KSV 2-0 Kongdoo Monster
KSV Esports salvaged its record against Kongdoo Monster in a 2-0 series on Thursday in League Champions Korea.
KSV's (6-4) newfound success had multiple facets to it -- Lee "Crown" Min-ho played better than he has in recent weeks, and the difference in the team's ability to control the game with Crown in, compared to games where he's been ineffective, was night and day. Crown's Azir shredded KDM (2-8) in both games of the series, culminating in a triple kill during each match and an MVP award for KSV's struggling mid laner after Game 1.
Crown did not only have himself to thank for the team's success, as the other, and perhaps more impactful, difference between the KSV that smashed KDM and the one that seemed poised to nose dive to the bottom of the standings earlier this week came from the jungle. Game 2 saw the long awaited return of Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong to the jungle, in a form that has eluded him for the entirety of the 2018 season thus far. While his Sejuani play didn't have quite the same early game impact that Park "Haru" Min-seung had with Camille in Game 1, it was still a far cry from the passive games that Ambition has been known for throughout the split. He shielded Crown from the worst of Kongdoo's attempts on his life, and gave KSV the focused leadership they so often lack with Haru on the team.
While it's too early to tell whether this victory signals the beginning of a return to form for KSV, who are in the midst of a slump unbecoming of a world champion, it was still a heartening sign of life from the team. For Kongdoo, however, the outlook grows ever grimmer, as its loss to KSV, when combined with the bbq Olivers' victory over Kingzone DragonX earlier in the night, has locked them into sole possession of ninth place and put them in danger of relegation once more.
KSV Esports' next series will come at 3 a.m. ET on Tuesday, when it faces off against Afreeca Freecs. Kongdoo Monster will play its next series later on in the week when it takes on KT Rolster at 6 a.m. ET on March 1st.
bbq Olivers 2-1 Kingzone DragonX
The bbq Olivers ended the 2018 LCK Spring Split's first round robin with a bang early Thursday morning when it defeated Kingzone DragonX after a tense series that went to three games. On paper, the match was a classic David and Goliath story, as bbq (3-7) has struggled while KDX (7-2) -- who entered the night on an impressive 14-game win streak -- has been sitting comfortable in the LCK.
Yet, once the two teams entered the Rift, they looked like perfect equals. The parity in competition speaks volumes about the quality of the current crop of LCK teams, as even a team such as bbq, who started the night in sole possession of eighth place, looked competitive when paired against the champion of the league in KDX. Bbq opted into a set of early game compositions that served them well across the series, which gave them leverage to pressure KDX often.
Such compositions have a history of failing to launch, however, and the fact that bbq was able to convert the potent early game power of its Kalista-powered compositions into an effective mid and late game speaks volumes about the growth of this team. While bbq's mastery of the composition seemed shaky at first -- it took the team a half hour to get the first Baron of the series, despite a massive pressure lead all across the map -- it eventually proved capable of sticking the landing. It wasn't pretty, and it was far from perfect, but it was convincing.
A key element in bbq's rapid transformation was the return of Kim "Trick" Kang-yun, whose impact was so great that a casual observer would never guess that he had been warming the bench for the better part of a month. Trick targeted KDX's well-known Achilles Heel, the bottom lane, and was key in bbq's ability to secure early leads. He kept the pace of the series rolling in bbq's favor in a way that his understudy, Kibeom "Bono" Kim, has proved unable to do in previous weeks. He may not have earned any MVP points from the series, but there's no doubt that his presence on the team was a deciding factor -- high praise for a player who looked all but hopeless earlier in the month.
The bbq Olivers will take on Team MVP at 6 a.m. ET on Sunday, while Kingzone DragonX's next match is against the Afreeca Freecs at 6 a.m. ET Saturday.