OGN Playoffs Preview - SKT T1 #2 vs CJ Entus Frost
SKT T1 #2 vs CJ Entus Frost
Matchup Overview: The upstarts of this season SKT T1 #2, comes into this match after suffering their first significant professional loss against a surprising MVP Ozone team and they now have to face perhaps the most consistent team in the world in CJ Entus Frost for that elusive 3rd place finish and the ever important circuit points for the S3 WC. For a team that was composed of young and inexperienced talent, SKT2 performed very well so far to the surprise many during this season of Champions. Their stylish play style headlined by their star mid lane player Faker, has definitely garnered them many fans across the world and T2 will now have to try and give back to the fans by picking themselves up from the devastating defeat and beating CJ Frost. Frost on the other hand has quietly had one of the most dominant seasons in their team history. Unlike in the past where Frost would seemingly go even with every team in the tournament, they were able to have dominating performances in the group stage and also against Najin Sword but Frost was definitely unfortunate in running into a red hot Blaze team who have looked unstoppable. When these two teams meet for the first time, it will be a battle of the old vs the new, a team looking to follow the footsteps of the legendary Boxer versus a team looking to solidify their legendary status and no one will want to end their season on a loss.
Top lane matchup: Impact (3.1 kda) vs Shy (3.5 kda)
In a matchup between two distinctively different teams, it is a rare sight when you see two laners who are comparable in how they approach the game. Both Impact and Shy are known as two of the most consistent players in the scene and this season, they have acted the backbone for their team undergoing numerous 2 v 1 and making adaptations for their respective teams. Needless to say, both of these individuals will need to play at their best because the first one to falter may end up costing his team the victory.
Ever since his Xenics days, Impact has always been a consistent performer who possessed good mechanics combined with a good champion pool. When Impact made the move to T2, he completed the team by bringing in an aura of veteran moxie to the team. So far, Impact has performed just as T2 thought he would be playing solidly in most of the games and allowing the stars on the team to shine especially after the laning phase. The one instance when he did perform quite awfully was in his latest match against MVP Ozone where he made questionable decisions throughout the series which was a key factor in T2’s anemic loss against Ozone. Against Frost, Impact cannot afford to make the same mistakes especially against the world class top laner Shy, who will not let mistakes go unpunished. In addition, T2 will need all the help they can get against a great team fighting team in Frost and many eyes will be on Impact to provide the veteran savvy for T2 against Frost.
Shy will be saddled with a heavy burden on Friday against Impact. Coming off a devastating defeat against Blaze where every lane was simple outmatched, Shy will need to once again show off his amazing skills and make positive plays for his team or things could get quite ugly. The reason that Shy will need to perform exceptionally well is that in 1 v 1 or even in 2 v 1 situations, Shy is the person who could potentially have the most success for his team during the laning phase. If Frost’s leader and arguably the current best player Shy crumbles, it may make things much more difficult both in game and mentally for the players. This is why Shy will need to bring something special to the table and end the tournament off on a high note if not, he probably will not enjoy the sour taste in his mouth after the match.
Considering the skill level of both players, Shy clearly has the advantage in all facets of the game. The only problem that Shy may have is that bengi is an aggressive jungler who will likely pay a visit to his lane when given the chance, where as CloudTemplar will not provide the same type of presence in the early game. This could play a huge factor in the game, especially considering the snowbally nature of T2's game. However, if everything goes to normal and nothing happens during the lane in favour of Impact, Shy will slowly gain more farm and become a monster later on in the game especially around the 20 minute mark when Frost typically tries to have a team fight. In this particular scenario, it will be difficult for T2 to stop Shy from rampaging on them and subsequently, the game could be lost after a few bad team fights.
Since the two laners will clearly have different goals, it will be interesting what they would decide to go with during the picks/ban stage. From this season of play, both of the players have enjoyed playing Jayce and Kennen. With the strength of these two top laners at the moment, these two picks will be heavily contested due to their laning strength, strong 2 v 1 and team fighting potential. If Jayce and Kennen are not available, Elise could also be a potent option for both players, especially for Shy who could use Elise to execute either Piglet or Faker if necessary. In addition, the top lane Ryze which was brought out by the CJ top laners could very well be played heavily considering the fact that Ryze could also be a competitive pick in the mid lane as well. Whichever picks/bans the teams decide to go with, the pressure will be on T2 to create an advantage for Impact, if not they may be forced to strategically sacrifice their top laner for the greater good.
