Korea has three teams that are going to the world championships due to their win at the Shanghai All-Stars 2013 tournament. The three teams that managed to qualify for Worlds are NaJin Black Sword, Samsung Galaxy Ozone (formerly known as MVP Ozone), and SK Telecom T1. These three teams were the Winter 2012, Spring 2013, and Summer 2013 OGN winners respectively, showing the timeline of greatness that flows from Korea and the broad spectrum of talent that exists in the Korean scene. Even though Korea has greats like Shy, Madlife, inSec, and Flame, none of those players are going, which shows the level of competition that exists in Korea. Fortunately, big name players including Faker, DanDy, and Pray will still be seen at Worlds.
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NaJin Black Sword
Korea 1st Seed
NaJin Black Sword are the top seeded team that is representing Korea in the Season 3 World Championships. They acquired 600 circuit points in the Korean scene, 400 of which came from their Winter 2012 OGN win and the remaining 200 came from their two NLB wins for the Spring 2013 and Summer 2013 victories. With their first seed, they managed to skip past the group stage and are placed directly into the bracket stage along with Cloud 9, Royal Club Huang Zu, and Gamania Bears.
When people talk about NaJin Black Sword, the player most talked about is Maknoon. He was the player whom carried his team to victory during the Winter 2012 season and helped secure the 3-0 victory over CJ Entus Frost during the finals through his skilled use of Rumble and Renekton. NaJin Sword looked on top of the world, but they would not stay at the top of their game for much longer. As the Spring 2013 season came around, Sword found themselves once again against CJ Frost in the quarterfinals. It was then that Frost had the last laugh, winning against them 3-1 and knocking Sword into NLB. Fortunately for Sword, they won 3-0 against LG-IM, KT Rolster Bullets, and NaJin White Shield in order to snag the NLB Spring 2013 total and another 100 circuit points. This was the end of MaKNooN though, as he left to join KT Rolster Arrows after the season was over.
With NaJin Black Sword needing another top-tier top laner on their team, they looked to their sister team: NaJin White Shield and their top laner Expession; known throughout Korea as one of the best top laners in the scene. With someone more consistent in the top lane, Sword looked to be a top tier team again. However, Sword was plagued with teamwork issues during the group stages of the Summer 2013 OGN season and tied three teams during the group stages which knocked them down into NLB before making the bracket stages. The once mighty NaJin Black Sword had fallen from grace and firmly planted itself into a B-tier rating. Fortunately, they managed to beat out CJ Entus Blaze, NaJin White Shield, and LG-IM2 in the Summer 2013 NLB tournament and secured the top Korean seed and the bye for the region. The real question is which Sword will we see at worlds: the team capable of taking down juggernauts including KT Rolster Bullets and CJ Entus Blaze or the team that loses to teams like the Jin Air Greenwings Stealths.
Elise, Jarvan IV, Nocturne
Ezreal, Caitlyn, Twitch
Clicking on each player's username will redirect you to their Leaguepedia page.
NaJin Black Sword is a very teamfight-oriented team who can also use their team compositions for catching out champions. They prefer champions that provide a lot of disruption, such as Sona and Orianna. They also play champions that emphasize catching out other champions, such as Elise and Thresh. They rely a lot on Expession and Watch to provide a good front line while Cain provides peel for PraY to carry the team on one of his AD carries.
Sword is really a teamfight-oriented team as their lanes are mixed in terms of how well they do and they don't have the greatest skirmishing nor objective timing. They still suffer from sub-optimal synergy which can really hurt in the mid-game transition to a more objective-based game. However, they perform well in teamfights due to each person knowing exactly what their role is in a teamfight. Everybody has their personal favorites for champions which they've played even when those champions weren't popular. It'll be the familiarity of those champions that will bring a title for Sword.
