The 2019 LCK Summer Split starts on June 5! South Korea received a huge wake-up call at the Mid-Season Invitational, so all the teams will be looking to redeem their region and take over Worlds. Do they have what it takes to pull this off? Find the answer in our LCK power rankings for the 2019 Summer Split!
10. Jin Air Green Wings
ROSTER: Lindarang/TaNa (Top), Malrang/Seize (Jungle), CheonGo/Grace (Mid), Route/Stitch (Bot), Nova/Kellin (Support)
Jin Air Green Wings still find themselves at the bottom of the LCK food chain. The weirdest thing about this team is that you can’t even blame it on the players. Sure, they don’t have any world-class talents, but Route shows a lot of promise in the bot lane position, and TaNa has the prerequisites of a high-level top laner. And while their mid lane and jungle positions are inconsistent, they can still hold their own against most opponents.
The cracks begin to show when you look at the macro. Barring the first 15 minutes of the game, Jin Air have no idea how to navigate the map. With that, it’s common to see them taking bad fights or giving up neutral objectives just because they don’t have the strategic foresight to come up with a better plan. And considering they didn’t make any changes to their coaching staff, it’s very likely that Jin Air Green Wings will continue to struggle.
9. Afreeca Freecs
ROSTER: Kiin (Top), Dread/Spirit (Jungle), Ucal/SSUN (Mid), Aiming/SSol (Bot), Jelly/Senan (Support)
Afreeca Freecs live and die by a single player. Kiin is a powerhouse in the top lane, and his mechanical prowess and wide champion pool make him a massive asset for just about any team in the world. Yet, even Kiin doesn’t cut it when he’s the only thing Afreeca have going for them. Their mid lane is riddled with holes, as Ucal dropped off the face of the earth, and SSUN lacked the experience to become a competent starting mid laner. The same could be said about their bot lane since neither Jelly nor Senan can hold their own against the top Korean supports.
But Afreeca’s biggest problem lies in the jungle. Dread shows a lot of promise when it comes to mechanics, but he doesn’t have the game knowledge to lead his team on the Rift. Meanwhile, Spirit has the expertise to shot call, but his individual skill isn’t on the necessary level to stand up to other Korean junglers. And until Afreeca get a more well-rounded jungler, they will remain at the bottom of our LCK power rankings.
ROSTER: CuVee/Roach (Top), Peanut/SeongHwan (Jungle), Fly/Kuzan (Mid), Ruler (Bot), Life (Support)
Gen.G are in a similar spot, albeit for different reasons. It’s painfully obvious that whoever put their roster together didn’t consider how all the pieces would come together. Sure, Peanut can be a great early game jungler in the right circumstances, but his invade-heavy playstyle doesn’t work if you pair it up with role-playing solo laners like CuVee and Fly.
Credit where credit’s due, though, Gen.G seem to be aware of their flaws. In fact, this is probably the only reason they signed Kuzan and SeongHwan, as these players should give them a more cohesive mid/jungle duo to work with. Unfortunately, Kuzan and SeongHwan are still a far cry from being world-class, so Gen.G will have a hard time securing any control over the mid lane. And even though they can fall back on Ruler’s teamfighting, a single marksman won’t carry them to the top of our LCK power rankings.
7. Hanwha Life Esports
ROSTER: Thal/SoHwan (Top), bonO/Moojin (Jungle), Lava/Tempt (Mid), Sangyoon (Bot), Key (Support)
Hanwha Life Esports just can’t seem to get out of that good-but-not-great tier. Each and every single one of their players could be a capable role player on a top LCK team, but when you put them together, you get a team without any actual carry threats.
Of course, Hanwha Life are well aware of this. They frequently put an emphasis on teamwork and coordinated early games to work around their weaknesses and blindside their enemies with calculated aggression. Their macro isn’t half bad either, and you can count on them to secure vision control, set up the right rotations and initiate winning teamfights. But whenever they have to lane against the top LCK lineups, Hanwha Life crumble. And there’s only so far their strategies can get them if they don’t have the individual talent to execute them.
6. SANDBOX Gaming
ROSTER: Summit (Top), OnFleek/Crush (Jungle), Dove (Mid), Ghost (Bot), Joker (Support)
SANDBOX Gaming were the biggest surprise of the 2019 LCK Spring Split. They entered the regular season as the clear-cut underdogs, but they quickly established themselves as one of the better teams in the league. However, most of their momentum came from pre-existing synergy. As one of the few teams that didn’t make any roster moves coming into the 2019 Spring Split, SANDBOX were quick to embrace the aggressive meta and brute force their way to victory, but once the state of the game started shifting away from their preferred playstyle, SANDBOX Gaming faltered.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The 3-man core of Summin, OnFleek, and Dove still has plenty of firepower to put them in the middle of the standings. However, Ghost and Joker lack the talent to keep up with their superstar teammates, so we don’t expect SANDBOX to break out of the bottom half of our LCK power rankings.
