Kingzone DragonX wrapped up the League Champions Korea grand finals on Saturday with a convincing 3-1 win over the Afreeca Freecs in Busan, South Korea.
The first half of the competitive calendar has been turbulent, with iconic franchises like SK Telecom T1 and KSV Esports falling short against the new crop of talent in the LCK. Amid the turmoil, Kingzone DragonX stood high and mighty -- with an all-star roster bolstered by incredible stats -- and made a strong case for being best in the world. Saturday's series wasn't an easy coronation by any means, as the Freecs brought their A-game, but this was Kingzone's night to win.
Kingzone shook up its usual strategy of sticking its strong laners on lane-smashing champions in the early game after dropping Game 1. Crucial to this strategy was AD carry Kim "PraY" Jong-in, who played the newly released Kai'Sa throughout the evening. Kingzone found it effective to put star top laner Kim "Khan" Dong-ha on tanks for almost the entire series, relying on PraY to carry the team in mid-late game teamfights. While Afreeca AD carry Ha "Kramer" Jong-hun did similar work, particularly on Varus in Game 1, PraY's ability to reposition in the middle of a chaotic fight with his Killer Instinct ultimate allowed him to fully take over fights, punching through the tank line while the rest of Kingzone kept him alive.
In addition, jungler Han "Peanut" Wang-ho, who made his sixth consecutive LCK finals appearance on Saturday, was on fire after a sloppy Game 1, creating advantages for Kingzone across the map, regardless of who was in front of him. In a team full of stars, Kingzone's teamwork shined the brightest as the entire roster came together to claim the throne.
This series was, in theory, supposed to be a victory lap, but the Freecs put up an incredible fight. Breaking out all kinds of niche picks such as Gragas for junglers Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon and Lee "Mowgli" Jae-ha, respectively, to try and keep Kingzone off balance, Afreeca's 45-minute Game 1 win made it seem like this series had the potential to go the distance. Kingzone quickly recovered after that, though, matching Afreeca's playstyle and going heads-up, a move that threw the Freecs off guard.
The level of success that Afreeca had this split is commendable, going from a franchise that never won a playoff series to the second-best team in South Korea. Unfortunately for the Freecs, the clock struck midnight on its fairy tale season when Kingzone managed to turn a 2-to-7 kill score deficit into a win to close out the series.