- PraY's deep champion pool: PraY is one of the best AD carries in the world right now, having been nominated the Korean All-Star ADC. To put that in perspective: PraY is the only person from the Korean All-Star team that is competing at Worlds. PraY plays a wide variety of champions, some of which include Ezreal, Caitlyn, and Vayne. With Worlds being played on Patch 3.11, the buff to Trinity Force will be exceptionally helpful if PraY chooses to favor Ezreal at Worlds, as Ezreal is extremely strong with the current Triforce. Furthermore, PraY is self reliant and functions well in teamfights and skirmishes. His consistency and playmaking will be under the spotlight at worlds.
- Expession's Jax: Expession has been a Jax player for an extremely long time, clearly showing his preference and knowledge with him. With Trinity Force having been buffed in 3.10a, Jax is extremely strong due to his sticking power with the new Phage along with the 200% base AD Spellblade proc of Triforce. Expession has shown that he's comfortable in both 1v1 and 1v2 lanes and is capable of being a threat even when outfarmed by his opposing laner. Without MaKNooN, Sword doesn't have to worry about an inconsistent top laner, and Expession will really be the support that Sword needs in order to win their matches.
- Vision control: Sword's vision control in-lane and during the midgame rotations is weak, as some of the ganks that Watch tries to pull off are telegraphed because he'll be standing on top of a ward. This enables the opposing jungler to countergank easily. Furthermore, when pressing for objectives or defending their jungle, Sword tends to throw caution to the wind and be a bit stingy with their warding. Their laners need to invest more in pink wards if they want Watch to help the lanes as currently, they cannot stand up to the superior vision control of someone like Mata or Lovelin.
- Timing and rotations: Sword's rotations and objective timings need to be worked on if they want to be a top tier threat. Sword will incorrectly rotate down to dragon when there's a massive wave pushing down upon a tower instead of just giving up dragon and putting their lanes in a better position. This causes them to lose both the dragon because they're behind and a large amount of CS to the tower. Additionally, if they have picked up the dragon, they rotate between lanes improperly so that their towers take a lot of damage. Against objective-based teams like Cloud 9 and MVP Ozone, this can be extremely problematic if they want to pull out a victory against those teams.
With NaJin Black Sword getting the bye for the region, the prediction should be made against the teams who are predicted to make it out of groups. From Group A, the favorites are OMG and SK Telecom T1, while from group B, the favorites are Samsung Galaxy Ozone and Fnatic. Sword will have a bad time against all four teams, as OMG and Ozone have superior objective control while SKT and Fnatic have better skirmishing and lane rotations as compared to Sword.
Royal Club will be an interesting matchup and will be determined by who can pull off the more effective traps in-game: the preference to Elise from Watch or the Annie/Fizz combination from Royal. Cloud 9 will likely gain an early lead due to their objective control but it's up to PraY and Expession to hold them off when the teamfight phase comes by. Overall, the odds aren't looking too good for NaJin Black Sword, but that's what people said about them at the Winter 2012 OGN season, so only time can tell how they'll do. One thing's for sure, a lot will depend on the bracket drawings.
Samsung Galaxy Ozone
Korea 2nd Seed
Samsung Galaxy Ozone, formerly known as MVP Ozone, are the Spring 2013 OGN Champions. They managed to get 570 circuit points: 20 from Winter 2012 NLB, 400 from Spring 2013 OGN, and 150 from Summer 2013 OGN. Back in 2012, they placed decently well for a rookie team but unfortunately lost to NaJin White Sword in the quarterfinals 0-3. Things didn't look much better for them in the group stages of the Spring 2013 split as Homme received a lot of flak for his top lane play and they kind of just look like they dragged themselves into group stages. They would be playing against KT Rolster Bullets in the quarterfinals, which looked to many like their season was over.
