Reigning World and Mid-Season Invitational Champions SK Telecom T1 slumped to an uncharacteristic defeat at the hands of Korean rivals Samsung Galaxy in the two teams opening fixture of the LCK Summer Split.
In a rematch of the 2016 League of Legends World Championship Final, Samsung Galaxy strengthened their chances of returning to the international event with a promising start to the Summer Split campaign. For SKT however, the game will likely be written off as an anomaly on account of post-MSI exhaustion.
The hectic scheduling provided little opportunity for the LCK Spring Split champions to adapt to an entirely new competitive patch, let alone rest following an exhilarating international competition.
Following a scrappy start to the game, Samsung slowly solidified their slender lead. In a war of attrition, Samsung slowly wore away SKT’s turrets to open up the map. Catching the SKT squad off-guard in their own jungle, SSG mid laner Lee “Crown” Min-ho and support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in perfectly executed a Zyra and Taliyah combination to instantly evaporate SKT’s jungle and support, Han “Peanut” Wang-ho and Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan.
SKT’s Game 1 defeat made it very apparent that the squad had experienced limited practice time on the new patch. With no time to scrim their league rivals, it was sad to witness the line-up playing the MSI meta into a patch 7.10 competitive match.
Eager to start the second game on a positive note, SKT opted for an early invade into the Samsung Galaxy jungle. Perhaps mentally fatigued, uncharacteristically the manoeuvre was poorly executed, granting Samsung two early kills and a solid foundation from which to close out the game.
Comfortably securing their second baron of the series, Samsung Galaxy slowly closed out the match utilising the strength of top laner Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin Camille to execute a slow-bleed 4-1 split push strategy. As SKT rolled over to concede defeat, many fans questioned the draining schedule demands placed at the roster’s feet.
Since lifting the Mid-Season Invitational trophy, the victorious roster have yet to be blessed with a single minute in which to prepare for the new competitive patch and the LCK Summer Split. Totalling the amount of time spent to complete OGN’s promotional photo shoots, Riot Games’ post-MSI filming, interviews and of course, fulfilling their obligated streaming schedule, it’s no wonder the team looked exhausted vs Samsung Galaxy.
Fellow MSI 2017 finalists, G2 eSports have granted their Korean pros a rest period for the opening week of the EU LCS. Top laner Daehan “Expect” Ki and jungler Kim “Trick” Gang-Yu will miss G2 eSports first fixture of the Summer Split, subs Rosendo “Send0o” Fuentes and Jean-Victor “loulex” Burgevin will step into the fray in their absence.
Perhaps in hindsight, SK Telecom T1 Head Coach Kim “KkOma” Jung-gyun should have considered utilising the Korean squad’s own substitute options. Park “Untara” Jin-ui, Kang “Blank” Sun-gu and Kim “Sky” Ha-neul are more than capable of stepping up to the mark to give the starters some rest. Given a brief window of respite, SKT will need to bounce-back immediately if they wish to retain their LCK title.