Samsung Galaxy White were crowned champions of 2014 Season on Oct. 19, 2014 following their victorious 3-1 set against Star Horn Royal Club. While the two teams fought on the Rift for a sold-out crowd of 40,000 and millions of viewers across the world, buzz was already circulating regarding sister team Samsung Galaxy Blue and their AD carry Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu departing the Samsung organization for an unknown Chinese team.
Rumors suggest that organizations in Korea are soon to be pared down to only one team per sponsor. It stands to reason that many players will depart for rival teams or sunnier shores. This would precipitate a mass dismantling and reorganization of players, coaches, and staff members.
Samsung Galaxy White’s world championship win serves as a reminder, if not a last triumph, of what sister teams within one organization can accomplish and how they push each other to the greatest of heights, first exemplified in Korea by Maximum Impact Gaming.
In preparation for OnGameNet’s January 2012 Invitational, Maximum Impact Gaming participated in an Inven online tournament. They lost in the finals to a team led by the explosive AD carry, Kang “Cpt Jack” Hyung-woo. MiG’s defeat, and Cpt Jack’s skillful display, inspired MiG coach Kang Hyun-jong to build a MiG sister team around the marksman.
At that time the idea of a sister team was a fledgling one; however, Coach Kang’s sagacity served to propel both teams and their respective players into prominence. MiG Frost won the OGN Invitational on January 20, and both teams participated in Azubu The Champions Spring 2012. On May 19, 2012, Blaze were crowned champions by sweeping their sister team Frost in the finals, with MiG proving the effectiveness of a two-team system.
The setup provided both MiG squads with a regular scrimmage partner. Between each match that MiG Frost played in the OGN Invitational, the newly-formed MiG Blaze practiced with them, aiding in Frost’s preparation while improving their own performance. In Azubu The Champions Spring, it was Blaze who shredded their competition, ending in the 3-0 victory over Frost. The MiG teams’ success precipitated other organizations such as MVP and NaJin to form their own sister squads.
While Blaze were tearing through Champions Spring 2012, the StarCraft organization MVP decided to dive into the League of Legends scene, forming three sister teams: MVP Red, MVP White, and MVP Blue. White quickly made a name for themselves by winning NLB Summer 2012, dropping only one game in the entire tournament.
The original MVP White team included two Samsung Galaxy White members who recently stood victorious on the Season 4 World Championship stage in jungler Choi “DanDy” In-kyu and AD carry Gu “Imp” Seung-bin. Additionally, MVP White’s original top laner and big brother Yoon “Homme” Sung-young currently serves the team as a coach.
MVP adeptly sought and coached up and coming talent. Although MVP disbanded their Red squad in Sept. 2012, the Blue and White teams were fleshed out in 2013 with acquisitions from GSG and CJ Entus. White flourished with their new roster of jungler DanDy, AD carry Imp, top-laner Homme, mid-laner Bae “dade” Eo-jin, and support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong. Renamed MVP Ozone, this team of five shone throughout OLYMPUS Champions Spring 2013, culminating in an upset sweep of none other than pioneer sister team Blaze, now under the CJ Entus banner.
Ozone’s 2013 performance earned them a spot at the Season 3 World Championship, where they were heavily favored. They rode in on a wave of arrogance exemplified by DanDy’s statement that a Korean team would never lose to a foreign one. On the heels of a new sponsorship by Samsung Electronics and the abdication of Homme to a substitute/coaching position, Ozone were unceremoniously eliminated in the group stages by Gambit Gaming. They returned to Korea humbled.
Season 4 marked the birth of a stronger Samsung organization through their specific use of the two-team system. Following Samsung Ozone’s defeat to Season 3 World Champions SK Telecom T1 K in the PANDORA.TV Champions Winter 2013-14 finals, Samsung’s head coach Choi Yoon-sang chose to swap his mid-laners. He moved the consistent and quieter Heo “PawN” Won-seok from Blue to Ozone, placing the playmaking dade in the mid lane of Samsung Galaxy Blue.
The swap, based on Coach Choi’s assessment of both mid players, was something that could only happen between sister teams. It proved to be one of the best professional League of Legends decisions in 2014, and was based on perceived synergy for both teams. Coach Choi stated that his goal in trading dade and PawN was to send two teams to worlds.
In addition to careful roster decisions, Samsung thrived due to the use of their teams’ respective synergy. Both Ozone (renamed White) and Blue had their own coaches and were encouraged to develop their own strategies.
“If two teams have the same style, their strengths and weaknesses would be the same too, in that case there would be no point of having sister teams. For example one team’s strength is in vision control, macro game, and the other team’s strength is using the ban and picks to take care of fights, in this way the two teams would actually have a good reason to scrim against each other.” –Coach Choi in an IronForum interview
Furthermore, the specific ideas that the players developed were not made privy to their sister team. Reports generated by each team were only viewed by Coach Choi or members and staff of that individual team. This way, the two Samsung teams could develop independently from one another while still using each other for practice and growth.
Previously known as “kings of the off-season,” Blue was a team of supportive, reactionary players who had lacked a catalyst to push themselves to the top. Dade fit this role perfectly, and provided the necessary passion to inspire Blue, and their confidence soared. Blue quickly transformed into one of the best teamfighting teams in the world, winning Hot6ix Champions Spring 2014.
Meanwhile, White had suffered from an overabundance of playmakers in DanDy, dade, Imp, and Mata. PawN provided a stable parallel to Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok’s consistency in the top lane. Where dade’s oft-inconsistent performances had previously made them vulnerable, PawN steadiness in the mid lane anchored the team. This further allowed DanDy and the bot lane duo of Imp and Mata, to fully shine as the playmakers of the team.
At the conclusion of the 2014 season, and the Korean regionals, Samsung Galaxy possessed the two strongest teams in Korea: the number one team in Samsung Galaxy Blue, and the number two team in Samsung Galaxy White. Both teams were world championship-bound.
It was this excellent use of the sister team setup that allowed Samsung Galaxy White to banish their demons and earn the title of Season 4 World Champions. Naturally, this included a set with their sister team, Samsung Galaxy Blue, who had defeated White in Hot6ix Champions Spring and Summer 2014. Finally able to defeat Blue, the resulting stage was teary and heartfelt as White simultaneously accepted congratulations from their brothers while assuming their championship wishes. No moment exemplified this more than dade removing his signature team jacket and handing it to his fellow mid-laner, PawN. The jacket hung on PawN’s chair throughout their finals set with Star Horn Royal Club.
Samsung Galaxy White earned the 2014 World Championship thanks in no small part to their sister team, Samsung Galaxy Blue. As rumors continue to swirl about Korea going to one team per organization, Samsung Galaxy’s success throughout Season 4 stands as a lasting example of how powerful sister teams can be.
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