Jungle Matchup: bengi (4.1 kda) vs CloudTemplar (3.3 kda)
It is often said that jungle is the position which requires the most amount of experience to excel in. This is why in some teams, you could often see the jungler being the oldest member of the team (along with support). However, with the dawn of new generation players, the age of junglers has been decreasing steadily and it is no longer a common sight to see an old jungler for a professional team. These new generation junglers have made a name for themselves behind their high aggression and great mechanical ability while the old timers have made a compelling case themselves with their high level of knowledge and tactical flexibility. The ultimate showdown between the old jungler versus the new jungler will commence when bengi and Templar match wits.
Borrowing the words of MVP Ozone's support player and bengi's former teammate Mata, bengi is a "carnivore" jungler who Mata believes could be better than inSec in the future. The problem of course is that it is not the future right now and we are currently living in the present where bengi is not quite good enough to be considered inSec level let alone surpass him. In any case, bengi has definitely played solidly and played his part in how the T2 team has performed so far this season. In many of the games bengi has allowed his laners to snowball, especially the bot duo, which was essential to many of T2's victories this year. There were also moments however, when bengi would be using a champion like Lee Sin and did not have much influence both in laning phase and during team fights which resulted in a rare T2 loss. Such is the story of bengi however, if he doesn't have too much of an influence early in the game and if his team fails to dominate the other team, he is not able to make compensatory plays through objective control or well executed game management. This is why bengi will need to remember how he played against CJ Blaze in the first game of Champions and try to replicate that game against a similarly daunting foe in Frost. The fact that Frost struggled mightily in the laning phase against Blaze further makes bengi's job much more important in trying to exploit Frost's early game weaknesses.
As for Mr. Electronic brain Templar, he himself has always described his jungling style as being a “herbivore” and this was largely due to the fact that he emphasizes control over ganks when it comes to jungling. As such, he is not the type of a jungler to make extravagant plays like an inSec or make sharp ganks like an ActScene but rather he thrives off by coming in with a game plan and executing that plan. The problem with this has been that in S3, early jungle presence has become much more valuable compared to S2 and stalling in lane has become much more difficult to do for laners. This is why Templar will sometimes seem very anonymous and will have nothing to do because when his team loses on all fronts like they did in the Blaze game, there’s no master plan that could salvage that situation. In order to prevent a repeat from happening, Templar and the rest of Frost will need to realize that unlike Blaze, the T2 team will not be able to keep up with Frost’s veteran game management skills and team fighting ability as long as Frost doesn’t fall behind by a hefty margin after the laning phase ends. Templar’s role in stopping this snowball will be through objective control and map control. If Templar can prevent T2 from taking free objectives and provide some necessary map control, then Frost will be able to grind games out against a T2 team who becomes increasingly vulnerable as the game progresses. However, if Templar is unable to do either of these things, then a repeat of Winter finals against Sword may ensue for Frost.
The clash between two styles will likely not be dependent on the pick/bans but rather through who will be able to succeed in leaving their mark in the games. Will it be the old and wily Templar who is still out to show that even in S3, support junglers can be successful with the right plan or will it be the new blood bengi, who will try to solidify the notion that S3 is a not a country for old men and should you fail to adapt in the wild, you will be eaten. A victory will definitely be sweet for both of these individuals but it will be just as important to prove to the other that their philosophy was the right choice to take.
Mid matchup: Faker (4.2 kda) vs RapidStar (3.4 kda)
The most exciting individual matchup comes in the mid lane when the impressive rookie Faker goes up against the Enigmatic RapidStar. In recent times, Faker’s stock has been rising higher and higher with each passing game and he has always razzle dazzled the audience with his high level of mechanics. However, against dade and MVP Ozone, Faker still showed that he is indeed a human and that he still needs some time to mature as a player. As for RapidStar, he has been receiving an increased level of criticism ever since the end of S2 WC due to his string of lackluster performances compared to Champion Summer. Even though RapidStar is still a good mid laner, his relatively weak csing ability has really come back to haunt him at times throughout the season and he has been performing quite inconsistently of late. With both of these laners coming off devastating losses where the opposing mid laner completely outshined the other, both Faker and RapidStar will be looking to make amends by dominating the other in this battle between two dynamic mid laners.
