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SSG Crown on C9, H2K, First Blood, and Winning

Like a boulder rolling down hill, Samsung Galaxy have shed the troubles of their early summer split, and began to build some major momentum. In the LCK, the team experienced a rough start; they didn’t have the cohesion or synergy to stand up to the other titans in their region. They managed to turn things around and improve enough to secure a seed for Worlds, but as the ceremonies started, it seemed like SSG were standing in the shadow of the ROX Tigers and SK Telecom T1. Just like the boulder going downhill doesn’t care if anyone gets in their game, Samsung Galaxy have kept their head down and focused on building momentum. With a 5-1 performance in Groups, and now a ticket to the semi-finals, they’re a favourite to make it all the way to the finals. The first casuality in their path during the knockout stage was North America’s Cloud9. We had the opportunity to speak with mid laner Minho “Crown” Lee after the decisive 3-0 victory that secured SSG’s spot in the semis.

The Chicago crowd gave Samsung a bit of a rude welcome compared to the hometown favourites, but Crown wasn’t bothered. The mid laner is nearly unshakeable, and a boisterous reaction from the fans isn’t enough to intimidate him. Besides, there were a fair share of fans rooting for Samsung Galaxy as well. “I heard some booing when we were entering the stage, but when [each Samsung player] was introduced, I heard a lot of cheering for each member of Samsung. All I thought was that these were entertaining people, and this was a great situation.” Other players have commented on NA’s fan culture and loud crowds, and the crowd’s energy adds to the thrill of competing at Worlds.

Crown had his share of high moments during the series, including a first blood in game one. Staying cool as a cucumber, he didn’t let the hype carry him away. “The result of the gank and first blood didn’t affect me [emotionally] at all.” He breaks the critical moment in game one down, from his perspective: “Rek’sai entered with E, flashed, and airborne’d me. While up in the air, I saw Alistair was actually far away. I had time to make an action plan.”

That quick thinking and strategy paid off big for Samsung. What was an early game 3v1 against a vulnerable midlaner turned into a disaster for Cloud9. Not only did Cloud9 walk away without a kill, but they actually gave up a kill. “I backed up, and Alistar tried to combo me. That’s when I used my Flash. I figured if I kept chasing and hitting them, I could get first blood.”

That cool head led to Samsung prevailing; Samsung Galaxy managed to close out games quickly against Cloud9 without taking unnecessary risks. They weren’t bloodthirsty, nor did they chase down kills, but they relentlessly applied pressure to the map like a vise. Part of that strategy involved having a deep respect for his opponents, including midlaner Jensen. “The C9 laners are strong laners - it’d be risky to fight them early or invade their territory. We played defensively because we had to, and played aggressively after surviving that defensiveness.”

While Crown shows respect to the C9 squad, he acknowledges that Samsung played better on the macro level: “[We’re] a very strong team fighting team. At the beginning of the summer split this year, we weren’t that good at team fighting and our coordination was bad. We kept working on it, one game after another, that’s how we got up to this point.”

One game after another is a good policy, and Crown is already looking to the games ahead. “Anyone who makes it to the semifinal and final is obviously a very strong team.” he says. “There’s no one in particular that worries me, but I’d like to see H2K come out ahead. I’d like to face Ryu.”

The rest of the quarterfinals are currently in progress, but Samsung Galaxy have made a statement with their strong showing against Cloud9. Next, they'll face the winner of ANX v H2K, a bout which they will enter as the favourites. If they can overcome their next opponent, they'll be heading to the finals for a chance to win the whole tournament - a fitting fate, for a player called Crown.

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