CHICAGO -- Nearly 4,000 fans gathered at the historic Chicago Theatre for the first League of Legends World Championship quarterfinal showdown. Before the matches started, the North American fans were chanting for America's last hope, Cloud9, the remaining team from the United States. But the fan-favorite wasn't the actual favorite, as South Korea's Samsung Galaxy took to the stage.
Led by Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong, Samsung Galaxy went on to crush Cloud9, despite the latter's occasional early game advantages. At the focal point of the team was Lee "Crown" Min-ho and Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk, who both had an impressive series through a number of champions.
The victory left the crowd close to silent, with a small amount of cheers.
"We're happy that we won, obviously," Crown told ESPN. "I feel that I need to keep practicing so we can perform even better in the semifinals. I really can't grasp the feeling of joy right now. I think, going forward, if we win the future matches, I'll feel that more. I just want to practice hard and try to perform even better in the future stages. Even if we lose, I want to show the fans that we're a really worthy team."
With the win, Samsung Galaxy will meet the winner of H2K Gaming and Albus Nox Luna. Albus Nox, who has had a storybook run at Worlds, wasn't favorited coming into their quarterfinal match.
"It's uncertain how the game is going to unfold," he explained. "My wish is that H2K will win and meet us at the semifinals, because I'm really looking forward to playing against Ryu. I can't really think about [playing against Ryu] right now, I can't imagine how it's going to unfold, but I think it'll be okay."
But before making it this far, South Korean fans regarded Samsung Galaxy with ambivalence after they ended KT Rolster's journey to Worlds. "I think it was pretty obvious we would [be] rated as the underdog amongst the Korean teams, because our performance wasn't as good as the other teams and our position wasn't really up there yet," Crown said. "I don't really care too much about what people think, I'm just trying to do my best and really just keep going. I think that's what has kept us winning so far, so that's what we'll try to do for the future."
Looking ahead, Crown says he wants to face a rival if his team makes it to the finals in Los Angeles's Staples Center. "I'd like to meet SK Telecom T1 in the finals and the reason is [Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok], who's the best player in the world," Crown explained. "And if we are able to defeat them, I'm able to beat the best and become the best. Even if I lose, I will identify room for improvement. I just want to face the best."
He says Faker presents a new challenge if they meet in the mid lane in the finals.
"I think I'll be a little nervous [if I face Faker] and also, sort of lost in my confidence," Crown continued. "Also, Faker in each of his movements, he does a lot of psychological pressure and stuff. That's going to be really tough, but I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun."
If they make it that far, Samsung will have a chance to become the second franchise to win two World Championships, with Samsung White taking the title in 2014. That would allow them join the list of two-time winners alongside SK Telecom T1.
"It's definitely a low possibility [for us to win Worlds] for sure," Crown said. "But it's not zero. It's at least 0.1 percent, but I'm willing to give it a shot. If we make it to the finals, we might lose, but we still have a shot and I just really want to practice hard, but there will have to be some luck as well."