Explain like I’m five: How SSG beat SKT 3-0

SSG Worlds Season 7
Picture by: Riot Games / LoL esports

With Ruler’s last auto attack on the Nexus, the crazy ride through the World Championship ended for Samsung Galaxy. The team managed to do the impossible – beat the God and his colleagues 3-0 in a best of five series. Something that has never been achieved on the Worlds stage yet. SKT’s loss was a surprise to many, but the convincing fashion in which Samsung Galaxy beheaded their opponents was astonishing for almost all of us. Let’s break down some of the reasons behind such strong result for a team led by veteran jungler Ambition.

The Draft

Drafts always come from some sort of an agreement between players and their coach. Additionally, it’s important to take meta and the matchup between the teams into consideration – and that’s the first place where I’d look for reasoning behind the final score.

Samsung Galaxy, playing the style they did, had much more freedom around the drafts – CuVee only needed a strong or even matchup to sway almost the whole topside to SSG’s advantage. Being self-sufficient he could always make the best out of any situation, which forced SKT to match that, or preferably, counter-pick top. Having a wider champion pool and more stylistic possibilities SSG meant that CuVee could just go for a strong toplaner or wait for Huni’s pick. That made it easy to work around SKT’s pick order and allowed for many quick midlane Malzahar choices and targeting bad midlane matchups in second rotation of bans.

Having a better performing top and bot made it incredibly easy to get pick priority where it was needed the most – the midlane and hit SKT’s overall player comfort. SKT did not have as much freedom and was forced to cover its weaknesses by drafting in a certain manner.

Individual performance

That leads us to another thing – SKT’s botlane under-performances made it easy for Samsung to draft either more midgame spiking AD Carries. Thanks to Ambition covering his buddies and allowing good early recalls, Ruler and CoreJJ were always able to get an advantage in the lane and destroy the enemy turret. Having a Malzahar in the midlane meant that Faker could never really leave his lane. Crown knew well enough that he had to always keep the midlane shoved or at least match Faker’s push, even if it meant worse trades and lost cs. Ambition was there to cover and again – allow good recalls, that kept the midlane almost even.

With Peanut and Blank not being extremely aggressive in the early game, Ambition’s style was unpunished and SSG did what they do best – get good item timings and force opponents hand. In all of the games, Samsung had superb tower approach thanks to the vision created by the jungler and other players. SKT’s junglers were always kept track of thanks to good use of pressure to get wards. If SK Telecom had more freedom in its sidelanes due to lane priority from either Huni or the botlane, the team wouldn’t have so many problems with its vision. CuVee and Ruler with CoreJJ only ever stopped pressuring, when they knew that a gank was approaching – almost every single game, after the first recall, both top and the bot lanes were winning respective matchups. In game two and three, SKT had decent early games, but their players never punished enemy to the extent that would not allow SSG for a comeback. With smart vision and item timings, even when behind, Samsung was able to play proactively and trade evenly.

Lack of communication

The last thing that needs to get addressed is the communication. We’ve seen numerous times that SKT’s players were desynced. In game 1, Faker flashed into the Baron pit after a successful steal from Peanut. Bang did not follow – whether that was caused by a miscommunication or notifying teammates of CuVee’s flank teleport too late remains unknown. What is clear though, is that SKT’s players did not communicate well.

In another fight, Bang jumped after Ambition, but rest of the team did not chase the opponent. That gave Samsung Galaxy a chance to take back control of the game. The team did so, it the next fight, when Bang was in the front of his team, showing that the squad was not on point in communication. Many fights in the best-of-five proved that things are not as crisp as they used to be. Peanut and Blank were off with some of the gank timings and Ambition clearly did a better job of covering for his laners.

These are the three predominant reasons for SSG’s convincing 3-0 against the record world champion: The draft, individual performance and a severe lack of communication and commitment to calls on the side of SKT. At the end of the day, it should be noted that the result didn’t just come down to SKT’s botlane having a bad series, but a culmination of reasons and SSG simply playing really well.

Tomasz Milaniuk

Tomasz Milaniuk is a Polish writer who has been spending his last years writing about the Korean and European esports scene. His ability to analyze games and the abilities of individual players have made him a valuable resource within the League of Legends and CSGO communities respectively.