SKT T1 Team 2 – The KTB of this tournament?

 

Impact (Top)

 

Bengi (Jungle)

 

Faker (Mid)

 

Piglet (ADC)

 

PoohManDu (Supp)

 

Team Review 

The famous e-sports organization SK Telecom T1 gained their fame through their strong showings in the StarCraft scene. Led by the legendary Boxer, SKT T1 has always been known for their strong Terran players and they made their mark in the e-sports scene by winning many tournaments. With the announcement that SC1 would hold its last proleague, the SKT organization looked at the possibility of jumping into the ever-expanding LoL scene. They started off by acquiring Reapered who mutually terminated his contract with Blaze just before the Winter season and also acquiring the former StarTale jungler kkoma as their coach. If SKT T1’s first team was built by Reapered, the second team was built by the two coaches kkoma and L.i.e.S. Through many hours and days spent on recruiting, SKT T1’s second team was able to assemble one of the most talented rosters in the scene.

The SKT2 line-up is headlined by the former number one ranker in Korea, Faker. Faker was definitely a commodity in the off-season and there were many rumours of Faker being picked up by teams who were looking for a mid laner. Fortunately for SKT, kkoma was quick to act and contact Faker who was trying to get a sponsor with his amateur team. The other highly talent individual on this roster who has never seen competitive play is Piglet. Piglet is a player who was cited by many pro players (such as imp) to be a good ADC player and he was a consistent top 50 ranked player ever since season 2. The 3 remaining members of the roster have had some competitive exposure. Impact the top laner is the most well-known player on the team being a former member of Xenics Storm. PoohManDu is the other well-known player on this team and he used to be the support player for GSG and he also used to be a famous player in the Chaos scene with the former RoMG team (WC3 DOTA variant). Finally bengi was a member of BBT (the former MVP Red) before he joined SKT2.

 

Team Strengths

 Talent of the new generation players

People normally refer to players who were high ranked players on the NA server as the first generation pro players. Now with the Korean server being in service for just over a year, the popularity of LoL in Korea has skyrocketed and this has led to many talented young individuals being discovered by the pro teams. If a team like CJ Frost is an assembly of talent first gen players, this new SKT2 team is a showcase of the talented second gen players who gained fame inside the KR server.

There are 3 members of the team who can be described in this fashion and it is Faker, Piglet and bengi. Not surprisingly all 3 of these players have very noticeable features in their playing. All of these players were cited by many as the top 3 amateurs in their respective positions who’ve reached the pro playing level. All 3 of these individuals also show top tier level mechanics and amazing game sense which allows them to make flashy plays. Finally, all these individuals have shown to have a large champion pool in their arsenal.

While the ADC role is quite limited in their choice of champions, you can see that in ranked Piglet actually only plays AD 60% of the time (with Lee being his third(!) most played) showing his flexibility for other roles. When he gets to play the ADC roles, what strikes me most about Piglet is that his laning phase is quite balanced meaning that he knows when to harass and when to farm.

Bengi the jungler is probably best known for his Shen, but aside from Shen he definitely loves the high mobility, high skill cap champions who can carry the game out of the jungle (lee, zed, shaco). The most impressive thing to note about bengi’s playing style is that he is very fearless in his plays and as a jungler this could be a good asset since a moment of indecision could be a huge difference between a successful dive or a failed attempt.

Finally, Faker the midlaner is known for playing anything and everything in the mid lane. He can bring out a traditional AP such as Ryze or a rarely used AP such as Syndra. He can also play the traditional AD mages like Kha or play an unconventional character like AP Ezreal and carry the game. When you watch Faker play, what you can notice is the high accuracy on his skill shots. The other thing to note about Faker is that even if he’s doing bad in the lane, you can always count on him to rack up the kill count, especially in a team fight situation.  

 Perhaps the final reason that people do have so much anticipation for this trio is that other members of this so called “new generation”, such as ssumday, Kakao and Loray have all shown that their high individual skill level can translate into success at the highest level.

 

The Unknown

Being a completely new team has down sides to it but it also has various good sides. One good thing about being an unknown team is that the team’s playing style remains unknown.  It’s probably fair to say that SKT2 has had the least amount of exposure competitively out of the twelve teams and with this advantage they may just gain enough leverage to gain draws in their tough group.

