SK Telecom T1 cemented their place at the top of the LCK standings this week with two series victories over newly formed Korean “super team” rivals KT Rolster. Winning each series in a deciding game three, there is little to separate these two Korean powers. Yet after prevailing in both series, SKT seem poised to add another jewel to their crown with another World Championship title.
When assessing the strength of regions around the globe, it’s very clearly Korea number one… followed by everybody else. A team from the Korean region has won the last four World Championships, and at last year’s World Championship. the three teams representing South Korea were clearly the three best teams in the tournament. Even this season, the performance of Korea’s eighth place ROX Tigers at the IEM World Championship showed that even bottom tier Korean teams can compete with the best of other regions.
The reigning World Champions, SKT looked to only grow stronger in the off-season with the addition of ROX Tigers star Jungler Yoon “Peanut” Wang-ho and Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon from Immortals of the NA LCS. What was the best team of the world has somehow managed to only grow stronger, leaving many wondering if there would is any team that can come close to challenging them.
Then a deadly new KT Rolster began to form. It started with the two-time LCK MVP in Top laner Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho joining the ranks, further bolstered by a bot lane that promised to compete with Korea’s best in AD Carry Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu and support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong. Reuniting with Mata, KT added another World Champion in Mid laner Heo “Pawn” Won-seok to the only returning member in Jungler Go “Score” Dong-bin. This completed the Korean “super team”, a team infused with World Champions and LCK MVPs that could surely challenge SKT’s grip on the title.
There will likely be no series more indicative of how the forthcoming World Championship will play out than the two between SK Telecom T1 and KT Rolster last week. With two series that each concluded in thrilling game threes, fans were given everything they could have asked for and more from a regular season series on both occasions. Though the difference between the two teams was slight, SKT was able to prevail on both occasions, tallying a combined record of 4-2 against KT Rolster.
Victories in both series against KT Rolster once again cemented SKT’s position as the best team in the world. Although they were able to prevail in both sets, the World Champions still have room for improvement as they continue to progress through the season. The team’s multiple substitutions mid-series, due to a less than stellar performance or for specific compositions, are a sign that that SKT is still developing as a team synergistically and that newcomers Huni and Peanut have room to grow as the season progresses.
SKT’s star Mid laner, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok has also commented on the team’s performance indicating he feels they have played worse since the season began and that he himself had made many mistakes in his decision making.
“I’m very happy that we won, but it’s only one game in the regular season…so I think we need to think about how we can do better than we did today.
“There were a lot of mistakes as well, but it was a good match for us overall since we can improve.”
Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok
The acknowledgment of SKT’s mistakes by Faker highlights the room for improvement in SKT, a scary thought for their opponents, considering they are head and shoulders above on other team on the planet.
Regardless of Faker’s reservations, SKT already look to be the clear favourites for a fourth World Championship title. After defeating a KT Rolster lineup who were pitched to be their clearest competition for the title, SKT should only continue to improve and progress as a team throughout the season. As new members synergize with dominant returning talent, expect the SKT dynasty to continue to rule over the competitive League of Legends scene for the foreseeable future.