In League Champions Korea, the potential fate of two team's playoff hopes came down to a single match and a very emotional outcome.
KSV has not had the easiest road to travel in the League of Legends Korean championships. After a strong start to the year, the team started slipping in the standings. For the playoffs, KSV had one game left to assure its spot, against a team who had good reason to not let KSV through.
Kingzone DragonX has had one loss the entire spring split in the LCK, and it was to KSV in the opening week, in the very first game of the split. The team has since rampaged through the standings, and with both playoffs and revenge on the line, Kingzone had every reason to spoil the playoff dreams.
Kingzone took game 1 handily, stifling KSV from taking objectives and map control. It looked like Kingzone had figured out whatever kryptonite took them down at the start of the split, and were ready to exact revenge.
KSV gained life in game 2 though, off a strong performance from Lee "Crown" Min-ho. The mid laner made excellent use of Taliyah, an earth-flinging geomancer who can roam and control fights with ease.
Crown gave his team life, opening up the opportunity to keep the series alive. A KSV win at 32 minutes sent it to one final game.
With playoff life on the line, Kingzone snagged the Taliyah pick for themselves, but the star of the final match was Kimg "Pray" Jong-in. He had a strong showing earlier in the series as Jhin, but his Caitlyn went 7-0-5 when the team needed it most, backed up by some stellar support play from Kang "Gorilla" Beom-hyeon on Thresh.
One big fight at Baron was the knell for KSV and its hopes of having agency in its own playoff future.
In the post-game action, the camera caught KSV's Crown in a tough moment, crying at the loss. It was reminiscent of a similar moment that SKT T1's Faker had, after losing the world championships in 2017.
(Fun fact: Crown was mid laner for Samsung Galaxy at the time, the team that beat Faker and SKT in the championships.)
These clips can be tough to watch, but it's a reflection of how much these players invest in themselves, their team, and the game. If Crown takes a loss this hard, chances are he'll be back.
With that loss, KSV's future was out of its hands. Fortunately, an upset win from Jin Air Green Wings meant KSV ended up in the playoffs regardless on a head-to-head count, with SKT squaring off against Kongdoo Monster for a spot themselves.
Update: Corrected ROX with Kongdoo Monster - thanks @Lepengu.