Ah, Korea. The land where League of Legends skill seems to grow on trees and best of threes are still the preferred format.
It is truly fascinating to watch some of the top LoL teams battling it out, but it is understandable that a lot of westerners cannot watch it, either due to the inconvenient broadcast hours or just due to the overwhelming number of games.
Luckily, we are here to help you through it by recapping the first half of one of the most unpredictable and competitive splits in Korea team-by-team.
Kingzone DragonX (7-2, 15-3 game score)
KZ continue to prove that they are still the team to beat in Korea.
After their first series against KSV, where they got 2-0’d (Rascal played top though), they went on a winning streak and didn’t drop a fame for seven series. Among their opponents were SKT Telecom T1, KT and Afreeca.
Kim “Khan” Dong-ha is once again at the top of his game and the addition of Han “Peanut” Wang-ho has served the squad well.
Their only blemish is the rather unexpected loss to BBQ in their 9th match of the split. That defeat broke their streak, but they have already bounced back.
Top stat: Aside from KZ’s ridiculous win rate, equally as impressive is their 79.2 percent first turret rate. They also have an average of 5.5 kill difference per game, the next team behind SKT with two. Finally, Khan himself has a 89 percent wine rate and he also got a Pentakill on Riven in an on-stage game.
KT (7-2, 15-7 game score)
KT still have the same members in their ranks, but they’re trying hard to end a streak of unsuccessful ranks.
Their biggest storyline of the Split was beating their nemesis, SKT, in a best of three series.
They continue to play with a fast pace and are one of the few teams that react to aggression with more aggression, even when they’re trailing.
Their only losses so far came against two top teams in KZ and Afreeca, but their wins have not been effortless either. We will have to wait and see how they fare during the remainder of the split.
Top stat: KT Deft is the MVP front-runner with 700 points. His tram has placed a lot of the responsibility for damage output on him and his form is usually a deciding factor on the outcome of a match.
Afreeca Freeks (6-3 13-7 game score)
Afreeca Freeks have always beAen thereabouts, hovering near the top hoping to establish themselves as a top team. They might just manage that during this Split.
A lucky win against KT, a rough ride versus KSV and a stomp at the hands of KZ left them a bit behind, but they then picked up the pace, beating various competitors by 2-0, including heavyweights SKT.
They certainly have the individual talent to shine. It just remains to be seen whether the addition of all-round top laner Kim “Kiin” Gi-in will help them to challenge for one of the spots that will lead them to international events.
Top stat: Lee “KurO” Seo-haeng has been defying the Meta somewhat by playing a lot of Corki and several off-Meta picks like Syndra and Leblanc. This has helped him to pick up plenty of solo kills (9) in the process. In a team where adc Ha “Kramer” Jong-hun picked Locket of the Iron Solari for his Varus, we can expect them to hit the rift with more innovative strategies.
KSV (5-4, 11-10 game score)
KSV are the current world champions and, having been victorious, decided against changing their line-up.
The start of the split was impressive, with the side performing a number of clean macro-centric dismantlings. A number of series went their way thanks to stalling (that was easy in patch 8.1) and their potent teamfighting. This was best showcased in a miraculous nexus defense against the Afreeca Freeks.
However, the Meta has been favoring less scaling since then and KSV have not been able to scale comfortably into the late game.
They reached mid-split on a three game losing streak against fellow playoff contenders, ROX Tigers, SKT and KSV.
Top stat: KSV is dead last by a big margin in First Blood percentage (32%). They have prioritized scaling, but this makes them very predictable and teams are quick to abuse this.
Rox Tigers (5-4 12-12 game score)
The Rox Tigers have showed some promise in 2018 after a mediocre 2017 season.
They acquired rookie Kim “Lava” Tae-hoon and they have managed to come out on top consistently against sides that they struggled to beat last year. This team is playing mainly through the mid lane but it has worked so far. ROX even managed to upset KT Rolster last week with a 2-0 sweep.
