SKT defeats Kingzone DragonX in the battle for third place in the LCK standings. Hanwha Life Esports moves into a playoff with a win over Gen.G
2019 LCK Spring Split Matches Recap
The LCK is back after the Lunar New Year break. The top tier of the South Korean League of Legends scene enters the fourth week of the spring split and gives patch 9.3 its debut. We are now seeing Kleptomancy solo laners carry a warding item in addition to the support. Something that has been a rising trend in solo queue recently and now seemingly makes its transition into professional play. As it’s been pointed out plenty of times, the LCK’s dominance on the international stage came to an end as Riot Games removed the Tracker’s Knife. This was a significant blow to the region’s macro-oriented style that relied a lot on vision control. If this new strategy gains traction, we might see the LCK reclaim its spot at the top.
SK Telecom T1 opened the week with a comeback win over Kingzone DragonX. The three-time world champions now sit two series ahead of KZ while also winning the head-to-head. They held a significant advantage in the fight for third place. In the second series of the day, Hanwha Life Esports swept Gen.G and continues to fight for a playoff spot. While the 2017 world champions now drop into the relegation zone.
SKT vs KZ
The series had some interesting stories. SKT’s Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong facing off against former KT Rolster teammates Heo “PawN” Won-seok and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu, Mata’s longtime partner in the bottom lane. There was also the classic duel between PawN and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok in the mid lane.
In classic LCK fashion, the early game was relatively slow as the two teams tried to control the map while looking for objectives. The first kill only happened at the 12 minute mark, as Kim “Clid” Tae-min (Lee Sin) and former Kingzone top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha (Viktor) took down PawN (Azir) in the top lane. Playing through the bottom side of the map, KZ controlled the dragon pit by securing three elemental buffs while pushing the lane all the way to SKT’s inhibitor turrets.
After nearly 30 minutes of play, the game had a total of two kills, one for each side. While Kingzone continued to dominate the map. The team finally found the advantage it needed with a good pickoff on Faker (Sylas) and secured the Baron buff off that play. The powerplay resulted in two open inhibitors before Kingzone backed off to add a second Infernal drake.
KZ scored a clean ace in a mid lane fight at the 35 minute mark and went for the Nexus to end the series’ opener.
The teams did not go for the additional vision this time, with the supports being the only ones carrying warding items. Clid (Jarvan) picked up the first kill of the game with a level 2 gank in the bottom lane, taking down Kingzone’s Park “TusiN” Jong-ik (Alistar). In the mid lane matchup, PawN (Le Blanc) got a solo kill onto Faker (Lissandra). Kingzone got off to a better early game thanks to jungler Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan (Jax). The turning point for SKT came as Khan (Urgot) stole the Rift Herald and released it in the top lane to take the first turret. This created room for more rotations around the map.
SKT progressively moved into KZ’s territory while also securing four elemental buffs. The team finally had the chance to go after the Baron buff following a good fight in the mid lane, taking down Deft (Kai’Sa) and TusiN. Kingzone didn’t even try to contest, willingly giving up on the objective and trading it for a Mountain drake. SKT set the siege on their opponent’s base. They took down the three inhibitors before backing off to go for the Elder dragon. The second Baron spawned not too long after that, which meant that SK Telecom T1 held the two major buffs. KZ could not hold SKT back as the three-time world champions tied the series in 38 minutes to force the tiebreaker.
SKT opened the score with a four men play in the bottom lane as Faker (Zoe) and Clid (Jarvan) joined Park “Teddy” Jin-seong (Ezreal) and Mata (Tahm Kench). The support picked up the first kill onto Deft (Caitlyn) while SKT’s jungler took down TusiN under the turret to make it two kills.
Playing to one of its key win conditions, SKT secured the first turret in the top lane, which set Khan (Fiora) free to push other lanes. The top laner dominated the matchup against his former teammate Kim “Rascal” Kwang-hee (Sylas), while two Mountain drakes and an Infernal drake also helped his split push. While PawN (Viktor) had to go back to the base in order to help Rascal against Khan, SKT used the advantage in numbers to take down Cuzz (Zac), Deft and TusiN.
As Khan tore the base apart by himself, Rascal and PawN teleported out of the base in order to stop SKT from taking the Baron. As Khan made his way to the Nexus, Kingzone had to give up the objective in order to stop their opponent’s top laner from winning the game. Khan finally went down, but it was already too late for Kingzone to come back. SKT’s Baron-powered push finished what Khan had already started to complete the comeback.
HLE vs GEN
With some good vision control around the bottom side of the river as well as a favorable push in the bottom and mid lanes, Hanwha Life invaded Gen.G’s side of the jungle just as Han “Peanut” Wang-ho (Nocturne) handed the blue buff to mid laner Song “Fly” Yong-jun (Lissandra). Gen.G’s jungler got low on health and was forced to run away only to get hit by a perfectly-aimed Ultimate from Gwon “Sangyoon” Sang-yun (Ashe). Kim “bonO” Gi-beom (Olaf) picked up the kill as his opponent had nowhere to go.
HLE destroyed Gen.G’s mid lane turret for the bonus gold and grew that lead into three outer turrets. At the 21 minute mark, the team sneaked into the Baron pit and secured the objective before Gen.G was able to contest. A fight broke out, and although Gen.G took the buff away from three players, HLE still came out on top with an ace. The powerplay left GEN’s base down to the inhibitor turrets as Hanwha Life went for a second Baron.
In a repeat of the previous Baron execution, Gen.G once again took the buff away from three players. HLE still had enough power to push into GEN’s base, destroying the three inhibitors and one of the Nexus turrets before being forced out. Gen.G managed to stop Hanwha Life from taking a third buff, but it came at the cost of their base. With minions pouring in from all sides, HLE stopped GEN’s players from recalling while Kang “Tempt” Myung-gu (Zoe) teleported into the base to finish off the Nexus.
Hanwha Life had an interesting draft, picking the recently buffed Yorick for Thal. This marked the champion’s first LCK appearance since 2013. First blood however went to Gen.G in the bottom lane. Peanut (Lee Sin) set up a bait inside one of the bushes and picked up the first blood when support Kim “key” Han-gi (Tahm Kench) face-checked.
Despite this, things started to go south for Gen.G rather quickly as HLE did a much better job at playing the map. A solid four men play in the bottom lane to counter a gank resulted in the first turret going Hanwha’s way. With the help of two Infernal buffs, HLE dominated the fights while Thal and bonO (Olaf) had little trouble taking down more towers. Only 21 minutes in, Hanwha Life already had taken control of the map and secured an uncontested Baron following a fight around the dragon pit.
The powerplay opened up GEN’s bottom inhibitor and left the top lane’s exposed. After HLE secured a second Baron buff, Thal teleported into Gen.G’s base as the minions made their way to the Nexus turrets. The other Hanwha Life players stopped Gen.G’s recalls while key and Sangyoon (Ashe) also joined Thal to end the game and close out the series.