With the LCK playoffs kicking off tomorrow, we preview the first quarterfinal between Nongshim RedForce vs Afreeca Freecs.
LCK was a close split this time around, with many teams being close in standings in terms of records. For many viewers, a lot of people have the perception of the LCK being a weaker region, but that is not entirely true. While the LCK top teams have regressed a little, teams in the middle have stepped up and performed to make it to the playoffs. Let’s talk about the quarterfinals as we have come into the business end of the split.
Nongshim RedForce and Afreeca Freecs will face off tomorrow (Wednesday) in the first quarterfinals. The winner confirms Regionals while the loser bows out from contending for a Worlds spot. With 4 spots up for grabs, a lot is riding for both teams. A win and you can fight for a spot regardless of the results for the rest of the playoffs.
Nongshim RedForce has been one of the rising teams this split. They changed Bay for Gori, and it has worked wonders for them. As a team, they are playing to survive the laning phases and take the fights to ensure victory. While that is a style that has worked for them, it is a tough style to pull off against the stronger teams.
Nongshim’s improvement came from not only due to the mid lane swap, but also the bot lane stepping up. Gori has indeed changed the landscape for them, being one of the best performing mid laners in the LCK this split. Also, Kellin and deokdam have been superb in this split and have improved massively. They rely on deokdam to carry these games for them in the later stages.
Where there is a lot of positives for this team, there are some negatives. Despite Peanut winning Summer Split MVP, his champion pool for the upcoming playoffs is a question mark. All across the other regions, we have seen a lot of Xin Zhao, Lee Sin and Viego. Peanut has stuck to playing mostly Diana and Rumble, while having some Lee Sin games along with other champions. It will come down to proficiency for him as the patches have shifted to a bruiser and ganking type jungler which is not really Nongshim’s style.
Rich is another player that might be a detriment for Nongshim RedForce. Rich has been a liability in the laning phases with how he has played and functioned. Any team will take advantage of that situation, especially their opponents in the first quarterfinals.
With all that said, Nongshim RedForce is still a strong team despite their flaws. The way they play is what we expect from an LCK team, but they are not world beaters. Thus, Nongshim is going to be a strong team in the playoffs and possibly the regional tournament.
Moving on to Afreeca, this is a team that is a interesting case in the LCK. While they are a team with inconsistencies, they have some good upsides in them. Their team is very early game focused, where they get ahead and snowball the game out of control. It’s a style we have seen across the years in many teams and does work really well if you can execute the plan. The problem with Afreeca is if they do not get a lead, their play starts teetering off the later the game goes.
A lot of their early game has to do with how Dread plays it. Dread is an extremely active early jungler who will force the issue to get good ganks for the team. He often goes to the top lane to enable Kiin to get into a situation to be great in fights. However, that does not mean he does not gank his other lanes. It just signifies where Afreeca’s strengths lie, and which is in the top lane. The bot lane for Afreeca in Lehends and Leo is a safe bot lane and one that will get the job done.
The problem, however, is Fly in the mid lane. He has been suspect in their games, playing mostly the Sett and the Orianna. He has always been that control mage and safe laner, but he has never really popped off on a consistent basis. Fly can be a liability on this team given how weak his laning phases are in most cases.
Regardless of that issue, Afreeca is still a phenomenal early game team that will take a lead and win games off of it. Dread is their key play and should be the main spectacle to see, at least on their side.
This series actually pits two teams against each other with different ideologies. While Afreeca wants to snowball early, Nongshim wants to take it later. Afreeca does still have slow game times despite their early game proactivity, so that is one thing to work on for Afreeca Freecs. While Fly can be a problem for Afreeca, so can Rich on Nongshim’s end.
Afreeca’s plan should be simple, attack the top lane and get Kiin ahead. For Nongshim, the plan should be to attack Fly and get ahead. Also, they want to take the games later on where they can have deokdam carry these games. This will be a very interesting series and a clash of two different identities. In our opinion, this is going to be a five game series based on how their previous meetings went. Both teams will be prepared to execute their win condition and this should be a cracker of a match.
With Nongshim RedForce and Afreeca Freecs facing off, we finally get to see the LCK playoffs while other regions are already underway with theirs. The LCK has been a close split, so we expect the playoffs to be fairly close as well. Any team could win this split, and it wouldn’t surprise us if an underdog won it all.
LCK Playoffs kicks off tomorrow, so if you want to see their schedule, stay tuned to the LoLEsports website.