SK Telecom T1 becomes first two-time League of Legends world champions
For the first time ever, a team has won their second League of Legends World Championship.
The 2015 season of the biggest game in the world completed today in Berlin with SK Telecom T1 accomplishing a feat no one has ever done before when they beat KOO Tigers in a 3-1 series in front of a packed house in Berlin.
The result came as little surprise considering SK Telecom T1 were heavy favorites, failing to lose a game against KOO Tigers during the last season of domestic play in Korea. Today the Tigers dented the world’s the best, ruining what could have been a perfect tournament run for the champions. But champions they were.
The series itself wasn’t a particularly close one, even though KOO Tigers at least made it a match.
In game one, they tried to activate their top laner carry Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, their MVP through the tournament, by giving him carry champion Riven. But SK Telecom T1 answered with their own top laner Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-hwan on Rumble. MaRin put up a 7/0/10 KDA line on the dangerous mage champions as SK Telecom T1 ran to a comfortable win.
Game two was tougher for the champs, with KOO Tigers building a 3.8k gold lead through 20 minutes, but it came crashing down moments later as SKT took three turrets and dragon in a two minute span. Then Faker’s Lulu came online, and he put up a 7/0/7 KDA to finish the game.
With a 2-0 lead, SKT had the series squarely in hand. Perhaps that’s why they made a critical mistake in game three, giving up an ace at the 4 minute mark to give KOO Tigers a lead they couldn’t give up.
The final game was perhaps the hallmark of SKT’s playstyle: a slow and methodical game backed by superstar play from one of their stars.
Faker picked his signature Ryze, a champion only he’s played at this event. He’s famously stated that if you want to learn League, do it with Ryze, a champion that takes little mechanical skill but rewards your positioning and game knowledge. Apparently, even the second best team in the world is lacking in those categories. Faker was simply unstoppable on Ryze. He posted a 9/0/4 KDA with the champion, participating in every single one of SKT’s 13 kills, and decimated KOO Tigers. He pulled off a couple of “solo” kills, in that he was alone—He came out on top of two two man ganks. At one point in the mid game, KOO Tigers threw their entire team at him but he came out unscathed.
It was the kind of performance that shows why Faker is the best player in the tournament, and one of only two players to ever win a second World Championship.
Of course, SKT couldn’t pull off the perfect tournament, dropping one game to finish with a 15-1 record. That’s one game better than Samsung Galaxy White’s 15-2 during last year’s World Championship run.
“Back when I won my first Summoner’s Cup, I wasn’t as happy as I am now,” Faker said in his post-game interview.
Player of the Series: Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, 23/7/29 KDA, 551.7 DPM
While top laner MaRin could certainly take this honor, shutting down his counterpart Smeb, the star player of KOO Tigers, while shot calling for his team, it was Faker who put together the most impressive performance of the series in game four, single-handedly winning the most difficult game of the event: the final one. It was Faker who suffered the brunt of KOO Tiger’s aggression but never wavered, building advantages in every situation.
Last time SKT played KOO Tigers, they used their substitute mid laner Lee “Easyhoon” Ji-hoon. But with the World Championship on the line, this was Faker’s series to lose. And losing is hard for him.
Play of the Series: Faker’s entrance roll
The usually calm and indifferent Faker showed a rare bit of flair when he took the stage during the opening ceremony, walking out and rolling on the ground amidst cheers from a surprised crowd.
It was a little awkward, and he almost missed the landing, but it shows just how supremely confident the Korean player was heading into the most important series of his life.
Today’s series closes the 2015 League of Legends season during perhaps the biggest weekend in esports history. Over one million people watched the series on Twitch, with another 300,000 on YouTube and millions more in Asia. Combined with a big Counter-Strike weekend,
Many worried that an all-Korean final would take away from the spectacle of League’s biggest day. The opening ceremony paled in comparisons to last year’s gaudy affair in Korea. But the story of the match itself—the world’s best player, the world’s best team, and their quest to achieve something never done before, seemed to outweigh all those concerns.
There’s still more League of Legends to be played this year, but every match will be with eyes squarely on 2016 as teams ready their rosters for the next season of competition. Later this month IEM San Jose will host a number of international foes, while the 2015 All-Star game takes place in December.
But none of that really matters now. Today is SK Telecom T1’s day. It’s Faker’s day, and Bengi’s day, the jungle and mid lane duo that’s now won two World Championships. It’s MaRin’s day, the MVP of the event, who lead his team while playing against the most impressive slate of top laners ever assembled in League and winning those matchups. It’s Bae “Bang” Jun-sik’s and Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan’s day, the bottom lane duo new to SK Telecom T1 this year that’s shown all year long they’re world class players.
Perhaps SK Telecom T1 wasn’t an exciting result. It’s the one everyone’s expected for months. But it was a historic day in League of Legends, and it’s always exciting to watch a team put together the kind of superlative performance that we may not see for years to come.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr