SKT have the opportunity to start a new era at the Mid-Season Invitational

It's not going to be easy.

Photo via Riot Games

Unlike many years past, SK Telecom T1 aren’t the favorites for the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational. Despite the doubt that many fans still have regarding the team, though, they have the ability commence a new era of Korean dominance with a win at MSI.

In 2018, SKT failed to even qualify for World, seemingly crumbling under the immense pressure that comes with being SKT. Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan and Bae “Bang” Jun-sik proved to be well past their respective primes, and the team’s superstar, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, struggled to meet his understandably high expectations.

Things had to change—and they surely did. The roster was torn apart, and new players were taken on across the board. Only Faker remained.

Kim “Khan” Dong-ha in the top lane, Kim “Clid” Tae-min in the jungle, and Park “Teddy” Jin-seong and Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong in the bot lane were the pieces selected to turn the once dominant team around. With the overhauled roster, SKT went from a middling squad in 2018, to LCK Spring Split champions in 2019.

They’re a strong and cohesive unit and they’re led by the greatest player of all time, but they still have their flaws. In fact, the team had a rocky start to the Spring Split and struggled to find their groove. They appeared to be only the second best team in Korea for most of the split, but once they reached the playoffs, something clicked.

SKT were inexplicably different in the playoffs, and they first proved it by dominating Kingzone DragonX in the semifinals. But their biggest surprise occurred in the finals, when they stopped Griffin dead in their tracks in a shocking 3-0 sweep.

Now, it’s SKT’s moment to make history at MSI. One mistake, and they could be gone for good. The competition is stacked with high-caliber players and teams that are eager to perform on such a big stage. China won’t be the only region to threaten Korea—Europe, Taiwan, and North America are real contenders, too.

China’s Invictus Gaming are the favorites, though, and they won’t easily bow down in defeat. The team is hot off of winning the 2018 World Championships and the LPL Spring Season—and they’ve only got better in time.

IG’s Song “Rookie” Eui-jin looks to meet Faker head-to-head in battle, and he might just prove himself the better player. He’s what Faker was once known for in his prime, and with his high impact, and his playing making potential, SKT could lose their footing.

But this isn’t the SKT or Faker from 2013, 2015, or even 2016. The balance of the team has changed, while Faker is still one of the strongest assets to SKT, he is far from the playmaker he once was. Instead of his team playing around him, like fans had become accustomed to, he now plays around his team. He’s not afraid to take on the passive role and sacrifice himself to bolster someone like Teddy in the bot lane. This isn’t the Faker show anymore—SKT is very much a five-man unit.

And that’s the only way SKT can really beat a team like IG. They must play together as one solid and refined entity. With limited mistakes, SKT can beat Invictus, but they can only do it if Khan stops tripping up in the top lane, and Faker to step up to the plate. There’s no room to make mistakes anymore. China has caught up with Korea, and the west is well on the trail.

MSI is an open field, and the trophy is up for the taking. It’s SKT’s time to prove themselves in Vietnam and outdo expectations in Taiwan. League of Legends is looking more competitive than ever, and if Faker and his motley crew want to usher in a new SKT era, this is the perfect opportunity to make their mark and prove, again, they’re the best in the world.