Can T1 return to greatness in 2021?

Melany Moncav • January 28, 16:21

T1, formerly known as SK TelecomT1, is indisputably the most popular team in competitive League of Legends. The South Korean organization holds several records, including being the only team to win the World Championship three times. T1 is home of the player who could be considered the face of League of Legends esports, the unkillable demon king, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.

T1 won its third World Championship title in 2016 and ever since it has been a rollercoaster for the organization. Every season, fans start to wonder if T1 will return to greatness, and Season 11 is not the exception.

The T1 standard

T1 set the bar for what it’s like to be a successful team. In the process, the organization created a standard that no one can live up to, not even T1 itself.

2016 was the biggest year for T1. The team won the LCK spring split, the Mid-Season Invitational, and the World Championship. The only title missing that year was the LCK summer split, a title won by the then-popular ROX Tigers. 2016 wasn’t the first year when T1 seemingly won everything, but it’s the one fans remember the most.

At this point in time, LCK teams were regarded as the best teams in the world and were expected to perform accordingly internationally. Winning was the only option for the LCK teams that reached Worlds, a standard set by T1 and reinforced by Samsung on its multiple iterations. A year where T1 didn’t win a title was considered a terrible year for the organization.

The only acceptable outcome for T1 is a victory, a standard that no other team in the world must reach. Teams from North America are not even expected to make it out of groups. European squads are the graceful runner ups. Chinese teams can take it all, but not everyone is ready to accept the LPL as the best region. Only the LCK teams are expected to be flawless and when the teams do okay, the community turns on them.

T1 faced endless challenges in 2018. The team slowly fell apart and went from placing fourth in spring, to ending summer in seventh place. After its worst year to date, the organization kept Faker and signed new players in the remaining positions. Things were looking up for T1 and the team made it to Worlds’ semifinals in 2019.

T1 took its ninth LCK title in spring 2020 and later that year, was one series away from qualifying for Worlds. Once again, the team made big moves, including the signing of world-class coaching duo Lee “Zefa” Jae-min and Yang “Daeny” Dae-in.

T1 bets on the rookies in 2021

The T1 that debuted in the 2021 LCS Spring Split is not the roster fans expected. T1 started three substitute players in place of its stars. This version of T1 shined on its first match, but the novelty quickly wore off. After two weeks of competition, T1 stands in seventh place with only one victory.

The main issue with this roster is its inability to close the games. The team performs well, for the most part, looks in control, but one mistake is enough to throw it off balance. Fans are already asking for changes and the coaches might try something different in the upcoming matches.

After week one, it’d have been easy to predict T1 as one of the top teams in the LCK this spring. Right now, the team is looking just not consistent enough. Is this the year T1 wins Worlds again? It’s looking very unlikely.

Where can I watch LCK 2021?

English speaking fans can watch the LCK 2021 through LCK’s official Twitch channel.

Does Faker own T1?

In early 2020, T1 granted Faker partial ownership of the organization. Alongside Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg from Team SoloMid, they are the only players to be granted ownership of a team while actively involved in playing for those teams.

What is T1 Academy?

T1 Academy is the secondary T1 team. The T1 Academy roster competes in the LCK Challengers League. The 2020 LCK CL Spring Split starts on January 18.

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