Ever thought about getting into the Korean side of League e-sports? Wondering which of the three Korean teams will get out of the hardest region in the world and make the season finals? If so, we got you covered, giving you a rundown on everything you need to know before the biggest OGN Champions of all-time kicks off on the 3rd of July.
Even if you already follow Champions, there have been a lot of moves this offseason, so sit back and catch up on what has been going on with the sixteen teams ready to do battle for a chance at becoming the kings of Korea.
<div style="text-align: right;">Signing off,
<h2>Table of Contents</h2>
OGN Champions Summer Primer
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<div class="LOLsuperheader" id="partone"><span style="color: #dde8e9;">OGN Champions Summer Primer</span>
<h2>By: Fionn, GTR</h2></div><div class="LOLsuperfeature">
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From zero to hero, Homme returns to defend his newly won crown - Photo by inven.co.kr</div>The Four Kings of Korea
Last Season: 1st Place
Roster: Homme (Top), Dandy (Jungle), dade (Mid), imp (ADC), Mata (Support), loopers (Sub)*
* Italics represent a new player or an existing player changing positions
Making it four kings in four seasons, MVP Ozone became the unlikeliest champions in the tournament's history. Going up against Blaze, the team on a 13-0 run heading into the finals, no one gave them a shot of taking the championship, or in some cases, even a game off the favored team from CJ Entus. Breaking down Blaze's strategies, picking the correct team compositions, and playing the best games of their lives, Ozone crushed Blaze in the finals, taking home the trophy and putting them in a great position to qualify for the World Championships.
The biggest challenge for Ozone this season will be their change from underdogs to champions. No longer will any team overlook them when they face off, and each team will be gunning to take down the defending champions. Mata, who people mixed up with KT Bullets' Mafa for most of the season, has become a premiere Support player, linking up with his partner imp as the strongest bot lane in the world. While the rest of the team stepped up during the playoffs and especially the finals, Ozone will go as far as their bot lane can bring them.
dade, the MVP of last season, won it through his dominating games on Zed, making highlight play after highlight play to get his team the championship. He has propelled himself into the Mid Lane Trio of Korea alongside Faker and Ambition, all three having a claim to being the best Mid player in the region.
People will be questioning Homme throughout the season, wondering if the oldest player in Champions can continue his ascension. A joke for most of the spring season, Homme got better and better through each progressive round, eventually reaching his final form in the finals, being able to take down Flame, arguably the best Top Lane in the world. If he can continue being a rock in the top lane and not a detriment like he was early on in the season, Ozone will have a strong shot of making the top four once again.
Najin Black Sword
Last Season: 5-8th Place
Roster: Expession (Top), Watch (Jungle), Ssong (Mid), Pray (ADC), Cain (Support), 나그네 (Sub)
Built around MakNooN, Black Sword have now become an entirely new team with the former Champions MVP and captain now transferring over to the KT Rolster Arrows. Maybe a blessing in disguise, MakNooN, while being one of the best Top Lanes in Korea for the past year, had started to decline in peoples' opinions. Expession, the Top Lane from Shield, was noted to maybe even being stronger of the two, but with the weaker supporting cast surrounding him. With MakNooN's departure, Expession has been called up, finally being given a championship caliber team that he can perform to his full potential.
Alongside Expession's debut as the new Excalibur of Sword, PraY and Cain will try to reclaim their title as best Bot Lane in Korea, having lost it to imp and Mata during the most recent season. PraY is coming off a strong performance at All Stars, helping Korea clean house and win the tournament without dropping a map. The two will be looked upon to help Sword get back to their former glory.
While a roster change can usually take time to come together, the players having to build a synergy with their new team, this should not be the case for Sword. Expession has been playing with these guys for the past year, giving Sword an upgrade in the Top Lane position if Expession can live up to his hype and potential. Maybe, just maybe, if he can get Sword deep in the tournament, people will finally realize his ID isn't Expression.
CJ Entus Frost
Last Season: 4th Place
Roster: Shy (Top), CloudTemplar (Jungle), Rapidstar (Mid), Space (ADC), Madlife (Support), GangMom (Sub)
Coming off their worst tournament performance perhaps in their team's existence, Frost returns with a retooled roster, moving former substitute Space into a starting position and trading Hermes over to CJ Entus Blaze. Criticized heavily for his weak play in the playoffs, Hermes was chosen as the scapegoat for Frost's failures last season, giving Space a chance to make a name for himself by being the partner to the best Support in the world, MadLife.
Space, hoping to follow in the footsteps of his former original CJ Entus teammates dade and inSec, will try to became a star in his own right by teaming up with the most popular player in Korea. By the end of the season, Space will either be heralded for his amazing teamwork and play with MadLife or become the next Hermes. There will be a lot of pressure on Space but he had played well when he was allowed to last season, having to say goodbye to his longtime Support Muse, who will now be partnering with Hermes on the bench of CJ Entus Blaze.
