This year, SK Telecom T1 displayed a miserable performance in League of Legends Champions Korea 2018 Summer. With consistently poor performances and a questionable roster, SKT managed to hold onto their accolades until today. On August 4, 2018, Griffin, the rookie team, crushed SKT’s hope for playoffs.
Since their first game on Korea’s national stage over five years ago, SKT has become known for showing dominance. At least, that was the case until this season. In his first game, Sanghyeok “Faker” Lee solo killed Chanyong “Ambition” Kang. That marked the beginning of the team using their mechanics and early game aggressive play to win games. SKT T1 #2, a team with more rookies than veterans, carved our their legacy. At the international stage, they won multiple League of Legends World Championships. In any tournament they attended in the last five and a half years, they made playoffs.
While facing against Griffin, SKT did not perform at the level needed. While fans kept their hope, SKT faced a difficult challenge in order to make it to playoffs this year. Against Griffin and KING-ZONE DragonX, SKT needed to win every game and match. Kingzone and Griffin occupy the top of the standings right now. Even if a miracle comeback occurred and SKT won every game, their playoffs run would rely on other teams winning with a particular game score.
For the rest of SKT’s season, every game is a best of one. Despite the pressure of the first game, Faker, famous for his clutch plays, still sat on the bench. Junsik “Pirean” Choi continued to play as SKT’s midlaner due to the team’s increased success with him on the team. During this split, it seems Faker is suffering from mentality and team synergy issues.
The momentum of the game swung in Griffin’s favor since the beginning of the game. Pirean’s Swain teleported onto a Ward to contest Scuttle Crab. He instantly got picked off by Seungyong “Tarzan” Lee and Jihun “Chovy” Jung. With the nerfs, Teleport has a six minute cool down. The loss of the Summoner Spell and First Blood hurt mid pressure. Sungu “Blank” Kang’s Kindred played the early game well, with a good gank top for Seongwon “Sword” Choi’s Cho’gath, and securing early game vision.
The vision paid off, when Kwon Hyuk “Thal” Park’s Ornn and Blank’s Kindred managed to pick of Tarzan’s Trundle. However, in the end, Dohyeon “Viper” Park’s Kai’sa took over the game, with well-timed Killer Instinct and Void Seekers.
Unfortunately, neither SKT nor Griffin switched or substituted any players. Most notably, Pirean again played for SKT. In the game, Pirean’s Orianna received all the gold from SKT, but he was unable to translate that into any notable Shockwaves. Thal’s split push did not net enough objectives. SKT continually got picked. Even though Griffin started with a gold deficit, their Baron call turned the game around. Viper’s Kai’sa went big, managing to clean up SKT’s back line.
He shut down Pirean’s Orianna, and killed Thal’s Jayce, netting 1100 gold. With the Baron, SKT continued to make mistakes. Thal jumped into three members instead of attempting to finish off the inhibitor. SKT didn’t play around Junsik “Bang” Bae’s Ezreal in the last fight, which led to him just getting picked off.
Looking Towards the Future
League of Legends World Championships: SKT
While SKT lost their chance to playoffs, they can still make it to Worlds. By failing to get into playoffs, they do not receive any points for Summer. However, they placed fourth in LCK 2018 Spring, which nets more points than fifth in summer. Hanwha Life Esports and Griffin did not play in LCK 2018 Spring, meaning any points they receive are only from summer. If Hanwha Life Esports and Griffin do not both place in top four, SKT will be able to participate in the Korean Regional Qualifers.
Even if SKT manages to participate in the Qualifiers, people will question their ability to win the opportunity to go to Worlds again. SKT’s performance is painful to watch, both for fans and the casual viewer. Even if they achieve a miracle run and show up on the international stage, SKT may not be able to perform against the best of the best.
The Unstoppable Rookies: Griffin
With the 2-0 victory over SKT, Griffin continues their path for first place. Because they didn’t drop a game, KT Rolster needs to also play a 2-0 series to continue challenging Griffin for first. In the series, Griffin managed to test out some new picks like Chovy’s Ryze, as well as show success on Sword’s Cho’gath and Viper’s Kai’sa.
Griffin’s rookie team is shaking up the LCK, and their aggression and gameplay rapidly attracting fans. If they continue at the pace they are now, they should be a top contender of the LCK, and represent Korea well at Worlds.
Featured image courtesy of OGN.