ROX Tigers seem to be the dark horse for a playoff seed at this point, having won over both KSV and JAG.
Top stat: Lava has the highest damage share of all LCK mids (32.6%) and he also has a pentakill as Corki. He is ROX Tigers’ biggest hope in their push for a playoff spot.
SK Telecom T1 (4-5, 11-13 game score)
It is surprising to see SKT so far down the table. The blank left in the jungle by Peanut, as well as their lack of a consistent carr threat on the top side have been felt.
Bae “Bang” Jun-sik is still going through a slump and the team seems rather uncoordinated. They have failed to beat teams that they would have defeated effortlessly previously and, despite being on an upward trajectory, they seem rather volatile at this point.
However, a recent win against ROX Tigers might have lifted their spirits.
Top stat: It would be easy to cite Faker’s 7 solo kills and pay tribute to the king, but it is worth noticing that SKT have a 69% win rate (on 13 games) with their jungler Park “Blossom” Beom-chan; he will have to help the squad return to its former glory.
Jin Air Green Wings (4-5 9-11 game score)
Jin Air Green Wings started the season with a bang. To be more specific, it was a 94 minute clash with SKT in which their ADC Park “Teddy” Jin-Seong amassed a 1465 Creep Score.
They followed that up with a split half of mediocrity. JAG has showed up in one series and disappointed in the next. They appear torn between late game and early game priorities like the Rift Herald (first in League).
It is no lie that Teddy is the main carry on this team, but the team will have to generate more pressure in order for them to achieve a playoff place. A win against the strong Freeks was the perfect start.
Top stat: Given the long games that he has played, Teddy unsurprisingly has the most CS per minute of any ADC. More interestingly, he also has the highest DPM of all ADCs as well as the sole pentakill among them.
BBQ Olivers (3-6 10-14 game score)
Ahead of the Split BBQ welcomed two former EU LCS players in jungler Kim “Trick” Gang-yun and support Lee “Ignar” Dong-geun. These additions have made the team competitive. However, they have not amassed the points that their performances deserve.
The meta that led to some games being decided by coin flips, as well as the fact that they lacked the clutch factor, led to many losses in 3rd games.
If they manage to be more decisive and cover some laning deficiencies, they should be able to avoid the relegation matches.
Top stat: The have the 3rd highest baron rate in LCK; the problem is overcoming the resistance of the defending team and maybe even psychological games that lead to bizarre calls.
Kongdoo Monster (2-7 7-14 game score)
Kongdoo Monster have been one of the weakest teams in the league. They have just been promoted from the Challenger Series and offered plenty of promise, but their prospects in LCK are looking bleak.
Their laning deficiencies get abused and later in the game their macro is failing them. Even when one of their players occasionally gets ahead, the team synergy is on quite a low level and they seem unable to secure any objectives on the map.
Kongdoo Monster needs to stabilize and look for wins against BBQ and MVP. Their victory against KSV must function as a guide for that.
Top stat: They have the least Baron Nashor’s buffs secure, the least Rift Heralds, the least Drakes and the least total damage per minute in the league. Improvement is needed very fast if they want to avoid fighting for their lives in relegation.
MVP (2-7 4-15 game score)
MVP we’re a team together last year. However, they quickly went from playoff contenders to a team that is clearly struggling.
They have brought in a new ADC, Na “Pilot” Woo-Hyung. However, their standing has not changed a lot. Their only game wins have come in 2 matches (one of those was against SKT, though) and this makes their situation more tenable.
The late game meta favoured strong teamfighting and reduced the impact of cheese strategies, reducing a lot of their potential. They are not weak in taking objectives, but they lack mechanical skills relative to the best in their positions and their teamfights suffer as a result.
At this point, their ingenuity alone does not seem enough to save them.
Top stat: Their playmake support Jeong “Max” Jong-bin has already played 12 different champions. They kill the least towers per game among all LCK teams, at 3.6 towers per game.