Of all the best-of-five quarterfinal matches this past weekend at the League of Legends World Championships, the first of the four makes for the biggest headline.
Longzhu Gaming went into the match with Samsung Galaxy as the clear favorites. The former marched through their group as the only team with a 6-0 record. In contrast, Samsung Galaxy came through with a 4-2 record, beaten into second place by Royal Never Give Up. Longzhu had also bested LCK rivals Samsung in the 2017 Summer Split.
If familiarity can breed contempt, it can also lead to an understanding of how to better an opponent. In this quarterfinal, the very adaptable Samsung simply exploited Longzhu in the form of a 3-0 sweep.
For Longzhu, it’s back to the drawing board. They simply didn’t have enough experience despite the strong showing at Worlds to that point.
Let’s have a look now at the other quarterfinal matches from last week.
SK Telecom T1 defeat Misfits 3-2
This should have been a walk in the park for SK Telecom T1 against European No. 2 seeds Misfits. The underdogs only managed to squeak through the Group Stage due to Team SoloMid’s frailties in their final games. However, the same performance woes that have hit the current World Champions in the Group Stage also resurfaced in the quarterfinal. This resulted in an incredible match.
In the opener, SK Telecom played arguably their best game of the tournament to open up a 1-0 lead. If experts felt this was SK moving into a new gear for the knockout phase, they were proven wrong. Misfits bounced back superbly.
The EU team took the second game in convincing fashion to level matters. Then, in the third game, they opened up a huge early lead and hung on to claim a win.
The fourth game proved to be pivotal with the champs one loss from elimination. SK began well, but Misfits bounced back. The game was right on the edge heading into the final stages, but SK capitalized on a Misfits mistake to snatch the victory in a very close game. That final game saw SK secure the win thanks to a strong start and finish, while Misfits dominated the middle of the game.
Royal Never Give Up bests Fnatic 3-1
Fnatic’s Phoenix-like rise from the ashes of a dismal first week of Group Stage games came to an end against arguably the new tourney favorites. Royal Never Give Up were outstanding in the Group Stage and put on an almost flawless display here to raise Chinese hopes of claiming an inaugural world title on home soil.
The Chinese team dominated the first two matches. While Fnatic did not play poorly, they just didn’t have the skills. They did produce a stunning comeback in the third game to force the match into a fourth, which Royal Never Give Up won handily to advance.
Team WE moves past Cloud9 3-2
The key to victory in this incredibly close quarterfinal was Team WE’s ability to adapt and unlock the weaknesses in Cloud9’s game plan. The opening game saw Cloud9 take the early initiative to the point where a Team WE victory looked impossible, but the Chinese team clawed their way back to a key win.
In the next two matches, Team WE were comprehensively beaten by some excellent play from Cloud9. The Chinese squad looked worried.
In the fourth game, WE went back to basics in their initial selections and then played a solid game, not allowing Cloud9 any chance to win. When the North American team didn’t perform well in the draft, they were up against it in the fifth game. Team WE won comfortably to claim the last semifinal spot.
Semifinal lineup (best-of-five)
- Oct.28 – SK Telecom T1 vs. Royal Never Give Up
- Oct.29 – Team WE vs. Samsung Galaxy