Welcome to OGN Champions Summer 2014. With a whole host of talented teams competing, this summer looks to be a promising one. The past off-season has been a time for drastic change in Korea, with many teams swapping around their rosters, looking for the squad that can bring their organization success. Between new blood and new lineups, there are a lot of unknown factors going into this summer, which hopefully means a very exciting season of games for the fans.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with champions, I will quickly explain how the group stage works. Groups are played in a round robin format, with each set being a best of 2. A team winning 2-0 will score 3 points, teams going 1-1 will each receive 1 point, and a team losing 0-2 will receive 0. The top two teams from each group will proceed to the finals bracket.
The first game of set 1 kicks off with Blue coming out of the gate swinging with their combination of Twitch, TF, and Rengar looking to make picks early and often. IM holds them off for a little while, but Blue has clearly not missed a beat during the off-season and their strong vision control and aggressive use of TF and Rengar allows them to make pick after pick, snowballing their early game power into a convincing first win.
The second game starts off in devastating fashion for IM. A lucky invade by Blue will catch out the IM jungler Smurf, and some well timed movements across the map will allow Blue to completely zone him out of the jungle, securing all 4 buffs to start the game. With such a lead, Spirit is able to pressure every lane and quickly build up an insurmountable lead and a crushing win to bring Blue a 2-0 victory.
The second set of day 1 is an interesting one, featuring two teams that have had some major lineup changes during the off-season. Sword features 4/5 of the team being revamped, keeping only long time veteran Cain on support; on the other hand the Bullets have moved Ryu into the jungle and picked up new mid and top laners.
NaJin is able to start the season off on the right foot, bringing out a terrifying late game team comp to game 1 and still managing to get an early lead. With some good plays of their own, as well as some unfortunate mistakes from the Bullets, Sword is able to cleanly take the first victory. Game 2 goes much the same way; while KT does a better job at keeping up in the early game, Sword just proves to be the much stronger team, once again snowballing an early lead into another clean win.
Samsung Blue beats IM#1: 2 – 0
NaJin Black Sword beats KT Bullets: 2 – 0
For clarification, Samsung Ozone has changed their name to Samsung White, a return to their original name when the teams were MVP White and Blue.
The first set of day 2 features a rematch from the OGN Masters finals. Samsung was able to soundly beat SKT 3-0 during that series, so SKT S will definitely be looking for some revenge right here.
The first game is very close between the teams, with no team able to secure an early lead. Both sides play very cautiously and momentum moves back and forth, but over time White is able to slowly build up incremental advantages. Eventually they are able to win some close fights and slowly pull out a win, but not without strong resistance from S.
Game 2 will play out pretty much the same way; fights are very close but Samsung White is able to slowly pull ahead of SKT S. This time however, S is able to mount a strong comeback, finding the right picks to pull them back even and than gain a lead over White. Once they have the edge they don’t let go, and are able to quickly close out the game. This is a notable improvement over SKT S from the past, a team plagued with inconsistency and an inability to close out games.
Set two features an interesting match between the KT Arrows and JinAir Stealths. The Arrows have proven to be a very talented, but very inconsistent team. The Stealths on the other hand are looking to make a good showing after missing out on the spring season of Champions. They have, however proved themselves to be a very dangerous team throughout the Masters tournament.
Game 1 starts off with a pretty devastating blow for JinAir. A very risky but extremely well played dive nets the Arrows a 3-0 start, and the aggression doesn’t stop there. The Stealths are unable to find a way to pull themselves back, and the continued aggression from KT is able to snowball them into a pretty one-sided victory.
Game 2 will start off in a very similar fashion, but just the opposite. This time around JinAir is able to get off the early ganks and gain an early advantage. KT does a good job at responding, keeping the gold close, but JinAir does an excellent job pushing their advantages to get a nice snowball rolling. The Stealths are able to ride out their advantage to another very one-sided victory, this time in their favor.
Samsung White ties SKT T1 S: 1 – 1
KT Arrows ties JinAir Stealths: 1 – 1
The final day of the week will be the second set of teams from groups A and B. The first game of set 1 features SKT K and IM #2 , who have a recently revamped roster and facing the reigning world champions makes for a difficult start.
The first game starts off close, with both teams taking kills and objectives across the map. SKT is able to gain an incremental lead, mainly thanks to the spears coming from Faker, and a poorly executed fight by IM allows SKT to blow their lead wide open. K has always been a team known for their ruthless efficiency at closing out games and this was no exception, quickly shutting the door on IM and securing a victory.
Game 2 will be a much cleaner effort by SKT K, gaining a fairly early lead over IM #2. Although IM does a very good job applying pressure, SKT always manages to have a response, and for every step IM takes they are forced two steps back. Although SKT gets a bit sloppy when closing, they prove that they are back in form and take a fairly clean second win.
The final set between NaJin White Shield and the JinAir Falcons starts off quite exciting, with the Flacons bringing out a crazy comp using a top Gragas, jungle Warwick, and a mid Morgana. The Falcons team shows a lot of promise, but some unfortunate misplays set them back; the Nami pick coming out of Shield, combined with good vision control, makes it really hard for the Falcons to pull off their strategy. In typical Shield fashion, they are able to do a phenomenal job pressuring the map and strangling the Falcons out of the game, eventually securing the win.
In game 2, the Falcons play more standard picks, but again will bring out the Gragas in top lane. This time around they are able to make the Gragas really pay off. Shield gets off to a strong early lead, but JinAir is able to find the picks they need and claw their way back into the game. Rock goes for a heavy AP build, using Gragas’ excellent melee range burst to quickly assassinate targets in teamfights and eventually turn the game around for the Falcons. It is a very close and hard fought match for both teams, but eventually the Falcons are able to take the win and split the set with the Champions Spring runner-ups.
SKT T1 K beats IM#2: 2 – 0
NaJin White Shield ties JinAir Falcons: 1 – 1
Week 1 Notable Champions
As a final word, I would like to point out some notable picks the appeared during this week of OGN.
The first is Jungle Rengar, who made great showing this week, with an impressive 3-0 record. Two different styles of Rengar made an appearance.
The first is perhaps the more typical build, rushing Feral Flare to supplement early aggression, and than transitioning into a tanky build for late game, similar to the way Evelynn has been played in the past few months. This style is the more aggressive, pick oriented build and was played by Samsung Blue and NaJin Black Sword on day 1. The second style was a Tanky/CDR focused build brought out by KaKao, used to play a more supportive role for his team. This unique take on Rengar will be receiving a more thorough analysis very soon.
The second notable pick of the week was the top lane Gragas, brought out by Rock of the JinAir Falcons. Apart from seeing some support play, this is the first big appearance of Gragas since his rework. With the recent surge of AP top laners appearing across the world, it should come at no surprise to see Gragas ready to brawl. The interesting change is that, instead of the tank Gragas that popped up a few times during the Spring,
Rock choose to go heavy AP, using the power of Lich Bane and Drunken Rage (W) to assassinate targets late game. It is a style that Rock swears by, saying that it scales much better than a full tank or bruiser build could. Needless to say it is already begining to make waves in Korea and is something to keep an eye on in the rest of the world as well.