Contributing Authors: Micah Spady, Charlie Lipsie, and Daniel “Heliosan” Song
On November 15th, the OGN Champions season will start once again with many new faces. OGN Champions Winter includes the 16 strongest teams in Korea that made the cut, 8 teams returning from the past season and 8 teams that fought through the gauntlet otherwise known as the offline qualifiers. Some returning faces to the OGN including the famous MaKNooN making his debut in the mid lane position with CJ Frost as well as the long but not forgotten, Longpanda. This season will also include 3 entirely new teams: Team Dark, Alienware Andromeda, and Team NB.
Pandora.TV Champions Winter 2013-2014 Groups
SK Telecom T1 #2
KT Rolster Bullets
Samsung Galaxy Ozone
CJ Entus Frost
CJ Entus Blaze
Najin Black Sword
Najin White Shield
Jin Air Greenwings Falcons
Incredible Miracle #2
Jin Air Greenwings Stealths
SK Telecom T1 #1
Samsung Galaxy Blue
SK Telecom T1 #2
Last Season: HOT6iX Champions Summer Season Champion
Roster: Impact (Top), bengi (Jungle), Faker (Mid), Piglet (marksman), PoohManDu (Support)
(From Left to Right: Piglet, Bengi, PoohManDu, Impact, Faker)
The reigning Season 3 World Champions as well as the OGN Champions Summer season champions, SK Telecom T1 #2 are looking to add the OGN Champions Winter season title to their names. With no roster changes going into the Winter Season, SKT #2 is looking to continue the success that they enjoyed in Season 3.
Faker has continued to show his strength in the mid lane. While Impact was known as the weaker link during Worlds, he is no doubt still one of the premier top laners in Korea with his flexible champion pool. Both Impact and Faker can make plays in lane, but it’s their synergy with Bengi who sets the pace for the team in the early game looking to snowball advantages for SK Telecom T1 #2 going into the mid game. Bengi’s control jungle style has been one of the main reasons that SK Telecom T1 #2 finishes games so incredibly fast. The formidable Hundred Acre bot lane consists of Piglet as the marksman and PoohManDu as the support. Piglet obtained the highest KDA(Kill-Death-Assist Ratio) and GPM(Gold Per Minute) in the whole World Championship tournament.
While no one can predict what the Season 4 changes can do to a team, SK Telecom T1 #2 has shown in the past that they are a team that is very adaptable and innovates meta-changing strategies and champion picks. Bengi’s Vi for example in the OGN Summer playoffs sparked a huge global resurgence of Vi among teams worldwide. Faker’s Riven mid pick has also been picked up by competitive teams as well as many players in solo queue worldwide.
CJ Entus Blaze:
Last Season: 5th-8th Place
Roster: Flame (Top), Daydream (Jungle), Ambition (Mid), Emperor (marksman), Lustboy (Support)
(From Left to Right: DayDream, Lustboy, Ambition, Emperor, Flame)
After a disappointing performance in OGN Champions Summer, Blaze underwent many roster changes to become the so-called “Neo-Blaze”. As of yet, the newly revamped CJ Entus Blaze has been very successful taking taking first at the Korean WCG Qualifiers to represent Korea in the 2013 World Cyber Games in China.
Even though they have a very different roster, Blaze’s playstyle remains very similar to before which revolved around Flame’s split pushing and the team’s crisp rotations and decision making.
Their recent success can be attributed to a couple things:
Ambition seems to have woken up from his deep slumber that Dade sent him to in the OGN Spring Finals, and he is reminding us why he was Korea’s All Star selection for mid lane.
Daydream, formerly from Xenics Storm, is the glue that holds together Blaze in the early game, with Flame often getting camped by the enemy jungler and Ambition’s tendency to give up first blood. His early aggression brings a new aggressive dynamic to the team since he has a great sense for counter-ganking in his solo lanes.
Emperor has demonstrated versatility in his champion pool as well as consistency and stability in the duo lane which is something that Blaze has lacked in the past with Captain Jack. Stability was exactly what Blaze needed which enables their talented solo laners carry the mid to late game.
If the WCG Qualifiers were any indication of how OGN Winter will pan out, Blaze is a force to be reckoned with in the future. With Captain Jack taking a substitute role in the team, Lustboy has taken over the duty as the Captain of the team. His performance at the KR WCG qualifiers was significantly better than in the past when he was paired with the passive “farm first, carry later” Cpt Jack which quite often doomed their laning phase. With the entire team looking much more polished, Blaze should be sitting pretty in the next few months.