One of the reasons that Faker was able to have a quick rise to fame was the impact that he was able to leave on the minds of everyone watching when he carried his team on Nidalee and on Leblanc. However, Faker also faltered when he faced opponents who would be able to match his skills in the lane and when Faker goes, so does his team. Against a highly aggressive mid laner like RapidStar, Faker will need to decide if he wants to match RapidStar’s aggressive roaming or if he wants to be like Ambition and become a cs monster. It is likely that Faker will opt for the first choice knowing that his team cannot exactly withstand Frost’s onslaught with a quiet laning phase. How Faker can bring about some bloodshed during the laning phase is through his large champion pool and his ability to play a surprise pick which could give Frost lots to think about. If Faker is able to successfully pull of an unconventional pick, then he will be able to provide the spark that T2 needs in order to succeed. At the same time, if Faker brings out an unconventional pick and fails or if Faker sticks to a conventional pick and remains largely quiet, then T2 will definitely have an uphill battle going forward.
Going up against the mighty Faker will be RapidStar, who as mentioned previously has not been able to live up to expectations so far. RapidStar has always been questioned for his suspect csing ability and a shallow champion pool for most of his career but he was able to silence his critics every time by performing well on the biggest stages. One of the reasons which has made RapidStar so special is the fact that he was always at the center of all the great Frost come backs and that all began with RapidStar’s great game sense and instinctive play style. So far this season, RapidStar has been shadowed by the great play making from Madlife and Shy but as seen on his Diana games, RapidStar still has the uncanny ability to carry a team fight even if it means that he will die in the process and such an instinctive ability will not go away even if he does have his bad moments. Against Faker and T2, RapidStar will need to perform better than he did against Ambition and Blaze to say the least. If RapidStar can perform as we know he can, he will definitely be a key component in Frost’s success and will likely act as the engine for Frost making plays wherever he goes.
As always, one of the key points for this matchup in how they approach the game will be in the picks and bans. Both players are capable of using Khazix, Karthus and Ryze as standard picks, in addition to this, Faker has his signature champion Syndra as his hidden card where as RapidStar always has his Anivia as his hidden card. While both of these champions are not mainstream nowadays, they both can be effective in pick comps and serve a niche role for the mid laners. The real problem for Frost and RapidStar comes from the versatility of Faker during the pick/ban. Faker has always been known to play unconventional picks at a competitive level since his amateur days and this means that it will be difficult for Frost to prepare against Faker. To neutralize Faker's large champion pool, what Frost may decide is to pick their mid laner first and trying to get a reactionary pick in response and not the other way around. This could potentially mean that RapidStar could have a tough time in lane throughout the series but it may be the best way to neutralize Faker.
This particular mid lane matchup is intriguing in many ways. Two talented mid laners who have both shown obvious weaknesses in their most recent games going head to head against each other. The mechanical genius who headlines the young T2 line-up vs the miracle man at the heart of Frost's amazing games. Who will be the one to bounce back after the dismantling by their respective laning opponents last week? We will soon find out.
ADC matchup: Piglet (4.7 kda) vs Space (5.6 kda)
The battle of ADs will be a story of who will remain more relevant. Will it be Piglet who undoubtedly has the skills but hasn't had the same amount of success to show for it or will it be the "sixth man" Space who is considered by many to be actually better compared to the other ADC on the team Hermes.
Piglet as mentioned has had the chance to show off his great mechanics when things were going well with the team but during the times when things were looking bad for the team, he could be singled out being one of the worst players on the team along with his laning partner ManDu. Perhaps the biggest flaw in Piglet's play so far has been that he is not an ADC who could come back in the face of dire adversity like a Cpt Jack and his less than desirable positioning during team fights has also stopped him from truly becoming a carry force for his team. The issue that T2 will be faced with is that the issues that Piglet faces are not something which could be remedied in a short while. Piglet would need more practice and experience in order to fix his problems thus his team will need to mask Piglet's weaknesses as much as they can by playing to his strengths which is domination during the laning phase with an aggressive playing style. If Piglet can get very ahead of his laning opponent, then it won't really matter if he doesn't output the maximum damage that he can since it will still be equal to or better than what the opposing ADC could offer.
