League of legends RNG team msi

3 Reasons why Korea’s (LCK) reign is ending – 2018 Group Stage Day 6

Since Season 3 (2013), Korea has been the best region in League of Legends and remains undefeated at the world stage. Korean team SK Telecom T1 (SKT) has won the League of Legends World Championship 3 times and their star mid player, Faker, is still considered to be the best player in the world. Korea’s fully embracing attitude towards competitive gaming has made it a part of its culture and some argued it is the reason for Korea’s dominance at the League World stage. However, this isn’t to say they are unbeatable. This League Worlds may be the end for Korea’s reign.

1. Good performance during regional stage doesn’t mean it would be the same at the World stage.

League of legends team EDG

Image from: Riot Games

China has always been the hope to defeat Korea because of their skills being on par with Korean players. This isn’t based on nothing. Royals Never Give Up (RNG)’s performance during Season 3 and 4 League Worlds were on the same level as the Korean teams. This resulted in RNG taking 2nd place during both Season 3 and 4, then 3rd place in Season 7. However, RNG wasn’t the strongest team in Regional stage. Edward Gaming (EDG) had more attention because they consistently beat RNG during the regular reason. They were considered the number 1 team to defeat Korea. To everyone’s surprise, EDG placed 6th to 7th during Season 4, 5, 6 and 12th in Season 7.

This phenomenon applies to SKT and G2 Sports as well. SKT wasn’t the best team in Korea; however, they performed better at the World stage whilst the best regional teams failed to do so. G2 Sports dominated the EU regionals (EU LCS) and fans had high hopes for G2 Sports reach finals. Unfortunately, G2 Sports got smashed and placed 13th in Season 6 League Worlds. One can safely say that some teams do better at the World stage and others at regional stage.

This brings us to League of Legends World Championship 2018. Gen.G and Afreeca Freecs both placed higher than SKT in the regular season, however, Gen.G is already knocked out during the group stage and Afreeca Freecs seemingly having a hard time staying number 1 in Group A. With 2 Korean team remaining, and together with the circumstances mentioned above, the possibility for another region to win League Worlds increases.

2. Royal Never Give Up (RNG) on the rise.

League of legends RNG team msi

Image from: Riot Games

RNG has shown glimpse of their greatness at the in-between international events like League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) and Rift Rivals this year. Let’s not forget RNG took 2nd place in 3 World Championships. RNG won this year’s MSI 2018, beating 3 times League World’s champion SK Telecom T1 (SKT), followed by the China (LPL)’s win against the Korea (LCK) in Rift Rivals. Fans once again could see the end of Korea’s reign. However, the problem of lacking competitive spirit at these events and their unique formats compared to League Worlds. These factors could be considered to be major reasons leading to China’s victories. On the other hand, this isn’t to undermine China’s achievements, as MSI is a testing field for each region’s abilities in preparation to League Worlds. SKT gains nothing from losing MSI.

3. Lessons from the past – Focusing on team play

League of legends world championship skt

Image from: Riot Games

One of the major reasons why Korea could dominate for so long is because of their team play. We have seen how team synergy could turn a game in SKT vs Samsung White in Season 7 League Worlds. However, not many regions realized this early on. For example, each player Moscow 5 (later Gambit Gaming) in Season 2 were very mechanically skilled and won many regional games. Their weakness was they had worse team synergy, which resulted in them taking 3rd place in Season 2 League Worlds.

This was the case with early North America, European and Chinese teams. For example, Cloud9 (C9) in earlier Seasons focused on protecting and playing around their star Adc player, Sneaky, which meant the other team only have to focus Sneaky and win the game easily. Same story with Royal Never Give Up (RNG) playing around with their star Adc player, Uzi. However, as we can see from this year’s League World, C9 and RNG have both massively changed their strategy focusing on team play instead of individual players.

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