For the majority of the Spring season of the NA Challenger series, Team Dragon Knights had used an entirely Korean lineup. The expectations for the team were quite high due to the overwhelming talent they had gathered on the roster. The acquisition of Oh “Ohq” Gyu-min, one of Korea’s best AD carries, as well as Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong, developing into a good carry top laner had many people expecting the team to easily run through the challenger scene. The original plan for the team was to move Aaron “Bischu” Kim into the support role and have Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo take over the mid lane. However, due to Ninja’s suspension, the team was forced to use their substitute mid laners, Lee “do it” Chan-ho and Son “Thy” Seung-young. The team dealt with a lot of inconsistent play from their mid laners as well as the inconsistent play of Seraph who looked much better when subbing in for Team Impulse and Renegades in the NA LCS. Despite only being able to win half of their games during the regular season, TDK did manage to get into the playoffs. However, before they would play their semifinal match against Ember, wholesale changes would be made with the roster. In a trade, TDK acquired Alexey “Alex Ich” Ichetovkin, Oleksii “RF Legendary” Kuziuta, and Cuong “Flaresz” Ta while sending Seraph and the recently unbanned Ninja to Renegades in the LCS. They would also acquire Lawrence “Trance” Amador, former support of Enemy.
With all of these roster moves happening just before their match up in the semifinals, there were many questions as to who would start for the team and how it would all work. TDK decided to start some of their new players straight away as Alex Ich, Flaresz, and Trance would all play in the semifinal. Somewhat shockingly, it turned out these roster moves were just what TDK needed as they would go on to look much better as a team and defeated Ember in their series, 3-1.
With Seraph in the top lane and Thy in the mid lane, it seemed as though TDK had too many people trying to carry all at once. Ohq was easily the best AD carry in the NA Challenger scene and constantly dominated his opponents in lane having an outstanding CS@10 differential of 11.4. However, the inconsistent play from their other lanes was a detrimental to the team. Team Dragon Knights also seemed to suffer from over passivity. They lacked any form of consistent initiation and guidance. The semifinal showed that the addition of Flaresz and Alex Ich immediately helped remedy these ailments. In their series against Ember, Flaresz was the consistent initiation the team needed. On Poppy he would jump into the enemy team, even at times when his team wasn’t ready to follow up. Alex Ich also added stability in the mid lane that the team had lacked prior to his arrival. He worked as a secondary option for initiation and also added his veteran leadership and guidance. The team’s macro play and map awareness was much better with Alex Ich reading the game through the superior vision control of Kevin “Kez” Jeon in the jungle.
Trance was another stand out for the team, as he filled in for Bischu who was not a support main. Bischu had some issues with champion diversity during the season as he only seemed capable on Braum and Alistar. In this four game series, Trance was able to play three different supports and had much better vision control. Throughout the regular season on Enemy, Trance was a very good support but was on a bad team. Now on TDK, he was able to display his strengths as he supported Ohq and controlled vision along with Kez. With a true support main and the solo lanes more stable, the team was much better at playing around their star AD carry. They even played protection compositions with four tanks focused around Ohq’s great Vayne play, a strategy they had not attempted all season. Their preparation was also more focused and logical as they used their picks and bans in order to counter the strengths of Ember.
The massive roster shuffle and the language change from Korean to English may have seemed like a lot to overcome for Team Dragon Knights but they have pulled it out and look more formidable as a result. With their semifinal win they now find themselves in the finals and automatically qualify for the NA LCS Summer Promotion tournament. It seems as though Alex Ich will again have the opportunity to boost Team Dragon Knights into the LCS as he did in 2015. Also, with Renegades being at the bottom of the LCS and relegation seeming imminent, it will be interesting to see if they play one another during the promotion tournament. If they were to play one another then we would truly see who benefited the most from the trade. If they can defeat Apex Gaming in the NA Challenger Series Spring Finals, they will have proved that their current form is legitimate and that they have a real shot at making some noise in the LCS.
Featured Image provided by Azubu
Written by Oscar Left
Edited by Williaf