That would be the Cinderella story that we've come to know and love. After losing their first game, Ozone took three games in a row to defeat the mighty KT Rolster Bullets. With Homme on Kennen and DanDy on Jarvan IV, they provided the peel that imp needed to help carry his team. Their next match was against a new team looking to Royal Road: SK Telecom T1 Judgment Day. For the fans that knew Judgment Day back then, they were disappointed that Faker did not play someone that impacted the game more from roaming and instead went for farmers in Orianna and Karthus. This enabled MVP Ozone to out-scale Judgment Day's team compositions and win through superior objective control. Their true test was against CJ Entus Blaze, which they pulled off one of the greatest upsets in Korean League of Legends history, swiftly 3-0ing them using Zed and taking down the "one trick war horse" as coined by DoA.
Coming into the Summer 2013 OGN season, hopes were high for Samsung Galaxy Ozone. In the off season tournaments, they were still on fire as they won the AMD-INVEN GamExperience tournament. Ozone easily made it out of group stages along with Jin Air Greenwings Falcons and looked to face CTU in the quarterfinals. After beating them 3-0, they looked to repeat what they did last season: beat SK Telecom T1. Unfortunately for them, fate was not on their side this time, as SKT 3-1'ed them in the semifinals. Fortunately, Ozone won against Frost in the 3rd place match, giving them enough circuit points to obtain the second place seed for Korea. Samsung saw Ozone's success in the Korean Scene and decided to invest in it, which led to the name change Samsung Galaxy Ozone.
Kennen, Shen, Zac
Lee Sin, Elise
Zed, Twisted Fate
Samsung Galaxy Ozone played similarly to an old CLG except with an extremely aggressive jungler: Homme plays the tanky, CC, and utility-based top laners who make it hard to lose lane with like Kennen and Zac while dade plays characters that provide good damage potential. The ADC, imp, has great carrying potential on champions like Vayne and Caitlyn while Mata plays a great support. However, the one who really carries the game early for them is DanDy. DanDy puts a large amount of time researching how his opposing junglers play and then just nonstop counterganks and fights them. With so many VODs out there for the big name teams, DanDy will have a fun time with the opposing team.
One key of Ozone's is that after the first tower goes down, the superior vision of the team as a whole comes out. Everyone contributes to buying Sight and Vision Wards in order to obtain knowledge of the map. Additionally, generally after all the towers go down, Mata picks up an Oracles and immediately starts sweeping the entire map for wards in order to slowly choke the enemy to death. Ozone is very methodical with their victories and take it down one tower and one dragon at a time but when they're ahead, it works. This superior vision control is one of the reasons of how they rarely lose when they are ahead.
- DanDy's aggression: DanDy loves to counterjungle and loves to read the enemy jungler and just follow him wherever he goes. He does this by researching his enemy jungler a lot in order to know where he'll be at what time and will even try to time where he'll be in order to run into the enemy jungler. He wins the following duel by picking strong 1v1 junglers: Lee Sin and Elise come to mind. He'll even adjust his item build to do this: he'll start Doran's Blade and then base after picking up double buffs and pick up a Sight Ward and potions in order to give him dueling potential, mobility, and jungle knowledge of where the enemy is going to be. Teams that don't know how to handle aggressive junglers, like Cloud 9, are going to have difficulty fighting against DanDy.
- imp and dade's carrying potential: imp and dade are both capable of making big plays for their team, as imp was the player who was the major threat against KT Bullets in Spring and dade was the Spring 2013 OGN overall MVP. With both of them favoring damage dealers in Vayne and Zed, teams that don't focus them down will have difficulty. The easiest way to get around this is to ban them, but every player has fallbacks. The key for teams will be to force them into something they're not as comfortable on.
- Mental state: In MVP Ozone's loss against SKT T1, a major part of Ozone's loss was dade's mental state after their first loss. With Bengi on Vi repeatedly ganking dade mid lane, dade began to falter on Twisted Fate, a hero that requires a high mental state in order to pull cards properly and to get off good TF ults. With dade faltering, Ozone lost one of their major damage dealers they they rely on. dade and other players will need to keep their spirits up in order to win against rival teams.
