After the weakest performance at Worlds by Korea as a whole, teams came into a new season of LCK to rebuild and redeem themselves. While the young talents of the league have stepped up, the previous Worlds participants in Afreeca Freecs, Gen.G, and KT Rolsters continue to struggle. So what happened? Why are these teams continuing to struggle? Let’s take a look at their issues in the first 3 weeks of LCK.
While teams like Hanwha Life Reports and SK Telecom T1 made huge roster changes and upgrades, the three world participants failed to make enough big changes to their roster. While each team had one big signing during the offseason, it failed to solve many issues the teams faced.
For Gen.G, while they picked up jungler Han “Peanut” Wang-ho, their failure to fix issues in other positions and opting to keep roster changes within the organisation has backfired. Losing key players in Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in and Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong has made the team seem lost most games. Until other players start improving, it’s hard to see ADC Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk dragging them out of the bottom of the standings.
Meanwhile on the side of KT Rolster, bringing in mid laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong was a nice upgrade over Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon. However, the loss of the bot lane duo of Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu and Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong was still a big hit to the team. While their new bot lane has shown promise, they’ll still be considered a massive downgrade in the long run. Despite this, KT has shown the most promise thus far out of the three teams and could see themselves back in the playoff picture in the future.
Finally there’s Afreeca Freecs, who made an upgrade mid in Ucal. However, a downgrade to an already weak bot lane has left a lot to be desired for the team as even jungler Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon has played both ADC and support. Unless Afreeca can find a solution to their bot lane woes, the team will likely stay fairly inconsistent.
Not quite my tempo
A huge reason behind Korea’s terrible Worlds performance was their inability to adapt to a faster pace game as the meta shifted away from the slow scaling gameplay the region was used to for a majority of the season. This continues to be an issue for the three teams as the LCK season begun. While the new young teams like Griffin and SANDBOX Gaming have adapted to and excelled in the new meta, the old guards have failed to fully make the needed change. This could be seen especially when these teams play against each other. While teams like KT try their best to keep up against the young new teams, they immediately revert to slow-paced gameplay when they play another old guard like Kingzone DragonX.
No matter how well the players can do, unless they adapt to the new high paced gameplay of the new season, it’s clear their struggles will continue. While the teams have begun to show some signs of improving in that area, they’re still not yet at the pace set by the likes of Griffin and SANDBOX.
Rise? Not so much
One other key issue that has contributed to the fall of these teams has simply been key players underperforming. This has been most notable in KT Rolster where both Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho and Go “Score” Dong-bin have been struggling mightily. Luckily for KT, they had very capable subs in Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon and Eom “UmTi” Seong-hyeon. While it’s still a small downgrade, the team has looked better with Kingen and UmTi in the lineup which is promising for now.
Meanwhile on the side of Gen.G, underperformance has been a team affair as any players not called Ruler appears to be underperforming. This starts in the top lane as Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin has been having quite a bit of trouble, causing Kim “Roach” Kang-hui to become the current starter. Meanwhile Gen.G’s big offseason signing in Peanut has not performed to a high level as the team continues to struggle.
Lastly, there’s Afreeca, where the team’s struggles has been less noticeable. But it’s hard not to point out that top laner Kim “Kiin” Gi-in and mid laner Ucal have been struggling at times through the first three weeks. For Afreeca the issue isn’t players underperforming but more the bot lane as mentioned before. If they can fix that issue, the team will be fine.
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