Who: Samsung Galaxy (South Korea, 5-1) vs. Cloud9 (North America, 3-3)
When: Thursday, Oct. 13 at 6:00 PM Eastern/3:00 PM Pacific
Where: Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois
What's at stake
For Samsung Galaxy, this is the culmination of a two-year rebuild that has finally reached its end point. The organization was left in ruins after the 2014 World Championships when the two best teams in the world, Samsung White and Samsung Blue, decided to leave South Korea for bigger contracts in China. Instead of buying flashy names to replace them, Samsung went into a full rebuild, breaking down every remnant of the old championship teams and starting again from the rubble foundation.
It hasn't been easy for Samsung these past two years. In 2015, it was a joke of a franchise. The teams it fielded were bad, and the former world champion organization was seen as cheap for not paying its players to stay or bringing it established names to replace them. But Samsung's two-year blueprint has come to fruition, and each starting member on the team has been systematically placed to get Samsung where it is now. The addition of veteran Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong at the start of the year was the piece that truly put Samsung back in a position of playoff contention, giving the youthful team a captain it could rally around.
"Samsung [started] from the bottom," Ambition said. "People could watch us grow, and I think that's why [they] think we're such a fun team [to watch]."
Cloud9, Samsung's opponent, is just trying to prove it belongs in the quarterfinals. After a disappointing group stage, the last North American team left in the competition needs to pick its game up on all corners of the map if it wants to have any chance of making it to the semifinals.
"But I guess the stars aligned for us," said William "Meteos" Hartman. "I think we agree as a team we s--- the bed this group stage. And we're just going to try to use the motivation of being the only NA team here."
C9 was able to get ahead early against tournament favorite SK Telecom T1 in the second match the two teams played together, but NA's third-place team couldn't take control in the mid-game and eventually lost in the end stages. Its only win of the day was against China's I May, a team that was dealing with internal issues as one of its starters, Yun "Road" Han-gil, was banned for the first game of Week 2 for "toxicity" online. Funnily enough, the only game I May won was the one game Road sat out on.
Matchup to watch: Lee "Crown" Min-ho (SSG) vs. Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen (C9)
Crown was one of the breakout stars in San Francisco for the group stages. His Viktor is a must-ban, with an overall record of 3-0 and a statline of 20/5/17 already in the tournament. And if Cloud9 wants to become the first North American team in a Worlds semifinal since the inaugural competition in 2012, Jensen (21/13/28, 547 DPM overall in groups) is going to need to keep up and surpass Samsung's mage-wielding mid lane ace.