KOO Tigers claw their way to Quarterfinals win over KT Rolster

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Revenge. That's exactly what the KOO Tigers got against KT Rolster in the 3-1 series at the 2015 World Championship Quarterfinals in London. 

Revenge. That's exactly what the KOO Tigers got against KT Rolster in the 3-1 series at the 2015 World Championship Quarterfinals in London. The teams last met in the 2015 LCK Summer Semifinals, where KT Rolster narrowly grabbed the victory after a 3-2 series. But now, on the stage that mattered most, KOO outshined KT.

The first part of the series revolved around Seo-haeng "KurO" Lee's Veigar. KT got the upper hand early over KOO in Game 1, and KurO's Veigar looked questionable throughout the game, placing his Event Horizons too hastily to make much of an impact. So it was somewhat surprising when KOO went back to the Veigar pick in Game 2. "I think we lost in Game 1 because of our mistakes, not because of Veigar," said KurO. "That's why we picked it again." And it was a good thing they did.

KurO proved himself on Veigar in the second game, going 4/0/9. But it wasn't his kills that gave KOO an advantage. He allowed his team to siege easily, wave clear quickly, and zone KT away from turrets repeatedly. KurO had fixed his mistakes and was playing much better, but KT was still  ahead for much of the game, until Chan-ho "Ssumday" Kim got over-aggressive after getting a head start in the top lane, thanks to a couple of great ganks by jungler Dong-bin "Score" Go. "I think Gragas as a champion is not that strong in the top/jungle early game, but I think Score was just good in the games, and that got us behind," says KOO's top laner Kyung-ho "Smeb" Song.

Yet even with Score's jungling, Smeb's Fiora was able to pull ahead, especially due to the armorless build of Ssumday's Renekton. Smeb consistently and impressively triggered vitals on The Grand Challenge in duels and team fights, killed multiple towers, and between his advantages -- and the heroic plays of KurO -- KOO bit back to find their first win of the series.

KT didn't seem to want to deal with KurO's Veigar for the rest of the match -- banning it out in both the third and fourth games. But by doing so, they left Fiora open for Smeb, who sliced and diced his way through Ssumday and KT in every game, regardless of who he was up against.  

"I think the top matchup in general, is a confidence matchup -- who has courage to trade," says Smeb. "I think Fiora's Riposte is a really good skill, but it has to be used with precise timing to have an effect. I think by using that skill really well, I can do really well in any matchup."

KT looked to turn the series around after getting out to a 6,000 gold lead in Game 4, but the problems that plagued them throughout the whole series reared their head again. Jong-beom "Piccaboo" Lee overreached for a few initiations after Score's incredible jungling had got them ahead, and Ssumday was repeatedly shoved around by Smeb's ferocious Fiora play in the side lanes.

To top it all off was KT's head-scratching Baron call, that further brought to light the decision making issues KT had exemplified in every game of the series from Champion Select, to map play, to execution. KOO's comeback was inevitable and the Quarterfinal victory was shortly theirs when the Nexus went down 39 minutes into the game.

"Whenever we faced KT, it was always break even, and then we lost," said KurO, looking back on the series, "So I'm so glad that we came out on top this time...Our team synergy and chemistry is a lot better now than it was [in the LCK Summer Semifinals]."

With KOO's victory, one team from each Group has now made it into the Worlds 2015 Semifinals: the KOO Tigers, Fnatic, SKTelecom T1, and Origen. As for KOO's upcoming Semifinal against Fnatic, they don't seem too nervous. "I think Fnatic has a good top, jungle, and mid early game and are really good at snowballing that early advantage. So I think we'll have to block that off, and win in the early game," says Smeb. "But I'm confident we can do that."

You can see whether or not KOO can get the advantages they need against Fnatic when the teams compete in the 2015 World Championship Semifinals on October 25 at 14:00 CET / 6:00 AM PT.


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