The Champions Crusade: SKT T1 vs. the World

by theScore Staff Jul 14 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of KeSPA

By now, it might becoming a bit tedious to see another The Champions Crusader highlight SK Telecom T1 with their faces donning the top of the piece, but what am I supposed to do?

They haven't lost a domestic match in over five months.

Their best player, and the consensus best player to ever download the game, is having a season for the ages, equaling his statistical output from his world championship campaign in 2013.

They aren't only beating teams in best-of series, they're sweeping them. At 24-2, the only maps they've dropped all season were cellar dwellers, Rebels Anarchy and Samsung Galaxy. After dropping those two games, SKT T1 promptly bounced back in businesslike fashion and destroyed the pair of non-playoff teams in one-sided blowouts.

MaRin is one of the best top laners in Korea.

Bengi, for all his weaknesses and mechanical deficiencies, is the forever right-hand man to the best player on the planet. To add to that, even when Easyhoon starts on the odd occasion over Faker, Bengi is still performing as one of the better players at his position at champions.

Faker is Faker.

Easyhoon does what Easyhoon does best — comes in silently, farms, overwhelms opponent, and then disappears into the ether awaiting the next time he's called upon.

Bang and Wolf are an old married couple in the bottom lane. They can run into trouble at times, but they know each other like the back of their hands. They've played together on NaJin Shield, SKT T1 S, and now the current iteration of T1, spanning over two years of being partners.

SKT T1 have been undefeated for two round-robins and are working on a third to close out their perfect season. At this point, we're a few map victories away from changing T1's narrative. No longer will it be which team in Korea can stop the all-powerful unconquerable king.

The homeland will be taken.

Next, it'll be time to defeat the world.

The Champions Hierarchy

1. SK Telecom T1: 12-0 (24-2)

Dominance leads to rewards. For SKT T1, their reward for destroying the entire region of South Korea the past five months is the possibility of being the first team to qualify for Worlds. With how Champions is structured, the first placed team in the regular season receives an automatic bye into the Grand Finals. Seeing how SKT T1 already won last season and the most possible amount of circuit points, a Grand Finals appearance this season will secure their place at Worlds. Either T1 will get the automatic seed by winning the Summer season, or they'll lose and advance to Worlds by being Korea's point leaders for the year.

To clinch first place and a spot in the Grand Finals, SKT T1 need to win in their next two matches versus KOO and KT. T1's closest challengers for first place, a win against both (no matter the map score) will eliminate any team in the league from catching them in the standings and securing their spot in Europe this fall.

2. KOO Tigers: 9-3 (20-8)

KOO, like T1, are on a winning streak of their own, clawing their way from the bottom standings to second place. The Tigers will have one last shot at having any shot whatsoever of overtaking SKT T1 in the standings this week, with the two teams meeting in another rematch of last season's Grand Finals. KOO are on a hot streak lately with Smeb's emergence as a top lane carry and Kuro's matured play in the mid lane, but it'll take their best series of the year to top the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut from T1.

3. KT Rolster: 7-4 (15-11)

The roller coaster never stops its course for KT Rolster. Their season started on a great high, speeding past the bottom teams they spent most of last split with in the dust. Then, nearing the end of the first half of the season, KT started to fiddle with their roster, throwing in rookie Edge for veteran Nagne to mixed results. Rolster's recent addition of former SKT support Piccaboo and Nagne's reinstatement to the mid lane helped KT roll past CJ last week, the team shaking off a rough mid-split slump to get back into third place.

The move of bringing Piccaboo to KT reunites one of the league's former top bot-lane duos in Arrow and his former partner on Xenics Storm. The smiling and laughing duo tore up the league over a year ago on the exciting Storm team that featured CJ's Coco and QG's Swift on the roster. With the reformation of the smiling assassins in the bottom lane, KT have given themselves a new weapon to harness when going up against the league's top teams.

4. CJ Entus: 7-5 (16-13)

CJ Entus are in a weird spot moving towards the end of the season. Critics of the organization have been yelling for a youth movement on the squad for almost two years, and after finally doing well with their veteran squad, they've decided to switch out one of their old guard. Shy's been replaced by rookie Helper the past two matches, the recently amateur-turned-pro putting on a good performance in his debut showings. With the top lane changing to a place where top lane carries are having a tighter hold on the scene, CJ are trying to match with the best teams in the league by playing a more carry-oriented player over the tank and utility specialist in Shy.

