SKT T1 Advances to the Finals of MSI; Cements Role as Tournament Favorite

Last night in Shanghai, SKT T1 defeated Royal Never Give Up in front of a packed Chinese audience to advance to the finals of MSI for the second consecutive year. SKT dropped the first game, but managed to rebound and take the following three games for a 3-1 series win. The final game being a perfect game and sending a message to the world that Korea is still the best in the business.

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RNG put on a show for their home crowd during the group stage of MSI last weekend by finishing the group stage with an impressive 8-2 record and securing the #1 seed for the knockout stage. The defending world champions SKT T1 only managed a 6-4 record in the group stage and had many viewers questioning if they were as great as we thought they were coming into the tournament. The doubt in people’s mind grew even more after RNG handily defeated SKT in the first game of the semifinals. That doubt was quickly erased soon after though.

In game 1, Looper’s Trundle overwhelmed Duke’s Poppy in lane and throughout the rest of the game. After Looper solo killed Duke around the 10-minute mark, he gained a massive advantage and was able to withstand 1v2 ganks and just walk away. RNG took objectives around the map and was able to establish a strong split push with a fed Trundle on their team. RNG secured baron buff and the 5th dragon, which led to the demise of SKT’s base.

Game 2 was taken over by Faker and his Azir play. Faker earned himself a solo kill in the mid lane at the 9-minute mark against Xiaohu’s signature LeBlanc. He was able to extend his lead with his laning ability and helped SKT pull away after a four-for-one team fight that RNG initiated. They snowballed objectives quickly after that fight and took an inhibitor and a nexus turret only 19 minutes into the game. SKT finished the game in only 23 minutes time and handed RNG a very quick defeat.

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For game 3, RNG tried to counter SKT’s Soraka pick by selecting Leona for the support role. SKT managed to stall the laning phase in the bottom lane and used their double teleport strategy to the bottom lane whenever Leona went aggressive. RNG started to crawl back into the game after some great team fights, but they were aced around baron at the 28-minute mark. SKT took their lead and earned themselves another team fight win, 3 kills to 0, and secured baron. Bang put a nail in the coffin with a triple kill in a 4v5 team fight that SKT won with Faker already dead. SKT earned their second win of the series in 36 minutes and put them one game away from a berth in the finals.

While on the brink of elimination, RNG decided to change their pick and ban strategy completely and banned the champions SKT had been successful with in the previous 2 games. So RNG banned Sivir, Soraka, and Fizz which allowed SKT to pick up the likes of Maokai, Kindred, and Ryze. It backfired horribly and the game turned into an absolute stomp. SKT held an 8k gold lead at the 20-minute mark. RNG was unable to earn a kill, take down a turret, or secure a dragon. SKT completed the perfect game in just under 28 minutes and earned their third win to complete the 3-1 series win over RNG.

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SKT looked very impressive in their 3 wins over RNG and are back to looking like the best team in the world. They still have many aspects of their game that they need to clean up, but they should be heavy favorites going into the finals. They will take on the winner of tonight’s semifinal between CLG and the Flash Wolves. SKT has thrived in best-of-five series for many years now and we should expect another class showing from the Korean powerhouse. CLG and the Flash Wolves should be shaking in their boots at this point. This will be the first time since the Season 2 World Championship, that a final will not contain only Chinese and Korean teams. North America has never had a team reach the finals of an International Riot tournament. TPA was the last team from Taiwan to make it to a finals.

By: Jeff “Gravy” Miskin

Twitter: @BigBadGravy