SSG Upsets Longzhu Gaming in 3-0 Sweep
On the first day of the Knockout Rounds, Samsung Galaxy was pitted against their home rivals Longzhu Gaming, the top contender for the Worlds Championship. Many expected a possible 3-1 or 3-2 win from the crowd favorites Longzhu Gaming.
However, it was Samsung Galaxy that came out victorious in dominating fashion. With names like Pray, Gorilla, and Khan on Longzhu Gaming, fans were shocked that the team fell to the third seed, Samsung Galaxy, from South Korea.
How They Did It
In the first game, the game was almost dead even with Longzhu Gaming barely holding the gold lead until about the thirty-minute mark. Longzhu Gaming Bdd and Pray were showing strong performances on their signature champions Syndra and Xayah.
As for Samsung Galaxy, SSG Crown pulled out an unexpected Malzahar mid, Ruler showed dominance on a surprise pick Tristana, and Cuvee showed the crowd something they hadn’t seen in a long time–top lane Kennen.
Longzhu Gaming was initiating fights whenever they could, holding a desperate gold lead through towers and roam kills. However, Samsung Galaxy was equalling this playing power.
Ambition’s Sejuani had been key for every roam kill initiated by Samsung Galaxy and during the team fights, it was SSG Ambition leading the charge with his strong pick. As for SSG Crown, his mechanics on new champions out of his roster like Lissandra and Malzahar were phenomenal.
As for Longzhu Gaming, the same could not be said. The jungler of Longzhu Gaming, Cuzz, continuously struggled to make plays across the map, only grabbing a total of two kills for himself while dying at least four times each game.
Players like Khan and Bdd were at their best continuously throughout the game but the most prominent members of Longzhu Gaming, Pray and Gorilla, struggled to maintain their foothold. Because of this, Ruler and Crown slowly began their snowball which in turn, made it almost impossible for Longzhu to come back.
Ruler Brought Out the Tristana
Ruler has not been the most prominent Tristana player throughout the past months. Going 2-5 on the champion in the LCK Groups and Summer Split, Longzhu Gaming was not expecting such a strong performance from an AD Carry that had failed to perform on certain champions.
However, as soon as the game started, it was clear that Ruler was not one to be messed with. Pulling five kills in the first game and a four thousand gold lead against whom many consider the best AD Carry in Korea, Pray, Ruler showed that even though he had not performed well on Tristana before, the past was the past and he was here to make a statement.
The next following games showed him dominating on the champion, only dying once throughout the fights. So why didn’t they ban the Tristana? It’s simple. If they banned the Tristana, then it would leave Xayah or Kalista open, two of Ruler’s most deadly champions.
Ruler is deadly and precise on his two most prominent champions Xayah and Kalista. He has single-handedly carried team fights with the two and has never shied away from any challenge as long as he has either Xayah or Kalista.
Though Longzhu Gaming’s AD Carry Pray had been showing dominance on his pocket pick Varus, it obviously wasn’t enough to stop the hyper-carry which Ruler brought to the table.
Longzhu Gaming Cuzz Was No Match For SSG Ambition
During the SSG vs. Longzhu Gaming match, it was clear who the better jungler was. Ambition went into the match with one sole purpose: take the enemy jungler down and snowball the lanes and that was exactly what Ambition did.
Using his signature Sejuani, whose entire kit revolves around jungle pressure and roaming, Ambition was behind every kill in which Ruler received and helped slowly deteriorate Longzhu Gaming’s jungler, Cuzz, into nothingness.
By the end of each game, Ambition had stacked a three thousand gold lead against Cuzz and showed that no matter how reputable your name was, he would take you down. Ambition has been showing his prominence with consistent results so far and has not failed to deliver on any occasion.
Longzhu Gaming is notorious for initiating team fights and forcing their opponents into uncomfortable situations. However, thanks to Ambition, during their quarterfinal debut, it was Samsung Galaxy calling the shots; not Longzhu Gaming.
