Following the tragic demise of the ROX Tigers, Jungler Han “Peanut” Wang-ho is set to sign with three-time League of Legends World Champions SK Telecom T1. Peanut will forge a new in-game partnership with Mid Laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, replacing former SKT Jungler Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong – a move to the dark side of Korean League of Legends, after posing a serious threat to the 2016 World Championship throne.
The gap is most certainly not closing – though for a split second, SK Telecom T1 appeared to be showing signs of weakness. The departure of three-time world champion Jungler Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung left a significant hole in the heart of the team; the well-documented ‘older-brother’ relationship shared between Bengi and Faker was finally broken.
Bengi, Duke and ManDu – even though you have left our team, we thank you and love you very much. pic.twitter.com/mFrLay4Sq6
— SK telecom T1 (@sktelecom_t1) 29 November 2016
But before the leather on Bengi’s seat at Faker’s right hand had even turned cold, SK Telecom T1 swooped in on the carcass of the ROX Tigers and emerged with arguably, an even better Jungler. Peanut’s contract with the ROX Tigers concluded less than a week after the entire team disbanded and despite receiving offers and interest from both the EU and NA LCS – Peanut had no interest in joining any team other than SK Telecom T1… why would he?
If you can’t beat them, join them.
— Wang Ho Han (@lolPeanut98) 30 November 2016
New jungler for SKT T1☆ We signed a contract with Wang Ho ‘Peanut’ Han.Let’s welcome Peanut and please continue to cheer for SKT T1 in 2017!
— SK telecom T1 (@sktelecom_t1) 1 December 2016
In what has proved to be a turbulent off-season for the majority of the League of Legends eSports scene – SKT appear to have emerged unscathed, potentially even stronger – a frightening proposition considering the team are chasing a third successive World Championship.
Peanut was hailed as the hero of Worlds 2016, stealing the spotlight throughout the tournament with his aggressive play style and genuine enthusiasm for the game. The reigning LCK champion quickly cemented himself as a North American fan favourite, born largely out of the threat he posed to the otherwise unstoppable SK Telecom T1.
Though the ROX Tigers ultimately fell short in the five game series to SKT, fans were optimistic Peanut would return to challenge for the trophy in 2017, Peanut himself had seemingly no plans to switch organisations ahead of the Spring Split.
I really appreciate all the chants and cheers everyone gave us today. I hope you guys support us next year as well. Love you all. ?
— Wang Ho Han (@lolPeanut98) 22 October 2016
After establishing his reputation as the shining light of the World Championship, Peanut’s move to SK Telecom T1 essentially secures the dynasty’s power to rule with a continued iron fist. Any hope of a western team challenging for the 2017 World Championship may as well be written off already.