Samsung Galaxy was once atop the world, Summoner's Cup champions in 2014, and suddenly lost it all when every member of its two world-class squads, Samsung White and Blue, left for bigger contracts in China. Two years after the rebuild started, Samsung has returned to Worlds and is aiming for the same feat it accomplished in 2014.
In Samsung's first game at Worlds since White beat Starhorn Royal Club to win the world championship, it was a clear-cut victory for the third-place Korean team over Europe's Splyce. With Samsung's win, both Korean teams returned to their hotels victorious, while Europe fell to 0-3 on the day.
"I think we should have had an easier win," Samsung's rookie AD carry Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk said to ESPN after the opening-day conquest. "But I made a lot of mistakes and threw a couple of times, as well. I think we have to work on those mistakes for future games."
In a previous interview on opening day, CLG's AD carry Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes gave high praise toward the Samsung marksmen and his team as a whole. Ruler echoed the compliment, but thinks Stixxay can improve with more balance.
"I think CLG is a really good team," Ruler said. "They have really good teamwork, and they know how to close a game when ahead. And also, about Stixxay, I think he's a really good ADC, but sometimes it feels like he's too aggressive, or sometimes too focused on farming CS. I think if he can balance it out, he's going to be an even better ADC."
Ruler joined Samsung during the summer split and sparked the team's early-season success. After failing to make the Korean playoffs since White and Blue departed to China, Ruler became the final piece of the puzzle that pushed Samsung back into the postseason. Although Samsung couldn't make the finals, getting blown out by KT Rolster in the quarterfinals 3-0, it came back with a vengeance in the Korean Regional Qualifiers to make Worlds by defeating the same team that eliminated them from the playoffs.
"Rather than having a rival, I have three players I [respect] and think are better than me: Uzi from RNG, Bang from SKT, and Pray from ROX.
"TSM, we never actually scrimmed them and I didn't watch their games, so there's not much to comment," he said, going over the other two teams in the group other than Splyce. "RNG, they are a really super aggressive team, so if we can handle their aggression well we should be able to pull off the victory."
The western fans know ROX Tigers and its fast-paced, stylistic offensive play. They know of SKT and its meticulous map play and legendary mid laner. Samsung, at least in this iteration, not so much.
"We are a team with really good teamwork, and we are all really close and fun people in general," Ruler said. "I hope the NA fans cheer for us and please don't make any toxic comments."