongdoo Monster.
#2 – Samsung Galaxy – 14-4
Whilst the off-season saw every other team swap around large parts of their respective rosters, Samsung Galaxy clearly thought this was a terrible idea, and went with consistency by keeping all six of their main players, including both supports. The organisation’s faith in retaining the roster that was one map away from Worlds has been rewarded with a 2nd seed. This split has stacked with excellent bot lanes, and Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk and Jo “Core JJ” Yong-in (yes, that one) are seen by many to be the best in this playoffs. Oh, and they have Season MVP Lee “Crown” Min-ho.
#1 – SK Telecom T1 – 16-2
Three-time Worlds champions and very heavy favourites, SK Telecom T1 have only gotten better. On an individual level, they have the best of the league in each role except, by their own admission, the bot lane, which will have to make do with second. The much-derided pickup of Seung “Huni” Hoon Heo quickly turned out to be the best transfer of the season. In the jungle, Han “Peanut” Wang-ho has brought some muscle to a role which SKT has struggle to make an impact. Yes, SKT still have Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. Yes, he’s still by far and away the best player in the world.
7th April 10:00 CEST – Wildcard – afreeca Freecs vs MVP
11th April 10:00 CEST – Playoff 1 – KT Rolster vs Winner of Wildcard
15th April 10:00 CEST – Playoff 2 – Samsung Galaxy vs Winner of Playoff 1
22nd April 10:00 CEST – Final – SK Telecom T1 vs Winner of Playoff 2