The League of Legends World Championship this year is packed with talent, and unlike previous years there is no clear cut favorite. But if you had to bet on who will take the trophy, Korea’s SK Telecom T1 might be the safest money.
SKT were drawn into a group with the another team at the top of the list, China’s EDward Gaming. Earlier this year the two teams met in the grand final of the Midseason Invitational (MSI), with the Chinese team coming on top. But today, the Koreans got some revenge, even if the stakes didn’t make it too sweet.
“It’s only group stages at the moment so this win doesn’t mean all that much. Every team here is good though, even the Western teams,” said SKT AD Carry Jun-Sik “Bang” Bae. “I think it was important for us to proceed as the number one team from this group, so in that way it was important.”
That’s because the group winner won’t have to face another potential group winner in the quarterfinals. Teams like Fnatic, KT Rolster, and even Counter Logic Gaming are looking dangerous in the early going in Paris.
The win also enforces confidence that the team’s preparation was worth it, especially against EDG, a team that seemingly out-drafted SKT at MSI.
“Losing at MSI motivated us a lot to prepare really hard for Worlds so I think that’s why we were able to defeat EDG here,” he said.
The win means SKT advance to a 3-0 standing in the group after victories over Europe’s H2K Gaming and the Thai side Bangkok Titans. That puts them in a comfortable position to close out the group as a top seed and into a favorable quarterfinal, something that’s important to Bae.
Though he says he is mostly afraid of just one team.
“If I had to pick one team I didn’t want to face early on it would be Fnatic,” he said. “But also I don’t want to face any Korean team in the quarterfinal to be honest.”
Fnatic have been impressing in their own group with an early victory over the Chinese side Invictus Gaming. While there is still a long way to go before their group reaches a conclusion, many are saying that the European team could be a major contender at the tournament, and Jun-Sik Bae is no different.
“I think the grand final of this year’s worlds will be us [SKT] and Fnatic,” he said.
That may sound like a bold statement regarding a Western squad, but it echoes the sentiments of many players at the event. Whether that’s simply what they believe, a bit of gamesmanship, or even showing respect to the host continent remains to be seen, but its clear no one is overlooking the Western teams.
SKT will now sit out for the next few days while the rest of the groups wrap up their first round of matches. They currently sit at 3-0 in first position with EDG just behind them with a 2-1 record, in place to advance as well. Their group will come to a close on Friday Oct. 9 with a rematch that will decide their tournament fates. But so far, so good for SKT, a team that looks like they’re on their way to winning the organizations second World title.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr