final was a rematch from 2016’s Riot World Championship. In that event, SK Telecom T1 defeated Samsung Galaxy in five tense games to claim a second consecutive world title. Many fans believed the team to be poised to claim a third straight, but Samsung Galaxy players had other ideas.
The opening game of the finals was a plain blowout, with Samsung Galaxy giving up only one single tower and depriving SK Telecom T1 of even that many kills. Crown led the game with three scalps, overshadowing his middle lane opponent and the world’s most acclaimed player, Faker.
Game two wasn’t much closer. While SK Telecom T1 did manage their first kills of the final, they were still badly outpaced in both fights and objectives, losing even more quickly than they had in the opening game of the series. Here it was CuVee and Ruler taking center stage, accounting for eight of Samsung Galaxy’s nine total kills.
It wasn’t until game three that the defending champions managed to put up a real fight, but by then it was far too late.
While members of Samsung Galaxy were ecstatic in their victory, much the opposite was true for the fallen opponents. Faker in particular was unable to be consoled, weeping into his hands on the game’s biggest stage as his adversaries celebrated their historic win. Faker’s MVP award was little consolation in the face of such disappointment.
This now marks the fifth consecutive Riot World Championship event to be won by either Samsung Galaxy or SK Telecom T1. Not since 2012 has another team taken the title, when Taipei Assassins triumphed over Azubu Frost. This was also the last time a team from outside Korea raised the trophy, with no teams outside Korea making the final since Star Horn Royal Club in 2014.
Two Chinese teams did make the semifinals at this year’s event. Team WE lost in four games to Samsung Galaxy, while Royal Never Give Up pushed SK Telecom T1 to five games before finally giving way to another Korean final.
The best showings by Western teams game from Europe’s Misfits and North America’s Cloud9, respectively. Neither team was projected to be the best from their region, but both took their quarter final opponents to decisive games before conceding.
Two of the world’s most dominant teams, G2 Esports and TSM, met very similar fates in being eliminated from the group stage with matching 3-3 records. G2 swept overmatched Turkish opponent 1907 Fenerbahçe but managed only one win in four games versus Samsung Galaxy and Royal Never Give Up, while TSM split games with each of their group stage opponents before losing a tiebreaker to Misfits.
While this year’s competition featured an expanded field of participants, none of the attending teams based outside of the game’s major regions managed to repeat Albus Nox Luna’s 2016 feat of making the playoff bracket. The best hope for non-major regions, Gigabyte Marines, were eliminated in a tiebreaker versus Fnatic.