This article is part of our The Big Game series.
The Prediction: Longzhu 3-0
The Short Version: The recent trend towards early-game compositions at the end of the Group Stage benefits Longzhu much more than it does Samsung, and Samsung wasn’t even able to defeat Longzhu in the late game they’re supposedly dominant in the last time the two met. Longzhu hold all the cards, and they’ve done an amazing job at playing their hand all throughout Worlds.
The Long Version: Before I begin, let me get something out of the way: Longzhu Gaming are going to win Worlds 2017. They’ve shown a level of resiliency that few other teams at Worlds have managed to display thus far, and they have the right players in the right positions to dominate in the current metagame.
With that being said, while Samsung Galaxy may be another Korean team, they’re far from the hardest challenge ahead of Longzhu. The runner-up at Worlds 2016 has had a rough time the last few months, and their struggles have come in some very unfortunate positions considering the current metagame.
Samsung’s mid laner, Lee “Crown” Min-ho, is hot off one of the worst splits in his career, and no number of hype videos will change the fact that he comes into the quarterfinals as one of the weakest mid laners still standing, at least in terms of hard results. To make matters worse for Samsung, they also have one of, if not the, weakest ADC players remaining in the tournament as part of their line-up with Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk, a young player that has still not managed to outgrow his somewhat frequent positioning issues. In a metagame that is, perhaps, the most ADC-centric metagame in modern League of Legends, a weak ADC is a terrible weight for a team to carry, especially when they’re paired with a mid laner that has proven himself incapable of generating or negating lane pressure. If Samsung’s bottom lane doesn’t crumble outright in the 2v2, it certainly will once the spillover from Crown’s lack of pressure in the mid lane makes its way to the lane.
The worst part of all for Samsung is that Longzhu is well aware of these weaknesses. Last time these teams met, Longzhu targeted the holes in Samsung’s lineup brilliantly, and there’s little reason to believe that this time will be any different. Why change a winning formula?
Another critical problem that will seal Samsung’s fate is simply a lack of bans. Longzhu have many different paths to victory in this series, whether it be through a hard-carry pick in the top lane for Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, or an early game draft that may rely on Kim “PraY” Jong-in’s expertise on the newly resurgent Caitlyn. Samsung will only have a sparse few bans to try to cover their weaknesses, and will also, presumably, start the series on red side, which means one ban will almost certainly go towards Kalista, further limiting Samsung’s ability to stop Longzhu’s plans before they can come to fruition.
Samsung, by comparison, have very few threats that Longzhu need fear. The last time the two teams met, Longzhu proved that they could match Samsung in the late game just as well as they could in the early game. Seeing as Samsung’s default strategy has always been to wait out the early game before taking control in the mid and late game, it brings into question exactly how Samsung plan to win a single game, much less the entire match. If the two teams play a standard game of League of Legends, there’s little doubt that Longzhu will carry the day, and thus their bans need only be directed at power picks or any unusual strategies that Samsung bring to the table over the course of the series.
The only arrow in Samsung’s quiver is their duo of junglers, both of whom have the potential to exploit Longzhu’s rookie jungler, Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan, much like the Immortals jungler, Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, did in the group stage. If either Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong or, more likely, Park “Haru” Min-seung are able to keep Cuzz off the map while making an impact of their own, there may yet be hope for Samsung, though it is a faint glimmer.
Hope hasn’t been enough to stop Longzhu thus far, however, and there’s no reason to think it suddenly will be now. Samsung have fallen before Longzhu every time they’ve met since the beginning of Summer Split, and the two teams’ recent form strongly suggests that Longzhu will simply barrel through the Korean third seed on their way to taking the Summoner’s Cup. History rarely lies. All the signs portend that this won’t be a match, it will be a slaughter, one Samsung is going to be on the wrong end of.