Tuesday, 24 December 2013

OGN Winter 2013/2014 Quarter Finals: Predictions!

While North America and Europe battle it out for the "bronze medal" at the Battle of Atlantic, (which should really be held on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean) the OGN Champions Winter 2013/2014 season in Korea is chugging along nicely having now reached the quarter finals stage of the competition. Sixteen teams have been reduced to eight as the top two teams in each of the four groups advance while the lower eight fall down to compete in the "amateur" NLB tournament. There are really no surprises out of the eight teams that made it out of groups, especially considering the match ups within the group stage, except for perhaps Xenics Storm who have really been the surprise team of the tournament.
This season we see a top quarterfinals bracket stacked full of talent, which will deny any hopes of seeing a rematch of last seasons grand final between KT Bullets and SKT T1 K. The result of this though will be a couple of teams that have never made it out quarterfinals or groups will get to the semifinals. Here are my thoughts and predictions on the quarter final match ups.

SKT T1 K v Samsung Blue:
It is Blue's first time in the quarter finals of an OGN season, they often called the Champions of the Off-season, referring to their good showings in the off season but failure to perform in OGN.  This match is a chance to prove winning 2-0 (in their quarter final match of WCG) against the freshly crowned World Champions SKT T1 K was no fluke. This quarter final is a rematch of the surprising victory, a victory even Blue's midlaner Pawn, did not think possible against Faker's team.
Somehow, despite the obvious improvement and high quality level of play Blue has exhibited in the past few months I am skeptical that there will be repeat of the 2-0 at WCG. SKT T1 K has shown just how skilled they are in game, that they can make plays to counter an early deficit (see their recent game against Blaze) and how every single member of their team can be counted on to perform as individuals and also together as a team. They seem to have a combination of  fierce determination and skill that allows them to be terrifying on Summoners Rift, something no other team seems to possess. Considering the history between these two teams I don't think Faker is going to let Pawn get two kills on him ever again and Blue are definitely the underdogs in this match. We will just have to wait and see if maybe they can pull off a repeat of WCG.
Prediction: SKT T1 K

KT Bullets v CJ Blaze:
This match up is a rematch of last seasons quarterfinals, as last Summer CJ Blaze was booted out of the competition at the quarterfinals by KT Bullets 3-2 who went on to take second place behind SKT T1 K.
These two teams both had pretty difficult groups to contend with during the group stage (although ironically Bullets' group was the only group not to have a tiebreaker). KT Bullets pulled out a 2-0 against a strong looking IM #2 in their last game to secure the #1 spot to move out of groups. only losing one game in the group stages to Samsung Blue. Blaze's group stage record does not look as pretty, losing 0-2 to SKT T1 K and was forced into a tiebreaker with the new SKT T1 S team to get out of groups. The two SKT T1 teams are tough opponents however and Blaze's results don't mean they will be a push over for KT Bullets. Blaze will not want to miss out on the semi-finals again and are bound to want revenge on Ryu and crew for last season's results. However, the KT Bullets are a fantastic team, and I think they are slightly stronger than Blaze at the moment. This match will likely be really close but I think the unique strategies and play style of the KT Bullets will win out crushing Flame and his team's dream of getting the trophy.
Prediction: KT Bullets

CJ Frost v Samsung Ozone:
Ozone's quarter finals opponent is none other than CJ Frost who is suffering from a significant slump in performance. While Frost has not won any major tournament since Summer 2012, they have consistently placed highly in tournaments with solid performances. However with the changes in Season 3, now into pre-Season 4 and the inability for Frost to settle on a reliable midlaner, plus shaky performances from the rest of the team at times, Frost has slipped failing to beat a surprisingly strong Xenics Storm in a tiebreaker for first place out of their group. Even Shy and Madlife, Frost's star players, have not been able to make up for the lack of strength in the midlane. It seems Frost is struggling to find something that works and there is no guarantee Frost will perform like the Frost of days gone by. Ozone has also had problems with consistency, following an unexpectedly dismal performance at Worlds which will have Ozone fans cringing for some time. However unlike Frost they have picked up somewhat, their sub top laner Looper being able to perform well under pressure consistently.  Even their old top laner, Homme, in the match he did play this season performed solidly although it's clear Looper has more of an impact especially with his teleport plays. Looper has yet to be tested against the best Korean top laners such as the likes of Shy, Flame or Impact. However, I think Ozone will most likely beat Frost if they are adequately prepared, as they are team that I believe is rather reliant on having a good strategy. Often they can simply outplay their opponents but when it comes to the more experienced teams Ozone really needs a definitive plan to really play at their full potential. This is how they managed to beat Blaze in a devastating 3-0 when they won OGN Spring in 2013. In saying that though Frost has just as much time to prepare and might be able to patch over their problems to pull off a win. However the lack of a reliable midlaner is unlikely to be fixed in the time given and I think Ozone's mid, dade, outclasses Frost's trio of midlaners (Maknoon, GBM and RapidStar). As much as it will be heartbreaking to see Madlife cry again, they will need more than just God's tears to beat Ozone.
Prediction: Samsung Ozone

Xenics Storm v Najin White Shield
Neither of these teams are big name teams. Najin White Shield has always been in their sister team Black Sword's shadow, despite now having done better than them in two consecutive OGN seasons. I guess Black Sword do have an OGN trophy and a good performance at the recent World Championships to their name but it is Shield that has proven the Najin team to watch. NoFe may not have the same charm as his fellow Najin jungler Watch, but NoFe is probably the player to look out for on this team. Shield got out of groups in the second place spot after losing in a tie breaker to Samsung Ozone. Shield is a team that works really well together spearheaded by NoFe and Save, their toplaner (although he did play midlane in the tiebreaker). However although they are quite solid in their team play, they are not a team to make big plays or come out with any crazy strategies. They were probably in one of the softer groups in the group stage and it will be interesting to see how well they do against other experienced teams if they make it far enough. Xenics Storm also was perhaps in a softer group, but even considering this, they have performed well beyond anyone's expectations. Xenics Storm is a team that last season, was considered to be a team that was only better than their sister team Xenics Blast. They only managed two wins in the group stages last season, and one of these was against Blast. This season however, they are first out of their group, beating CJ Frost convincingly in a tiebreaker. Coco and Arrow, the teams mid and AD carry, are very skilled players and both have posted impressive numbers this season. The rest of the team falls nicely in with these stand out players, allowing them to carry.They have a very kill-centric style, Piccaboo, the support, constantly roams mid to create kill opportunities to help feed Coco. Storm's play has been nothing short of impressive and it's great to see a team that did so poorly last season to come out fighting. Considering this I am going to just go out on a limb and jump straight onto the Xenics Storm hype train and say I think they have a very good chance of making it to the grand final. With a lot of the favourites for this tournament pushed into the top bracket this season I think Xenics Storm has a good chance of surprising everyone and ending up being one of the two teams battling for the trophy this season.
Prediction: Xenics Storm

Who do you think is going to win?

Thanks for reading! You can find me on twitter @gerarda 

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