Griffin 2, Afreeca 0
Griffin kicked off the first post-Rift Rivals week in League Champions Korea with a 2-0 win over Afreeca on Wednesday in Seoul.
Hot off the heels of an underwhelming showing at Rift Rivals Asia, Afreeca (6-3) faced a difficult task in taking on rookie sensation Griffin (7-1), and it showed. From a blistering Game 1 win to a methodical, 40+ minute brawl in Game 2, Griffin consistently held the upper hand, thanks in large part to bottom lane carry Park "Viper" Do-hyeon's Vladimir. Viper shined in both games as the Crimson Reaper, pumping out massive damage in teamfights and showing an impressive mastery of the blood mage. Meanwhile, Griffin top laner Choi "Sword" Sung-won continued to make his case for best top laner in the league against tough competition in Afreeca's top laner, Kim "Kiin" Gi-in, neutralizing Kiin while creating opportunities for Griffin to pick up kills. It wasn't perfect by any means, especially when it came to the sloppy Game 2 win, but a 2-0 victory over the second-best team from the Spring Split is a great way for Griffin to resume play after the Rift Rivals break, cementing its place in the top of the standings.
While Griffin soared, Afreeca struggled, getting pulled apart by Griffin's aggressive playstyle. Afreeca played most of the series on the back foot, allowing Griffin to do what it wanted from early on. In addition, outside of mid laner Lee "Kuro" Seo-haeng, who played decently given the circumstances, Afreeca got outclassed in the individual lane matchups across the board. Unable to string together much in the face of Griffin's relentless pressure, Afreeca quickly dropped Game 1 in under 30 minutes while Game 2 was more of a brawl. If this series was any indication, Afreeca needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to impact the game on its own terms.
Griffin takes on Gen.G at 4 a.m. ET on Friday, while Afreeca will play against KT Rolster at 4 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Hanwha 2, KT Rolster 0
Hanwha Life Esports closed out Wednesday's slate with a statement 2-0 win over KT Rolster in Seoul.
It's not often you see a team thoroughly out-strategize an opponent, but that has recently become the calling card for Hanwha Life Esports (5-3). Against a KT Rolster (5-4) that was coming off of an impressive Rift Rivals performance, Hanwha drafted circles around KT, selecting the jungle power pick Kindred away in both games while putting support Kim "Key" Han-gi on a pair of rare support picks in Nami and Taric. The end result of these team compositions were devastating; Hanwha would simply group up and slowly move forward, crushing everything in its path with two marksmen leading the way. Outside of playing strategies how they were drawn up, the players themselves played well in scrappy skirmishes. Key in particular stood out in this case, as his Game 1 triple kill as Nami was yet another clip for his highlight reel.
South Korea might have suffered a thorough defeat against China at Rift Rivals Asia but KT Rolster still looked good, ending the tournament undefeated. Unfortunately for KT, it failed to bring that level of performance to the table against Hanwha Life, making sloppy mistakes while letting its opposition run away with control of the game. Apart from jungler Go "Score" Dong-bin's early game first blood in Game 1 as Camille, KT didn't make any proactive plays throughout the series. Game 1 looked especially rough for KT, which only went to 30 minutes because KT mid laner Son "Ucal" Woo-hyeon's Zoe stole a Baron kill with Smite. While Ucal's Smite Talon mid in Game 2 was interesting, KT simply looked lethargic as it got swept aside.
Hanwha Life takes to the Rift against SK Telecom T1 at 7 a.m. ET on Friday, while KT Rolster will wait to take on Afreeca Freecs at 4 a.m. ET on Sunday.