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League of Legends World Championship 2015: Semi-Finals Preview & Predictions

With only four teams remaining, the chase for the Summoners Cup – LoL Word Championship trophy – just got a whole lot hotter. The first best of five series, which will be played today at 3.30pm (BST), sees Europe’s Origen take on Korean powerhouse SKTelecom T1 (SKT). The remaining semi-final game between EU champions Fnatic and Koo Tigers, also of Korea, will be played Sunday at 1.30pm. Now that we’ve established the schedule, let’s dive on into the games.

Origen vs SKT

I think it’s a fair assessment to say that Origen need to have the best game of their careers in order to pass SKT, who come in to the series completely undefeated through the group stage and obviously the knock-out rounds of the tournament. I’m not saying it’s impossible for Origen to down SKT – they’ve certainly got the pieces to do it – but I’d be lying if I claimed it’d be anything but an uphill battle.

SKT appear to be moving ahead with Faker on the bench this week, which means Easyhoon will be starting in mid. Frankly I’m not sure if this will be a blessing or a curse for Origen, who may well have spent the week practising for a full series matchup with Faker instead. This isn’t to say we won’t see Faker at all in this series; in fact I’m almost certain that we will, given the substitution rules allow for a team to sub in a player for the next game, provided the team coach notifies tournament officials no later than five minutes after the end of the previous game. However, if Easyhoon comes out of the gate and goes off, then SKT may elect to simply roll with the hot hand and keep him in. Though barring any Bill Belichick-esque mind-games, we’re almost assured to see Faker at some point.

With Faker sitting at least for game one and possibly trapped in a mid-by-committee for the series, the vaunted one-two punch of Faker and SKT top laner Marin could prove to be less effective. As a result, SKT may look to ADC Bang to put the team on his back, and with Origen likely to focus a lot of attention on top lane with Faker out of the equation, he’s certainly going to have every opportunity to do so. For anyone playing in a DraftKings League of Legends daily fantasy league, Bang is a great play this week and I’m projecting him to top his 153 points from last week. More on this later.

On the Origen side of the rift, Soaz probably hasn’t slept well knowing he’s got to go toe to toe with Marin; I doubt I’d sleep at all if I was in his shoes. It’s hard to bet against SKT in the top lane – actually it’s hard to bet against SKT full stop, but especially in this lane matchup where Soaz will probably be outclassed all day long by Marin. Expect to see a heavy dose of Fiora from Marin in this series.

Origen’s jungler Amazing, to me, is a bit of a wildcard. There’s essentially two versions of him, “Good Amazing”, who is all over the map making plays, and can single handedly put his team in a position to steamroll the opposition. Then there’s “Bad Amazing”, who finds a way to disappear for entire games; emerging from the jungle just long enough to prove he’s not gone AFK, before returning to the fog of war for another 20 minutes.

If Good Amazing turns up then he’s a serious swing factor for Origen and has a real shot at keeping pace with his opposite number, Bengi, who has been solid all tournament. I expect both junglers to pressure top early and often; Amazing to try and keep Marin held back and Bengi to try and feed him up. With Bengi being the more consistent of the two, I’m giving this one to SKT as well, since we just don’t know which version of Amazing will show up.

I can’t say if Origen have practised for both Easyhoon and Faker starting in mid, but I can tell you that XPeke is facing the most uncertain matchup in the series, especially with the possibility of a mid-series substitution. I’m expecting him to play safer picks and despite the obvious skill of Easyhoon, I feel Xpeke is just that little bit better so I’m giving this one to Xpeke. This does however swing the other way once Faker enters, because I’d be a fool to bet against a player in the discussion for best mid-laner in the world.

Down in bot, SKT’s ADC Bang and support player Wolf have the clear advantage over their Origen counterparts Niels and Mithy. Bang has been the star ADC of worlds so far and shows no sign of slowing down. With such a high ceiling and unrivalled synergy with Wolf, watch for them to ‘push, push, push’ during the laning phase, and I honestly wouldn’t be shocked to see Bang get at least one pentakill this week. Niels and Mithy aren’t just going to lie down and take it however; I certainly can’t see them being crushed like grapes in every game of the series, and I think Niels is going to come up big in at least one.

Overall the advantage sits squarely with SKT but I don’t think it’s an easy ride; I’m not predicting a sweep, nor game five in this one. Final prediction: Origen 1 – SKT 3.

Fnatic vs Koo Tigers

If you’re hoping for two five-game series, I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you here as well. I just can’t see it happening; not the way Fnatic are playing. Don’t get me wrong, Koo have been playing well, but well enough to beat Fnatic or even drag them to a game five? I don’t think so.

Top lane is where Koo have the clearest advantage in my eyes. Smeb is in the discussion for best carry top in the game right now, and is liable to go off at any point. He’s also historically been a very solid player even when his team have struggled, and has at times carried them over the line for a win. His opponent from Fnatic, Huni, is no laughing matter either; it’s just that there are games where he just doesn’t seem to get rolling and becomes a non-factor for large portions. The first game against Edward Gaming last week is a perfect example of this, where Huni was focused and couldn’t get going. He did eventually turn it around to some degree, but the odds are that if Huni struggles, this lane goes to Smeb.

There’s no real contest in the jungle matchup: Reignover has been solid all year round and has looked extremely comfortable in the past few games. On the Koo side, it appears the team will be rolling with backup jungler Hoji, at least to start, as they’re showing the former starter Wisdom as a substitute for the series. It’s entirely possible that Hojin balls out and has the game of a lifetime, but it’s also possible that he gets benched due to a poor game one outing. Uncertainty about your job security is no good for anyone, but when you’re competing in a knock out tournament it’s a real confidence killer. I expect Hojin to be looking to make big plays to prove he deserves to keep the spot, but more often than not that type of rush to prove yourself leads to tripping yourself up. Chalk this one up to Reignover by a mile.

