With the finals taking place at majestic Staples Center in Los Angeles, California (the same arena SKT won their first Worlds), the night was sure to be exhilarating.
Let’s jump right into game one!
2016 League of Legends World Championship Finals
The first eight minutes of game one were largely just both teams feeling each other out.
First blood wouldn’t even be taken until 8:30 into game one, with SKT’s Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung invading Samsung Galaxy’s jungler and killing Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong.
Samsung’s mid laner, Lee “Crown” Min-ho, was able to cleanup Bengi on the backend of the play.
Down 6k gold, Samsung’s Ambition made an amazing Infernal Drake steal to help keep Samsung in the game.
Samsung had to make a desperate play late game to try and salvage a win, but minions were pouring into their base.
While they won the fight, they lost both Nexus towers. It was only a matter of time before SKT eventually took that too for a game one win.
Game two we saw Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok picking his favorite champion, Ryze (as well as the SKT skin he received for last year’s win), a pick that normally spells disaster for opponents.
Just like in game one, we wouldn’t see first blood going until after nine minutes. This time, Samsung Galaxy’s Ambition was on the winning end of the play, picking up first blood against Bengi.
That would be on of the few highlights for Samsung in game two. SKT’s Ryze would take over the midlane, doing almost 10k more damage than Crown (14k compared to a lowly 5.7k on Crown’s Cassiopeia).
With SKT now up 2-0, Samsung was in danger of being swept in the most important series of the year.
Samsung went into game three looking to make as many proactive plays as possible. While they found successes, there were also plenty of failures.
In this instance, Samsung’s Crown roamed bottom, only to give up first blood to SKT’s Bae “Bang” Jun-sik.
While Samsung dug themselves into a big early game hole, they continued to apply aggression.
This play at Baron literally turned the game around for them, picking off three SKT members while preventing the Baron from dying.
Another fight at Baron less than 10 minutes later would again result in three more kills for Samsung (SKT did pick up Baron this time). That’s exactly what the team needed to stay in this game, though.
You could see on the live cameras that SKT was growing increasingly more frustrated, as what seemed like an early game three win, turned into a 70+ minute affair.
The last dagger in the heart was yet another dragon steal by Samsung’s Ambition (this time an Elder Drake).
Game three literally brought the shoutcasters to their knees. This reaction is all you need to see in order to sum up game three.
Samsung managed to stave off elimination, forcing this series into another point championship for SKT. Could they even it up now?
Samsung started game 4 the exact way they needed to, getting first blood almost 14 minutes into the game with an amazing solo kill in the top lane.
Samsung’s Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin used every element of Kennen’s kit to finish this play off.
CuVee was huge this game, giving Samsung that extra edge they needed. A well-timed teleport in the mid game gave Samsung three kills and plenty of map control.
Plays like those are what really let Samsung snowball the game.
With the series now tied at two games a piece, we were headed for the dream scenario – a decisive game five between two League of Legends goliaths.
SKT returned to Bengi as the starting jungler for this game.
Zyra and Karma were also banned, leading to Samsung’s Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in playing Tahm Kench and SKT’s Wolf playing Braum (the first time both played melee support champions).
First blood would go extremely early compared to the first four games, with SKT committing to the bottom lane gank.
A roam midlane by a level four Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan just a few moments later gave SKT even more kills.
Samsung wasn’t out of this game by any means, despite the uncharacteristic early game mistakes.
Samsung would pick up two kills in the bottom lane to go up 4-3, but were still down in gold.
Samsung would force a fight 23 minutes into the game, killing both Faker and Lee “Duke” Ho-Seong. The teams would trade kills back and forth for the next 10 minutes, before SKT found the major objective in Baron after a pair of kills.
Now with Baron buff, SKT caught Crown with an Enchanted Crystal Arrow from Ashe, taking out Samsung’s major damage dealer. Elder Drake would also fall, but Samsung would hold out on the siege.
After SKT used their aggression to secure a second Baron, the team was able to properly siege with their new found power spikes. All three Samsung inhibitors would fall, with Drake the next objective on the table.
SKT finally finished off Samsung 49 minutes in, winning the game 13-8 and taking the title. Samsung Galaxy was just a few plays from completing the unfathomable reverse sweep, but at last, it’s SKT going back to back.
World’s Finals conclusion
SK Telecom T1 is now back home, celebrating their third World Championship title in four years.
The Korean dynasty made history last year by winning the World Championship for the second time (the first ever eSports team/organization to accomplish that in LoL history), and they once again set the bar this year.
SKT is now the only team to win back-to-back titles.
While their Korean counterparts, Samsung Galaxy (who also own a World Championship), provided plenty of upset potential, including taking two games off the World Champions, it was SKT finding the resolve to cap off a magical series.
I’m not sure many fans or even SKT themselves thought Samsung was capable of pulling off the reverse sweep, but they came pretty darn close. Two shaky games (by SKT standards) left this series and SKT’s dynasty up in the air heading into that decisive game five.
SKT now holds an impressive 9-3 record in the World Championship Finals. This was also the first time ever that the series has gone to a deciding game five. Faker also surpassed Uzi as the player with the most kills in World’s history.
Congratulations to all of SKT on yet another impressive year. They’re well deserving of hoisting the Summoner’s Cup once again!
Image c/o Riot