LOL Teams Series

The Story of T1 LoL Team - Part 2

League of Legends
T1 roster

Image credit: Riot Games

The first part of this series was dedicated to the early beginnings of League of Legends team T1 and their road to the World Championship title. So if you somehow missed it, make sure to read Part 1 of the story T1 before proceeding to this one. In this article, we will look at some of their most significant victories and achievements.

Merge of T1 S and K

In 2014, the new rule came out and organizations were only allowed to have one team roster. It was a complete reset for the scene in many ways. That’s why on December 2 2014, SK Telecom decided to combine their two teams and SK Telecom T1 was born.

The roster of the newly-formed team was composed of Lee "Easyhoon" Ji-hoon, Bae "Bengi" Seong-woong, Jang "MaRin" Gyeong-hwan, Bae "Bang" Jun-sik, Lee "Wolf" Jae-wan, Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, and Lee "Piccaboo" Jong-beom who joined later. Ever since the establishment of that team, their dominance in both domestic and international competitions has continued on to this day.

Dominance and back-to-back Worlds

SKT T1 finished first in both LCK Spring and Summer 2015. They went to the World Championship as a first seed team and a favorite to win this time. In addition to that, SKT T1's new combined roster still had two of the previous champions – Faker and bengi.

T1 Roster in 2015

T1 Roster in 2015 (Image credit: lol.gamepedia)

They went through the Group Stage with 6-0 and also swept the Knockout Stage without losing a single game until the very Finals. In the Finals, they met ROX Tigers and won the game with 3-1. That was it, easy as that, the second World Championship title was there.

Their dominance only grew in 2016. T1 started the year with first place at IEM Season X – World Championship and also first place at LCK Spring 2016 and Mid-Season Invitational. The only setback was during LCK Summer, where they finished as a third-placed team which was a little disturbing because the World Championship was just around the corner. However, T1 won the World Championship again and thus became the first team to defend the title and the first and only team with 3 World Championship titles.

Triple crowd

Before the 2017 season even began, T1 went through another series of roster changes. Duke and Bengi were replaced with ex-Immortals top laner Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon and ex-ROX jungler Han "Peanut" Wang-ho. Despite the roster changes, T1's dominance continued in 2017.

The newly-formed team started pretty well, finishing first in the regular season of Spring Split and defeating KT Rolster 3-0 in the finals. T1 didn’t have any troubles at the Mid-Season Invitational either. After finishing first in the group stage, they went directly to the semi-finals to play against Flash Wolves. Flash Wolves weren’t a match for this team and T1 easily defeated them. In the finals, they went against G2 Esports and won that final, losing only 1 game.

With that victory, T1 were crowded with the unofficial "triple crowd" award (LCK Champions, Worlds Champion, and MSI Champions).

End of the dominant era

The first trouble started at LCK Summer Split 2017. T1 finished the regular season in fourth place but they still somehow managed to get to the finals. Despite being the heavily favored team, T1 lost the finals against Longzhu Gaming with a 3-1 score. Due to that loss, they went to Worlds 2017 as Korea’s second seed.

Second place at Worlds 2017

Even today, T1 is the only team that ever managed to defend their Worlds title. In 2017, they thought they could do it again. Truth to be told, they were pretty close and almost got to it.

The group stage wasn’t a challenge for T1 and they were placed first with a 5-1 record. The quarter-final was an interesting match against European team Misfits Gaming. T1 lost two games and almost the match itself. However, Faker was there and they recovered, took the series with 3-2 and qualified for the semi-finals.

The semi-final match between T1 and Royal Never Give Up met all expectations and it was certainly one of the best matches in the history of the Worlds. The game was played at an extremely high level and Faker once again confirmed that he is the best LoL player in the world.

In the meta that didn’t revolve as much around the mid lane as some of the previous ones, Faker was again the backbone of his team and the best player of the entire semifinal. He played only one hero, Galio, in all five games. Faker is known for training with extremely demanding heroes, but this time, it was something special.

A match on another level. (Video credit: Kaza LoL LCS Highlights via YouTube)

Although Faker did not play a hero that is meant to get kills, his Galio was all over the map. He helped his teammates and often came to RNG's Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao who was the first and most important target. At certain times it seemed like he played alone, and even in some games they lost, he was still the best player of that game. In the end, T1 won with 3-2 and advanced to the grand finals.

T1 Faker at Worlds 2017

Faker at Worlds 2017 (Image credit: Riot Games)

At that time, T1 played a total of seven elimination matches on Worlds since 2013 and they never lost. With the victory against RNG, they increased that streak to eight and hoped to get to nine in the grand finals. However, in the grand finals, Samsung Galaxy completely swept them and won the match with 3-0. There was nothing T1 could do as Samsung were just too strong for them.

The following year 2018 wasn’t kind to them either and they didn’t win a single tournament, nor did they qualify for Worlds.

Name change – T1

With the beginning of 2019, SK Telecom T1 announced the rebranding to T1. Their League of Legends team name couldn’t be changed mid-season, so it was changed in November later that year after the World Championship where they were placed as a 3rd-4th team.

At the end of 2019, T1 made big changes to their roster. Their coach Kim "kkOma" Jeong-gyun and players Kim "Khan" Dong-ha, Kim "Clid" Tae-min, Kang "Haru" Min-seung and Cho "Mata" Se-hyeong departed, and T1 started to look for new players. The org announced that their star mid laner, and also the best player of all time Faker, would have his contract extended.

At the same time, the new jungler Moon "Cuzz" Woo-chan from Kingzone DragonX joined the team. T1 completed their roster with substitute top laner Kim "Roach" Kang-hui from Gen.G, and they also signed new coach Kim "Kim" Jeong-soo who was the coach of S8 World Champions Invictus Gaming.

T1 in 2020

T1's first challenge of 2020 was the LoL KeSPA Cup. With a new roster and a new coach, T1 defeated another top team from LCK, Gen.G. They lost in semifinals, though, against SANDBOX gaming, and ended in 3rd place.

2020 Spring Split

In Week 1 of the LCK Spring Split, T1 had to face Hanwha Life Esports in a best-of-three series. They lost with a final score 2-1. After that loss, T1 seemed to wake up and went on a winning streak, defeating all in their path including top-tier teams like DragonX and Gen.G. In addition to that, their rookie Kim "Canna" Chang-dong managed to secure his spot as starting top laner. However, because of the 2019-2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Riot announced a mid-season break for LCK.

After a 19-day break, LCK re-launched in an online format. T1 began the second half pretty well with 5 wins, defeating DragonX and Gen.G for a second time to secure their place at the top. They ended up in second place behind Gen.G.

Second place got them into the semi-finals of the playoffs, where they faced DragonX. After 4 games in a best-of-five series, T1 won with 3-1 and proceeded to the Finals where they faced Gen.G. T1 entered the Finals very confidently because they knew they could win as they had already won 2 times against Gen.G on this very tournament. And they did it again, they won the match 3-0 on the back of their top laner Canna, who destroyed his lane opponent, and managed to snowball T1 into victory and their ninth LCK title.

What is next for this team? Is there a chance for them to win Worlds again? We can't know for sure. They are currently fourth in LCK 2020 Summer and will probably qualify for Worlds which should be played in China... whenever that is possible again.

We hope you liked the story of T1. If you like not only League of Legends but other MOBAs, too, and want to read more team stories, make sure to come back to EarlyGame and read The story of Dota 2 Team Secret next week!

Antonio Kaurinovic

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