The first day of the semi finals was probably the one that everyone looked up at with anticipation. This was a game that was widely agreed upon that whoever took the finalist spot would go on to take the cup. The ROX Tigers were the crowd favorite with their jungler Peanut being the teams poster boy and their top laner Smeb being ranked as the strongest player coming into this tournament. If Smeb had a chance to show he earned that title then this would certainly be the match to do it. Their opposition SKT1 was the team that everyone felt would actually win it but was hoping they wouldn’t, simply due to the fact that the team looked so strong taking the previous 2 championship titles that the community was hoping to see some new blood take up the cup.
The first game is usually one that sets the tone for the rest of the matchup, that was especially so for the match up of H2K vs SSG the next day. When SKT1 showed a clean performance against their fellow Koreans there was some adamance at the thought that SKT would perform another clean sweep of the semi finals. That all the matches in the Knockout stage where people expected a constant back and forth between two teams of equal wouldn’t happen. So when the ROX Tigers stepped away from that first game and capitalized on their early leads to snowball in to two consecutive wins the crowd was staticky with excitement.
The tables had turned, SKT1 only needed one more loss to lose their chance of becoming the 3rd time defending world championship team. Throughout the matches previously ROX managed to win based off both team play and individual talent, even securing 3 consecutive fire drakes in one game. Then the next game managing to get 3 earth drakes, having objectives shred under the claws of the ROX Tigers. Yet when you look at the gold leads and over map presence you couldn’t help but feel that SKT was never too far behind. The team has shown a masterful performance and overall awareness of how to play a losing game, even more so at taking these small advantages and turning them into something more. When players such as Faker manage to secure some small lead he will contest to the point that that lead managed to win him a 1v1. So even though the crowd was cheering ROX and many players where purchasing and upgrading their ROX icons SKT1 had a very real shot of coming back.
SKT didn’t give ROX the same chances they did that game, whether due to pure outplay, fatigue, or even sheer humanity ROX couldn’t secure that same edge that led to wins from their previous performance. SKT took game four and propelled themselves into the final game, pulling out the rug from underneath the Tigers. Yet even that showing, both seems seemed to accept the games for what they were and accepted the good and bad. I have a very strong feeling that next Year the ROX Tigers will provide another spectacular performance in the 2017 world championship.