How did a, built-to-win team like SKT, match up against a hungry Korean challenger in Sandbox Gaming. Here is how the match played out
SK Telecom T1 expectations coming into 2019 are as high as ever. Win every match in front, with a main goal to win the World finals. This includes a stacked roster like, Faker, Khan and Teddy, worlds are very possible. They did not disappoint, delivering a convincing week one going 2-0. Beating both Afreeka and Jin Air, while solidifying themselves as one of the teams to beat this Spring.
Sandbox Gaming have lower standards being new, but that did not hold them back from having a strong showing during week one. As a new team coming out of Challenger, it’s difficult to see them as a powerhouse to take down the likes of teams such as SKT and Griffin. However, they surprised everyone by defeating both Gen G and Kingzone, finishing 2-0 during their first week the LCK.
Picks and Bans went pretty well for Sandbox Gaming, banning Urgot (the only champion used by Faker in 2019) and securing Kalista, the favorite champion for their AD Carry Ghost, alongside with Thresh. However as the game progressed, Khan and Clid were able to, kill and put a lot of early pressure, against Sandbox’s top laner Summit, who chose a scaling champion in Ryze, and was building a pretty Glass-Cannon.
On top of it, Teddy was putting on a clinic of how to play Ezreal. He was an item ahead of his counterpart, as Teddy already had both Muramana and Iceborn Gauntlet when Ghost had only purchased Blade of the Ruined King. Berserker’s Greaves, was playing brilliantly, poking from a distance and securing turrets and gold for his team. When the teamfights began, it didn’t matter if both teams were relatively equal for the first 20 minutes, Teddy destroyed Sandbox Gaming. This led to SKT securing the first game with better teamfights and cleaner objectives play.
As Picks and Bans started, SKT’s strategy began to show flaws. Their approach to bans was not to ban the Overpowered champions, but to target-ban the best champions of the opposition, and this had worked until game two. SKT left a lot of power picks unbanned as blue-side to secure Urgot for Faker, and Sandbox immediately responded with picking both Aatrox and Akali for themselves, two incredibly strong champions usually banned. If that wasn’t enough, they completed the draft with Draven for Ghost and Jax jungle for OnFleek, the last one as a response to Hail of Blades Xin Zhao on SKT’s side, so Sandbox had secured a powerful but volatile composition that could go either way. Basically going all in.
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Although SKT managed to secure first blood, a skirmish in the bot lane at the 9 minute mark gave Sandbox 2 kills. One of the kills going to the Draven, who cash-in more than 700 gold thanks to his Adoration stacks passive, while simultaneously Summit solo-killed Khan with the use of Akali’s full combo. Things were looking very promising for Sandbox.
However, slowly but surely, Sandbox started winning skirmishes all over the map to secure objectives. This allowed them to take the mid lane outer turret, the 3rd Dragon, and finally a Baron at 22 minutes. Going forward, it was practically a transaction for Sandbox Gaming, and even if SKT was fighting back and managed to kill a couple of Sandbox members, it was too late because 2 inhibitors had already fallen. Sandbox then took charge pushing the only lane left to take the game. This was SKT’s first loss of 2019
SKT refused to learn from their mistakes while leaving a lot of strong picks available, instead opting for banning Joker’s Thresh. Sandbox ended up with a loaded comp having Aatrox, Akali, and Camille who was previously banned. They even took away Teddy’s Ezreal and forced him into Kai’Sa. Sandbox rounded up their composition with a Shen support to protect all splitpushing lanes.
Camille’s ability to force early skirmishes, with her long range initiation and early damage, allowed Dove’s Akali to get a lot of kills in the first 15 minutes. Dove then went on a frenzy, being unstoppable in the side lanes, forcing SKT to take bad trades while losing objective after objective until Sandbox aced them at the 29 minute mark. Dove’s heroics helped Sandbox take game 3 and wrap up what is arguably their biggest win of 2019. Sandbox will have their hands full with Hanwha Life this Saturday.