With my insomnia worsening and my love of Korean League growing, I figure I might try my hand at writing a little bit of a recap of this morning’s OGN quarter-final.

Samsung Galaxy Ozone vs CJ Entus Frost represent a powerhouse match-up in Korean League; with the former being the OGN Champions Spring winners and Frost being a perennial contender, spectators perk up a little bit in the same way people tune into a Counter-Logic Gaming vs TSM match. There may be better teams in both regions, but there is something that cannot be denied about the appeal for individual players or a loyal fanbase.

All three games had similar champion pools, reflecting the current state of affairs in League of Legends; Dr. Mundo, Shyvana, Lucian and Sivir all played large roles, while Olaf, Annie, Lee Sin and Kassadin were permanently on the ban list.

Game One

Game 1 picks and bans between SG Ozone and CJ Frost

Sometimes simplicity is key in League of Legends, and especially in the first game of a series teams will want to play to their strengths as much as possible. I feel that both Frost and Ozone both had a lot to prove going into this game, as SGO wanted to put a lackluster World Championships performance behind them and Frost hoped to avoid an Entus shutout from the semi-final round.

As you can see from the champion choices above, Frost’s composition was based around picking off key targets with Thresh hooks and assassinations, while SGO’s favoured dual poke with three tanky champions to both peel off threats and dive when needed. Samsung read Frost’s composition and countered it with Leona and Riven pickups; these two champions would be key in dissuading anyone who wanted to dive into an SGO formation to eliminate anyone early.

Game one began with Frost pulling the gambit of taking dragon with three members at extremely low levels. In theory, this would give them a bit of a kick-start that would begin a snowball; however, because MadLife’ Thresh came to lane extremely late from pulling this off, he remained at least two levels below everyone else for the rest of the game.

While Thresh is a champion that’s defined by his skills and their usage, this wasted time did not pay off for Frost at all; he was unable to land the key hooks needed to make the plays he’s famous for, and ultimately he floundered off of this terrible start.

Eventually, SGO was able to secure a handy kill lead with the textbook execution of their composition: siege turrets, whittle down your opponent, and force them to choose between staying or dying when the objective was destroyed. As players know, the way to counter this is by clearing waves quickly so that fast pushes become ineffective; Frost’s single-target damage champions (Shy’s Mundo, GBM’s Zed, Helios’ Kha’zix and Space’s Lucian) could not do this efficiently.

The above image was a common scene in this game, with imp’s Caitlyn and dade’s Nidalee laying down all manner of poke – from spears to arbitrary uses of Ace in the Hole – while using their dual traps to cut off major flanking routes. Ultimately the game seemed fairly one-sided in SGO’s favour, but not because of a terrible snowball or some major throw: their composition was executed perfectly, and Frost’s champion picks were not conducive to any kind of comeback.

Game One Winner: Samsung Galaxy OZONE at 35:35, with a score of 13-1 kills, 63.0k to 44.4k gold, and 11-2 turrets.

Game Two

Game two switched up some of the champions, but the general pool remained the same; despite losing dade’s Nidalee to bans in order to avoid the similar poke composition, SGO changed gears to a more fight-oriented team, bringing an absurd amount of chase potential to the table through Leona, Dr. Mundo, Sivir and Elise.

As both commentators pointed out, this team went against the conventional League of Legends knowledge of “don’t chase”, and SGO quickly asserted their ability to rotate effectively to keep Frost from seizing objectives. Once they pursued them off of towers, they just kept running, often picking off at least one enemy (or trading even on kills) in the process.

This game also started with an awkward showing of Sweeping Lens’ risks from MadLife, giving SGO (imp’s Sivir and Mata’s Leona) a chance to get into a 2v2 lane against Space’s Lucian and MadLife’s Thresh; overall, Samsung’s bot lane proved much more effective in this game and the entire series, as Space just kind of floundered around and died. A lot.

Meanwhile, in the mid lane, dade’s Kha’Zix got off to an awesome start, going all-in on GankedByMom’s Zed after the latter had used a Living Shadow to farm some minions instead of saving it to escape. Despite Helios’ Nunu being well within running range to aid him, GankedByMom gave dade the first little bit of snowball needed to become a huge pain later on.

Just as Samsung Galaxy took objectives better in the first game, they out-fought Frost in the second. The amount of hard crowd control in their composition allowed them to chase or run away from their opponents effectively, and Frost’s answer (mainly Shy’s Shyvana and Helios’ Nunu) couldn’t provide the sticking power that they needed in order to remain competitive.

It’s a pity, because Shy remains a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing Frost in this series; he was able to farm effectively on Shyvana and even provide a threat when put in a one-on-one situation with other carries, but he just didn’t have the other moving parts needed to cinch a win.

