The most successful esports organization in League of Legends’ history, T1, will miss out on the LoL 2020 World Championship. Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and teammates lost the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) Regional Finals against Gen.G this past Wednesday.
T1’s Fall From Grace
The end of T1’s era as the most dominant LoL team has dated back to 2018 when the Korean juggernauts missed out on reaching Worlds grand finals for only the second time in five years. While there was still hope for Korean organizations to rise once more and contest their fourth Summoner’s Cup, T1 (then SKT T1) missed out on that opportunity once more in 2019 when Europe’s G2 Esports eliminated them from the semi-finals.
T1’s woes, however, did not stop there, as they ended up losing a few key figures in support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong, top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, jungler Kim “Clid” Tae-min, and coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun.
Despite the losses and internal turmoil, T1 decided to rebrand and freshen up their roster by signing a new jungler in Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan and promoted their academy top laner Kim “Canna” Chang-dong. Star players in mid-laner Faker, ADC Park “Teddy” Jin-seong, and support Lee “Effort” Sang-ho all remained.
Upon entering the 2020 season, T1 had their fair share of struggles but pushed through and went on to win the LCK 2020 Spring season. After a phenomenal split during which T1 proved they are not a team to be brushed under the rug, Faker, and co. started to show cracks and struggled to keep pace with the top Korean teams in the summer split.
Even though T1 managed a fourth-place finish with 14-4 record in an otherwise incredibly competitive LCK 2020 Summer, they failed to show up in the playoffs. A shocking defeat in the opening fixture against Afreeca Freecs (1-2), meant their only chance to pocket the Worlds ticket came down to the LCK Regional Finals.
Over 1 Million Watched LCK Regional Finals
In the culminating stage of LCK’s 2020 season, T1 got seeded directly into the second round, where they claimed an impressive revenge win (3-1) against Afreeca Freecs, which secured them a spot in the finals, where they were to clash with an old foe Gen.G for a ticket leading to 2020 Worlds.
The LCK 2020 Regional grand finals, which took place this Wednesday, September 9 drew in viewers from all corners of the world, with over 1,044,000 fans (excluding Chinese platforms) tuning in to see which will be the third and final team that will represent LCK at the 2020 LoL Worlds. In the end, however, the LoL fan base got delivered with one of the biggest shock results of the season, as Gen.G humiliated T1 with a perfect 3-0 sweep.
Even though there is no denying the LCK Regional finals provided us with exciting gameplay between two of the world’s strongest teams, many closed the stream in tears. Despite being renown as the G.O.A.T. in the competitive League of Legends, “The Unkillable Demon King” showed even he is human as he struggled to keep pace with his compatriot Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong.
Motivating Loss or Final Straw for Faker?
While there is always next year and a new opportunity for Faker and his crew to show their worth, there are many speculations that suggest T1’s failure to qualify for Worlds could be the final straw that ushers his retirement. Talks of Faker’s retirement have been heard since T1 crashed out of the 2019 LoL World Championship, but seeing T1’s progressive decline makes Faker’s prospect calling it quits suddenly very real. What the future hold in store for T1 and Faker is still shrouded in mystery, but more information should become available in the coming weeks as the dust settles from this loss.
League of Legends 2020 Worlds on the horizon
With the conclusion of the LCK 2020 Regional finals, we now have a complete list of teams that will travel to Shanghai, China for the 2020 League of Legends World Championship. The lineup includes 22 LoL rosters hailing from 12 different regions. The spotlight will be on the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) representatives in Top Esports, JD Gaming, Suning and LGD Gaming. These teams try to keep the Summoner’s Cup in China for the third consecutive year and out of LCK or other Western rivals’ hands.
Will the Chinese representatives manage to achieve that feat and become the first region besides LCK who won LoL World Championship for three consecutive years is anyone’s guess, but we can be sure we will see a clearer picture when in the 2020 LoL Worlds Main Event begins on Saturday, October 3.