So when everyone first saw this line up, there were mixed feelings. On one hand, people desperately wanted to see the Samsung White versus Samsung Blue matchup all over again. It always provides great games and the respect both between the two teams, and by fans to each respective team is greatly admired by all. However before today they had only met twice before, and both times Samsung Blue had taken the lead in convincing fashion. Is this going to be a repeat of history? Or are Samsung White going to break the curse and make their way to their first Worlds Final.
So the first game rolls around and if you look at each team it’s a very mixed bag in terms of who one could consider a clear victor. Yes, Samsung White are 12-1 this season. But they’ve shown weakness in games that go over 35 minutes, and they’ve never beaten Samsung Blue in a Best of 5. Dandy secures his Rengar for Samsung White, as expected. However, Deft of Samsung Blue (SSB) opts for Varus. It’s hard to see the exact reasoning behind this; it’s not a bad decision, it could be a Janna counter-pick or simply a choice to deal with Jayce’s poke. Despite all this, the biggest thing about the Picks and Bans phase of this game is that Samsung White didn’t ban Zilean. This essentially forced Samsung Blue into Picking Zilean as their First Pick and giving them a significant advantage during the Picking phase of this game. Then there’s the Akali Pick. We’ll just leave that one there for you to mull over yourself.
The first game is by the book typical of what we’ve seen from SSW this tournament. Wait for your opponent to make a minor mistake in the early game, then push it hard through the mid game to take an advantage then hold that advantage while applying pressure for a win before the late game. That is exactly what we saw in game number 1 of this Semi Finals. SSW pressure Top Lane and then take Dragon with little-to-no contention, giving them the early advantage they’d need. The questionable pick Akali gets First Blood and they instantly go for the second Dragon as soon as it respawns. It’s a 3K Gold lead at this point and yes, SSB have come back from far worse, but in this game it proves too much. SSW snowball and 4 Dragons, 1 Baron, 28 minutes and 24 kills later take the win. End of. Perfect victory with barely a single mistake in their play.
Game number 2 and it’s a question for SSB’s team versatility. A lot of people criticise their stagnant type of play, not adapting and instead opting for what they know, which is often their downfall. They go against the Akali ban, despite her going 9/0/8 in the first game, and pick Janna first. To try and mix things up they go for a Galeo Pick, obviously trying to prove they aren’t just going to play ‘standard’ for the series. Straight away as the game begins SSW go for an invasion and First Blood goes to Akali in the first minute. With SSW’s heavy emphasis on the mid game this is an important play, trying to deny SSB any chance of them denying SSW the chance to get ahead. It’s obvious these two sister teams know each other well, but SSW appear to be getting the upper hand in this metagame. SSB make a good move in taking the 1st Dragon in the 1st 3 minutes, again trying to steal a lead where they can but they make a foolish dive to bottom lane and they end up barely ahead by 400 Gold. Which, a few minutes later, as a result of SSW’s top lane being allowed to farm as much as he likes, is immediately lost bringing the teams back on to a level playing field. Overall, the rest of the game plays out like the last. After 15 more minutes of SSW applying pressure they finally take down the Nexus and in a very convincing fashion. In order for SSB to claw this game back they really need an ace in the hole style play as SSW’s play is basically flawless.
The Picks and Bans for Game 3 doesn’t throw too many questionable plays into the mix, SSB decide to ban Jayce after they’ve had two troublesome games with him, but this opens SSW up to the Janna pick. The weirdest part about this phase is that SSB go for Sona, which although not a bad choice (despite her 0% Win Rate this Season) isn’t a choice that seems to adapt to how the last two games go. Sona has a good CC but the problem has obviously been dealing with SSW’s poke, not something you’d pick Sona to answer. The first five minutes go by and SSW’s ward placement has denied SSB a chance to really get any kind of lead. After the 10:00 minute mark SSB collapse in on the bottom lane as a five right as Dragon Spawns. However as most of their team popped their abilities to kill bottom lane they don’t have that much to defend a Dragon contention and let SSW get the steal, getting a 4-0 engagement in total. SSB focused on getting the small victory of Dragon, after a small victory in the bottom lane when they should really be focusing on not taking losses, not giving away stupid Gold and getting themselves into the late game. They know SSW have struggled in the late game and that many consider SSB to have only got this far through their late game, they don’t seem to be playing towards their strengths. By 15:00 SSW have accrued a 6K Gold lead and that’s all she wrote; it’s a snowball in full effect and there’s not much SSB can do against such a mechanically dominant team. SSB lose the Nexus and the series 3-0.
The moral of the story here is that SSB didn’t adapt to this series particularly well, and gave SSW the chance to just stomp all over them and not making any gains. SSW made very few mistakes so SSB couldn’t have just waited to capitalise, but they also couldn’t just let SSW take control of the early game. It’s hard to see what could’ve been done differently, but it’s certain that whatever tactics SSB were employing were simply not enough to bring down the giant that is Samsung White, now 13-1 this Season going into the Finals. That statistic I think speaks for itself. 13-1 going into the Finals. Welcome to Summoner’s Rift.