The opposing ADC Space will also be going into the match with a similar plan. While Space and Muse have been great all season long, their team fighting ability was not as good as what the Madlife/Hermes duo provided for Frost. As such, Space will be looking to make great individual plays in the lane and subdue Piglet as much as possible. This could mean that there could be lots of bloodshed occurring whenever the two duos meet and Space will not be afraid to offensively flash, tumble, arcane shift etc. in order to secure that kill. The interesting scenario will occur if there's no real action in the lane and Space ends up going into the team fighting phase. In the past on CJ Entus, Space was the ADC who would do his utmost to stay alive as much as possible while dealing some damage in similar fashion to Score. In recent times however, he has played with an edge ever since joining Frost and his aggressive play style has resembled imp's play style much more than Score's. This versatility of Space will definitely be an asset for him and whichever style he chooses will depend heavily on the outcome of the laning phase.
With these two ADCs, you can expect lots of Vayne, Varus and Cait between them. However with Space normally opting for a hyper carry, it will be interesting if Piglet will just be playing a lane bully like a MF in order to have the advantage early and often. Whether or not Piglet opts for a utility pick or decides to have a real man's showdown with Space by opting for more hyper carries will surely be a focal point in this matchup.
Support matchup: PoohManDu (4.1 kda) vs Muse (6.7 kda)
Last but not least come the supports. The interesting thing about the two supports is that these two may be the biggest question mark on both teams. Mandu has played solidly if not well for the T2 team but when you take away his unconventional picks and his laning, he has not been a stellar support fitting for a top tier team. Muse on the other hand has made great plays all around when given the opportunity but because he has Madlife to compete with, his plays are often overlooked. With both of the ADCs likely looking for blood early and often, the role of the support becomes that much more important and Wednesday will be a test for both ManDu and Muse in performing under pressure and showing everyone what they can do.
ManDu has always been known as the guy who would pull out unconventional picks and make them work. ManDu’s signature Fiddlesticks has become a staple ban against him and his Leblanc support was also something to be feared by the opposition. The problem is that when he has to play a conventional supports and when he has to make some plays for his team when they’re behind, he often does not deliver. In Faker’s interview, he had said that when he first saw ManDu he was baffled by his play style but at the same time, Faker had thought that ManDu was the most improved player on the team this season. ManDu will need to prove Faker right by making plays for his team, especially in team fights where T2 can definitely use all the help that they can get. If ManDu can make plays here and there and lead his team to a victory against Frost in an even game, the team will be able to get a huge confidence boost knowing that they can compete with a team like Frost even when they play Frost’s game.
For Muse, there will be more to this game than just the victory. When CJ Entus picked up Blaze and Frost, many people wondered what would happen to the old members of CJ Entus. When the smoke cleared, it was announced that Space and kkinsh would stay on Frost as rotation members. As Muse mentioned in an interview however, he was the one who convinced his lane partner Space to stay with him and take part in one of OnAir’s most ambitious experiments. This season may have been a difficult season for the former CJ duo seeing as they were played sparingly when they could have probably earned a place as a starter on a different team. This is why Muse will be motivated to perform well every time he gets a chance to get in the game. For the sake of his friend who stayed due to his recommendation and for himself who has been outshined by the other supports Lustboy and Madlife all season long.
In order for Muse to perform very well, he will need to maintain a good map control throughout the game. In the games that he played, Muse has had no problems making plays for his team but the one area of the game which he lacked greatly compared to Madlife was in gain control of the map. In many of Frost’s games, Madlife would gladly sacrifice items if he could get an oracle and remove the vision from the opponent. Madlife would still be able to make many plays however because he is very well aware of the limits of his champion. Muse on the other hand, did not utilize Oracle’s as much as Madlife and instead focused on getting more items. The problem is that on a team fighting team like Frost, having vision and preventing pickoffs is very crucial to their game thus it will be interesting if Muse decides to follow in the footsteps of Madlife by providing a stranglehold on the map while making great plays on his signature champions like Sona and Zyra.
