The LCK Spring Split Playoffs are coming on stream this weekend, and all five teams to take part in it are already decided. Over the course of next week, building up to the grand finals on April 25, the best teams from the Spring Season will engage in a bubble race for the championship.
KT Rolster make an incredulous return
In 2019, KT Rolster were the worst of the top franchises playing in the LCK. The storied organization even faced relegation matches after finishing 9th in the Spring Season, but survived to earn themselves a slot into Summer. There, KT barely avoided another relegation, finishing 8th, but leaving fans quite disappointed about how far the mighty org has fallen.
During the off-season, signed a completely new team, indicating a new beginning for the franchise, but its first foray into League of Legends was unsuccessful too. The new KT crashed out of KeSPA cup after 1-2 loss to Hanwha Life and started the LCK Spring Season with a 1-5 score after three weeks of play. It was very likely KT would have another bottom-rank finish.
But between weeks 4 and 7, KT went on an eight-game win streak, led by a string of MVP performances by bot laner Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram, who is now contesting Gen.G’s Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong and DragonX’s Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon for MVP of the split. This torpedoed KT to the upper half of the rankings and although the team came short of breaking into the top 3, their comeback became one of the stories of the season.
KT will finish the season in 4th place and start their playoffs run by playing DAMWON Gaming. DWG themselves tripped in week 8, losing not just to DragonX but also to last-place Griffin, ending their four-game win streak from weeks 6-7.
Gen.G, DragonX, T1 in three-way tiebreaker at the top
Meanwhile, at the top of the rankings, Gen.G, DX, and T1 sit tied all at 13-4 record with one match to go in week 9. All of them are playing weaker teams in the final week, so who ends where will largely depend on tiebreaker difference.
Currently, Gen.G are in the lead with +17, and if they don’t lose against KT Rolster, they will secure 1st place. DragonX are currently 2nd at +15, but T1 are close by at +14. Of the two, DX have the easier match-up, playing 7th place APK Prince, while T1 face KeSPA Cup champions Afreeca Freecs. Whoever comes behind will start the playoffs in Round 2, facing the winner of KT and DWG.
From LCK finalists to relegation: Griffin’s fall
In contrast to KT’s rise came Griffin’s fall to the bottom of the LCK. The three-peat grand finalists now face relegation after winning only four games the entire Spring Split.
The Griffin org came under heavy fire during the off-season after the release of head coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho, who was later followed by star mid laner Chovy and top laner Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon to DragonX. On his way out, cvMax alleged rampant mismanagement within the Griffin org, including invalid contracts and the illegal loaning of Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok to a five-year contract with JD Gaming.
Riot’s intervention led to the suspension of CEO Cho Gyu-nam and ordered STILL8 to step down from management of Griffin. This left all of management, coaching, and player side of Griffin in shambles, and the results showed.
Former Jin Air Green Wings coach Han “H Dragon” Sang-yong was hired to replace cvMax, but all he did was lead yet another team to relegation. While relegation itself doesn’t carry the same weight, given the LCK will re-start with a partnership program in 2021, Griffin’s mismanagement, combined with poor results, will likely result in the org failing to make the partnership cut.