Most of the spotlight will be on the bottom lane, but Frost's chances at getting far in the Summer season will rest on the shoulders of CloudTemplar. While Hermes got most of blame for the 3-0 drumming by Blaze in the semifinals, CloudTemplar has been regressing over the past few seasons, not being able to make up for his lack of mechanics. He is still one of the smartest players in Champions, but that might not be enough against the incoming crop of new players.
CJ Entus Blaze
Last Season: 2nd Place
Roster: Flame (Top), Helios (Jungle), Ambition (Mid), CptJack (ADC), LustBoy (Support), Hermes (Sub), Muse (Sub)
Close to becoming the best team in Champions history, their search for almost perfection was thwarted in the finals of the spring season, Ozone smashing Blaze 3-0 in the final. Their 13-0 record become their ultimate downfall, making it impossible for Blaze to change any of their winning strategies heading into the final. Having won thirteen games in a row, if Blaze had went with something new or creative and then lost, they would have been hammered by critics, wondering why a team who had everything going for them would suddenly change their tactics. With two weeks to prepare, Ozone countered everything that Blaze had used in their two months of perfection, taking the series handily with their expert preparation.
So, now what? Blaze haven't exactly picked a scapegoat like Frost did for their failure, but it doesn't take a genius to see that their bot lane, consisting of CptJack and Lustboy, will be on an extremely short leash this season. With Muse and Hermes' move over to Blaze, this now gives the team a chance to try out new combos and replace their struggling bot if things get out of hand. With the best solo lane duo in Korea, Flame and Ambition, Blaze will not be happy with any result other than first place at the end of the season.
Hermes, who went to Frost, tried to become partners with MadLife, failed and then got shipped over to Blaze, will get new life on Blaze. While sister teams, Blaze and Frost are polar opposites when it comes to priorities. Frost relied heavily on their Bot Lane to come through, but that won't be necessarily the case on Blaze, with Ambition and Flame being the two stars of the team. CptJack and Lustboy did come on late in the season, having their best games of the season against their new teammate Hermes in the semifinals, but you have to wonder if their Bot Lane is strong enough in the laning phase to give Blaze a chance to win the summer season.
Flame and Ambition will continue their thing, carrying games, farming out of their minds and making game changing plays, but Blaze's success will rely solely on if CptJack/Lustboy or Hermes/Muse can become good enough to go up against the other incredible bot lanes that Korea currently posses.
The Emperors of Telecommunication
With a new team name and position, inSec looks for his first Champions gold - Photo: inven.co.kr
KT Rolster Bullets
Last Season: 5-8th Place
Roster: inSec (Top), ssumday (Top), KaKAO (Jungle), Ryu (Mid), Score (ADC), Mafa (Support)
Pegged to be the favorites to take the entire season, KT Rolster B fell once again in the playoffs, this time losing to the eventual champions MVP Ozone in the quarterfinals. While the loss might sting a bit less knowing that the team that upset them went on to destroy everyone else, for KT Rolster, it was championship or bust after KTB's dominating performances online and internationally. After failing to win a championship, they recalled KaKAO from KT Rolster A, making everyone believe that insec might be on his way out.
Surprising everyone, inSec announced that he would not be leaving KT Rolster, but he would be leaving the Jungle, moving to a solo Top position. On paper, the move could be the decision to put the newly named Bullets over the top, having KaKAO , one of the best Junglers in Korea who knows how to play with the team, and inSec, an extremely mechanically gifted player who, if he can figure out the Top lane, could even rival Flame or Shy for best in the world. Thing is, just putting the best players out there won't always work, some players not being able to switch from one position to another. Luckily, by keeping onto ssumday - a player who had an eerily similar rookie season to Blaze's Flame - they always have the fallback option to let inSec return to his old position if need be.
With Arrows (formerly KTA) bombing out of every competition they enter, the Bullets are now - if there was any doubt - the marquee team of KT Rolster, and all the attention will be put on them to deliver a championship in the their third season. The talent is surely there, and they might have the best five (now six) man roster in all of League of Legends, but what will that matter if they choke once again in the playoffs?
SK Telecom T1
Last Season: 3rd Place
Roster: Impact (Top), bengi (Jungle), Faker (Mid), Piglet (ADC), PoohMandu (Support), Beelzehan (Sub)
If the Bullets of KT Rolster are the most talented team one through five in the world, SK Telecom T1 are surely the most exciting team in the world. Put together by former Starcraft 2 player and then Startale League player kkoma, SKT T1 were the Royal Road hopefuls of last season, only being beaten out by MVP Ozone in the semifinals. Probably being the closest to touch Ozone in the playoffs, they would go on and romp Frost in the third place match, taking home the bronze medal and setting their sights for gold in the summer.
