SK Telecom T1 showed that they didn’t miss a beat despite losing top laner Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-Hwan in the offseason, winning their third straight LCK title in their third straight finals victory against the same team—the Tigers.
SKT won the series 3-1, again showing that the two-time World Champions have what it takes to win the big finals despite a regular season in which the RoX Tigers as the more dominant team. New top laner Lee “Duke” Ho-seong held down the fort for SKT, scoring the Playoffs MVP and shutting down Tiger’s star Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho in the finals, even closing out the series with a 5/1/9 KDA performance using League of Legends mascot Rammus.
Last year SKT fell to EDward Gaming at MSI, but they won’t get a chance to avenge that loss in Shanghai.
RNG, which features two 2014 World Champions in top laner Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok and support Cho “Mata” Se-hyoung, continued a streak of three straight LPL titles with a 2014 Samsung Galaxy White player as a winner. Gu “Imp” Seung-bin took the 2015 Summer title with LGD Gaming and Heo “PawN” Won-seok nabbed the 2015 Spring with EDward Gaming. The Royal team started three rookie players in the finals against an all-star lineup from EDG—and they acquit themselves well. Marksman Wang “wuxx” Cheng, who was benched late in the season before regaining his spot in the lineup late in the playoffs, pulled off a couple great games (backed by Mata, of course).
Then, in Mexico, the International Wild Card Invitational finished on Saturday night after teams from Australia, Japan, Turkey, Latin America, Brazil, South America, Vietnam, and the CIS clashed for a chance to showcase their region on the international stage.
A hard-fought group stage saw Brazilian squad INTZ e-Sports and Vietnamese team Saigon Jokers advance, but it was the other two qualifiers who reached the finals: the Russian and Ukrainian mix Hard Random, champions of the new LCL, and Turkey’s SuperMassive.
The Turkish team took the title, meaning they’ll reprise their MSI appearance from last year when the squad was still known as Beşiktaş Esports Club. Two starting players—support Mustafa “Dumbledoge”Kemal Gökseloğlu and top laner Berke “Thaldrin” Demir—will return to the MSI stage.
They’ll be massive underdogs on an international stage featuring many of the world’s best teams. SK Telecom T1 will naturally enter as heavy favorites. But they’ll receive challenges from Royal Never Give Up and their mix of Korean veterans and Chinese rookies, Europe’s new champions G2 Esports, North America’s two-time champs Counter Logic Gaming, and the stalwart international performers Flash Wolves from Taiwan.
The event begins May 4 and runs through May 15, eventually crowning a champion of champions on the international stage.
Image via Riot Games