Kuro (Koo) vs Febiven (Fnatic) in mid – now that’s a matchup I could talk about all day. This is quite literally going to be a bloodbath. Both of these players are very skilled, and have a similar playstyle. They’re both also coming in off big performances last week against KT Rollster and Edward Gaming respectively. Ultimately, this one’s going to come down to who contributes more to the team, and who has the better supporting cast around them. I don’t think there’ll be a clear lane winner per se, but with the better jungler and more inclination to roam early, I’d put my money of Febiven to sneak this one.

Bot lane is going to be decided by the supports; I can feel it. Fnatic’s ADC combo of Rekkles and Yellowstar have been a regional monster, and look just as good on the even bigger stage of worlds. Their counterparts of Pray and Gorilla have looked equally as impressive, but maybe just not as much. Pray is a reliable player, he’s consistent and has the positional awareness you want from an ADC. Rekkles is just as consistent and solid mechanically too, meaning that the deciding factor for them isn’t how well they trade with each other, but how well their supports play. If that’s the case then it’s bad news for Pray, as Gorilla has had some absolute nightmare games, while YellowStar has been probably the most consistent support of the tournament and it looks like that’s not about to change any time soon.

I’m giving this to Fnatic in another four-game series. I was close to predicting a sweep here, but with a player like Smeb in their lineup I think Koo manage to sneak a game – most likely game two. Final prediction: Fnatic 3 – Koo Tigers 1.

Fantasy Picks

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with DraftKings, or daily fantasy sports (DFS) in general, so I’ll try to keep this brief. In most DFS games, you have a salary cap, each player is assigned a salary value, and you have to construct a roster of players within your budget, picking from any player who is eligible to play. Once you’ve set your roster, you earn points based on each player’s performance in the games. Each week you have to set a new lineup, again by fitting within the salary cap.

When the regular season rolls around, there’s also Riot’s official season-long Fantasy LCS, which I’ll cover in-depth closer to the spring split. However, in this section, I’ll cover the basics for DraftKings leagues, my picks and their price tag.

The current DraftKings salary cap is $50,000. Positions you’ll select players for are top, jungle, mid, ADC, and support. There’s also two flex positions which can be filled by players from any position, and there’s also the team slot where you select the team overall such as Fnatic or SKT.

Top: For top lane you seriously want to consider Marin ($7,500). He’s the most expensive of the top laners, but Huni has been inconsistent at times and Soaz has a horrible matchup, funnily enough against Marin. You could consider Smeb ($6,000) if you were looking to spend your cap elsewhere; he’s a legitimate #2 top laner this week.

Jungle: I love Bengi ($7,000) this week: his matchup with Origen is stellar; he’s consistently put up good fantasy points and enters the week riding high off a 113 fantasy point performance against AHQ. If you’re looking for a value selection, consider Reignover ($6,200). With Koo going to their backup jungler, and the uncertainty of which version of Amazing shows up this week, Reignover is the only viable value pick.

Mid: If Faker was playing the entire series, guaranteed, he’d be my #1 pick overall, but he’s not. This means you can’t rely on Easyhoon or Faker this week because there’s no way of knowing at which point they’ll enter or leave the game. As a result my top pick for mid is Febiven ($7,400). It’s a decent matchup against Koo and he’s always certain to put up the points; last week dropping 144 points. Value-wise, consider Kuro ($6,700). This has a little bit to do with matchup, but more to do with the fact you can’t trust SKT when it comes to mid, and either way you don’t want to start Xpeke with the chance of Faker coming in to ruin his day.

ADC: Bang ($8,700), has to be top dog at the ADC spot this week. It’s a matchup with Origen’s bot lane that he should get the better of. There’s also the matter of his 153 fantasy points last week: bear in mind he achieved that despite the fact that the series was over in three games. With this one against Origen likely to go to four games, the sky’s the limit. Value-wise, I like Rekkles ($7,800) for pretty much the same reasons as Bang. Rekkles put up 148 fantasy points, also in just three games last week. Either one is a solid start, and whichever you don’t pick is a serious flex consideration.

Support: The key here is stacking or combo-ing depending on which term you prefer. The basic idea is to combo your support and ADC together since every kill the ADC gets, the support probably gets an assist, letting you double up on the performance. Given that Bang is my #1 ADC it should be no shock that Wolf ($7,100) is my top support pick: he put up 108 points last week, mostly thanks to Bang’s performance. As for your value-meal it’s Yellowstar ($6,100). If you went value ADC pick with Rekkles, you should seriously consider picking Yellowstar – 107 points last week – as your support.

Flex: It’s difficult to tell you who to pick at flex because it comes down to who you elected to put in your lineup already. A lot of time it comes down to trying to fit in players you can afford, where you feel they’re going to do well, or at least not totally flop. I’d avoid Soaz and Xpeke this week as they have very tough matchups.

Team: Based off last week, SKT($5,200) didn’t do too well, in part due to the fact the series was a sweep, returning a meagre 88 points. They’re a gamble because if they do sweep Origen, expect the total to be around the same. However, as I see this series going four games, you should see slightly better return on investment. Fnatic ($4,500) might be the safer pick as well as a good value pick. Despite the fact their series was also a sweep they put up 109 points last week, and with their series also likely to go for four I’d say they’re going to be the safer option. Me personally, I’m starting Fnatic this week.

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