For the third straight year, the League of Legends World Championship features a finals matchup between two South Korean teams. The League Champions Korea region has been dominant at Worlds with a 24-8 record in games against other regions.
Fittingly, the final is a rematch of last year's final between SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy. Their 2016 series spanned 4 hours and 12 minutes of game-time, longer than any other series at Worlds since 2015. It ended with an SKT victory, giving the team its second straight and third overall Summoner's Cup.
Following last year's final, SKT's Lee "Duke" Ho-Seong and Bae "bengi" Seong-ung were replaced by Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon and Han "Peanut" Wang-ho, while Samsung Galaxy had no major roster changes. Even with the roster turnover, SKT won both the regular season and playoffs of the LCK Spring Split, splitting four games against Samsung Galaxy in the process.
SKT struggled in the Summer Split, however, and finished fourth overall. During the Summer Split, SKT went 0-4 against Samsung Galaxy but redeemed itself by reverse-sweeping a best-of-five series against Samsung in the Summer playoffs.
Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok has been the foundation of SK Telecom T1 since the team's inception, its only member of the team to participate in all four of its World finals appearances.
Faker currently ranks second in kills and second in assists among mid-laners at Worlds. Royal Never Give Up's Li "xiahou" Yuan-Hao leads in assists while Team WE's Su "xiye" Han-Wei leads in kills.
Samsung Galaxy's Lee "crown" Min-ho is very familiar with Faker at Worlds, having played against him in the 2016 final. Faker has had seven games at the past three Worlds with five or more deaths; Crown is one of two mid-laners to have multiple games where Faker finishes with five or more deaths, including two in the 2016 finals.
One common theme to beating SKT at the 2017 Worlds has been to pick Sejuani. In six matches against opponents that have played Sejuani in the jungle, SKT is just 2-4. Additionally, opponents have more kills and assists (54) against SKT on Sejuani than they do in the 10 games on all other jungle champions combined (53).
Samsung Galaxy rolled through Longzhu Gaming in the quarters this year, and Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong's work with Sejuani in the jungle was exceptional. He tied for the most jungle assists with a single champion in the past three years of worlds knockout rounds. He also kicked in seven kills.
Samsung Galaxy has had smoother paths to the finals than SKT during the past two Worlds. Samsung Galaxy has lost one game in the quarterfinals and semifinals of both Worlds.
According to the betting site Paddy Power, SKT is the favorite to win at 1-2 odds. Samsung Galaxy is 6-4, so it is not considered too lopsided a matchup. As of Oct. 18, the prize pool for the event is up to more than $4 million. The winner is set to take home 37.5 percent of the prize pool, which would wind up being more than $1.5 million.