The League of Legends World Championship quarterfinals kicked off with a bang on Thursday as Samsung Galaxy demolished Longzhu Gaming in a 3-0 sweep in the Guangzhou Gymnasium in Guangzhou, China.
Throughout the League Champions Korea Summer Split, Longzhu Gaming looked like the team that could finally unseat fellow Korean team SK Telecom T1 and claim the title of world champion. After earning the No. 1 seed in the best domestic league in the world, Longzhu came into worlds with much fanfare, particularly surrounding its side lanes. The veteran bottom lane duo of AD carry Kim "PraY" Jong-in and support Kang "GorillA" Beom-hyeon was heralded as the best bottom lane in the world, and top laner Kim "Khan" Dong-ha had taken the world by storm with his captivating aggression.
Meanwhile, Samsung had squeaked into worlds as the No. 3 seed from Korea and picked up some battle scars during a tough group stage. In the minds of most fans and analysts, this series would begin the countdown to Longzhu's date with destiny against SKT in the grand finals.
Instead, Samsung obliterated Longzhu. Samsung jungler Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong had one of the best series of his career, taking Sejuani every game and dominating the map at every moment. Criticized for his lackluster early game during the group stage, Ambition engineered most of Samsung's successes through great vision control and impeccable timing, and he put Longzhu on the back foot essentially from the start in every game.
Ambition wasn't alone, however: Every member of Samsung stepped up in a big way. Crucially, AD carry Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk and support Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in dominated the laning phase, which shut down one of Longzhu's biggest advantages and gave Ambition a lane in which to snowball to open up the map for Samsung.
As well as Samsung played, and it played phenomenally, a lot has to be said for the mistakes that Longzhu made throughout the series.
The team's drafts didn't fit in with the roam-heavy, aggressive play style that it had built up a reputation for in Korea. Longzhu's bottom lane prioritized dominant matchups in the draft and yet could do no better than drawing even with its counterpart on Samsung. Khan did pick up a solo kill as Trundle in Game 3 but, other than that, was invisible all series long, unable to keep up with Samsung's relentless pace. Midlaner Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong also picked up a solo kill, securing first blood as Syndra in Game 1, but immediately followed that up with a costly mistake to give a kill back to Samsung, then seemed tilted for the rest of the series.
Longzhu's rookies couldn't perform and its veterans got stuffed, and an otherworldly series from Ambition ensured that Samsung moves on as it marches toward a potential second consecutive grand finals appearance.
Samsung will play the winner of Team WE and Cloud9's matchup. Those teams play at 4 a.m. ET on Sunday, with the semifinal scheduled for 3:30 a.m. ET on Oct. 29.