Although Helper hasn't been the issue in CJ's recent match struggles, it'll be interesting to see if the team sticks with their rookie when the playoffs roll around with Worlds hanging in the balance.

5. NaJin e-mFire: 7-5 (16-13)

What else is there to say about NaJin at this point? They're an uncontrollable ball of energy that will do what they like. They have three carries that can win a game in the first ten minutes if they get their way in the laning phase. After that, all bets are off. Watch might overextend and die a ton of times. Ohq might flash into the enemy team while taunting. Ggoong could realize he's been out of his slump too long and start playing like he's back in StarCraft: Brood War.

Really, there is no telling how far NaJin is going to go this season. There is about an equal percent chance that they end up in the Grand Finals as they are placing sixth and missing the playoffs. They're a loaded roster when it comes to talent, but they lack the communication and brains of some of the smarter teams in the leagues. Still, as they've shown before, the raw power they possess can smash the brains and strategies of teams in the first ten minutes if they get rolling.

6. Jin Air Green Wings: 7-5 (15-12)

The reverse of NaJin's issues, Jin Air are a team that are rock solid when it comes to working together as a team. Past the thirty minute mark, there are few teams in the world that are better in the late-game than Jin Air. Their issues come with figuring out what team they want to use as their starting line-up, and they need to learn how to not get down in the early game. They're still figuring out if they want Pilot or CptJack as their starting AD carry, and the constant switching in the bottom lane hasn't done Jin Air any favors in the standings.

On the bright side, Chaser is far and away the best jungler in Korea. Unfortunately, he'll probably be poached in the offseason by a Chinese team like all the other top established junglers in Korea. Enjoy his kill participation beauty and carrying ability while it lasts, Green Wings. The mighty stacks of Chinese cash is coming for him soon enough.

7. Samsung Galaxy: 4-8 (11-17)

8. Rebels Anarchy: 3-9 (11-20)

9. Longzhu IM: 3-9 (7-20)

Longzhu vs. Anarchy: 4-1 Longzhu

Anarchy vs. Samsung: 2-0 Anarchy

Samsung vs. Longzhu: 4-0 Samsung

These teams are the Trinity of the Cellar, forever slapping each other at the bottom of the standings while the playoffs become a distant dream. Teams continue to camp Mickey and beat up on Anarchy. Longzhu IM are just throwing darts at a board at this point and hoping that somehow they become good after four years. Samsung Galaxy are probably the best of a bad bunch, but they're still showing rookie mistakes that plagued them to last place last year.

10. SBENU Sonicboom: 0-11 (3-22)

Here lies SBENU Sonicboom.

They tried and lost a lot.

The end.

The All-Champions Team (Week 8)

Top: CuVee (Samsung Galaxy)

There were better statistical performances this week by players, but CuVee is a player that has gone from being a laughingstock at top last season to a respectable Champions player. He went 11/6/21 in his three games last week, and if Samsung wants to avoid another date with the relegation rounds to make the 2016 Spring season, CuVee will need to keep up his solid play.

Jungle: Bengi (SK Telecom T1)

The jungle is an old man's game this season with Bengi and Ambition being two of the best performing junglers in the league behind Jin Air's Chaser. Even without Faker in the line-up this week for two of their games, Bengi still did extremely well in all four games for SKT T1, finishing Week 8 with a scoreline of 10/7/40.

Mid: Nagne (KT Rolster)

Nagne was brilliant in his two return games for KT Rolster this week, retaking his job back in the mid lane from the shaky rookie Edge. The Rolster mid ended Week 8 and his two games with a position leading KDA of 20, only dying once while adding 10 kills and 10 assists to his season totals.

AD Carry: Bang (SK Telecom T1)

23/0/9 in 4 victories.

Nuff said.

Support: Wolf (SK Telecom T1)

Another week and another Wolf on the all-Champions squad. It's hard to argue he isn't the best support in Korea at the moment, with guys like Gorilla and Piccaboo behind him as playmaking supports. It took almost the entire season to finally get recognition for his top-notch play, but Wolf is finally getting the MVP points that he deserved at the start of the season.

Tyler "Fionn" Erzberger is a staff writer for theScore eSports who covers the North American LCS and Korea's Champions. You can follow him on Twitter.