Gen.G 3 -- Griffin 2
Griffin's fairytale first season had a collision course with reality early Friday morning when the undisputed kings of the gauntlet, Gen.G, clutched out a 3-2 victory against the rookie team, who were heavy favorites coming into the night.
Its story may be over, but Griffin has nothing to be ashamed of in its final series of 2018. Every member of the team played on a level that was equal to their spectacular run through the playoffs, especially top laner Choi "Sword" Sung-won, whose Urgot almost singlehandedly carried Griffin to a series victory. Their only failing was exactly the attribute that has always made the team so exciting to watch for many fans -- their inexperience. When push came to shove, it was the seasoned veterans on the side of Gen.G who made more correct decisions and more successfully navigated the pivotal teamfights.
On the side of Gen.G, one name stuck out above all: Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk. The Korean national ADC received nothing but scorn following South Korea's defeat at the Asian games and Gen.G's subsequent failure in the playoff bracket but proved against Griffin just why his nation channeled their hopes into him at those games. It was his pixel-perfect positioning that carried Gen.G to victory, as time and again Griffin managed to initiate what seemed to be advantageous fights only to realize that Ruler's positioning had gotten him out scot free. The most impressive example in the series was also the fight that won the series, as Griffin threw a hail mary directly down the mid lane via a hard engage with Glacial Prison from jungler Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong followed up with a devastating combination of Hemoplauge from Park "Viper" Do-hyeon's Vladimir and Last Breath from Jeong "Chovy" Ji-noon's Yasuo. While the majority of Gen.G took the engages straight on the nose, when the dust settled it was quickly clear that Ruler hadn't merely managed to survive, he had managed to do so while taking little to no damage, which made cleaning up the rest of Griffin's players and structures a mere formality. That Ruler was the MVP of the series is beyond questioning -- had any other ADC in Korea been on the side of Gen.G, there's no doubt that Griffin would have carried the day.
To say that Ruler carried his team alone would be unfair, however, as each member of the lineup had their chance in the spotlight. Lee "CuVee" Seong-Jin's Aatrox proved so formidable a counter to Sword's Urgot that the latter opted to ban it away for the deciding game. Lee "Crown" Min-ho reached deep into his list of pocket champions and once again pulled out the Lissandra that he was known for earlier in the season and managed to neutralize Chovy so effectively that it too found itself on the ban list by the end of the series. Park "Haru" Min-seung had one of the most outstanding Gragas performances in recent memory and was responsible for turning the series around after a Game 1 Griffin victory via his relentless ganks on Griffin's bottom lane -- all while Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong was nowhere to be seen on the day. Finally, Yong-in "CoreJJ" Jo's Rakan was one of the weapons that managed to reverse the series in its entirety -- Ruler may have been the star of the show, but he would never have gotten off the ground without CoreJJ's decisive playmaking.
Gen.G's victory has earned it the privilege of facing off against Kingzone DragonX in the final round of the Korean Regional Qualifier. Both teams have represented Korea in every Worlds since their inception, but with the ascendency of Afreeca and KT Rolster -- two newcomers to the international stage -- only one of them can once again battle to secure Korea's title for another year. The two battle it out on Sunday, September 16th at 4:00 a.m. EST in a match that will decide Korea's final representative at Worlds.