- Early ganking junglers: Despite DanDy's camp of the enemy jungler, if it doesn't work, his lanes can suffer. The main way this happens is if junglers pick early game gankers and apply pressure to the lanes. Teams that play Vi and Jarvan IV will have success against Ozone as long as their ganks aren't too telegraphed. The main way to make sure of that is to apply proper countervision and deny vision from MVP Ozone. That, along with a methodical takedown of Ozone when ahead, will be key in taking down this mighty team.
Samsung Galaxy Ozone plays off against Team Mineski, Gambit BenQ Gaming, Fnatic, and Vulcun Techbargains. They're the favorite to make it out of their group along with Fnatic. Their games against Vulcun and Fnatic are the most important, as Vulcun provides a lot of early game jungler presence through Xmithie and Fnatic is the other big favorite for making it out of groups. No matchup score predictions but if Ozone loses early against Vulcun, who's their first match, don't be surprised if they falter a bit against Fnatic and Gambit.
SK Telecom T1
Korea 3rd Seed
SK Telecom T1 are the Summer 2013 OGN Champions. They managed to get 550 circuit points: 150 from Spring 2013 OGN and 400 from the Summer 2013 OGN season. They are an exceptionally strong team, only losing one set in their competitive history so far, which was against Samsung Galaxy Ozone - the eventual winners of Spring 2013 OGN season. The team revolves around Faker, a Korean solo queue star who exploded into the competitive scene with his big plays and champion ocean.
SK Telecom T1 debuted in the Spring 2013 season, where they were known as SK Telecom T1 Judgment Day. They played extremely well in group stages, finishing at the top of their group. It was here where we saw the might of Faker: His LeBlanc play absoutely crushed MVP Blue while his Jayce and Nidalee play provided powerful long ranged poke. They played against NaJin White Shield in the quarterfinals and handily beat them 3-0 through good use of Kennen. Afterwards, they faced off against Samsung Galaxy Ozone, who they lost against. Fortunately though, they 3-0ed CJ Entus Frost in the third place game, giving them a handy 150 circuit points.
From there, SKT could only set their sights higher. Fortunately for them though, they were grouped in the weakest group for the Summer 2013 OGN season, meaning that a trip to the bracket stage was basically free. They were paired against their former sister team, the Jin Air Greenwings Falcons, which they won handily 3-0. Their next match was one of revenge, as they looked to take out the team that stopped them from getting to the finals last season - Samsung Galaxy Ozone. With the pressure applied from Bengi, as well as Piglet and Faker carrying the team, they managed to 3-1 Ozone and make their way to the finals.
They say if you get third in OGN, you either get first the next season or fall into nothingness. For SKT T1, the path was lit: they were going to get first. However, their biggest test stood in front of them: KT Rolster Bullets. SK Telecom lost the first two matches but showed they were capable of adapting: they banned out Mafa's support Fiddlesticks, which threw KT Bullets off their game. That, combined with Faker on assassins like Ahri and Zed, meant that SKT was capable of winning the finals in a 3-2 game split.
The path to worlds wasn't done yet. In order to determine the third seed team for Korea, another tournament was to be played including the third to sixth place circuit teams, which included CJ Entus Blaze, CJ Entus Frost, KT Rolster Bullets, and SK Telecom T1. Because Bullets lost to CJ Entus Frost in the tiebreaker, they had to play the exact same path as their Summer 2013 bracket stage. Once again, they found themselves against SK Telecom T1 in the finals. Unfortunately for Bullets, SKT proceeded to beat them three games in a row after losing the first, meaning that SK Telecom found themselves as the third placed team to represent Korea at Worlds.
Jarvan IV, Elise
Zed, Orianna, Ahri
Nami, Sona, Fiddlesticks
SK Telecom T1 have one main playstyle but it's nothing special: they play team compositions that have an aggressive mid lane that does well in skrimishes such as Orianna or Zed, have a utility top laner, and have an AD carry that can carry in the midst of things. Their playstyle is very similar to Samsung Galaxy Ozone's, except that Bengi is more gank-oriented while DanDy is more of the jungler fighter. They also have differences in warding, but other than that they play very similarly.
