The League of Legends World Championship is down to four teams, and both semifinal matchups feature South Korean (LCK) teams pitted against Chinese (LPL) teams. The regions have split four games at Worlds this year, with Samsung Galaxy notably notching both losses for Korea in group stage against fellow semifinalist Royal Never Give Up.
Historically, Chinese teams have not fared well against South Korean teams at Worlds. A Chinese team has only ever taken a best-of-five series from a South Korean team once, a 3-0 sweep of NaJin White Shield by OMG in the 2014 quarterfinals.
Royal Never Give Up and Team WE look to reverse that trend this weekend.
SK Telecom T1 vs. Royal Never Give Up - 3:30 a.m. ET Saturday
The first of the weekend's semifinals features a rematch of a 2016 quarterfinal. Last year, SKT took the series 3-1 from RNG with its lone loss coming in Game 1 at the hands of top laner Jang "Looper" Hyeong-seok's Jayce. He drew first blood at 5:09 against Lee "Duke" Ho-seong and snowballed the game, ending with a 3/1/6 KDA (kills/deaths/assists).
This year features the same teams starting two different top laners. RNG's Looper has been replaced by Yan "LetMe" Jun Ze and SKT's Duke transferred to Invictus Gaming and was replaced by Heo "Huni" Seong-hoon. Both top laners have tended to stick to the meta tanks like Cho'Gath, Maokai and Shen at this Worlds, but we could see a role reversal as Huni has shown he is willing to play Jayce and is 3-1 on that champion.
This is a matchup of two teams that do not mind playing from behind. In Worlds 2017, there have been 18 instances of a team conceding a Baron to its opponent and winning the game. SKT and RNG have combined for eight of those comebacks, while no other team has more than two.
Battle of the stars: Uzi vs. Faker
Both teams rely heavily on superb teamfighting in the late stages of the game, which puts a heavy burden on both of their AD carries, RNG's Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao and SKT's Bae "Bang" Jun-sik. So far, they've lived up to the task and are first and second, respectively, in KDA at Worlds 2017.
While Uzi has been the clear top ADC at Worlds, SKT possesses a second player it can fall back on: prestigious mid laner Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok. Faker is the only player on SKT to have played in all three SKT World Championships, and he has won them all. In fact, Uzi and Faker faced off in one of those Worlds Finals in 2013 (Season 3) when SKT swept Royal Club 3-0 for the first of its trophies.
Team WE vs. Samsung Galaxy - 3:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Both teams in the second semifinal have had unique paths to this stage in the competition. Team WE qualified to Worlds 2017 as the LPL's regional qualifier but showed its strength by going undefeated in the play-in stage. Meanwhile, Samsung Galaxy came out of its group as the No. 2 seed, drew a quarterfinal matchup against the South Korean overall No. 1, Longzhu Gaming, and proceeded to sweep the favorites 3-0 last week.
As last year's runners-up, Samsung Galaxy will look to reach the Worlds grand final for the third time. Samsung won the Summoner's Cup once in the team's history (as Samsung Galaxy White in 2014). Meanwhile, Team WE is making its first Worlds appearance since 2012, when it lost its quarterfinals match to Counter Logic Gaming Europe.
Team WE has a star jungler, Xiang "Condi" Ren-Jie, who currently has the most games without a death for a jungler at Worlds 2017, with three. Team WE should look to prioritize draft picks for Condi, who is undefeated at Worlds when playing Gragas or Jarvan IV and 2-3 when playing other champions.
Samsung Galaxy's mid-laner Lee "Crown" Min-ho has been one of the more entertaining players to watch this tournament. In his nine games played, Crown has played six different champions, including a 3/1/6 performance on Lissandra, a Champion that has not been picked or banned by any other team.