OGN Champions Winter 2013-2014 returns with one last semifinal before the 3rd place match and the Grand Finals! Najin White Shield and Samsung Galaxy Ozone will take it to Summoner’s Rift for another Best of 5 series to determine which team will advance and which team will have to play for 3rd place.
Will Shield exceed all expectations and qualify for the Grand Finals for the first time in their team’s history? Or will Ozone silence their critics yet again and advance onward to the Grand Finals for their chance to become the first team in OGN Champions history to win two titles?
The games begin on January 10, 2014 at 1:30 AM PST, 4:30 AM EST, 10:30 AM CET, and 6:30 PM KST!
Top Lane (Save vs Looper):
Save transitioned from the mid lane in Champions Spring to the top lane, bringing different experiences that other Korean top laners don’t have. He has average performance on the flavor of the month champions, but performs very well on high-damage, carry-style top laners like Tryndamere, Kha’zix and Rumble. He is known for being able to take absolute control of games and carry Shield to victory if he gets going or is well-farmed. Along with Shield’s current mid laner Ggoong, they have some ambiguity in their picks and bans: if they pick Gragas and Kha’zix, there is no way for the enemy team to tell where those two champions are going or which player is even going to play them.
In contrast to Save, Looper and Homme play well on tank champions and providing necessary utility for Ozone. Whoever Ozone chooses to send into the arena for this series will be able to take advantage of a lot of dedicated empty lane farm to become a terrifying tank in mid-game teamfights capable of disrupting in the enemy backline and absorbing damage for his carries. Looper, in particular, is one of the few top laners who likes to run Teleport, especially on Dr. Mundo and – his old favorite – Singed.
This top lane matchup will mainly test Save’s champion pool – will he will pick a squishy high-damage top laner or will he be pressured out by his lane opponent’s meta tank choice?
Jungle (NoFe vs DanDy):
NoFe, the shotcaller and team captain of Shield, will again face his nemesis DanDy after having played against him once before in the group stage. NoFe has truly stepped up as a player and a leader this season, with his decisions being crucial for Shield’s victories. Solid on a variety of popular junglers – Lee Sin, Elise, Nunu, and Olaf – NoFe looks to help his team take control of the early game with his exceptional rotations and playmaking ability.
On the other hand, DanDy is known as the “anti-jungler” with his countergank-focused style of play. He often dampens the opponent jungler’s early presence by preventing successful ganks by always being there at the right times to back up his teammates. With incredible early game control and counter-aggression on his favorites – such as Elise and Lee Sin – DanDy is a force to be reckoned with. His early game decisions set the flow for any game.
With both junglers having very similar champion pools, it will be interesting to see if one or both teams decide to ban out top jungle choices in order to force the other onto a less comfortable champion. Ultimately, what will distinguish NoFe from DanDy will be how each of them keep up with one another – as one shifts the pace of the game, the other must respond instantly and match it, or else small advantages will snowball into larger ones that separate victory and defeat.
Mid (GGoong vs Dade):
GGoong has been playing phenomenally well for Shield this season. He won the MVP award for Shield’s past three victories, propelling him to the top of the points standings. He has shown how scary he can be on Gragas and Kassadin, aggressively picking off opponents and disrupting the enemy team at objectives. GGoong also has the option to switch lanes with Save to enhance Shield’s strategies, allowing them flexibility in both champion select and early game control.
Like GGoong, Dade has also been looking much stronger as a player and has had much more consistent game play recently, compared to his disastrous performance at the Season 3 World Championships. He expanded his champion pool slightly, picking up Gragas and Nidalee. With only one disappointing game as Lucian mid, Dade is a force to be reckoned with as he vies against GGoong on both the Rift and in the MVP standings.
With both mid laners having strong past performances on Gragas and Kassadin, it would not be surprising to see either one or both champions banned in champion select or instantly picked up if available. Nidalee is another potential ban for Shield if they want to deny a second comfort pick for Dade. The matchup between Dade and GGoong largely depends on their responses during champion selection if their choice champions are banned or taken away – and ultimately testing their ability to lane against each other on likely less comfortable picks.
Marksman (Zefa vs Imp):
Zefa has been a solid marksman. He has shown consistently strong performances on Caitlyn and Ezreal, taking advantage of their versatility and tower-siege potential. While Zefa can play a few flavor of the month champions – Sivir and Lucian – his performance is underwhelming compared to that on his favorites. If Zefa has a decent laning phase, he will definitely be a threat.
Interestingly, Imp has been relatively quiet this season. In recent match history records, he has been playing a lot of Ezreal and Lucian to compliment Dade’s Gragas and Nidalee to form a formidable tower-siege duo. Although he has shown some recklessness, such as questionable use of Flash for kills, Imp is still a force to be reckoned with due to his solid positioning – allowing him to remain slippery and sustain his damage output in teamfights.
Both Zefa and Imp love playing aggressively in the early game to snag kills. Whether or not the duo lanes go for a 2v1 or 2v2 matchup will depend on the flow of the drafting stage: If a 2v2 matchup occurs, both duo lanes will be looking for an all-in opportunity to start snowballing an advantage.
Support (GorillA vs Mata):
GorrillA completes Shield’s duo lane with incredibly aggressive play, looking for opportunities to harass his opponents with the ultimate goal of netting kills in order to dominate. He favors long range supports that have both strong poke and all-in potential – Annie, Lulu, and Sona.
Mata has continued to impress with his playmaking by landing crucial crowd control to start a perfect fight for Ozone. Although he was somewhat criticized for only being able to play Thresh effectively, Mata proved otherwise in the quarterfinal against Frost with his amazing Leona play. He is a crucial part of Ozone’s vision control by maintaining wards on choke points, allowing Ozone to make aggressive counterplays safely.
With two bloodthirsty supports coupled with two equally aggressive marksmen, look for a lot of action between these duo lanes if they fall into a 2v2 matchup. If both teams opt to ban out supports, it will be interesting to see what they will bring to the table – for instance, GorillA is one of the few supports in Korea who has not picked Thresh at all. That could be a major disadvantage for Shield if they have to use one of their three precious bans to deny Thresh from Mata.
The main matchup to watch in this series will be the battle between the junglers. Both teams need NoFe and DanDy to make crucial plays in the early game in order to have a successful transition into the mid game. How these two will try to outplay each other in terms of both rotations and counter-ganking pressure will directly influence the flow of the game.
While both teams have really stepped up their gameplay and are looking stronger than ever, I personally believe Ozone is the stronger team of the two. I am always hoping for that final blind pick game, but I expect a 3-1 for Ozone in this matchup.
2×2 (@2x2pixels) for editing.
David Widrick for designing the art @ Davidwidrick.com