With SKT T1 dropping the Eat Sleep Game roster, they are now truly the only team for SKT T1, similar to how the Bullets are the main team for KT Rolster after Arrow's disastrous qualifier rounds. With Faker at the forefront, a championship and a season finals ticket is a distinct possibility, the rest of the team showing that they might just as good as their flashy, all-star caliber mid lane player. PoohMandu and Piglet formed one of the better bot lane duos in last season's tournament, and you would expect more of the same with another season of experience.
The biggest X-factor for SKT T1 will be their jungle, bengi, who now might have the claim to being the best Jungler in Korea with inSec's recent departure to Top Lane. Being the only player to win a KDA award and not be in the finals last season, bengi should be a player that everyone has their eyes on this season, seeing how far he can progress in his sophomore season. Faker might have grabbed all the headlines in their rookie campaign, but bengi is good enough that he might also be a future all-star in the making.
Known as the most frustrating team in Korea, LG-IM #1 seeks to find consistency this summer - Photo: inven.co.kr
Last Season: 12th Place
Roster: Smeb (Top), Reign over (Jungle), MidKing (Mid), Paragon (ADC), GGyuAng (Support), Lasha (Sub)
Called the most frustrating team in the world by OGN caster MonteChristo, it's hard to argue against it. The team has talent, most notably in the Mid and ADC positions, but LG-IM has never been able to piece everything together to make a deep run in Champions. They went up 2-0 on CJ Entus Blaze two seasons ago, but choked away the biggest wins of their careers, allowing a reverse sweep to occur. They kicked out their most popular team member in Ring Troll, heading into the spring season where they finished at the bottom of the table, only winning three maps the entire tournament.
Advancing back into Champions, their goal should be consistency. If they can play consistent for once, they have a chance of surprising everyone by making it out of their group and into the playoffs. Their two new players, Reign Over and GGyuAng, will need to come up big if they have any hope of doing anything this tournament, but so far, so good for the frustrating, never living up to their potential LG-IM #1.
Last Season: 9th-10th Place
Roster: Cheonju (Top), Sense (Jungle), easyhoon (Mid), Deft (ADC), Flahm (Support), Spirit (Sub)
If there is one team not on anyone's radar who has a good chance of going far this tournament, it might very well be MVP Blue. Practicing with the current champions, MVP Blue felt like the team that maybe should have made the playoffs last season over Ozone. Deft and Flahm are already becoming one of the steadier bot duos in Korea, getting to practice with imp and Mata on a daily basis. easyhoon, their ace player, is undoubtedly on of the most mechanically gifted players in Champions, and it looked like he might carry his team to the playoffs until they crashed at the end of the season.
With Ozone's emergence, the entire MVP organization is on the rise. Their sister team is getting all the praise at the second, but the boys in Blue are strong enough to make their own Cinderella run to the finals if everything comes together.
Eat Sleep Game
Last Season: 5th-8th Place
Roster: Miso (Top), Reapered (Jungle), Raven (Mid), Roar (ADC), StarLast (Support)
How do I even rate this team? Known as SK Telecom T1 #1 last season, four of the five members didn't come to an agreement for a contract extension for the summer season, so they dropped the sponsorship and recreated Reapered's old amateur team, Eat Sleep Game. Picking up two new players in Miso and Roar, the entire line-up has been thrown out of whack heading into the summer season.
Pulling a Reverse inSec, Reapered is now a Jungler, leaving their new player Miso as a Top Laner. Breaking up a blooming partnership in the bottom lane, Raven has moved to Mid Lane, and the only player remaining in his natural role is StarLast, now having to make a new alliance with their debuting player, Roar. With all the mixing and matching Eat Sleep Game has done in the offseason, it's hard to tell how well they'll be doing in the summer season. Most of their wins came from the play of Reapered in the top lane, so what's going to happen now that he's in the jungle?
Hoon's Good Day
Last Season: 11th Place
Roster:Trace (Top), ActScene (Jungle), Hoon (Mid), ŁØAÐ (ADC), IceBear (Support)
After being dropped from their sponsor, ahq Korea back is under the new name Hoon's Good Day. Having missed the playoffs by the slimmest of margins, only needing to surrender their last game a second earlier to make it through, ahq Korea had the hardest fall of any of the teams in last season's tournament. Now, with a new AD Carry, they're back and hoping to make it to the playoffs for the first time and maybe get back the sponsorship they lost. While not the flashiest team, they're solid enough to take games off either Blaze or Sword in their group.
