SKT Primed to Defend Title at Worlds

With the League of Legends (LoL) World Finals now underway, one question has captured the attention of esports fans everywhere: Who is going to win Worlds? The answer: SK Telecom T1 (SKT).

With the right amount of skill and luck, any team from any league has a chance to win Worlds, but the reality is that some teams face better odds than others. Leagues that have been around longer tend to have better teams simply because their institutions have built a firm foundation on which players can thrive. Therefore, after eliminating most of the newer leagues, we end up with the NA LCS (for teams in North America), EU LCS (Europe), LPL (China), LMS (Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau) and the world’s most respected league, the LCK (Korea). From here, the teams with the best win/loss records move on to qualify for Worlds, and only by looking back on each league’s performance in Worlds can we predict who will take it all.

Both the EU and NA LCS have had quite an interesting history at Worlds; they have had a steady record of sending qualified competitors to Worlds. But once Worlds comes around, the NA and EU teams always seem to fall just a little bit short. Both leagues, while sporting highly competitive teams, will likely struggle to beat Asia’s elite leagues. Since the second season of Worlds, there has been an LPL, LMS or LCK team in the quarterfinals. Asia has solidified its dominance on the Worlds stage, and the LPL and LMS are two of the three most well-established leagues throughout Asia. The NA or EU LCS teams simply aren’t of the same caliber, especially when faced with the most formidable league throughout the world, the LCK.

The LCK has sent at least one team to the finals for every season since 2013, which is a testament to their reliability and prowess. Of all the championship trophies that LCK teams have claimed, Samsung White (SSW) has won one while the defending champion, SKT, has won three, the most of any team in LoL history. It isn’t just SKT’s history that makes it so reliable, but the players that make up the team that earn fans’ respect. SKT’s roster consists of Huni, the top laner whose skill and experience with some of the top NA and EU teams make him a formidable international opponent; Peanut, the newest member on the team, but already a star jungle player; Faker, often lauded as the best LoL player in history; Bang, the token Attack Damage Carry (ADC) that has been with SKT since the very first season; and Wolf, the support who’s been playing with Bang in the bottom lane since 2013. Overall, their synergy and experience in the game itself exceeds that of most teams competing in this year’s Worlds.

Standing in the way of SKT’s fourth Worlds title is Longzhu Gaming, another team from the LCK. Longzhu made their presence known when they stole the No.1 seed from SKT during the LCK Finals. Not only did Longzhu defeat SKT, but they embarrassed them. Longzhu was able to snowball and dethrone the reigning champions in four games, the final game lasting a mere 25 minutes.

Will Longzhu Gaming come out and steal yet another title from and take away SKT, or will SKT find redemption? Will a team from outside the LCK sneak in and claim the throne? We can speculate for now, but only when the 2017 World Championship reaches its conclusion Nov. 4 will the true victor be revealed.