Road to Worlds: SK Telecom T1
A GAMURS exclusive series, taking a look at the 16 teams going to Worlds from the beginning of their qualification and see just how their road to Worlds went. Today, we look at SK Telecom T1 of the LCK.
Spring Season and Spring Playoffs
Changing of the guard
Before we get into the meat of the article, there are just a few things I want to touch on to update those unaware of SKT's year in the LCK.
The start of a new season often means the start of a new roster, even for SKT with Jang "MaRin" Gyeong-Hwan, Im "T0M" Jae-hyeon and Lee "Easyhoon" Ji-hoon all seeing an exit from the team. This led to the arrival of players Lee "Duke" Ho-Seong and Kang "Blank" Sun-gu join in place of the organization's former members.
This duo would be joined by the current world championship teammates of Lee Faker" target="blank">"Faker" Sang-hyeok, Bae "Bang" Jun-sik and Lee Wolf<i>(Lee</i>Jae-wan)" target="blank">"Wolf" Jae-wan to be SKTs complete roster for the reason ahead, not ro foget Bae "Bengi" Seong-wrong to work alongside Blank in the jungle position as a substitute.
Apart from the Spring Season, the team was invited to the IEM Season X World Championship, where they would easily make their way through to the finals and destroy a mediocre Fnatic to claim victory. There really isn't much to say about the tournament itself, as SKT was able to go through the tournament undefeated 5-0.
Now, onto the Spring Split.
Coming off their worlds victory, SKT looked to settle in with their newly formed roster and get back to business. Their target? To maintain their status as not only Korea's best, but the world's best.
The games were be best-of-three, which could have played a part in SKT ending the wekk 1-1. The team in general would continue to fluctuate throughout the split, showing old sign of greatness, but also signs of confusion. The world champions went on to finish 3rd overall in the regular season and went on to the spring playoffs with a lot to prove. Furthmore, to reclaim their MSI crown meant they had to take home the spring crown with both ROX Tigers and KT Rolster vying for glory.
SKT would be put into round one of the LCK playoffs and swat aside a resilient Jin Air Green Wings 3-1. KT Rolster was next up, and SKT gave them the sweep. All that would be left standing were ROX Tigers, who was looking to take away SKTs thunder. They would know the true power and grit of SKT as they threw ROX aside to take the LCK spot in MSI with a 3-1 victory.
The Mid-Season Invitational
They falter and yet...
Going into the event, many expected SKT to easily take the event, outside of some putting China's Royal Never Give Up above SKT.
It was slated to be a normal start to the event with SKT going 2-0 on opening day. However, that was soon to change as the days continued with SKT going 6-4 throughout the round robin stage, finishing fourth due to their losses against the Flash Wolves, who finished 6-4 as well.
This would then bring life back into SKT during the knock-out stages, essentially a repeat of the most recent playoffs. With SKT taking down fthe first-seeded RNG 3-1, SKT was set to play against Counter Logic Gaming of the NA LCS in the finals of the competition.
There was to be no NA overthrowing as this time, as CLG was trounced by SKT as they claimed the MSI title for themselves. But, could they afford to keep up this mantra of showing up when it mattered moving forward into the deciding Summer Season, the last stop before Worlds 2016?
Summer Season and Summer Playoffs
Overthrowing of the champions
Many believed that SKT needed to make a statement about their consistency. They came close to falling twice, but made it work in dominant SKT fashion.
Following their pattern, SKT would perform moderately well throughout the split. They finished in 2nd place behind ROX. Regardless, SKT was able to improve on a lot of their spring season results and look more consistent. ROX still looked to be the better team going into playoffs, but then again... SKT is SKT.
However, in the playoffs, it would not be ROX they would have to worry about.
SKT would start in the second round where a strong KT Rolster would be coming to greet them. SKT would take the first game to quell any nerves and then take the second relatively fast. Everything was looking good, textbook even. But then, KT were the ones to pull off of SKT, finding their form when it mattered most. They were able to reverse sweep the world champions off their feet and end the series 3-2 in their favor, leaving SKT with an agonizing wait to see if they would go through as the second seed in the competition.
KT vs ROX. The stage was set and thankfully for SKT, ROX won a close 3-2 series. This allowed SKT go to Worlds as the second seed of the LCK due to circuit/championship points. Not the way they wanted to go to worlds, but going all the same.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is SK Telecom T1's "Road to Worlds!"
As we head into Worlds 2016 in North America, we ask you guys which team you are supporting in the competition? How far do you think they can go? Let us know on twitter @GAMURScom.