Kwangdong Freecs are moving to the semifinals of the 2022 LCK Spring playoffs. The latest upturn comes following a well-fought 3-2 win over DRX earlier in the week. Both teams started off on an even footing, eliciting prospects of a tight finish and the game lived up to its billing.
However, the Freecs were far from the favourites going into the clash. Why? Because they made it through to the playoffs in a tiebreaker match and had lost their previous best-of-three fixture to DRX. So coming in, they had plenty to prove and they punched above their weight under pressure.
As you’d expect in a high-stakes clash, both teams made plenty of mistakes and were far from being flawless, but Freecs got the desired result in the end, the kind of fillip they need going into their clash against the all-dominating, record-breaking T1, who are fresh off a mighty successful spring split where they were the only side that went through the entire phase unbeaten.
T1’s 2015 avatar held the previous record of 15 wins without going unbeaten in a split. Seven years on, they’ve bettered it to make it 18-0. The one common thread running through both the wins: Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok, a League of Legends GOAT.
Their consistency has gone up several notches. The introduction of rookies at the T1 Challenger Team have helped build the kind of depth teams can only envy. The additions of Choi ‘Zeus’ Woo-je, Moon ‘Oner’ Hyeon-Joon and Lee ‘Gumayusi’ Min-hyeong to the main roster combined the greatest League of Legends player of all time with some of the most gifted players in the world.
This forms a deadly cocktail that teams have found hard to match. Kwangdong Freecs will remember very well how T1 began the split by beating them 2-0. They only need to look at that result to fire themselves up ahead of Saturday’s fixture.
During the season, Faker achieved key milestones, that of his 1000th game as a professional, one he celebrated by giving away 400 boxes of fried chicken to members of the media and T1 fans in attendance.
Some may say this kind of team success is unprecedented, but it’s a result of their investment in their development programmes. Can they add another chapter to what has already been a historic season for them?
T1 swept all the awards two nights ago. The MVP award went to Ryu “Keria” Min-seok, who became the first support to ever win the title. During this split, Keria set an all-time LCK record for most assists in a single split with 462 total. This record was previously held by former T1 support Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan. Among the three All-Pro teams, T1 was also the team to dominate heavily.
Who is the favourite?
Notice how there are so many factors that have helped T1 thrive? Is there any doubt as to who remains favourites for this clash? Stash your cash on continuing their victory match over Kwangdong Freecs.
Pick: DWG Kia (moneyline)
It’s a massive semi-final with neither side giving away an inch. DWG KIA is coming off an impressive win 2-1 against Fredit BRION. Interestingly, FREDIT had confirmed their historic playoff berth by beating DWG by a 2-0 margin. Having begun the playoffs on a winning note, they run into an in-form Gen G. These two sides last met earlier this month.
Back then, Gen G powered to a 3-1 win without their standout mid-laner Chovy, who tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by rookie Baek “Ophelia” Jin-seong from the org’s Academy team. Ophelia showed much promise and didn’t crumble at key moments. All said, it was still a lot closer than one would’ve expected.
While Gen.G won the first game at the 41-minute mark, DWG KIA bounced back and steamrolled through the second game, spearheaded by bot laner Seo “deokdam” Dae-gil on Ezreal. The third game was the closest of the series. Gen G saw it slipping away, but managed to take the advantage after two crucial team fights, with their players showing flawless execution.
That was the point where DWG KIA conceded the game as the fourth game turned out to be a mere formality. Now Chovy is back and DWG KIA will perhaps be hard at work making plans to counter him in a playoff clash. As if the pressure isn’t already intense, a playoff game is a different cup of tea altogether.
Rare Atom (moneyline)
Bilibili Gaming have clinched the 8th seed for the LPL playoffs, but it’s been a season of struggles. Their intentions of building a formidable outfit haven’t exactly gone to plan. They brought Uzi out of retirement, they signed Doggo from Beyond Gaming and yanked Crisp from FPX.
They also signed 3 amazing LPL legends in FoFo, Breathe and Weiwei. All this should have made them one of the best teams in the LPL, but 9 wins and 7 losses in the regular split haven’t exactly covered them in glory.
Midway through, they also announced Uzi was taking a break. The team put it down to synergy issues. Uzi, known for possibly being the greatest ADC player of all time, won’t be available as a result. This puts additional pressure on Doggo, another Super star ADC.
Given the way things have been, it’s very likely we may have seen the last of Uzi at Bilibili. How much of the off-field issues can they put on the back-burner as they get ready for the playoffs?
That Rare Atom have gotten this far is because they’ve punched above their weight. They sleepwalked through the first half of the spring split, slumping to an abysmal five losses out of six. Then they got on a bit of roll to win four in a row to elicit hopes of a playoff. Then they carried on to get to 8-6 leading into the final two weeks of the regular split.
With games against teams better placed than them – Edward and JDG – there were questions marks over their ability to sustain the surge. They exceeded expectations by beating both of them to seal a playoff berth. Then they slumped again, as if on cue. Their game score of 20-18 is nearly even, highlighting this inconsistency and the up and down performances.
This predictably unpredictable nature makes them mercurial, leaving opponents wonder which side of them will turn up on a particular day. This makes the odds very much against Rare Atom, but also gives those who are adventurous the extra thrill of hedging their bets on a team that is capable of giving up massive slices of profits should they wake up on the right side of bed.
Edward Gaming (moneyline)
Edward Gaming finished the regular split at seventh place, winning 10 and losing six. That so many other sides finished with double-digit wins in the regular split tells you about the stifling competition of the league. FunPlus Phoenix ended with a more disappointing 8-8 record to lap up the final playoff position.
It wasn’t guaranteed until the final week, but that they’ve scraped through is because of a late second-half dash after a slew of ordinary results. Edward Gaming is by far the more pedigreed team and have the odds with them here. FunPlus will have to play out of their skins to match EG’s might. Can they cause a massive upset?
FunPlus Phoenix have had to stave off competition from Oh My God to nick the final playoff spot. OMG’s season had been placed on halt following a slew of positive covid tests that got them off their rails in the final two weeks of the regular split.
After a two-week postponement, OMG found themselves in a tough situation, fighting for the final playoff spot with FPX. Heading into thie match, FPX were 7-8 while OMG were 6-8. Yet one series win against FPX would have put OMG in a better spot to potentially qualify for the playoffs. It wasn’t to be as FPX flexed their muscle when it mattered most to win.
|LPL And LCK 2022 Spring Split Information|
|Teams||LPL: Edward Gaming v FunPlus Phoenix, Bilibili Gaming v Rare Atom
LCK: T1 v Kwangdong Freecs, Gen G v DWG Kia
|Location||The offline event, conducted in China (LPL) and Korea (LCK)|
|Time||Saturday, March 26 at 2.00 AM EST onwards|
|How to watch||LPL official Twitch channel
LCK official Twitch channel
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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