3 keys to SKT T1 #2 victory
1. Remember the Blaze game
In the first game of their season, T2 was able to come into the scene with a bang by crushing Blaze 2:0. In this game, T2 won behind great plays from the mid lane and in the bot lane even though the top lane fell behind in both games. T2 will need to recall this game and try to adopt the same in-game strategy to succeed. With Shy overbearing on Impact in the top lane, T2 will have to destroy in the mid lane and the bot lane which will allow them to transition into towers and dragons allowing T2 to snowball the game. Just like the old Sword team, when this T2 team does snowball, they are a very difficult team to stop. This is why T2 must play to their strengths and blow Frost out of the water like they did with Blaze.
2. Confuse the enemy
One of the biggest strengths of the T2 team is that their players are largely versatile and they have a deep champion pool. This allows T2 to bring out some unexpected picks and makes it difficult for a team like Frost to formulate a plan against them. In addition, in the games that T2 lost this season, they did so if their picks were predictable and being directed by the opponent (MVP Ozone match for example). If they do the same against an opponent like Frost who arguably prepares better than Ozone, T2 will definitely be in trouble and they could potentially be forced to play out of Frost’s hands.
3. Enjoy the match!
Being a rather young team in their first season of competitive gaming, it could get very taxing mentally when things starting heading south after being so dominant early in the season. What the team and the coaches will need to do is to simply try to have some fun out there and relieve some of that mental pressure which was prevalent in the game against Ozone. Now that there is enough data out there to study from, T2 will obviously find it difficult to dominate teams as they once did but they will need to realize that in LoL, the true strength of a team comes from how they can bounce back from seemingly devastating losses to play better than they have ever before. Much of this begins with how the players orient themselves mentally and the easiest way to perform best will be to try and enjoy the final match of a very impressive debut season.
3 keys to Frost’s success
1. Veteran savvy
There are few teams who boasts the same level of experience that Frost has in the big games. With this level of experience, the players know exactly what to do in order to get prepared for the match and give their team the best chance to win. This level of experience also works as an intimidation factor for the opposition who knows exactly what they are up against. If Frost is able to take advantage of the mental factor and win the first game, the rest of the matches may go quite easily for Frost just like the Sword game where Frost did not look like losing after the first game. In addition, Frost also knows how to bounce back from many devastating losses to perform better than ever thus we can expect Frost to be motivated to go off on a high note and also secure the valuable circuit points in the process.
2. Execute, execute and execute
One of the things which let Frost down against Blaze was the fact that they could not execute any of their game plans starting from the pick/bans. The strength of the solo lanes on Blaze really deterred Frost from being able to do anything and Frost will have to be mindful of preventing the same situation to occur against T2. If Frost can execute their game plan after not losing their lanes horribly and contesting for the objectives, there are few teams in the world who can actually beat them in a series (for example limiting Diamondprox with early invades, taking Froggen out of the action etc.). This is easier said than done but Frost will surely have learned something from T2’s encounter with Blaze and also by watching T2’s losses against Ozone thus it won’t be a stretch to believe that they will come in with a tailored plan against T2.
3. RapidStar’s big day
Even though RapidStar is mired in a slump, he still makes brilliant plays and is central to Frost’s success. With his next opponent being the sensational Faker, RapidStar will need to play at the level that his fans are accustomed to seeing if he doesn’t want to become Faker’s next victim. On a good day, RapidStar can definitely be the star of the match by making his presence felt all across the map and making big plays in team fights. On a bad day however, he often gets out farmed and outclassed by his opponent. Which one of these RapidStars will show up on Wednesday: The good one who wills his team to victory? Or the bad one who will become a liability for his team?
Game expectation: With the bad game calling and the messy team fighting that T2 showed last week, it will be difficult for them to beat a Frost team who can outclass T2 as the game progresses. Even though Frost themselves are coming off a terrible loss, they lost to arguably the strongest team in the tournament and facing a T2 team who have looked vulnerable as of late will be a different story. T2 has a chance to win if they win in every lane convincingly but even then, it will be very difficult for T2 to put the game away against the formidable Frost team.