SKT pulls out critical win against Gen.G

SK Telecom T1 AD carry Bae "Bang" Jun-sik. Provided by Riot Games

SKT 1 2, Gen.G 1

SK Telecom T1 extended its winning streak with a critical 2-1 victory against the second place Gen.G on Sunday during the 2018 League of Legends Champions Korea Summer Split.

Common logic would dictate that Gen.G (10-5) was the team set to win the series if it went long, yet SKT (8-7) proved capable of matching Gen.G in the late game. All three games in the series went to the 40-minute mark, and SKT came out ahead in two of those three, only losing a game where it opted to try out a new pick in Park "Thal" Kwon-hyuk's Quinn, which proved ineffective. Much of SKT's success was simply due to accruing leads early on, but Gen.G's unusual decision to bench Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong in favor of Park "Haru" Min-seung, who hasn't played for the team in two weeks, also factored into Gen.G's defeat.

Ambition's ability to shotcall the late game has become legendary over the last two years, and without his leadership the team looked no better than their opposite number come end game.

SKT's success wasn't simply a team-wide endeavor, as it was its ability to convert on early and mid game leads that put it in a position to win in the late game. The man who made those leads seemingly out of whole cloth was none other than the understudy to Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, Choi "Pirean" Jun-sik, who's beginning to command tremendous respect in his own right. Song "Fly" Young-jin spent the entire series playing from behind against Pirean, who routinely crushed him during the laning phase, and even struggled once he pulled out his pocket pick in Game 3, Aurelion Sol.

SK Telecom T1's next opponent is the Afreeca Freecs, who it will take on at 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday, while Gen.G moves on to play against the bbq Olivers earlier that day at 4 a.m. ET.

--James Bates

KT Rolster 2, bbq Olivers 0

Match score does a poor job of illustrating just how close this match was, as it certainly didn't look like a match between the second place and last place teams in the league. Rather than the one-sided victory that one would expect from KT Rolster (10-5) based on its place in the standings, fans were instead treated to what would have been a bbq (2-13) victory were it not for some impressive misses on the part of KT. Just how KT managed to win Game 1 when it barely had a third of the kills of the Olivers is a question with no clear answer, and is more a testament to just how poorly the Olivers close out games than anything else.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, then, is the fact that the strongest individual performance of the day wasn't even by the team who managed to win the series. Instead, it was bbq mid laner Kang "Tempt" Myung-gu, who stood out the most over the series. His Azir was the primary threat that the Olivers brought to the table, and he managed to be the most intimidating member of his team despite having to navigate difficult lanes in both games. That he was unable to carry the series says more about his team than it does Tempt's own abilities, as an overall mediocre showing from bbq AD carry Jang "Ghost" Yong-jun made it so that Tempt was the only carry threat on his team, an unenviable position.

KT Rolster's next match will be held at 7 a.m. ET on Thursday against the Jin Air Green Wings. The bbq Olivers' next opponent will be Gen.G, who it faces at 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

--James Bates