Longtime rivals Griffin and DAMWON are set for a rematch in the 2018 KeSPA Cup semifinals following victories over Afreeca Freecs and SKT.
The second and final day of the 2018 KeSPA Cup quarterfinals brought SK Telecom T1‘s much anticipated campaign to an early end at the hands of recently promoted DAMWON Gaming, a team that has drawn plenty of attention over the past few months. Part of it has to do with Griffin’s successful 2018 LCK summer split campaign. It saw the newcomers make it all the way to the finals before losing to KT Rolster in five games. As fate would have it, the two longtime Challenger Series rivals will face off in this year’s KeSPA Cup semifinals following Griffin’s sweep over Afreeca Freecs.
Good times continue for Griffin with sweep over Afreeca Freecs
Following an undefeated run to win the Challenger Series, Griffin immediately surprised the LCK with a stunning summer split. This lead them in the standings for a number of weeks before falling behind KT Rolster. Both teams would meet in the finals, with KT winning the title. While Griffin narrowly missed out on a World Championship spot, the newcomers had already established themselves as a team worthy of respect. And their good run carried on to this year’s League of Legends KeSPA Cup with a sweep over Afreeca Freecs.
Game 1: Griffin works its summer split magic to win a back-and-forth kill fiesta
Afreeca Freecs new jungler Lee “Dread” Jin-hyeok had a dream start. He warded Griffin’s top side of the jungle while working a successful invasion on the bottom side to take Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong’s Blue Sentinel. This led to Dread and mid laner Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon becoming overly ambitious, however. Ucal also making his debut for the team. He tried to take down a ward inside Griffin’s jungle without any vision control. Tarzan and Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon were able to punish Ucal’s aggression by drawing first blood.
Both teams went for a massive team fight down at the bottom lane. What started as a 3vs3 ended with both top laners committing their teleports and the two mid laners roaming down the river. In the end, Afreeca secured four kills while Griffin added another three thanks to a double by Choi “Sword” Sung-won’s putting Sion’s passive ability to good use. With a three-men play, Afreeca was able to take out Tarzan again, creating enough space for a Rift Herald release and the first turret bonus gold.
The two sides exchanged kills and turrets around the map until a solid response by Afreeca to a Griffin. The engagement led to AD Carry Park “Viper” Do-hyeon along with Chovy going down on Griffin’s side. Sword, Tarzan and support Son “Lehends” Si-woo did manage to stop Afreeca’s Baron attempt, resetting the map. Even with all ten players still alive, the Freecs were able to rush the Baron on their second attempt, grabbing three more kills and using the buff to take down two more turrets on Griffin’s side. But the team overextended its push on the top side of the map, with Griffin taking the opportunity to find a way back into the game by securing three kills, the Elder dragon and a Baron.
But things weren’t done just yet. Griffin did a poor job managing the minion waves and decided to rush down mid lane with the Baron buff. Afreeca took down Chovy and Viper before going for a mid lane rush of its own. It proved to be fatal, however, as the team once again overextended the play, giving enough time for Griffin’s players to spawn. With no minions left on the side of Afreeca, Chovy and Sword moved on to flank their opponents, and the 2018 summer split runner-ups cleared the ensuing team fight. This time, Griffin was able to go for a final push to end the game in 44 minutes.
Game 2: A much easier job for Griffin
Afreeca went for an early drake eight minutes into the game. But the attempt to burst down the neutral objective backfired as the team did not have the push priority. Griffin easily contested the call, with Tarzan’s Aatrox able to steal the Infernal buff while engaging onto Dread’s Gragas to start a fight. Viper and support Jeong “Kabbie” Sang-hyeon joined in to help the team draw the first blood and grab a second kill.
Holding the priority thanks to the Ezreal-Tahm Kench combination, Griffin went for a second Infernal drake while also destroying Afreeca’s bottom lane turret. This quickly built a solid gold lead. The team would add a third Infernal buff while snowballing ahead. After winning two consecutive team fights inside Afreeca’s top side jungle, the runner-ups from the last LCK split
DAMWON pulls off the upset, eliminates SK Telecom T1
SKT’s super team run came to an early end as the recently promoted team DAMWON Gaming secured a comeback win. The eliminated the three-time world champions from the 2018 KeSPA Cup. SKT’s new lineup had some very good moments. It included a perfect game versus bbq Olivers. The team also showed that there is much work ahead of the 2019 LCK spring split.
