Olivia R. June 23, 2019
It's looking like SK Telecom T1 might miss out on another trip to the World Championship.
The organization is currently in ninth place in the LCK Summer Split after losing to Griffin, a team they swept in the grand finals of the LCK 2019 Spring Playoffs. The team's decline is surprising on its own but even more shocking is that Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, the League of Legends god himself, was benched halfway through the series.
The SKT squad was out of sorts during the first game, with Faker, Kim "Khan" Dong-ha, and Kang “Haru” Min-seung making a number of misplays that contributed to a harsh loss to start the series. That saw SKT make a number of substitutions for game two which included Faker being put on the bench in favor of Kim “Gori” Tae-woo.
It's not clear what brought on this decision. Though Faker led the team in deaths, he also posted the most kills for SKT in game one. The mid-series change didn't pay off, as Griffin was able to easily take another win to knot up the series with a 2-0 score.
Faker has long been regarded as the best League of Legends player of all time. In his debut year as a pro player, he helped SKT win the world championship and has been a major part in establishing the organization as an esports dynasty.
Benching Faker wasn't the only surprising decision that SKT made that match. Star jungler Kim "Clid" Tae-min was pulled for the first game against Griffin. Substitute jungler Haru took his place but it didn't seem to make a difference against the LCK's top team.
With teams like Griffin and SANDBOX Gaming dominating the LCK, SKT appears to be slowly losing steam. The organization failed to qualify for the 2018 World Championship, but their win in the 2019 LCK Spring Playoffs hinted at a return to form. It seems like this year may be another let down but SKT could turn things around if they find a winning strategy.