Samsung Galaxy punched its ticket to Beijing and the League of Legends Worlds Championship grand finals Sunday when it dispatched Team WE in a relatively quick four-game series.
Team WE started off the series strong, while Samsung certainly started off on the wrong foot. Lee "CuVee" Seong-jin once again reprised his Kennen pick, this time to combat Ke "957" Chang-Yu's Shen, and the results were nothing short of catastrophic. Samsung ended up with no true front line due to the Kennen pick, and a poor early game out of Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong put the 2016 Worlds runner-up in a bad spot. Team WE support Nam "Ben" Dong-hun proved capable of taking advantage of that oversight, as Team WE found an outstanding set of engages that caught Samsung shockingly off-guard and made the South Korean squad look like it was, at best, on the same level as Team WE.
Subsequent games proved just how wrong that line of reasoning was, however, as Samsung turned on the heat starting with Game 2 and never let up. CuVee redeemed his especially egregious Kennen play with an amazing Gnar game in Game 2 where he practically carried the team on his back -- not that any member of the team was particularly burdensome. In Game 3, it was Lee "Crown" Min-ho's turn to carry Samsung over the finish line, as he finally reminded the world just how skilled of a Taliyah player he was when Su "Xiye" Han-Wei made the fatal mistake of taking a low pressure laner -- in this case, Orianna -- into his Taliyah, which let him roam constantly from the beginning of the game in order to break the map wide open.
While Game 3 ended up being the longest game of the entire series at 36 minutes long, it was also the least competitive, as Team WE was pretty clearly doomed from the moment the series began. Finally, Samsung AD carry Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk brought the series home in Game 4 after Samsung drafted a composition designed to protect and enable his Varus. Ruler not only pulled through without dying a single time, he did so while also playing forward in teamfights and using his mechanics to avoid being punished for it. It was a fitting game to finish off the semifinals of a Worlds that has been so focused on ADC performances over its entirety.
Ruler, the player of the series, looked nothing short of excellent in every game of the series save the first -- a fact that he can be forgiven for considering he was forced to face down the dreaded Xayah/Rakan lane with only a Taric to defend him. What was most shocking about Ruler's play, however, was just how different a player he's become over the course of the last year. Gone is the player who had a propensity for throwing games by stepping too far forward seemingly at random, and in his place is an ADC who knows how to skirt the knife's edge and get the most out of his champion, even when he's playing completely immobile champions like the Varus that so many other ADCs have struggled with this year.
The road ahead for Samsung is a familiar one. It will face off against SK Telecom T1 once again for the honor of taking home the Summoner's Cup, and it's never looked like a better time to end SKT's dynasty. The game is scheduled for 3 a.m. ET on Saturday at the Bird's Nest in Beijing.
While no sane person would ever bet heavily against SKT, it wouldn't be a surprise if another team was to take home the trophy this year, and there's no better team to steal the Summoner's Cup from it's long-time guardian than Samsung Galaxy.