Game 1: SKT breaks a sweat but grabs the win
DAMWON went for a squishy composition without a tank for the frontline. With plenty of crowd control coming from Kim “Khan” Dong-ha’s Urgot and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s Lissandra once again, SKT took every opportunity to pickoff Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon’s Viktor. However, an overly aggressive play by the pairing on the top side with poor vision control led to DAMWON collapsing with four members. This resulted in a double kill for AD Carry Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon’s Kai’sa. The gold from that play gave DAMWON a way into the game, along with an Infernal drake.
DAMWON’s strategy worked well early on as the unusual composition could easily burst down SKT’s champions. Along with some misplays by their opponent, made the game relatively even. However, SKT’s better map control along with the team going after Nuguri’s top lane Viktor (eight deaths) gave them the gold lead. A bad play by SKT’s support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong gave DAMWON the advantage to go for the Baron buff, which it successfully secured. But a pickoff on Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu stopped their push and turned out to be a game-deciding play. A poor engage by DAMWON’s support Ryu “Hoit” Ho-seong’s Rakan gave SKT enough room to clear out a team fight and go for the mid lane inhibitor. This created enough space for the three-time world champions team to set up a Baron call. DAMWON did try to contest the buff. However, SKT, with a massive gold lead, easily executed a clean ace. They ended the game in 35 minutes.
Game 2: DAMWON dominates SKT to end undefeated run
Things got off to a great start for DAMWON. The team’s Xayah-Rakan bottom lane pairing managed to score a kill on Mata’s Nautilus following an engage by SKT’s support. And it became even better for the CK team as Heo “ShowMaker” Su. With an uncommon Ignite summoner spell on his Ryze, got a solo kill on Faker’s Le Blanc. SKT came back by turning a DAMWON engage into a clear win with three kills to none and the game’s first turret.
DAMWON, however, did a better job controlling the map. With four elemental buffs and four turrets to their name. A bad teleport by Khan right in the middle of the five DAMWON members right after SKT’s remaining players had already disengaged from a fight. This gave the promoted CK team the advantage it needed to go for the Baron at the 32 minute mark. It secured another two kills in the process. The team turned the buff into a solid 8,000 gold lead and all three inhibitors on SKT’s side. With SK Telecom T1’s base down to shreds, DAMWON took the opportunity to grab another kill on Khan’s Urgot. It ended the game in just over 36 minutes to end SKT’s undefeated run in the 2018 KeSPA Cup.
Game 3: DAMWON pulls off an amazing comeback to complete the upset
Mata roamed towards the mid lane in order to execute a perfect counter-gank on Canyon’s Camille. He secured the first blood for SKT. DAMWON tried to respond by going for an overly ambitious three-men dive on Khan’s Sion on the top side of the map. But Mata once again showed up to help, grabbing a second kill on Nuguri’s Vladimir. Kim “Clid” Tae-min turned the play into an absolute disaster for DAMWON by securing a kill on Canyon’s Camille. SKT then moved on to the take the first turret by releasing the Rift Herald on the bottom side.
DAMWON desperately tried to comeback and found a solid engage onto Mata and Clid. However, SKT responded with a perfect three-men ultimate by Faker’s Azir, which allowed the team to clear out the fight by taking four kills. Clid’s Gragas was the only casualty on their side.
SKT decided to use the advantage and went for a Baron call. DAMWON successfully contested with SKT choosing to commit to the fight. Canyon and ShowMaker went for the classic Camille-Galio combo and made their way towards SKT’s backline. They successfully shut Faker down and secured three kills along with the buff. The CK runner-ups made good use of the opportunity to destroy five turrets and turn the gold lead around. Nuguri’s Vladimir scaled out of control, and DAMWON picked off Clid to go for a second Baron buff. Holding a 5,000 gold lead and making use of Ezreal’s poke along with Vladimir’s burst damage. DAMWON was quick to push SKT back inside the base, win a final team fight and end the game in 35 minutes. They advanced to the 2018 KeSPA Cup semifinals to face off the 2018 LCK summer split runner up, longtime Challenger Series rivals Griffin.
The 2018 edition of the League of Legends KeSPA Cup continues through the weekend, with the finals set for December 31.