Last Season: No past OGN History
Roster: LongPanda (top), minijam (jungle), Elf (mid), asd (marksman), Mylittlepony (support)
(Pictured: Team NB)
Apart from LongPanda, little is known of the Team NB Squad. LongPanda was part of the original CJ Entus squad before Azubu Blaze and Azubu Frost were bought out by CJ and replaced the original team that consisted of LongPanda, inSec, Dade, Space, and Muse. Longpanda is notorious for losing his lane hard on many occasions and he will definitely have a wonderful time in this group with Impact, Flame, and MaRin on the other teams.
While there is little game footage available of the team, a player stood that stood out was their marksman“asd”. He had some phenomenal Vayne plays showing not only superb control of his champion, but also a deep game sense often finding kills that often wouldn’t be there. His support Mylittlepony also played phenomenally, enabling their bot lane to turn a 3 man gank into a 3 for 1 exchange of kills, and even hitting a 4 man Zyra ult to counter engage a fight.
While we can never predict the fate of a team in a season, Team NB shows a lot of potential. Given the popularity of eSports of Korea, and League of Legends being the most popular of them, we can expect a new name and sponsor for NB sometime during the season.
SK Telecom T1 #1
Last Season: Disbanded (old Reapered’s squad)
Roster: MaRin (top), Beelzehan (jungle), Ezhoon (mid), Bang (marksman), Wolf (support)
(From Left to Right: Beelzehan, Wolf, MaRin, EzHoon, Bang)
Considered to be the best team to qualify for the OGN Winter Season, there is a lot of hype surrounding this young team. The sheer talent on the roster is eerily similar to the early days of SKT T1 2.
Their top laner MaRin, has been absolutely destroying solo queue giving Faker a run for his money at the top of the Challenger ladder. His roam heavy style of top lane has been absolutely devastating in a meta where the top lane is known as an “Island”. Beelzehan is one of the most talented Jungler’s on the scene, earning the respect of countless pro players especially with his Lee Sin. Easyhoon, formerly of MVP Blue (now known as Samsung Galaxy Blue), is a very consistent mid laner whose mechanics allowed him to come out ahead even in games where MVP would be losing pretty hard.
Bang is an up-and-rising marksman interestingly similar to Uzi from Royal Club. He is only 17 years old, already has a history in the professional scene back with Xenics Blast, very talented, and has a very outspoken personality akin to the star of Royal Club. Now paired with Wolf, former support for CTU and before that Najin Shield, this duo lane have an enormous amount of potential which can be harnessed with SKT’s excellent coaching.
KT Rolster Bullets:
Last Season: HOT6iX Champions Summer Season Runner-Up
Roster: inSec (top), KaKAO (jungle), Ryu (mid), Score (marksman), Mafa (Support)
(From Left to Right: inSec, KaKAO, Ryu, Score, Mafa)
The KT Rolster Bullets once again proved themselves to be the team that everyone has to beat in order to win the overall championship for the sixth consecutive time:
Najin Sword beat KT B to win OGN Winter 2012-2013.
MVP Ozone beat KT B knocking them down to NLB to win OGN Spring 2013.
Najin Sword beat KT B to win NLB Spring 2013.
SK Telecom T1 beat KT Bullets to win OGN Summer 2013.
SK Telecom T1 beat KT Bullets to win the S3 World Championship Qualifier to go to worlds.
CJ Entus Blaze beat KT Bullets to win the WCG Qualifiers to qualify for WCG 2013.
Whether the KT Rolster Bullets squad once again live up to that reputation or not, this team is still a formidable opponent for anyone that has to face them because they are incredibly talented team albeit an emotional team as well. They are one of the most strategic teams in terms of their picks and bans as well as in-game decision-making in terms of lane swaps as well as sneaking Barons behind their opponents’ backs. With the pre-season 4 changes coming into play, the KT Rolster Bullets will most likely have the advantage in terms of adapting to the new changes and innovating new strategies and champion picks.
inSec showed how formidable he is in the top lane defeating both Flame and Shy in lane back when the KT Bullets faced them in the OGN Summer bracket stage. KaKAO’s move to the Bullets from the Arrows proved to be incredibly effective along with inSec and Ryu in the solo lanes with his heavy roaming and constant ganking and counter jungling. Ryu is an emotional player, but has shown how scary he is in the mid lane no matter what champion you give him. Score “the Immortal” and Mafa are a very passive duo lane that focuses on farming/vision control instead of aggressive trading in lane. However, they will always be a formidable presence for the team when they group up for team fights and tower sieges with Score sweeping enemy champions one by one and always seeming to slip away from his opponents no matter how hard they try to catch him out.