One thing to note is that almost all compositions are revolved around Faker. If Faker plays Orianna, there will undoubtably be a ball-delivery system like Kennen or Jarvan IV on the team. If Faker plays an assassin like Ahri, other champions that make good picks like Vi or Zyra are chosen. AOE-centric comps that involve Karthus or Gragas include Jarvan IV mainly due to the lockdown that Cataclysm provides. And when he does play Zed, only greatness can be expected.
Faker's mindblowing 1v1 vs Ryu
- Faker: If you don't acknowledge Faker as a threat, you haven't seen SK Telecom T1 play. Faker is the backbone of their team and has a champion ocean. Playing everything from poke-based champions like Nidalee to lane bullies like Syndra to assassins like Ahri to teamfight champions like Orianna, Faker can play just about any mid-lane champion in the game and look fancy on it. He has favored some champions over others, namely Ahri, Zed, Orianna, and Karthus, but don't be surprised if we see something new at Worlds just because of how many champions he can play. Faker won both the season MVP and the mid-lane KDA award for the Summer 2013 OGN season, so he's definitely got a lot to show at Worlds.
- The Hundred Acre Bot lane: Piglet and PoohManDu: Piglet and PoohManDu have exceptional synergy between the two, even going down to their planned names. Although Piglet is reliant a lot on Vayne, Caitlyn, and Twitch, he performs exceptionally well on those champions. With ManDu, he always plays supports that have a big impact on the game through their CC, whether that be Sona, Fiddlesticks, or Nami. All ManDu needs to do is hit one skillshot and the rest of his team follows up on it. Furthermore, the synergy that they have in lane is large, as they understand exactly what the other one wants to do.
- Picks and bans stage: SKT have a great pick and ban stage as they are capable of eliminating what's problemmatic to them. When they were down 0-2 against KT Rolster Bullets in the finals of the Summer 2013 OGN season, they identified that Mafa's support Fiddlesticks was extremely problematic because of the CC lockdown that he provides. Eliminating that and providing flexibility to fight against the bans that they eliminated shows their ability to adapt, something even top-tier teams lack.
- Inexperience: SKT is still a new team, having been around for not even a year. They're still lack experience playing against international teams. They also lack the knowledge that old teams such as Fnatic know from being around for all of League of Legend's existence. If older teams can prey on that inexperience, they'll perform well against SKT.
- Multiple playstyle teams: SKT does well against teams who play one style and have variations of it because they can just ban out what's really problematic and deal with the rest. However, if they play against a team that has multiple playstyles like Fnatic or OMG, they'll have trouble adapting to that because a large amount of how they deal with it is during the picks and bans stage. If a team can get one of their strategies banned out and swap to a different one that has a much different playstyle and different objectives while in-game, SKT will be hard-pressed to deal with it due to their lack of experience.
SK Telecom T1 are in Group A of Worlds, along with OMG, Lemondogs, TSM Snapdragon, and GamingGear.EU. They're the favorite along with OMG to make it out of that stage with SKT vs TSM being laughable for even some TSM fans and nobody expecting GG.EU to go too far. SKT vs Lemondogs will be a fun match to watch as both teams are aggressive early. However, the big one to watch for is SKT vs OMG and whether or not OMG will be unpredictable enough for SKT to be unable to adapt to.
Worlds begin on September 15th at 12:00 PM PDT (3:00 PM EDT, 9:00 PM CEST, 4:00 AM KST). SK Telecom T1 is the first Korean team that plays as they play against the Lemondogs at 1:00 PM PDT (4:00 PM EDT, 10:00 PM CEST, 5:00 AM KST). Samsung Galaxy Ozone doesn't play until 7:00 PM PDT (10:00 PM EDT, 4:00 AM CEST, 11:00 AM KST) when they play against Vulcun Techbargains.