OGN: Champions Winter, is currently in its third iteration, following the success of Champions: Spring and Champions: Summer.
Originally sponsored by the German media group, Azubu: The "Champions" tournament decided the Korean circuit points for the season 2 World Championship. Both Azubu teams (Frost and Blaze; formerly under the organization "MiG), have yet to fail to reach the playoffs. The first tournament was won by Blaze and the second by Frost - perhaps fitting for two of the top teams in the world.
The third installment of this top star tournament features a new sponsor (Olympus Korea) but OnGameNet are still the event organizers, as they rightly should be. Working hard to ensure that Korean League of Legends is accessible well outside of Korea, they've exclusively hired two, English-speaking casters - MonteCristo and DoA - to cover all the matches in English, as well as
offering a free streaming service to all viewers.
After three months, group stages and play-offs and 42 matches: Twelve teams have been reduced to two and today we will take a closer look at these teams:
Grand Finale : Azubu Frost vs NaJin Sword
Gaining true international fame after qualifying for Season 2 World Championship, displaying a dominant presence in the group stage but ultimately departing in the quarter-finales after a loss to Taipei Assassins; NaJin Sword won the hearts and minds of a great deal of viewers.
One particular team member stood at the forefront of this: MakNooN. With his precise mechanical skill, his fool-hardy aggression and his unparallelled charisma, MakNooN presented his team as one of the big contenders in the League of Legends scene. And calling it HIS team, is not far from the truth.
NaJin Sword's roster history is slightly complicated: Originally created as the second team under the NaJin Organization, NaJin Sword's conceptual phase began with MakNooN after he was knocked out of Champions: Spring. Currently, at the time, he was playing for NaJin's original team, which was named: "NaJin e-mFire". MakNooN, with the guidance and help of his organization, left the team after they were knocked out to search for new recruits which would help him Najin's second League of Legends team.
Due to MakNoon's creative and particularly unique playstyle in the top lane - The NaJin organization gave him free reigns to find players that would entirely suit HIS playstyle. Building a team around himself, that could handle his relentlessly aggressive playstyle, the soon-to-be NaJin Sword would not go through many changes before fixating itself on the team we know today.
Literally plucking players from the high-end elo ranks, none of the current NaJin Sword players had ever played for a professional organization before; with one exception: "Mulroc" or "ReSet" as he is now know.
Mulroc's time with NaJin Sword is a contentious one and his attitude eventually caused him to lose the jungling spot to "Watch" - which probably MakNooN and many others are quite grateful for.
After changing their original support player to today's "Cain", the NaJin Sword team has remained rigid as a roster and continued to strive towards becoming one of the top League of Legends teams in the world.
The NaJin organization eventually hired former Starcraft Brood War progamer "Reach" to coach both teams (Sword & Shield), a decision that was hugely popular among Korean fans as Reach is quite a bit of a legend over there.
His impact has been tremendously noted, as the young and inexperienced players of Sword have grown into the fearsome competitors they are today.
If you have heard of Frost, there's a good chance you have heard of Blaze and Vice Versa. The two Azubu teams have made such an impact on the professional scene of League of Legends, that there are few other teams in the world which can claim such notoriety.
Known for always scrimming with each other, the two teams have unwittingly become "rivales", as they most of the time end up playing each other in various tournaments. This year, it's different. This year, Blaze are already out but Frost have made it to the OGN: Champions finale for the third time, in as many tournaments.
They have a 100% Grand Finale attendance for this event.
Created as the first out of the two teams, Frost was originally named Maximum Impact Gaming before being picked up by the Azubu group.
Blaze was created not long afterwards and very little has changed since then.
After losing the grand finale of OGN: Spring to their counterparts, Azubu, the teams original AD Carry: LocoDoco, announced his departure. To replace the loss of their former carry, Frost signed Shy to play in the top lane. The captain and former top laner: Woong, moved to bot as the new AD Carry and has remained there since and is now considered one of the best AD Carries in the world.
This natural ability to adapt to new situations, is what has kept Azubu Frost running as arguably the number one team in the world for the past year, contending only with Tapei Assassins and Azubu Blaze. Not quite matching the mechanical skill of Azubu Blaze, Frost keeps their gameplay at the top level by introducing intelligent plays, creative team compositions and a steady stream of communication via their captain: Woong.
Arriving at their third OGN finale in a row, they finished top of their group and scraped past a difficult semi-finale against Azubu Blaze.
Known to be a highly efficient and clinical team, they don't show quite the level of emotions that other Korean teams do.
Will their stoic display of clinical efficiency be enough to beat NaJin Sword? If anyone can do it: It's Azubu Frost.
Head-to-head, what needs to be done?
NaJin Sword managed to get themselves out of a rut they had been in recently: Their champion selections and team compositions were predictable and lacked creativity. During the play-off stages, these things changed drastically and it's now virtually impossible to out-ban or out-pick Najin Sword entirely. Azubu Frost must simply make sure they play with a team composition that focuses less on gimmicks and more on traditional, stabilized play for what is most likely going to be a series of extended matches.
Shy has to put a lid on MakNooN and must deny him his favourite champions, such as Kha'zix. Still, even with three bans - MakNoon's champion pool is large enough to handle most things thrown at him in the top lane. The bottom line for Shy, is that he can't make any mistakes. As difficult as that sounds, MakNooN takes great advantage of any mistakes committed in the top lane and will capitalize on them. For Shy to win his lane, he has to use MakNoon's aggressive playstyle against him by forcing him to commit to situations he can't win.
The bottom lane will most likely be decided by ganks, rather than individual skill. These carries and supports are so competent at what they do, that there will be very few mistakes to capitalize on. Don't be surprised to see Twisted Fate coming out of RapidStar for level-6 ganks in bot lane.
The two junglers are very evenly matched in skill but what Cloud Templar lacks in mechanical skill, he makes up for in intelligent ganks and counter-ganks. Watch is a slightly better team-fighter and with a mid-to-late-game jungle pick, he can introduce a slightly higher threat when it gets to that stage.
Ssong has grown an immense amount since his first tournament, roughly 8 months ago. Placing as one of the top 5 mid laners in Korea, at the moment, Ssong will benefit most from simply playing his game in mid lane as he is most likely to come out as the victor in that match-up. Rapid Star should pick a roaming mid laner and focus on securing kills in the other lanes, allowing the rest of his team to snowball into the lead.