KT upsets Gen.G, Hanwha pulls out scrappy win

Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu and KT Rolster defeated Griffin several times during the LCK regular season. Provided by kenzi/FOMOS

KT Rolster 2 -- Gen. G 0

KT Rolster took the first step in saving an otherwise mediocre season in League Champions Korea with a 2-0 sweep of Gen.G on Saturday in Seoul.

Coming into this series, it was easy to believe that Gen.G (4-1) would dominate while KT Rolster (3-2) would continue to struggle in the patch 8.11 meta. When it came time for KT Rolster to dispatch its age-old nemesis, though, it stepped up in a big way.

Throughout the series, KT reverted to more tried-and-true looks with a marksman in the bottom lane and jungler Go "Score" Dong-bin on the Rift for the first time this split. With Score in the lineup, support Cho "Mata" Se-hyoung seemed to come alive, taking over Game 1 as Rakan. KT played to its strengths, pressuring the bottom lane with multi-man ganks and not letting Gen.G scale into the late game. In particular, the way KT Rolster played around Gen.G's resource-funnel composition in Game 2 was flawless, dissecting and dismantling the popular playstyle with ease and ensuring that coaches everywhere would look to KT for ideas on how to play around funnel comps.

On the other end was Gen.G, a team that just couldn't find a foothold in this series. Per usual, AD carry Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk played well, but didn't have enough of an impact to carry, especially after getting targeted throughout the drafts and early games. Even with all of his team's resources funneled into his Kai'Sa in Game 2, Ruler still looked uncomfortable and unable to carve through KT's frontline. It'll be interesting to see which version of Gen.G appears next: the one that dominated four straight games to kick off the split, or the team that KT made look like a deer caught in headlights.

KT Rolster will go on to play a struggling SK Telecom T1 at 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, while Gen.G's next match will be against the bbq Olivers 4 a.m. EST on Wednesday.

Hanwha Life 2 -- Afreeca Freecs 1

Hanwha Life Esports scrounged together a 2-1 victory over the Afreeca Freecs in the LCK 2018 Summer Split.

Hanwha (3-2) was a team with upset power going into the series. After the team's run through the most recent Spring Split -- where they were known as the "ROX Tigers" -- any team would have been foolish to underrate Hanwha, who upset virtually every top team save Kingzone DragonX (3-2).

It was clear that Afreeca thought themselves invulnerable by the time Game 1 began, as Hanwha were gifted a composition so terrifying that it might as well have been playing blind pick. Mid laner Kim "Lava" Tae-hoon and jungler Yun "SeongHwan" Seong-hwan were given Swain and Nocturne respectively, two of the most banned and feared champions in the LCK -- and both were also further enabled by support Kim "Key" Han-gi's Shen, another contested champion. As Afreeca learned the hard way over the course of Game 1, it turns out that not only can Hanwha play the best champions in the metagame, they can do so well.

Game 2 featured the second attempt in one day that a team tried the new "super Kai'sa" funnel strategy, and also marked the second time that a team was defeated by it. While the Kai'Sa, this time piloted by bottom laner Kwon "Sangyoon" Sang-yun, certainly got off the ground, it was countered by the simple inability to be in all places at once. Afreeca had two powerful side pushing lanes, and without the ability to answer all three lanes at the same time, it was only a matter of time before Hanwha had its base worn away, which led the teams into a somewhat disappointing Game 3, where each team seemed to take the other seriously for the first time in the night. It was this last victory for Hanwha that mattered the most, as each team brought "standard" compositions, and it was Hanwha -- largely led by an incredible performance from Lava on Zoe -- that triumphed in the most even game of the night.

Hanwha will go on to face off Team MVP at 1 a.m ET on Tuesday, while the Afreeca Freecs' next contest will be against the Jin Air Green Wings at 7 a.m. EST on Wednesday.

--James Bates