“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson
With a clean sweep in the semifinals for SK Telecom T1, they have joined a very exclusive group. Teams that go undefeated in championship play prior to their championship match are sparse even when adding professional sports to the mix.
These select teams are extraordinary because they are only professional teams that have gone undefeated at the pinnacle tournament of the year. For example, the EU LCS final is only a stepping stone to the world final so Fnatic would not qualify with their undefeated LCS season. And the Super Bowl is the biggest game between the NFC and AFC with no international competition so it’s considered to be the pinnacle game.
There is a large gap in the degree of difficulty that these teams faced when compared however this isn’t a debate or a comparison of craft but rather a documentation of the greatest performances in the history of competition in the 21st century.
- Must be a team competing in a structured season prior to championship play. (This rules out Olympic teams and All-Star teams)
- Must be a professional team (Rules out collegiate teams and recreation leagues)
- Must have more than 5 games in the playoffs, if not, must be undefeated in the regular season combined with their undefeated playoff run.
- Must be undefeated in playoffs up until the championship game
The reasoning for these requirements is because it’s not impressive to go undefeated in a tournament that featured the best players from a country to go against the less developed regions of the world and only play a minimal amount of games. For example, USA Basketball only plays about 8 games every four years in the Olympics as a team. Team’s that meet the requirement will have played an entire season together on top of their undefeated playoff run.
Regardless of how glorified collegiate games have become, they are student-athletes. They do not compete for their livelihood and shouldn’t be among professional teams in comparison.
If playoffs are designed for you to go undefeated by only playing a best of one format (NFL), then it’s not much of an accomplishment with respect to the degree of difficulty that other league’s have in the context of this achievement.
With the requirements listed, below are the six teams that have accomplished this legendary this milestone and three special mentions in chronological order.
Los Angeles Lakers
The 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers featured what some would call the best duo to ever play in the NBA with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. The team didn’t have the greatest regular season with a record of 56-26 due to the highly publicized drama between Kobe and Shaq. However they switched gears and had the best NBA playoff record ever at 15-1 with their only loss coming in game one of the NBA Finals. They still make the list because they went undefeated throughout the playoffs until the championship match.
Major League Gaming 2007 National Championships in Las Vegas
Final Boss was far and away the most storied team in the history of the Halo series and arguably all of console history. The stacked roster featured Walshy, OGRE1, OGRE2, Saiyan and late addition StrongSide.
In 2005 Final Boss was originally known as Shoot to Kill (StK) and Team 3D. The team featured Walshy, OGRE1, OGRE2, and Saiyan. They won 10 out of the first 11 events in Halo 2. After being renamed to Final Boss, they never skipped a beat winning 8 MLG events consecutively which is a record yet to be broken. Then their rival team Carbon featuring GH057ayame, Ghandi, Karma, and Shockwav3 broke their record and defeated them in three straight events including the 2006 MLG National Championship.
StrongSide a former member of Carbon replaced Saiyan on Final Boss and this changed sparked the dominant run Final Boss would go on the rest of the year. Final boss went on to win 5 out of the 7 tournaments in 2007 and defeated Carbon in the finals of the 2007 MLG National Championship 5-0 making an overall record of 14-0 cementing their dominance with an undefeated performance and the end of the Halo 2 era.
New England Patriots
NFL 2007 season
The Tom Brady and Bill Belichick lead Patriots were the first team to have an undefeated regular season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. This star-studded roster featured Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Matt Light on offense with Vince Wilfork, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and the late Junior Seau on Defense.
The beginning of the season was filled with controversy in the well publicized “Spygate” looming over the team where the NFL had penalized the Patriots for “recording opponents defensive signals from an unauthorized location”. Even with the added distraction, the Patriots rewrote the record books in this incredible season. Below is the list of accolades:
New England Patriots
– First team to go 16-0 in the regular season (1972 Dolphins only had 14 games on their schedule)
– Most touchdowns scored in an NFL season (75)
– Most point differential in an NFL season
– First professional sports team to win the first 18 games of their season since 1984 of the four major American sports (football, basketball, baseball, hockey)
New England Offense
– Most points scored in NFL regular season – (589 [beating old record by 33 points])
Tom Brady (QB)
– Most passing touchdowns in an NFL Season (50 [Broken by Peyton Manning with 55 in 2013])
– NFL 2007 regular season Most Valuable Player
Randy Moss (WR)
-NFL regular season touchdown receptions (23)
The New England Patriots finished the season by losing the Super Bowl to the New York Giants which is one of the biggest upsets in the history of sports. The NFL Network named the Patriots the #1 team on their “Top 10 Teams That Didn’t Win A Super Bowl”.
There is an organization called World TeamTennis and the Washington Kastles have Venus and Serena Williams on their team. This professional coed tennis league features different dynamics of tennis including mixed gender doubles. The Kastles swept their 2011 and 2012 regular seasons with a perfect 14-0 record and won their championship game both years. They have the second longest winning streak at 32 in American professional sports. Only trailing the NBA’s 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers at 33 wins in a row.
Although the roster rules of this league are not very strict and they seem like an All-Star team, they meet the required rules stated above and earned their spot among some of the greatest teams in the world.
This Turkish Women’s Volleyball team has one of the most impressive records on this list. In Vak?fbank ?stanbul’s 2012-13 season, they won all 52 games they played and earned 5 championship trophies. Winning all 22 regular league matches in the CEV Women’s Champions League and all 7 playoff games. The team won all 4 games in the FIVB Club World Championship. They went on to extend this streak to 73 games on January 23rd, 2014.
SK Telecom T1
2015 World Championship
The newest addition to this short but prestigious list. SK Telecom T1 is one of the most successful organizations in esports. They are currently in the middle of trying to win their second league of legends world championship in three years. The Season 3 World Championship team separated ways but held on to the game’s superstar mid laner Faker as well as jungler Bengi and team coach KKoma. These three are joined by MaRin in the top lane, Bang at marksman, Wolf at support, and Easyhoon as a mid lane substitute. Faker, MaRin, and Bang are rated in the top 20 players at the Season 5 World Championship according to lolesports. OGN caster and freelancer Montecristo has all five starters in his top 20 list.
The powerhouse Korean team is currently 9-0 in the Season 5 World Championships and is heavily favored against their opponent KOO Tigers. It’s common opinion that the team has been holding back all tournament to protect some secret strategies to use in the world finals. Faker hasn’t had to be the star with his teammate Wolf leading SKT to victory boasting some impressive stats.
SKT dominated the OGN Summer Finals with a regular season record of 17-1 and sweeping the finals 3-0 against KT Rolster. Korea is regarded as the most competitive region in League of Legends making their record as impressive as their Season 5 World Championship record. Combining SKT’s records from OGN spring and summer regular season as well as playoffs with their current world championship record, they have a combined record of 45-6. They haven’t lost a series all year beginning in January of 2015 (9 months) and have only gone to a game 5 once against CJ Entus.
They will take on the KOO Tigers on October 31st, 2015 in for the Summoner’s Cup and title of Season 5 World Champions.
Moscow 5 were once known as the most dominant League of Legends team in Season 2. At the IEM VI World Championships in 2012, the team swept through the competition with a perfect 9-0 record. They took home $50,000 for their victory. The roster consisted of Alex Ich, Diamondprox, Gosu Pepper, Genja, and Darien.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
(Counter Strike: Global Offensive)
September 2012 – February 2013
Although this list is meant for championship play, there’s an obligation to mention a team that had an 87-0 streak in offline competitive play. This is the longest known winning streak of any major esport or professional sport. According to esports historian Thorin, they are the most successful team in history. Thorin highlighted their tournament victories spanning 22 months. In 31 offline tournaments, NiP placed first in 21 of them, they placed second in 7 of them, and placed top four in the remaining 2. Details of this streak by Thorin can be viewed here. The roster consisted of Xizt, Friberg, F0rest, GeT_RiGht, and Fifflaren.
SMITE Launch Tournament 2014
Team SoloMid went 8-0 in the tournament and never dropped a game on their way to victory. The team took home $104,596.80 for their victory. The roster consisted of YOUNGBAE, Trixtank, QvoFred, Lawbster, and Gamehunter.
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