Hello everyone, and welcome to the first article previewing the teams who will be representing Korea in the 2014 League of Legends Worlds Championship. I am Zalfier, and I will be letting you know what’s going on with this year’s Korean Hype-Train!
The team previewed here will be the Third Seed from Korea – And a team currently on fire: NaJin White Shield.
As one of the oldest teams in Korean LoL esports, NaJin White Shield has always been a good team, but never one of the best. This past Winter marked a big break for them, as they were able to reach the Semifinals for the first time ever. Despite their growing strength they had one major flaw: They were really a one-trick warhorse team.
Similar to CJ Blaze or CLG.Eu, they relied on a single, very effective strategy of dragging games out and forcing mistakes, before simply being overwhelmed with map pressure.
In the Spring, Shield continued to show their prowess by coming out on top of their group. This set them up for an impressive run to the finals, where they would face off against Samsung Blue. Not only were they able to show incredible poise during a long series, but they also began to exhibit some strategic versatility.
Although they would be defeated by Blue, their finish would finally secure them a spot among the other top names in Korea.
Following their success in the spring, the Summer Season was one of major disappointment for White Shield.
Their Group Stage was rough, and they were barely able to squeak through with help from their sibling team NaJin Black Sword. Their Quarterfinals looked somewhat improved, but ultimately, not enough to get past the KT Arrows. This led them to a gauntlet Regional Qualifiers, where they would have to face three teams in as many days in order to reach Worlds.
It was here they finally showcased a return to form, and in an incredibly impressive series of games, they defeated the KT Bullets, KT Arrows, and even SKT K. They dropped only a single game to K to reach an astounding 9-1 record and secure the final slot in the World Championship.
Top Lane – Save
This has been a fantastic year for Save, going from a relative unknown to one of the best top laners in Korea, alongside Flame. In fact, he has proved to be so good, that his name has become synonymous with the flanking initiation he became famous for.
Although he may not stand out with a high KDA, he has an incredible ability to apply map pressure that is unmatched by anyone in the world. He is so good, in fact, that even when usage of Teleport was at its strongest, he still showed the ability to carry games without it.
Recently, Save’s big three have been Nidalee, Ryze, and Kayle, heavily picked or banned during White Shield’s incredible Qualifiers run. Beyond these, Save has a strong champion pool and can still perform at a top level, even while absorbing bans for his team. His opponents will have no choice but to deal with him on the Rift, making him a very dangerous threat indeed.
Jungler – Watch
Watch is the veteran jungler of the team and the only player to have previous experience on the World stage, having participated in the previous two World Championships as a member of NaJin Black Sword. As such, he will be expected to lead his team to continue their current success in the coming weeks.
Watch’s most dangerous champion is his Lee Sin, as he favored this pick heavily during the Qualifiers. Like most Korean junglers, he will play whatever is strongest, so it is simply too dangerous to try and solo-ban him out.
Mid Lane – Ggoong
A former Starcraft pro player, Ggoong has really made a name for himself in the mid lane this year, thanks to his proficiency with Nidalee, even being compared to Faker. He is a very strong player and has shown a great deal of adaptation with the meta, being able to play popular champions at a very high level.
Right now, his big threats are Orianna, Ahri and Zed, all of which he showed great proficiency on during the qualifiers. Zed especially is a high-priority ban, as he completely dismantled his opponents during the two games it snuck through.
AD Carry – Zefa
Zefa has always been a fairly passive player, preferring the siege-oriented champs that Shield have been so good at making use of. Starting in the Spring, however, he has really come into his own as an ADC player, breaking out of his mold with a more aggressive, pick-oriented style that has helped be the catalyst for Shield’s changing strategies as a whole.
Zefa’s strongest champion right now is Twitch, something he has become very dangerous on since he first debuted the champion in the Spring. In addition, his Lucian is very strong as well, giving him a safer play-style that fits nicely with the slow and patient game that Shield became known for.
Support – Gorilla
The final member of Shield, Gorilla is another young player who has proved to be a top-notch support. He really is a key playmaker for Shield, doing a fantastic job at both peeling and initiating teamfights as needed. In addition, his ward control is fantastic, and truly helps with the extremely precise and patient play White has demonstrated as of late.
Always a strong Thresh player, Gorilla has also recently shown a strong proficiency with Janna, even drawing a couple of bans for that champion. Both provide him with a lot of control and utility to support whatever strategy his team chooses to use.
Although perhaps not quite at the level of the Samsung teams, as one of the best teams in Korea, Shield still represents a daunting threat for everyone else in Group D.
Out of the three Korean teams they will probably face the most difficulty making it out of the Group Stage, but if they can keep up the level of play they demonstrated in the Qualifiers, they should still come out on top.
If they can make it to the Bo5 Final Rounds, they will be as difficult as any, and probably have one of the best chances at upsetting a Samsung team
They have repeatedly shown to be nearly unshakable and will almost never make stupid mistakes. This makes them a difficult team to snowball against and an even more difficult team to come back against. Coupled with phenomenal wave control, their long game is as potent as it ever has been.