Throughout the long-storied history of League of Legends, Korea has dominated every aspect of the game. From success at international tournaments, to infiltrating other regions with top talent, Korea has led the way for quite some time. From the game’s inception, Korean teams and players have held down each of the game’s upper echelons to the fullest degree with no one there to challenge them.
However, there has been one team, from one region that has developed an immunity to the unstoppable force that is Korean dominance. That team is the Flash Wolves, the perennial champions of Taiwan’s LMS. And although they may play in one of the weakest of the five major regions, they’ve learned to overcome every curveball Korean teams may throw at them, and as a result, they’ve quickly established themselves as a yearly contender at international events.
And now, with three victories standing between the Flash Wolves and a trip to the Mid-Season Invitational Grand Final, there’s no other position they would rather find themselves in than the one they are in right now.
Since 2012, teams from the LMS hold a 14-18 record versus Korean teams at international tournaments, good enough for a 43% win-rate against the world’s strongest region. However, that mark takes into account all three LMS teams to ever compete at an international events: the Taipei Assassins, ahq e-Sports Club, and of course the Flash Wolves.
However, when the Flash Wolves are struck out of the equation, the LMS’ all time record versus Korea falls to a lackluster 6-13. Since the Wolves started their winning ways when in the face of a Korean juggernaut, they’ve gathered an 8-5 record, including two decisive wins at this year’s MSI versus Kingzone DragonX.
Since the 2015 World Championship, only two players from each roster remain at MSI 2018 from the original matchup between the Flash Wolves and the Koo Tigers : Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh and Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang for the Wolves and Kim “PraY” Jong-in Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon for Kingzone. Since that point, PraY and GorillA have gone 0-4 versus the Flash Wolves, and have combined for some pretty uninspiring stats.
In their four games against Flash Wolves, PraY and GorillA have a combined KDA of 0.93 with an average KP just over 60%. In those games, they’ve never played the same champion twice, and have accounted for 39.2% of their team’s damage in those contests.
In comparison, the Flash Wolves’ bottom lane, consisting of Hsiung “NL” Wen-An in 2015, and Lu “Betty” Yu-Hung in 2018, averaged for a combined KDA of 11.0, while posting a KP of 80% and making up 43% of the team’s damage output.
Needless to say, PraY and GorillA have been outclassed nearly every time they’ve taken to the Rift opposite the Flash Wolves, and have been outplayed on every front. Additionally, it’s not like they’re playing exceptionally well and the games are competitive. The Wolves have beaten up on the Korean duo repeatedly, and have won each contest by an average of 12,000 gold. In their most recent meeting, Kingzone’s nexus was destroyed just after the 27 minute mark.
On Saturday, look for the Flash Wolves to continue their dominance over the LCK, as an impressive 2-0 showing over Kingzone in the MSI Group Stage should be enough to list the LMS champions as the favorites going into the series. However, it’s important to never discount the track record of Korean teams in Best-of-5’s. Since the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational, Korean teams have only dropped one series to a non-Korean team during international play, as SK Telecom lost to Edward Gaming of China at the 2015 MSI Finals.
Three years have passed since that moment, and Korean teams are unbeaten versus foreign threats in the Best-of-5 format on the international stage. However, if there was any time for that streak to fall, Saturday would be the day. Kingzone has looked incredibly shaky at times, as the Korean juggernaut has proven it can bleed. And with a formidable giant slayer looking across the way, a temporary halt to the LCK’s international dynasty could be in the works, and it could come to fruition sooner than we think.
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