Najin Black Sword:
Last Season: 9th – 16th Place
Roster: Expession (top), Watch (jungle), SSONG (mid), PraY (marksman), Cain (support), Nagne (sub/mid).
(From Left to Right: PraY, Nagne, Expession, Watch, SSONG, Cain)
Although Sword had an incredibly disappointing OGN Summer without even qualifying for the bracket stage, they came ready to play at the S3 World Championships knocking out Gambit Gaming from the quarterfinals and was the only team that went to the World Championships to take 2 games off of SK Telecom T1 at the semifinals of the World Championships finishing in the Top 4. Even though they lost to the newly revamped CJ Entus Blaze roster in the quarterfinals of the KR WCG Qualifiers, this veteran team is definitely one not be to be taken lightly.
Expression has proven his strength in the top lane frequently beating his opponent in the 1v1 matchup and being able to take care of himself even with enemy jungle pressure without having to depend on Watch to constantly come save his lane. Watch is known for his incredibly aggressive early game constantly ganking and moving around the map looking for opportunities to snowball his lanes. We still have yet to see whether Sword will use Nagne or SSONG more often, but with the decline of Nagne’s premier assassins, it is possible to see SSONG make a comeback to the mid lane, but only time will tell. PraY and Cain has always been a formidable duo lane for anyone who faces them.
Overall as a team, Najin Black Sword has incredible talent across the board, but ever since the departure of MaKNooN, the team still was never really the same as they were back in OGN Winter 2012-2013 where they surged their way to win the overall championship over Azubu Frost 3-0. The team as of right now still lacks a leader to call the shots and their picks and bans are still a problem which was apparent when they played against CJ Blaze in the KR WCG Qualifiers. Only time will tell to see whether the sword will be unsheathed or broken once again.
Incredible Miracle #2:
Last Season: 9th-16th Place
Roster: PLL (top), Reign over (jungle), kurO (mid), BetKyo (marksman), Ondal (Support)
Despite losing their sponsorship with LG, the second Incredible Miracle squad will interestingly qualify for the next season while the main squad failed to qualify. Due to the many roster changes that this team was undergoing, they were disqualified from the Korean WCG Qualifier due to not having their roster ready in time.
However, this team has shown its potential in NLB Summer 2013 when they defeated CTU as well as the Jin Air Falcons falling short only to Najin Black Sword in the NLB finals. Now that they are placed in the same group as Sword, they will have another chance to take down the veteran team that defeated them back in NLB Summer.
Samsung Galaxy Blue:
Last Season: 9th-16th Place
Roster: Cheonju (top), Spirit (jungle), PawN (mid), Deft (marksman), Sense (Support)
(From Left to Right: Cheonju, Spirit, PawN, Deft, Sense)
Despite Samsung Blue has often been overshadowed by their brothers on Samsung Ozone, Samsung Blue had their breakout tournament performance when they not only defeated Samsung Ozone, but also defeated the reigning Season 3 World Champions SK Telecom T1 who were fairly fresh off of their World Championships victory in an impressive 2-0 upset. Despite falling short in the Grand Finals losing to CJ Blaze 1-2 and not qualifying for WCG, Samsung Blue had already made their mark in the scene as a team that is looking to break out of groups for the first time in their team’s history and compete amongst the best of Korea.
Even though most Korean teams have all but abandoned using Rumble in their team compositions, Cheonju is still a force to be reckoned with on Rumble in the top lane with his laser-accurate Equalizers and his ability to just bully his opponents out of lane. Spirit is a very aggressive jungler and is very threatening to Blue’s opponents especially when he is on Elise. PawN, the relatively new mid laner, has shown to be the missing piece that Samsung Blue needed to become a world-class team showing his impressive Fizz and Nidalee play. Deft and Sense are an up-and-rising duo lane with very versatile champion pools and very consistent laning.
Samsung Galaxy Ozone:
Last Season: 3rd Place
Roster: Homme (top), DanDy (jungle), Dade (mid), Imp (marksman), Mata (support), Looper (sub/top)
(From Left to Right: Dade, DanDy, Imp, Homme, Looper, Mata)
Redemption will be the name of the game for Samsung Galaxy Ozone after a disappointing performance at the Season 3 World Championships and their early exit from the WCG Qualifiers to their sister team Samsung Galaxy Blue in the quarterfinals.
