Steven R. April 3, 2019
SKT Telecom T1 is looking to extend its reach and visibility westward.
Though the brand is one of the most successful in esports history with a Starcraft team led by the legendary Lim "BoxeR" Yo Hwan and a League of Legends dynasty built by Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, SKT has never left those comfort zones. That has made the organization a household name in its native South Korea and appointment viewing for fans of those games, but it has left the team less popular with fans elsewhere and of other games.
SKT Telecom T1’s titular parent company is looking to change that in 2019 by partnering with Comcast Spectacor. The two telecommunication and sports conglomerates are teaming up to build the brand outside of South Korea under the simplified “T1” banner.
The joint venture was announced in February, but Comcast Spectacor sat down for an interview with ESPN and discussed where the brand is going. The answer, according to chief business officer of Spectacor Gaming Joe Marsh, is battle royales.
T1 will look to bring the SKT Telecom T1 winning tradition to the rising genre, and will specifically focus in on Apex Legends.
"We understand entering each game is a big endeavor," Marsh said. "In that way, we are thoughtful about where we want to compete. We always ask ourselves, 'Are we capable of being the best team in this game?' If the answer is yes, then we invest to make sure we have one of the top rosters."
Comcast Spectacor isn’t a newcomer to the realm of esports. Formerly the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and today the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, the company dove into esports with the Overwatch League’s Philadelphia Fusion. The Fusion have been a competitive success to this point, while its parent company has been ahead of the curve on the business end, recently becoming among the first OWL teams to find a dedicated home arena.
Though the T1 partnership is still in its infancy, its debut was a good one.
Its Apex Legends team comprised of Kurtis "Kurt" Gallo, Haydin "ZerG" Gordon, and Brendan "BcJ" Jensen hoisted its first trophy at the UMG Legends Series. From there, it crushed the field in the T1xFACEIT Invitational tournament co-promoted by T1 and FACEIT.
In March, T1 also signed a stable of Fortnite players from both South Korea and the United States including Share the Love duos winners Alex "SOFA" Kolich and Cody "Fulmer" Fulmer.
Marsh teased that T1 is “always looking for the next big game” and there are plenty of new frontiers out there for the team to expand into. But matching its League of Legends team’s success will be quite the challenge.