There’s plenty that can happen between now and then. However, League of Legends Championship Korea is a tournament known for its stability.
Last year’s world champions KSV have retained all of their roster. Longzhu have kept their core, with only Wang “Peanut” Ho joining the roster. Even struggling sides have fielded the same core roster for several consecutive splits.
For example, MVP managed to be competitive for four splits, even achieving an appearance at Rift Rivals with the same five-man roster (with the late addition of substitute AD Na “Pilot” Woo-Hyung). Even Kongdoo, who were relegated for the third time in their LCK history at the end of the 2018 spring split, fielded the same three players as their initial roster in top mid and ADC.
LCK Summer Split predictions
Given that we can expect much of the same come June, since roster changes will be few and far between, it’s not too early to start making LCK Summer Split predictions.
There are plenty of contenders for Korea’s three Worlds spots, but the main contenders seem to be Kingzone Dragon-X, Spring Split winners Afreeca Freecs, KT Rolster, SKT and KSV.
While it is not impossible that the ROX Tigers manage to make a run to the playoffs as they did in the Spring Split, or that Jin-Air Green wings get carried to the regional qualifiers on the back of their star AD-carry Park “Teddy” Jin-Seong, at this point the top three teams in Korea look unshakeable. The aforementioned teams will have the disadvantage of having earned no Championship Points in the Spring Split.
As we wait for competitive League of Legends to return, here are Final Kill’s LCK Summer Split predictions:
1. Kingzone DragonX
This is the team that ruled them all in the Spring Split. In the regular season, they secured a 16-2 record. They beat their opponent by a confident 3-1 margin in the finals.
A major component of their victorious ways is their top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha. With consistent carry performances that draw pressure from all over the map, he has achieved an 86.5% win rate.
This would not have been possible without the valuable contribution of his jungler Peanut, an acquisition from rivals SKT. He has replaced Moon “Cuzz” Woo-Chan in the starting position and has provided plenty of support to his teammates.
Given that his botside is the ever-stable duo of Kim “Pray” Jong-In and Kang “Gorilla” Beom-hyeong, Kingzone are surely set for another victorious split.
Their macro has not been impeccable. However, the early pressure that they apply, together with the fact that all three lanes have carry potential, consistently yields advantages so that no teamfight is on equal terms.
What will it take to beat them? First of all, a good draft where Khan and Mid Laner Bdd are neutralised. The few losses of the season happened when the sole DPS threat in the team was Pray, as was the case in the finals against the Freecs.
Despite their inexperience in best of fives, it seems hard for a team to shut down all threats during such a long series. The last team to achieve this, Samsung Galaxy, did so by neutralising the solo lanes and focusing on bot/rendering the jungler useless. However, Peanut seems a level above Cuzz and Kingzone look prepared to blow up any game if it suits their gameplan. They will probably blow any hopes of another team taking the LCK trophy too.
2. Afreeca Freecs
Ah, the ever-mysterious but charming Freecs.
After a couple of splits stranded in fifth place, change came following the departure of Jang “Marin” Gyeonghwan from the top lane and the arrival of Kim “Kiin” Gi-in.
Flexibility has been the name of the game for this team. Lee “Spirit” Dayoon and Lee “Mowgli” Jaeha are two junglers with very different strengths which are strategically used by the coaching staff when required.
Spirit is more controlled and will sometimes farm up. He was second in the regular season, behind only Peanut. However, Mowgli provides more raw aggression and unpredictability.
The new strategy in utilising them was to start Mowgli until he lost. This provided scouting for the veteran and gave useful experience to Mowgli.
As far as the bot side is concerned, support Park “Tusin” Jong-ik had a career defining split and Ha “Kramer” Jong-hun has been able to solidify bot and, at the very least, stay safe with an impressive 7.9 KDA and the second least deaths in the league among ADCs.
A lot will depend on whether their new prospect Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram, will get any playtime.
In the midlane, Lee “Kuro” Seohaeng also had an impressive split that involved picking 14 unique champions. He seems set to carry forward his momentum into the summer split.
All in all, given the difficult compositions, the off-meta picks and the substitute system in place, Freecs will get better with time.
It seems probable that they will attend their first Worlds this year, but Kingzone is a much tougher task at this moment though.
3. KT Rolster
The roster here has stayed the same for several splits. Their jungler Go “Score” Dong-bin will continue to be their in-game leader and the frantic pace of their early game will probably persist.
The team produced a decent third place finish and have the advantage over other teams in attending Worlds. It should not be forgotten however that last year they finished second in the Spring Split and still did not qualify for the grand competition.
There are two big questions for this roster to answer.
The first issue is Heo “Pawn” Won-seok and his lack of mid pressure. It is telling that despite being on the third best team, out of the starting midlaners he is second from last in CS difference at 15 minutes.
KT Rolster have partially fixed this with the introduction of Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon in the midlane. He has been constantly in waveclear duty with his signature picks of Azir and Taliyah and he has helped his sidelanes by drawing pressure in this way, offering the team a service that Pawn could not offer.
However, he still often has rough games due to inexperience against formidable opponents like Faker and Kuro.
The second question that seems key is the role of Kim “Deft” Hyuk-Kyu. He has an impressive damage ratio (33% of his team’s damage) and damage per minute. However, he has a tendency to position himself in a risky way.
Ezreal with his mobility has been a crutch pick for Deft (9 wins to 3 losses) but now he seems to be falling out of meta once again. The team will have to adapt to this and Deft personally will have to play safer.
If KT will manage to apply the same kind of pressure (highest first blood percentage among all LCK teams) with these changes, they will have a better shot at representing Korea at Worlds.
SKT had their worst split in Korea, period. However, this is likely to galvanise a squad containing stars like Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok.
This is the top roster with the most changes in recent years and, given the performance of the junglers and toplaners in SKT, it is not unreasonable to expect changes.
While all of them performed decently, their play did not pass the standards of a legacy team. In the jungle position, Blossom might get another chance too.
Park “Blossom” Beom-Chan joined the starting line-up with SKT stuck in the middle of the standings. This decision brought results. However, the organisation subbed him out after Peanut stomped him. This might be SKT showing a loss of faith in him. Or, on the other hand, it might be indicative of a hesitance to use him, in fear of burn-out.
The Summer Split will also be a test for the veterans of the team. ADC Bae “Bang” Jun-sik has stepped up his game once again (achieving an astounding 9.6 KDA). However, Faker has let small mistakes creep in. It remains to be seen whether SKT will need Faker to become a 1v9 machine.
Either way, it is too early to talk about the chances of this team in the summer. The only sure thing is that this legacy team needs to redeem itself somehow.
Despite the success they have reached with their current roster, KSV are looking for a midlaner and a toplaner.
It’s easy to judge midlaner Lee “Crown” Min-ho for his level of play and his champion pool, since he has by far the lowest kills on average than any midlaner. However, criticism aimed at Lee “Cuvee” Seong-Jin, who has been one of the best toplaners in recent splits, is somewhat unwarranted, despite his objectively below par performances.
KSV have historically struggled in spring, but they have a team that is based on synergy and team-fighting. They should manage to make a deep run in the summer, or at least knock KT out of Worlds.
It is hard to estimate what we should expect. Despite the roster changes, no player had a standout split.
It seems unlikely that several world-class players (including ADC Park “Ruler” Jae-Hyuk with his standout performances at Worlds) will fail to show up to two consecutive splits, so the competition will have to watch out.
Even if winning the LCK Summer Split seems like a daunting task, the goal cannot be anything less than securing the chance to defend their crown at the World Championship.