It will be interesting to see which top laner Ozone will use for their games. Homme has always been the “Older Brother” of Ozone and performed well throughout OGN Spring and OGN Summer albeit with a rather limited champion pool. On the other hand, Looper as a new addition to Ozone brings new blood to the team as well as a slightly bigger champion pool.
DanDy has always been the cornerstone for Ozone’s strategy and early game pace by constantly studying his opponents’ strategy pre-game, developing a counter, and executing it accordingly. DanDy thus has developed a reputation for always being at the right place at the right time to counter gank the enemy jungler in crucial moments of the game.
Dade has shown some recovery from his disastrous performance at World Championships during the WCG Qualifiers showing more variety of champion pool, but this OGN Winter season will be the ultimate test to see whether he will rise back up to the fearsome OGN Spring Dade who brought Zed back into popularity.
Imp and Mata is still a very formidable duo lane with Imp’s incredible mechanics as well as Mata’s playmaking and vision control. It will be interesting to see how Mata will adjust to the new vision changes of Season 4 and the OGN Champions Winter season is Ozone’s chance to redeem themselves for their lackluster performance at World Championships and remain one of Korea’s top teams.
Najin White Shield:
Last Season: 5th – 8th Place
Roster: Save (top), Nofe (jungle), Ggoong (mid), Zefa (marksman), GorillA (support)
(From Left to Right: Gorilla, Zefa, Ggoong, NoFe, Save)
Najin White Shield has been the team that showed potential but was never quite there to make it deep into the tournament. They have managed to get past the group stages in both OGN Spring and Summer but always falling short of getting into the semifinals.
In the WCG Korean Qualifiers, Najin White Shield placed a respectable 3rd-4th place despite getting knocked out by CJ Blaze. Even though Shield lost to CJ Blaze 0-2, they showed incredible improvement in strategies and decision making and gave Blaze a run for their money. Prior to facing CJ Blaze, Shield was able to 2-0 the Jin Air Greenwings Stealths with their superior decision making and clean, strategic play. Overall, Najin White Shield has always been able to stay in the OGN by making it out of their groups and this season they are looking to do the same.
Last Season: No Past OGN History
Roster: Gamsu (top), Nova (jungle), Pera (mid), Kite (marksman), Jelly (support), Zoony (sub)
(From Left to Right: Jelly, Kite, Pera, Nova, Gamsu)
It is impressive that Alienware was able to find a team that has the talent to qualify for the OGN on their first try. Unfortunately, Andromeda had to take out their sister team, Alienware Rangers, in order to take the spot in OGN Champion Winter. Pera, their mid laner, has been one of the few players to still play Kha’Zix in competitive play and he definitely showed the viewers that he can still be a terror in the mid lane.
Being placed in the group with another new team to the OGN (Team Dark) really makes getting out of the group stages a bit easier for Andromeda since they managed to dodge both CJ teams, the KT Rolster Bullets, as well as the SK Telecom T1 squads. Will they be a team to take the Royal Road to the Top this year? Or will they fall short like the rest?
Last Season: No Past OGN History
Roster: Chop (top), Savila (jungle), Plls (mid), It Now (marksman), Gi BaO (support)
Team Dark has a bit of an interesting history revolving around their former mid laner Apdo. Apdo was among the top ranked solo queue players in the entire Korean server and is known for his dominating play. Unfortunately, due to some mishaps, Apdo was banned from competitive for two years right before the qualifier match for the OGN Champions Winter spot. With the qualifiers just around the corner, Plls was picked up to fill the big hole Apdo left behind.
(Pictured: Team Dark)
Even without the all-star mid laner Apdo, Team Dark has managed to cleanly sweep MSH which secured their spot for OGN Winter. Like Alien Andromeda, Team Dark were able to dodge both CJ teams, SK Telecom teams, and as well as KT Rolster B. Getting out of group will really test Team Dark whether if they could be a strong enough team to make it through groups without Apdo.
CJ Entus Frost:
Last Season: 4th Place
Roster: Shy (top), Helios (jungle), RapidStar (mid), Space (marksman), MadLife (support), GankedByMom (sub/mid), MaKNooN (sub/mid).
Coming off yet another disappointing Champions season run as well as an early exit in the WCG qualifiers bracket stage, the Season 2 World Championship runner-ups are back with OGN Winter Quarterfinal qualification almost gifted to them with their placement into Group D. After CloudTemplar’s retirement, Frost are looking to bring out their own newly revamped roster bringing Helios over from CJ Blaze and recruiting MaKNooN of all people to be their third mid laner on the roster.
