Bengi: Best Player of 2016
*DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece.*
I have said it before and I will say it again. Bae "Bengi" Seong-ung, formerly of SK Telecom T1 (SKT) of the LCK and now currently playing for Vici Gaming in 2017, is underrated for what he has done, not only in 2016, but throughout his entire career.
While many people would look at Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok or Yoon "Peanut" Wang-ho as the best player, as well as many others for that matter, I believe Bengi embodies the passion of the game and is a superb team player, not seeking to stand out, but rather, be a person his team can rely on in and out of the game.
There is a term used in common folklore known as the dark king; someone who lives in the shadows of someone else's glory to aid the one in the light to reach the top. To me, Bengi is someone who has done that, leading Faker towards the limelight, when Bengi himself deserved it just as much as Faker.
When most fans think about SKT, they think of Faker. Well, most people do. Personally, I think of Bengi, the only other player in the world, other than Faker, to have three world championships under his belt.
No one man makes the team, but one man can be the difference between a losing team and a winning team. When you look at the impact of Bengi on SKT at this past Worlds, both him and Kang "Blank" Sun-gu played 10 games each in the jungle. Bengi was able to secure eight wins out of 10, in comparison to Blank's six wins out of 10 games played.
Bengi was 6-1 in total from the semifinals onwards against the two other LCK teams, ROX Tigers and Samsung Galaxy, only losing one match against SSG. Let's not even get into the fact that Bengi was involved in 60 percent of the first blood for SKT, while Wolf and Blank were tied for second best at 30 percent (Wolf also played twice as many matches as Bengi).
At Worlds, out of all junglers, Bengi led in a number of games won by 80 percent; Samsung Galaxy's jungler Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong was a close second with 76 percent of wins from 17 games. Bengi also led in KDA at Worlds, with a score of 5.8, while H2K-Gaming's Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski was in second place with 5.0. However, everything can't be registered on KDA and kill participation; it is more than that.
Of course, that is not to say that Bengi had a fantastic LCK season; in fact, his season was far from fantastic. For the most part, Bengi was on the bench and hardly shined until Worlds came around. Before Worlds, he wasn't playing as great as a jungler, let alone as a player. The team prioritized Blank for the majority of the games, which left Bengi as a substitute who was not performing to the best of his ability when he was playing in games. Anyone who saw how Bengi performed at Worlds compared to in the LCK season was surprised at how the player performed in these two different scenarios. Worlds was also Bengi's first international outing of the year, after not being used at the Mid-Season Invitational in China.
Even though Blank had his own weaknesses, which included missing crucial smites, bad positioning in team fights, and applying little to no early map pressure at MSI, Bengi, at that time, was constantly “reported” to be returning to the fold because of his experience. In the summer split, although Bengi was benched, he was brought in to play against the big guns of ROX Tigers, CJ Entus and Samsung Galaxy to give them an edge, and he won all of those games he was asked to win, giving SKT much needed wins to help them in their quest to be the number one seed. It is a shame, however, that his form at the start of the split couldn't continue through to the end, as he registered losses against the likes of Longzhu and Ever.
Of course, we all know about what happened next. SKT lost to KT Rolster in the summer split playoffs, as Bengi was benched again in favor of Blank, meaning SKT went through on championship points to be the number two seed. Does this mean that benching Bengi was the reason for this? No, of course not, there is no “Bengi” in “SK Telecom T1.” It was a conscious team effort that they all fixed as a unit; a team effort that made them world champions in the end.
To disregard Bengi as an outstanding player is impossible. On top of what he has done for the scene as a whole and the Korean side of the competition, Bengi is phenomenal and is worthy of any and all accolades that come his way.
However, I can see where people's gripes may come from. Yes, he did not have a great start, only a great finish, and in some people's eyes, I can see why they could disregard the notion of him being the best for an entire year.
However, people's opinions of “greatness” and “best” differ; what some would describe as being the right or wrong reasons may change. For me, what makes Bengi the “best” was his influence and clutch factor. When SKT needed him to help them lift the biggest prize of all, he delivered.
You could argue for and against Bengi however way you want. People will always be drawn to Faker on the subject and it is not about being different or fighting against the norm. I just take from what I see, and from this idea of who I feel is best. To me, that is Bengi.
To see him leave the LCK is truly disheartening, but one region's loss is another's gain, and the LPL will favor his move to strengthen their region after a shaky few years in the international scene. My only hope is that his season as a whole improves, so people can see the real power of Bengi.
Adam Newell is a journalist for @GAMURScom and can be contacted in ways displayed below. If you have any tips or want anything covered, be sure to let us know: