A very convincing win over SANDBOX Gaming to be crowned the champions
Afreeca Freecs have emerged as the victors of the KeSPA Cup 2019 after shutting out SANDBOX Gaming in a convincing 3-0 sweep. Following weeks of competition, this final series ultimately came down to a battle between top laners Kim "Kiin" Gi-in of SANDBOX and Park "Summit" Woo-tae of AFS, with Kiin making a statement as one of the clear best top laners in the entire tournament.
Both of these teams had entirely different roads to the finals. SANDBOX had entered the stage off the back of an expected win against Griffin and a major upset over tournament favorites T1 in the semifinals. Afreeca convincingly defeated Hanwha Life Esports and swept a hyped-up DragonX lineup in semis.
Game one broke wide open in Afreeca’s favor with Jin "Mystic" Seong-jun’s Varus and Song "Fly" Yong-jun’s Ekko picking up a kill each during an early skirmish around the dragon pit. Once they took possession of that lead, they pressed it in every way they could. Roams from Fly to fend off SANDBOX’s comeback attempts on the top side of the map and well-timed two-vs-two all-ins from Mystic and Son "Jelly" Ho-gyeong in the bot lane landed them even more early kills.
Afreeca was just too strong at this point in the game. With crucial gold on Fly and Mystic, they postured aggressively for the second dragon and slammed the door in SANDBOX’s face as they went to contest. After securing four kills and the dragon for themselves, the score was 10-1 in favor of Afreeca at 12 minutes. The game ended promptly 10 minutes later with a score of 24-1, setting the pace for how the rest of the series would play out.
Game two was much less bloody for the first 11 minutes, but ended in a similar fashion. Afreeca were able to grab the first drake for themselves once again, with an extra bonus kill onto SB’s OnFleek going over to Kiin’s Kennen. Afreeca continued to meet SANDBOX at every objective, landing themselves a 2-0 teamfight around the Rift Herald with kills landing onto Mystic and Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon.
After securing back-to-back Infernal Dragons, being sure to collect free kills off of the weak SB members along the way, the grabbed Baron and used it right away to push for the win. 15-1 was the final score, with Mystics Xayah prevailing as the team’s hard carry.
The third and final game was the closest of the series, and notably, the only game in which Afreeca utilized their substitute mid laner Kim "SSUN" Tae-yang. Afreeca secured first blood for the third time in a row when Kiin’s Hecarim took down Summit’s Aatrox with the help of Spirit’s Qiyana. This time, SB were able to bite back with a return gank onto Kiin, a two-vs-two kill in the bot lane, and a Rift Herald pickup. Right as SB had gained a sizeable lead for the first time this series, Afreeca stripped it away with a devastating roam from Kiin resulting in three kills and an Infernal Dragon.
As the gamestate evened out, the two teams went blow for blow, with Afreeca coming out on top in terms of objectives each time, eventually resulting in them securing an Ocean Soul for themselves. At this point, it was near-impossible for Afreeca to lose a fight due to the soul’s buff. They grabbed Baron and later Elder Dragon, forcing SB to watch and do nothing as they rampaged their base and eventually closed the books on the series.
Afreeca’s 2020 roster had been relatively slept-on in comparison to DRX, Gen.G, and T1, and even had to participate in the Elimination and Qualifying Rounds of the tournament before making it to the main stage. They showed in this victory that they may be a force to be reckoned with come the start of the LCK’s 2020 Spring Split.
Afreeca played well with scaling team compositions to secure the win. Hard-carry performances from both Kiin and Mystic paved their path to victory, and Kiin went on to win the Finals MVP award.
The LCK 2020 Spring Split begins in February 2020. An official date will be announced at a later time.
Main image credit afreeca freecs/twitter