5. Kingzone DragonX
ROSTER: Rascal (Top), Cuzz (Jungle), Naehyun (Mid), Deft (Bot), TusiN (Support)
Kingzone DragonX gained a lot of ground in spring. Not only were Deft and TusiN the best bot lane in the region, but the players around them knew full well how to put them in a position to carry. With that, Rascal and Cuzz often played the role of supporting pieces, and PawN acted as a wildcard that could tip the scales in Kingzone’s favor with split-second outplays.
It’s a good recipe for success. And unfortunately, it’s no longer viable. PawN had to take a step back from competitive play due to recurring health issues, so Kingzone are coming into the most important split of the season with a substitute mid laner. If this were any other role, the substitution wouldn’t be a death sentence, but mid lane is the heart and soul of the team. And we just can’t see Kingzone getting much done without it.
4. DAMWON Gaming
ROSTER: Nuguri/Flame (Top), Canyon/Punch (Jungle), ShowMaker (Mid), Nuclear/Aries (Bot), Hoit/BeryL (Support)
DAMWON Gaming have a lot of things going for them. Their ace—Nuguri—is a monster on carry top laners, and he can single-handedly take over the game if his team gives him the right matchup. However, DAMWON don’t even need to rely on him to carry, as they can always go with a more well-rounded top laner in Flame and play around other lanes.
Their junglers aren’t too shabby either. Canyon excels on farm-heavy champions like Kha’Zix and Kindred, and Punch provides a ton of pressure on early game picks like Olaf and Lee Sin. Throw in an up-and-coming mid laner in ShowMaker, and DAMWON Gaming are the perfect example of a multi-threat team. The only outlier is the bot lane. Nuclear doesn’t have the mechanics or game sense to hold his own in lane and top the damage charts in teamfights, and unless DAMWON find a way to cover for him, they will always have to play with an underperforming bot lane.
3. KT Rolster
ROSTER: Smeb/Kingen (Top), Score/UmTi (Jungle), Bdd (Mid), PraY (Bot), SnowFlower (Support)
Wait, what are KT Rolster doing in the top-3 of our LCK power rankings? Weren’t they on the verge of relegation a couple of months ago? It’s certainly true that KT went through a lot of ups and downs in the 2019 LCK Spring Split. Nothing seemed to go right for them, as the 3-man core of Smeb, Score, and Bdd struggled to secure enough advantages to make up for their underperforming bot lane.
However, that was before they signed PraY. Once regarded as the best utility bot lane player in the world, PraY is exactly what the doctor ordered for a top-focused lineup like KT Rolster. On top of that, KT already had a lot of integral parts of world-class roster, and signing a stable AD carry will likely make them a top-3 team in the region.
ROSTER: Sword (Top), Tarzan (Jungle), Chovy (Mid), Viper (Bot), Lehends (Support)
Rest assured, Griffin are kicking themselves for their performance in the spring finals. Not only did they stray away from their trademark teamfighting playstyle, but they also played scared for the entirety of their Bo5 against SK Telecom T1. Fortunately, they have everything they need to mount a triumphant comeback in summer.
Tarzan has a solid claim to being the best jungler in the world and his calculated pathing and razor-sharp mechanics are the foundation of Griffin’s early game. Viper and Lehends are also shaping up to be a dominant bot lane, and they will only get stronger now that mage bot lanes are back in the meta. Griffin’s only possible weaknesses lie in the solo lanes. Sword has been doing well on lane bullies, but he rarely—if ever—turns his individual leads into more meaningful advantages. And while Chovy is a very talented mid laner, his tendency to underperform in do-or-die moment makes him a giant question mark for the playoffs.
1. SKT T1
ROSTER: Khan (Top), Clid (Jungle), Faker (Mid), Teddy (Bot), Mata (Support)
SK Telecom T1 are as close to a perfect LCK team as you can get. Sure, they’ve lost the Mid-Season Invitational semifinals to G2 Esports, but that series came down to the absolute wire. And if SKT T1 played with a bit more caution in game 5, they could’ve very well won the entire tournament. Their main strength comes from their roster. Every single player here is a battle-hardened veteran that could become the focal point of an entire team, but when you put them all together, you get a potent mixture of game sense and mechanical prowess.
Surprisingly enough, SKT’s biggest weakness is strategy. Whether it’s haphazard drafts, faulty meta reads, or head-scratching resource allocation, this team has a hard time putting together a cohesive playstyle. However, only a handful of Korean teams can exploit this weakness, so even if SKT T1 don’t fix this flaw, they’re still set to stand at the top of our LCK power rankings.