Pretty much an explanation of the whole game.

Game Two Winner: Samsung Galaxy OZONE at 33:20, with a score of 22-12 kills, 65.5k to 47.6k gold, and 10-3 turrets

Game 3

The final game of the series began with an uproar as MadLife got his hands on his fabled Blitzcrank, delighting fans and Twitter. However, with a mix of the same two compositions in their first game (notably shifting out a banned Sivir for Ezreal and the re-acquisition of Nidalee for dade), Samsung Galaxy seemed poised to carry their momentum forward to punch their ticket to the semi-final.

While the Blitzcrank pick delighted fans, I got the feeling that this was a Frost team that had lost so much momentum that they were starting to go on tilt. While blind Rocket Grabs always make for a good spectacle, there was something a little sad about watching Madlife fire them off to return empty-handed.

Frost’s team composition was all about picks that they were comfortable with that could team fight as much as possible; however, intent and successful application are two different things. No one that Frost needed to get fed (Evelynn, Renekton, Kha’Zix or Caitlyn) did, leaving them at a significant disadvantage against a Samsung lineup that just seemed to be on fire; Mata’s Leona was instrumental in cooling off Frost’s bot lane, who surely did not want to invite the crowd control barrage that was to follow.

There were a few bright spots for Frost, namely a Baron Nashor steal from GankedByMom’s Kha’Zix; as SGO didn’t have a Smite off cooldown, they tried to layer damage spike abilities (Nidalee‘s Javelin Toss, Elise‘s Venomous Bite) to act as a pseudo-execute. However, Taste Their Fear got the last tick of damage, securing the buff for Frost.

Normally this would be something that would turn a team’s favour around, or at least give them some kind of equalizer to build on. However, but this point in the game Samsung Galaxy had taken so much of a lead that Frost were relegated to using the buff defensively, keeping their lanes from being pushed while still being harassed by excursions from the other team.

The main contributors to this was Helios’ Evelynn and Space’s Caitlyn just having abysmal games, remaining off the kill board well into twenty minutes into the game. Their counterparts (DanDy’s Elise and imp’s Ezreal) had a combined nine kills on them at the time of the Baron steal, making the item gap especially pronounced. Caitlyn often has problems when she cannot build attack speed after getting her initial damage items, and with Space having trouble completing a Statikk Shiv by 25 minutes, he was largely ineffective for the entire game.

The real story here was Mata’s Leona whose hero engages swept Samsung into fights. There was also versatility shown through his ultimates, as well; they were great for disengaging fights as well, allowing his team to regroup, re-engage and ultimately conquer.

Game Three Winner: Samsung Galaxy OZONE at 27:19, with a score of 23-6 kills, 50.7 to 37.2.6k gold, and 9-2 turrets

With this, Samsung Galaxy Ozone move on to the semifinals of the OGN PANDORA.TV Champions Winter 2013-2014 to face NaJin White Shield on January 10, 2014 at 01:30PST/04:30EST. On the other side of the bracket, KT Bullets will challenge SK Telecom T1 K in a rematch of Champions Summer, and perhaps a battle to decide the title of “best in Korea.”

Some final thoughts about this series:

  • It cannot be overstated how well Mata’ s Leona did in these games for Samsung Galaxy OZONE. No matter which team composition they chose, her hard crowd-control and the ability to provide zoning were invaluable to protecting carries and bullying people in fights. While everyone will hype up MadLife’s hooks with Thresh and Blitzcrank, Mata’s ability to choose when and where to use Zenith Blade, Solar Flare and Flash-Shield of the Daybreak to lock people up were major deciding factors. Annie was permanently banned for both supports this series, but Leona may add one more champion that SGO’s opponents may need to consider.
  • Space’s performance in this match was extremely underwhelming, as his Lucian did little to help his team in the first two games. Having a single kill in two games (with it coming as a result of Mata soaking tower shots late into Game 3) is borderline inexcusable for a top-level AD carry.
  • dade’s champion pool expansion seems to be going well, as he was often cited as a weak link on SGO. I’m curious to see how well he does against NaJin White Shield or the eventual winner of KTB/SKT1 – he may not be so comfortable in those matches. Kha’Zix’s re-emergence into the competitive meta also seems to be smooth, as both Frost and Ozone chose him in this series.

Thanks for reading, everyone! If you’re interested in more of my work, you can follow me on Twitter or check out my Facebook for notifications of when I go live for streaming, or when new things are posted. You can also leave me feedback there, as well.

You can also follow MonteCristo, Chobra and DoA, who produced the wonderful English broadcast. They do good work. I also highly suggest subscribing to the OnGameNet Twitch channel, which enabled you to watch the games in HD, get VODs, and more.