All good things must eventually come to an end. That is the case in the world of League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) as LCK Caster Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles announced on Twitter that, after four years, the LCK has homogenized its rules to the rest of the world and scrapped the Blind Pick rule.
For the unaware, here's how Blind Pick worked: If any playoff series went to a fifth and final game, the teams would pick their champions through Blind Pick rather than Draft Mode. This was originally put in place by Ongamenet (OGN) in an attempt to nullify the side advantage inherent to League.
Many found Blind Pick entertaining and will be sad to see it go, but Blind Pick has allowed numerous teams to win series that they probably would've lost without it. Regardless of your feelings, a rule change as significant as this should be commemorated. So as a way of saying goodbye to this fun tiebreaking mechanic, here are my picks for the top 5 Blind Pick games.
5. Samsung Ozone/White vs. CJ Entus Blaze, OGN: Champions Spring 2014 Third-Place Match
Picks: Jax, Lee Sin, Yasuo, Miss Fortune, Thresh vs. Shyvana, Lee Sin, Lulu, Twitch, Thresh
If CJ Entus Blaze had won this game, then SK Telecom T1 K would have auto-qualified for the 2014 World Championship on circuit points and Samsung White would have gone through the gauntlet (a "last chance" playoff bracket to qualify for worlds). This match allowed both NaJin White Shield's amazing gauntlet run to get into the world tournament, and Samsung White's victory at the 2014 World Championships.
I like this match because it's the last match that Blaze played as an elite South Korean team, and also because of the bizarrely large impact it had on the entirety of 2014. It's near-complete lack of mirror matches showcased the diversity that could be derived from Blind Pick. This diversity is further highlighted by how Blaze's picks were completely different from its Blind Pick loss to Shield just a few weeks before. A fitting end for one of the most successful teams to compete in South Korea.
4. Azubu Frost vs. Counter Logic Gaming Europe, OGN: Champions Summer 2012 Final
Picks: Jax, Shen, Karthus, Ezreal, Alistar vs. Malphite, Maokai, Anivia, Ezreal, Leona
In the time before League Championship Series, a few foreign teams competed in LCK to add excitement and exposure. Overwhelmingly, the foreign teams disappointed, thus serving to forecast the inevitable South Korean dominance. One team, CLG.EU, stood out from the pack and managed to perform extremely well in LCK, reaching the final. CLG.EU was up two games, then Azubu Frost began to target Mike "Wickd" Petersen's champion pool, and it managed to start its reverse sweep.
CLG.EU was famous for its ability to teamfight with massive deficits and make comeback victories. Though Frost had the advantage throughout, you always felt it wasn't quite over. Ultimately, CLG.EU's mental fortitude strained after losing two straight games and Frost took the overall win.
3. NaJin White Shield vs. KT Rolster Bullets, OGN: Champions Spring 2014 Quarterfinal
Picks: Shyvana, Lee Sin, LeBlanc, Lucian, Thresh vs. Renekton, Lee Sin, LeBlanc, Twitch, Thresh
To properly understand and appreciate this Blind Pick game, we have to understand the context; in Game 4, Shield found itself two inhibitors down with no Nexus turrets. Thanks to a miracle teamfight performance from Cho "Watch" Jae-geol and Yu "Ggoong" Byeong-jun, Shield managed to repel KT Rolster Bullets and hold on. Digging deep, Shield forced Bullets to recall, thus allowing it to take Baron Nashor. Realizing its teamfighting superiority, Shield forced a final teamfight and pushed the series into a Blind Pick game.
I enjoyed this game because it almost embodies the entire series: Bullets had the advantage in strategy but Shield had the team play and individual edge. This game was back and forth and featured some really enjoyable plays and interactions, such as the Lee Sin vs. Lee Sin Double Dragon Kick First Blood (with both Thresh supports missing its hooks). Similar to the situation with Blaze above, this game is the last time we got a chance to watch the "real" Bullets compete on the big stage.
2. SK Telecom T1 vs. KT Rolster Bullets, OGN: Champions Summer 2013 Final
Picks: Shen, Vi, Zed, Vayne, Zyra vs. Shen, Evelynn, Zed, Caitlyn, Fiddlesticks
Featuring the greatest play ever made between Yoo "Ryu" Sang-ook and Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, which spawned the joke in South Korea, "Ryu dies every five seconds" (meaning someone watched the play every five seconds online), this is one of the most famous games in Blind Pick history. It shows both how destructive a reverse sweep is and how punishing Blind Pick can be, as Bullets make small mistakes that SKT relentlessly punish it.
This final was amazing and would've been the greatest series and Blind Pick game ever played, if not for...
1. Samsung Galaxy Blue vs. KT Rolster Arrows, OGN Champions Summer 2014 Final
Picks: Maokai, Evelynn, Yasuo, Corki, Alistar vs. Maokai, Lee Sin, Yasuo, Kog'Maw, Alistar
Coming into this match, virtually no one believed that KT Rolster Arrows could win. It had relied on Blind Pick games to beat both Shield, which barely got out of the group stage, and SK Telecom T1 S, which were recently clean swept by White, a team Samsung Blue beat in the semis. Statistically, it was the worst team to ever reach an LCK Final.
This game had it all: a big snowball, individual outplays, a resilient comeback, amazing teamfighting and gorgeous macro. I still believe that if this series had happened on any other day, Blue would have beaten Arrows with ease. This is given weight by Arrow's abysmal performance in the regionals that year, as if it'd made a Faustian bargain. If you take the time to watch an old League game, please do yourself a favor and watch this one.
And before we say our final goodbyes, allow us to remember the Blind Pick career of team CJ Entus Blaze, which was 1-8 in Blind Pick matches, and Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong, who was 1-9 in Blind Pick games as a player.