Najin White Shield
Last Season: 5-8th Place
Roster: Save (Top), Choppeu (Top), NoFe (Jungle), GGOONG (Mid), Locodoco (ADC), Zephyr (ADC), Gorilla (Support)
With their former ace Expession being sent up to help Sword, Shield is a completely new team heading into summer. Buying into the new Korean style of having extra subs to switch in and out, they brought in a new AD Carry in Zephyr, likely to get the starts to begin the season over Locodoco due to the disappointing efforts of their Bot Lane at the end of last season. Bringing in a top solo queue player in Choppeu for the top lane as well, they will switch between him and the positioning changing Save, who will be moving from the mid to top lane, giving way to GGOONG, their new Mid Lane.
Honestly, Shield - along with Eat Sleep Game - are the biggest wild cards of the season. With new players, players switching positions, and extra subs to easily switch in and out, Shield might not even reach their full potential with their line-up till the very last game of the group stage. The multiple top and AD Carries strategy will be interesting to watch, seeing which players win the starting job, but the experimenting might lead to some growing pains. Whatever the outcome, it's going to be intriguing to see how this new Shield team comes together.
Last Season: Did Not Qualify
Roster: Ragan (Top), Daydream (Jungle), Coco (Mid), Arrow (ADC), Comet (Support)
Returning to Champions after a small vacation, Xenics Storm, a team many thought would be a contender for a championship in the early seasons, is back with a new line-up. Crazy Ragan, the eccentric top laner is back, and he is backed by a strong list of players consisting of Daydream (not Daydreamin, the Team Coast support), the veteran Coco, and the bot lane duo of Arrow and Comet. While maybe not looking quite as sharp as their sister team Blast in the qualifiers, this will be a fun team to watch due to Ragan's antics in the top lane and the strong play in the mid lane. While maybe not a championship contending team, they surely have the talent to push for a playoff spot.
Summer's Royal Roaders
Korea's National Song during the summer time
Korea's National Song during the summer time
As a new season of Champions flies into our calendars like a G6, new squads have joined the quest to become Korea's kings of League. OGN have decided to bump the amount of teams from 12 to 16 to ensure more amateur and start-up professional teams get their chance to shine their talents in the holy grounds of the Yongsan e-Sports Stadium. Let's have a look at who has the potential to royal road this season. (Note: Since HGD is ahq Korea with one different member, I don't consider them royal roaders. As for Xenics Storm, while there are completely new members, the team is still the same name wise).
Roster (Top/Jungle/Mid/ADC/Support): Stark, Quality, ManyReason, Bang, Boink
The strongest out of the four royal roaders this season. Led by old-school legend ManyReason in the mid lane, Blast showed some of the best teamwork and co-ordination in the qualifiers. The addition of Bang helps out in terms of veteran presence within the team, while Stark, Quality and Boink are well-regarded solo queue players determined to make the step up to the big leagues.
Chunnam Techno University
Roster (Top/Jungle/Mid/ADC/Support): NoNamed, Raccoon, mima, Riris, a Wolf
From what was once a casual university team has spawned into Korea's most talked about up and coming teams over the past year, CTU are a dark horse of royal roading. Taking both mima and a Wolf from MVP and Najin respectively, it has now solidified its starting five. Keep an eye out for Riris, who was one of the most impressive players through out the qualifiers. It makes you wonder why KT Arrows passed on him.
Roster (Top/Jungle/Mid/ADC/Support): Apple, WonSuck, Prime, Ggoggo, Ryuna
The pet project of Woong (who has been scrutinized for helping his team cheat in an online tournament) is set to make its 'technical' return to Champions (MiG spawned Frost and Blaze before their departure). Despite being a group of solo queue pub stars, Blitz showed good determination in taking down GOL in the qualifiers (check out game 2 for the super duper lane push composition). Blitz however, will have a hard time making it out of the group stages, with KT Bullets, CJ Frost and LG-IM #1 awaiting them.
Roster (Top/Jungle/Mid/ADC/Support): Sylph, Lilac, kurO, Scarlett, BBuing
From Woong's pet project to Lilac's pet project, we have the second team of LG-IM. While the team in general has dropped off the map as more teams come and replace them, the strong coaching of director Kang Dong-hoon should be of some help to them.
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<div style="padding: 0px 20px; border-top: 1px solid #18283e;"><div style="background: url('http://i.imgur.com/JPdmAee.png'); background-size: 150px; width: 150px; padding-top: 160px; text-align: right; float: left;">Art by Caulo (Deviantart)</div><div style="width: 450px; margin-top: 100px; float: right;">This edition of the TeamLiquid LoL write-up was brought to you by GTR, Chexx, Fionn, Mafia, and NeoIllusions.</div><div style="clear: both;"></div>