After their crushing defeat at the League of Legends World Championship 2016 Semifinals against SK Telecom T1, ROX Tigers were bitterly disappointed in not being able to finally win a series that matters against their nemesis once again. Fate has an interesting habit of pitting rivals against each other, until one of them manages to actually get over themselves and win. Or until they are totally crushed.
The two of the best Korean League of Legends teams to exist, SK Telecom T1 and ROX Tigers, became fate’s playthings once again, this time not on the stage of the World Championship, but at the 2016 LoL KeSPA Cup. Before the important match could take place, however, both teams had to win their Quarterfinals matchups. SKT faced the middle-of-the-pack MVP, while ROX had to get over the barrier of Jin Air Green Wings.
SKT had a slightly harder time defeating their opponents than ROX Tigers did. The three-time World Champions swept MVP aside, while the Tigers struggled a bit. They needed three games to win the series against Jin Air. The interesting thing to consider is that MVP was the higher ranked team of the two, finishing 2016 LCK Summer in 6th place, while Jin Air Green Wings were 7th.
When the time came for ROX Tigers to face SK Telecom T1 in a Semifinal once again, it was not exactly the same SKT roster that won against ROX in the Semis of Worlds. You see, while SKT used Lee “Duke” Ho-Seong at Worlds, the Top Lane was now played by Kim “Profit” Joon-hyung. While both Top players aren’t of Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho’s caliber, Duke at least had experience of playing professionally. For Profit, this was his first serious introduction into the ranks of pros.
With that in mind, the way the games turned out made a certain amount of sense. With a rookie Top Laner, SKT weren’t really going all out for the win. Of course, even if they did, ROX could never be counted out, that team is one of the rare squads able to compete and get the better of the World Champions, proven by the 2 matches they won in the Worlds Semifinals. Disregarding the context, ROX Tigers won the KeSPA Cup Semifinal series 2-0 and qualified for the Final, where they played against Kongdoo Monster, the former Korean Challenger team, which qualified for 2017 LCK Spring.
When a team, which just qualified for LCK, has to play the 1st seed from Korea at that year’s World Championship, they have cause to celebrate when they don’t get swept 3-0. Kongdoo Monster can be proud of exactly that. They managed to take a game away from ROX Tigers before they won the 3 matches necessary to win the whole event.
Yes, SKT wasn’t at its strongest, they had to face a former Challenger team in the Finals, but the win in this event should still provide ROX with a needed boost of confidence and motivation coming into the next LCK Split. Hopefully, the saga of SKT vs. ROX continues on in the next year’s League of Legends World Championship. That best of 5 was the best damn series in the history of League of Legends. Here’s to hoping we see something similar again.