 The other advantage that this team has as I mentioned is the inherent versatility in the team in terms of picks and bans. Due to the fact that all of their players can play a variety of champions at a high level, you can never know what kind of a team comp this SKT2 team will throw your way. Especially in the current format if the SKT2 team prepares a surprise tactic for one of their two matches then the opposing team can easily be caught out for the first game which would put them under a huge strategic and mental disadvantage. The other notable thing to mention is that during an interview, the SKT coach mentioned that in a blind pick setting the  5 mid strategy of GSG may seem *normal* compared to what the SKT2 team could potentially showcase.

 

Team Weaknesses

How will this the cast of players play as a team?

 From what we’ve seen so far, the SKT2 team did not exhibit many fatal flaws in their line-up but their matches were against amateur opponents thus it was unclear how the team would fare as a whole against a strong opponent. It could happen to be that the team wins out the laning phase due to their individual abilities but without the proper game managing skills, these advantages could be all for naught.  In addition, due to the fact that their team consists of two main damage dealers who are competing in the highest level for the first time, it remains to be seen if they can shy away from their soloq habits in such a short time span to make the appropriate sacrifices for the team and follow the team calls instead of going to farm. The other suspect of their game is their team fight ability when the teams are even in ability. It's unclear if the tanks (especially bengi) will be able to decide exactly when to peel and when to go in for the opposite carries instead of always just charging in for the opposite carries. Another interesting thing to note is the bot lane synergy. ManDu has been known to play unconventional supports like Leblanc but other than that he rarely plays normal supports like Sona or Taric. We’ll have to see if Piglet can synergize well with the unconventional ManDu.

Are the kids really alright?

We know that the young players on this team have great individual skills and confidence in their abilities but could that potentially backfire on them? Countless times, you could see players making impossible looking plays which end up being disadvantageous but they do it anyways simply because it’s “worth”.  The SKT2 team better hope that their young players don’t feel like they’re superheroes and can pull off plays that they imagine in their heads. The other important aspect of the being a professional LoL player is the mental aspect of the game. Everything will be all good and well when they`re winning but what will happen when they lose and worse if they get completely outplayed by the opposition. Will the young players have what it takes to recuperate in a high pressure environment to perform well after devastating losses or will they crumble under the lime light and never live up to expectations? All these question marks remain to with this team.

What about the older members of the team

 It’s true that Impact along with Daydream was the best player on a weak Xenics Storm team but it’s unclear if that will translate into Impact being relevant in higher level play. Impact has always been a professional player ever since his support days and he was always a consistent performer. Last season in the NLB, he showed that he could be a consistent force in the top lane as well. What is worrisome is that Impact is probably the player who will be asked to sacrifice (in terms of choosing champs, farming, etc.) most for the team since he along with the support have the least carry potential on this team. This could potentially be a dangerous proposition for Impact. If he is sacrificed for the greater good of the team, he could be walking the fine line between staying relevant or irrelevant in every game.

The other elder member of the team ManDu is probably the biggest question mark on the team. Aside from the well documented fact that he does not play conventional supports, his supporting ability is average from what he’s shown us. In the old GSG team, he demonstrated that on a good day he can play a decent Blitz and make plays for the team (which should bode well for him considering Thresh is OP) and generally speaking he prefers to play the aggressive kill lane type of champs. Other than the kill lane champs however, it still remains to be seen how he fares on normal support champs.

 

Key Player Faker (Mid)

If Faker wanted to test his skills against the best mids in Korea, he got his wish when the groups were drawn. In his group he will have to go against Ssong, Ambiton, Zero, Easyhoon and dade. All of those players are experienced, highly skilled and they all possess the ability to carry their team to victory at any given opportunity. If Faker can prove that he can be in their league every game then SKT2 will have a good chance of surviving their group ahead of the MVP teams and KTA but should he look like if he’s out of their league, this year’s SKT2 team will not avoid being in the cellars of group A. SKT2’s season depends on the shoulders of their super rookie.

 

Season expectations

While they look tremendously talented and ready to cause an uproar in the scene, their group is extremely difficult to compete in. Should they get into the playoffs however, they can potentially win against the opponents from the weaker group B and become this year’s KTB.

 

 

 

 

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