The spotlight will be on every single one of the Frost members in regards to whether they will pick up their tournament performance record after two consecutive 4th place finishes which, relative to their past team history, is considered underperforming.
Shy has mainly defaulted to Shen, Jax, and other tanky top lanes recently with his Jayce and Ryze top lane getting nerfed to the ground. Helios will have to make slight adjustments because he’s playing for Frost instead of Blaze and it will be interesting to see if he has expanded his champion pool beyond Lee Sin. Space will have to find his niche among his teammates in order to move up among the AD carries.
(Pictured: MadLife is “god”)
Even MadLife, the so-called “god”, will be on the radar screen because without his go-to premier supports Blitzcrank, Thresh, or Sona (Alistar is way too risky), he has not shown the same play-making ability on other supports.
RapidStar will be on the spot having developed a rather negative reputation of poor farming mechanics, limited champion pool, and losing lane to other mid laners. Ganked By Mom will also be watched as to whether he has expanded his champion pool beyond Orianna and his pocket AP Kog’Maw.
However, the bulk of the pressure will be on MaKNooN with all eyes looking at him to see how he will adjust to having to learn mid lane with a completely different champion pool as well as playing with completely new teammates having moved from his old team Najin Black Sword over to the KT Rolster Arrows and now CJ Entus Frost. Which of the mid laners Frost will decide to use for their games will be interesting to see and can be used to throw their opponents for a loop. Whether CJ Frost will start showing their strong form like their brothers over there in CJ Blaze or get melted in the competition once again…only time will tell.
Jin Air Greenwings Stealths:
Last Season: 9th-16th Place
Roster: TrAce (top), MuMu (jungle), HooN (mid), Mystic (marksman), IceBear (support)
(Pictured: Jin Air Greenwings Stealths)
Despite a disastrous performance with their new sponsors at Jin Air during their OGN Summer season and also going out early in the WCG Qualifier quarterfinals, the Stealths return to OGN Winter looking better than they used to be back when they were AHQ Korea in OGN Spring and Hoon’s Good Day in the early portion of OGN Summer.
Conservative consistency will be the name of the game for this team being in the same group as their brothers in Jin Air Falcons, the volatile Xenics Storm, and the veteran CJ Entus Frost. If this team can show the potential that leaked a little bit in certain moments during their tournament play, then they can definitely make their way into the bracket stage for the first time in their team’s history.
Jin Air Greenwings Falcons:
Last Season: 5th-8th Place
Roster: Miso (top), ActScene (jungle), Reapered (mid), Roar (marksman), StarLast (support)
Like their brothers in Jin Air Stealths, the Falcons will need to harvest some fruit of consistency due to their disastrous performance in the WCG Qualifiers going out before the bracket stage even started. Now that Reapered has moved from his original role in top lane to the jungle last Summer season, and now has moved to the mid lane, he will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders to carry this team on his back as well as make the crucial decisions for the team.
If history repeats itself, anyone who faces the Falcons have one job…shut down Reapered and then roll over the rest of the Falcons to win. If the Falcons can overturn this reputation of theirs and develop other threats minus Reapered, then they can become a strong team and qualify for the Round of 8, but the opposite is just as likely.
Last Season: 9th – 16th Place
Roster: GimGoon (top), Swift (jungle), CoCo (mid), Arrow (marksman), Piccaboo (support)
(Pictured: Xenics Storm)
After knocking out their brothers in Xenics Blast, Xenics Storm will once again return to the OGN stage without DayDream who went off to CJ Blaze or Crazy Ragan who left the team a couple months ago. While they do have a reputation of bringing out very unconventional picks and strategies to the OGN scene, they will have a huge run for their money in order to get out of this group dealing with BOTH Jin Air squads as well as the veteran CJ Entus Frost.
Notably, the older Xenics members were on the team that defeated none other than the CJ Entus squad in OGN Club Masters in a 3-2 with the Xenics team breaking the CJ Entus’s undefeated record in blind pick games. We have yet to see whether this will come back after nine months to haunt Frost once again, but this is OGN Champions, anything can happen.
With the new Pre-Season 4 changes coming into play during this season of OGN Champions Winter, it will be a huge test for every team participating of whether they can adapt to the new changes, develop new strategies and champion picks that can be potentially meta-changing, and whether they can execute their game plan at a higher level than their opponent. This what will separate the men from the boys and only time will tell which of these sixteen Korean teams will rise to the top and be crowned PANDORA.TV Champions Winter 2013-2014 Grand Champions.