Crown’s Diverse Picks Stacked Against Bdd
There’s no doubt that Crown and Bdd are two of the strongest mid laners in the world. Crown has been consistent against any name that challenges him and Bdd has even taken down the legend himself, Faker, many times with ease.
To no surprise, Bdd brought out his signature Syndra in the first game, a pick feared by every mid laner who knew his name. However, Crown answered back, bringing in a Malzahar pick, a champion which had not been seen for months on end.
Both Crown and Bdd battled it out in the first game, going dead-even in the laning phase and both exerting the same amount of team presence in the fights. However, due to the skill of Ruler and Cuvee’s bold Kennen pick, it was Crown’s Malzahar which came out on top.
Though Bdd may have lost to Crown in the slimmest of margins, the second game was no contest whatsoever. Bdd brought out the signature Orianna, a pocket pick known far and wide by every player around the world. To answer this, Crown brought out his pocket pick for the season, Taliyah.
Crushing both the laning phase and the team fights, Crown’s dominant performance on Taliyah made Bdd almost useless in every instance.
The last and final game had put Bdd against the wall. Crown had proved that he could easily face Bdd’s feared Syndra pick and found his Orianna next to nothing so Bdd took away from Crown his Taliyah. Yet again, Crown pulled out a champion that he had little experience with: Lissandra.
Though Bdd’s performance in the third and final game was stronger and he managed to make a few plays for his team, Crown’s ability to lock down his opponents and burst them down with Lissandra’s wide-ranged skill kit was too much for the prominent Longzhu Gaming mid laner yet again.
Crown may not be one of the most mechanically talented players on the list and he may not possess as strong a laning phase as names like Xiaohu or Faker, but his ability to play a wide range of champions has helped him outsmart and outperform big names when it’s needed the most.
What Longzhu’s Defeat Means
Coming into the tournament, Longzhu Gaming was one of the top contenders and fan favorite for the 2017 World Championship. They arrived fresh off a strong victory against South Korea Telecom and were uncontested in the Groups Stage.
They had names feared all across the board. They had Khan, whose mechanical skill had been key to Longzhu Gaming’s many victories and they had the notorious Pray and Gorilla duo whom many considered the strongest duo bot lane in the world.
However, with the upset of Longzhu Gaming by Samsung Galaxy, this means two things. It means that South Korea Telecom’s biggest rivals are out of the draw and that Cloud9 has a chance to advance. Cloud9’s surprising yet consistent performance which helped bring them to the Knockout Rounds has rivaled that of Samsung Galaxy’s.
Samsung Galaxy has been known to be inconsistent at times and with Cloud9 taking down Edward Gaming and Ahq Esports Club to advance in a group which had names like EDG and SKT T1, there’s a window which Cloud9 has that could potentially bring them a Worlds Semifinal.
However, for Cloud9 to advance, they’ll have to beat Team WE, a team that, like Cloud9, defied the odds and made it to the Quarterfinals. Samsung Galaxy has experience with the Worlds Stage. In 2016, they made it to the finals, barely losing to South Korea Telecom in a 2-3 heart-breaking loss in which the final fight was a game of inches.
Very few expected Longzhu Gaming’s loss and many expected for a clean sweep against Samsung Galaxy. It seemed that Longzhu Gaming had the better roster, the better communication, and even the better resources but unfortunately, things didn’t work out for the dream team.
As for the other teams that remain, the result of this upset has opened many doors for the prospect of many new options. For Misfits, if they manage to pull off another miracle and take down powerhouse South Korea Telecom, they’re one step closer to Worlds.
For Royal Never Give Up, it could mean their first Chinese World Championship. They’ve proved they have no problem matching up against European teams and RNG are one of the few teams which SKT T1 has admitted to having trouble facing against.
As for Cloud9, it could mean their first Worlds Finals provided they manage to beat Chinese roster Team WE and take down Samsung Galaxy. For Team WE, it means the same thing. Longzhu Gaming’s loss has opened many doors both directly and indirectly.