The annual KeSPA Cup is right around the corner presenting League of Legends fans from all over the world a chance to see the best South Korean teams flex their muscles and show the strength of their new rosters ahead of Season 10.
The fifth iteration of the tournament will kick off on December 20, pinning 20 teams from LCK, CK and two teams from 2019 KeG Championship against each other as they battle their way to the summit where the top team will take home the largest slice of ₩158,000,000 (US$136,278.57).
KeSPA Cup will seed top four teams from League of Legends Champions Korea directly into the playoffs while the remaining 16 teams will be dropped into four single-elimination brackets where they will compete in a best-of-three (Bo3) fixtures. The quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals, however, will be best-of-five (Bo5) matches.
With 20 teams in the tournament line-up, there is a huge difference in the quality of the teams present at the event and the odds fairly reflect that. With that in mind, we will skip over some of the biggest underdogs for this betting preview, as we are confident they don’t have the needed quality and experience to lift the KeSPA Cup.
So, with that in mind, let's jump into our preview of KeSPA Cup favorites, where we look over the teams, their roster and ultimately their chance to triumph.
Griffin ($13.00 at Skrilla) are entering the tournament priced as the sixth favorite to triumph with very generous odds offered on them. The South Korean team have produced one of the biggest "Cinderella stories" in recent years when they climbed their way from the depths of Korean LoL scene to the very top. Unfortunately, internal turmoil and mismanagement drove Griffin to the ground at the end of last season when we saw their coach, manager and most of their core lineup leave the team, which will now look to rebuild and rebrand themselves.
Despite all the issues, Griffin managed to retain Choi "Sword" Sung-won, Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong, Shin "Rather" Hyeong-seop and Park "Viper" Do-hyeon and added Park "Untara" Ui-jin alongside Yoo "Naehyun" Nae-hyun to their new team. As their new head coach, Griffin appointed Han "H Dragon" Sang-yong who previously coached Jin Air Green Wings and Lee "GBM" Chang-seok as his assistant.
As we see it, the team has some potential, but we would not count on them to impress here. Griffin are clearly lacking the quality they had last season and after all that has happened, they will need quite some time to rebuild and re-establish themselves as one of the best teams in Korea.
SANDBOX Gaming ($9.00 at Skrilla) are a team that last year managed to keep themselves among the top five teams in LCK, but never had the needed strength to push further. In a bid to make that final push, SANDBOX made some much-needed changes ahead of this season, most notably to their bottom late, which left a lot to be desired last term. They have added Han “Leo” Gyeo-re as their new ADC from T1 and support Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon from Misfits.
That move alone is very exciting, as it combines the young and talented Leo with the experienced GorillA, which should add some much-needed stability to SANDBOX's bottom lane on top of huge potential for growth.
When we talk about roster shuffles, we have to address Kingzone DragonX, who have renamed themselves into DragonX ($8.00 at Skrilla) and are one of the teams which have made more than just a handful changes, seeing how they added four new starters.
The biggest additions to the team are Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon and Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon who have joined from Griffin. Other than the two, DragonX will feature Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon and Ryu “Keria” Min-seok who were both moved up to the starting roster, having previously played in the substitute roster. While there is one big question about whether the duo will manage to deliver on the highest level, they at very least have the experience with DragonX system and should be quick to gel with the team. We believe DragonX have a lot of potential to impress here, and while most of the teams are at this point a hit-or-miss pick, we see DragonX as great dark horse pick.
Priced as third favourites at KeSPA Cup, we have T1 ($5.50 at Skrilla), who were a force to be reckoned with last season, until they disappointed at Worlds, which lead to the team making a few roster changes including the change of their head coach, where Kim “Kim” Jung-su from DAMWON replaced Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun.
T1 will enter 2020 season with Kim “Roach” Kang-hui replacing Kim “Khan” Dong-ha in the top lane, while Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan will take over for Kim “Clid” Tae-min in the jungle. Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok will remain as T1's go-to mid laner, while Park "Teddy" Jin-seong and Lee "Effort" Sang-ho remain their bottom lane duo.
As we see it, the arrival of Cuzz won't affect the team too much, as we believe he will be able to deliver at the same level as Clid. That being said, we have some questions about Roach, who seems like he is a slight downgrade to Khan. He might prove us wrong, but from the looks of it, T1 are slightly weaker in the top lane.
Looking at the moves Gen.G ($3.10 at Skrilla) made during offseason, it's hard to not be excited with what this team brings to the table. Not only did they steal Clid away from T1, but they also got their hands on Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong from KT Rolster, who was arguably one of the most sought-after mid laners in the LCK. In the top lane Gen.G will have Kim “Rascal” Kwang-hee who arrived from DragonX and looks to be a very solid addition. Last season he had many moments when he impressed and while he was somewhat inconsistent, we have high hopes for him this season.
Unlike most other teams, DAMWON Gaming ($2.70 at Skrilla) kept most of their old roster intact which is not all too bad. In fact, it should give them an advantage over other teams as there will be no need for the new players to find their place in the team. Last season, DAMWON underachieved compared to the expectations but seeing how young and talented the roster is, we can safely assume they will continue to grow and soon enough become one of the powerhouses in LCK. It's worth noting they lost their head coach to T1, but we would not count that as too big of a loss, seeing how they simply promoted their secondary coach Kim “Micro” Mok-kyoung to the head coach position.
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