Hello everyone and welcome to the quarterfinals bracket of OGN Champions Summer 2014. Kicking things off we have NaJin White Shield vs KT Arrows. These teams have really had opposite stories throughout the group stages.
Coming off a 2nd place finish in Spring, NaJin has been on a bit of a downswing as many of their strongest champions have either been nerfed or pushed out of the meta. Their lackluster finish only just snuck them into the finals, primarily on the back of some very strong play by sister team NaJin Sword. The Arrows on the other hand have been completely on fire though the group stage, dropping only a single game against the Stealths on their path to the finals.
It is a battle of ultimate defense versus ultimate aggression, so without further ado lets get into the games.
Right from the pick and ban phase this game looks like it is going to be a long one. Both teams have comps that will scale very well into the late game, with KT looking more toward fighting and creating picks while Shield has a classic poke heavy siege team. Nocturne is an interesting pickup for Watch. It is a risky matchup against the Elise that opens you up to getting bullied in the jungle, but the powerful initiations and vision denial from his ult compliment the siege style of NaJin very well.
The game starts off with standard lanes as neither team opts into a lane swap. Although this should be very good for Nocturne, KaKao does a pretty good job applying early pressure through wards and counter-jungling to slow down Watch as much as possible. Play proceeds fairly passively for the early laning phase, as both teams are content to simply sit back and farm.
The first big action does not happen until around the 16-minute mark; NaJin will attempt to contest dragon but superior vision control from KT will allow them to win the fight to secure both the objective and First Blood.
Shield however are masters of the slow game and are easily able to control the pace of the game through powerful wave clear and global ults. Once they start fighting back the situation quickly becomes dire for KT, as NaJin gains a firm grip over the map and begins their deadly siege. As the mid game turns to late, it is clear that Shield simply outpicked the Arrows; despite their high kill pressure there is little KT can do but hope for a mistake.
Although it takes nearly 60-minutes to wrap things up, NaJin will eventually make their way into the base and secure the first game of the series.
NaJin leads KT: 1-0
Once again in game 2 will start of with standard lane setups from both teams. This is a bit of a risky choice for the Arrows; while it does allow Blitzcrank to put a ton of pressure on the immobile Kog’Maw and Nami lane, it also forces Jax into a difficult matchup against Gragas. As expected KT will attempt to focus on bot lane early, but some missed hooks along with the threat of a counter-gank will keep the Arrows in check. This bot focus will allow both solo-lanes from NaJin to get an early lead on their counterpart.
Finally around the 8-minute mark Hachani will successfully land a hook on Nami to secure the first blood. As a result though KT is forced to extent pretty far up in lane and it exposes them to the incoming teleport of Save. This skirmish will allow Zefa to pick up a double kill, a huge blow to the only lane they were winning. Another good fight from NaJin a few minutes later will net them a couple of extra kills and really put the pressure on KT.
After that the game will go completely in NaJin’s favour. Tons of damage from Kog’Maw and Orianna will allow them to continuously rip through KT and the fantastic ward coverage will prevent Blitzcrank from setting up any picks. This time around it will not take nearly as long to close the game out, crushing though the nexus and taking the second game right around the 30-minute mark to jump up 2-0 in the series.
NaJin leads KT: 2-0
In game 3 we see some really good adaptations coming out of the pick and ban phase from KT. First off they take away the Gragas that Save used to devastating effect in games 1 and 2; coupled with the Ziggs ban takes away a ton of the pressure on Kog’Maw that was presented in game 1. Second is the picking Thresh to go with the first pick Kog’Maw. This counters the expected Nocturne pick by making it much harder for him to dive and stick to Kog.
Just as in game 1, the Nocturne is a risky pick against Elise because of how vulnerable he is in the early game. Once again KaKao will pressure with some early invades and a key wards will allow him to find Watch, hunting him down to secure a quick first blood only about 4-minutes into the game. This is huge for KT and the immense jungle advantage this causes will allow them to quickly establish full ward control and begin to snowball the game.
Thanks to the established vision control KT is able to move from buffs to dragons and staying even or ahead in fights thanks to their strong pick potential. KaKao will even opt into a heavy utility focused build instead of the more damage focused Elise that has been gaining popularity in Korea, simply because of how important map control is to the success of their comp. This shows a really great turn around from the first two games where they really struggled with objective control.
Despite the superior map control, NaJin does have a massive advantage as far as initiation goes and they will use that to find a couple of really strong fights to get themselves back in contention. Just as Shield looks to begin taking full control of the game, a misplayed fight at baron will get KT an ace and once again jump into the lead. Crucially this fight allows Dr. Mundo to get way ahead of the Jax, putting him into the unfortunate position of being worse both as a split pusher and a teamfighter. With that advantage the Arrows are once again able to pour on the pressure and despite a valiant effort from NaJin they are able to secure the win and keep their playoff hopes alive.
NaJin leads KT: 2-1
In game 4 we see a much more aggressive comp coming out of KT, including KaKao trying his hand at using Nocturne to deal with Kog’Maw. However just as in the previous game this matchup gives Elise the early advantage and Watch will use that to invade and secure a three buff start. Knowing that Watch will look to keep applying pressure, KT is able to set up a very clever fight by baiting him into their jungle and collapsing. The ensuing fight goes brilliantly for the Arrows and will crucially give Rookie an early kill and assists to quickly get his Yasuo rolling.
KT’s comp will naturally take some time to scale, but thanks to the early game that time comes much more quickly than expected and from around 13:30 they will put that power to work. KT will immediately jump on a dragon attempt by NaJin and the combined strength of Nocturne/Twitch/Yasuo will rip though the Shield line, securing a clean fight and the dragon. After that KT will simply dominate Shield in every fight; despite the poor siege allowing NaJin to drag the game out longer than expected, KT never relinquishes control and will eventually be able to find their way into the base and make the series 2-2.
Series tied: 2-2
As is always the case with blind pick, we get to see some of the heavily banned champions and the potential for mirror matches. This time around we get to see the Lee Sin mirror that has been a priority ban for Shield so far in the series. We also get to see an appearance by Kassadin as well as Ggoong’s Ziggs once again. Interestingly Arrow does not pick up the Kog’Maw that has seemed like a high priority, instead opting to once again make use of the Yasuo/Twitch combo that was so devastating in game 4.
Once again the early advantage falls to KT, picking up a quick kill in the bot lane to allow Twitch to survive his losing matchup. Applying the early pressure bot will also be enough to distract Watch from the top lane where Kassadin is able to freely farm towards becoming a late game monster. A second early gank will swing the bot lane completely in KTs favor as well as give them a free dragon and move quickly towards the very scary Twitch/Yasuo mid-game combo.
Shield however is not a team to go down easily and thanks to some very strong teamfights they are able to catch, and quickly surpass, KT’s gold lead. This will allow them to begin gaining back map control and setting up their powerful siege with Ziggs and Kog’Maw. Their advantage will not last long however as the scaling from KT begins to really kick in past 20-minutes and they will begin to start winning the fights against Shield. Once they finally get rolling they are able to set up a devastating split-push and pick combo and just start crushing NaJin at every turn. Just as in game 4 their comp makes it very difficult to close, but eventually KT is able to find their way into the NaJin base and secure the game and match victory.
KT wins: 3-2
While a victory for the Arrows was the expected result, Shield was able to put up a very strong fight and at least slightly redeem an otherwise fairly disappointing season for the team. Unfortunately the recent patches have simply not been kind to Shield and the loss of many comfort picks, especially for Ggoong, made things very difficult for them.
Hope for season 4 is not lost though; Worlds is coming up in a few short months and while Shield will very likely not make one of the top two spots, they are still in a good position to make the qualifiers bracket with a good showing in NLB. So long as they are able to find another strong pool of champions to use, we can expect to see them later this year.
KT Arrows on the other hand will be moving on to the Semifinals in a couple of weeks. Although they were able to pull out the win here it did expose some some weaknesses both in champ select as well as in-game decision making. KT fans will have to hope they can fix these issues, as without an appearance at the finals they are unlikely to have a shot at making Worlds this year.