KT Rolster Take Down SK Telecom T1 After 2 Years of Playoff Domination

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We have witnessed a major upset in the LCK 2016 Summer semi-finals! SKT, who were the favourites to win the match, already won 2 matches against KT and were looking like the team going to the finals once again, but KT managed to reverse sweep SKT 3 – 2 and qualify for the finals. The fact that KT didn´t win versus SKT in the playoffs for 2 years makes it an even bigger upset. Let´s take a look at their history.

KT never won an important match against SKT

KT Rolster haven´t won an important series versus SKT for nearly 2 years. Both of the franchises actually had 2 teams each, and none of the KT teams beat SKT in any playoff series in 2 years. The teams became arch nemeses in 2013 when the LCK started. The rivalary is still going on. They first met in the 2013 HOT6IX Champions Summer where SKT beat KT Bullets 3 – 2 with the roster of Impact, Bengi, Faker, Piglet, and PoohMandu, which later became Season 3 world champions.

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SKT World Champions 2013 Courtesy of Riot Games

 

This began their domination that went on until summer 2016. The next time they met was in 2014 Spring. Both franchises had 2 teams, KT Rolster Arrows and KT Rolster Bullets (Limit, Ryu, Nagne, Score, Mafa), while SKT had SKT T1 K (Impact, Bengi, Faker, Piglet and PoohManDu) and SKT T1 S (Marin, H0R0, Easyhoon, Bang, Wolf). KT Rolster Arrows were in the same group as both SKT teams with the roster of Ssumday, KaKAO, RooKie, Arrow, and Hachani. KT Rolster Arrows lost 0 – 2 to S in the regular split, but won 2 – 0 versus K, while KT Bullets didn’t make it out of groups. SKT T1 S then met KT A in playoffs, losing 2 – 3. This was the last time they won a semi-important match versus SKT untill summer 2016. None of the KT or SKT teams made it to worlds that year, which was a huge upset as SKT T1 K were former world champions.

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Faker Courtesy of OGN

In 2015, Riot changed the rules about a single franchise having multiple teams due to Samsung getting very high with two teams and claiming both the first place and the third place prize. Both SKT and KT had to disband one of their teams, while some players left/were substitutes for the main team. In spring 2015, Korea also received a format change, going to a single group format (each team plays each team twice in the regular split). It was the split that had the biggest roster changes for both teams. SKT T1 is formed with the roster of MaRin, Bengi, Faker, Band, and Piccaboo, with Wolf and Easyhoon as substitutes. Meanwhile, KT Rolster had the roster of Ssumday, Score, Nagne, Arrow, and Hachani.  SKT won 2 – 0 in series against KT in the regular split, but they didn´t meet in the playoffs.

 

In summer 2015, SKT´s support, Piccaboo, was replaced by Wolf due to Piccaboo leaving for KT, and they got a second jungler called Tom. KT also replaced Hachani with Piccaboo and added a few substitutes (Fixer, Edge and Prime). At the time, SKT was known as a team who would randomly swap out players (Easyhoon for Faker, and Tom for Bengi), as the teams had a hard time preaparing for both players who had completely different champion pools and play styles. SKT went 2-0 versus them again, while meeting them in the finals and defeating them 3-0. Both SKT and KT qualified for worlds in 2015. SKT went on to become world champions while KT lost to KOO Tigers in the quarterfinals.

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SKT Wins the split Courtesy of Riot Games

 

In spring 2016, IgNar replaced Piccaboo, while Fly replaced Nagne. SKT´s star top laner, Marin, left for EDG and got replaced by Duke. They also added a substitute jungler called Blank. While Blank was a substitute, he played most of the split in the main roster, as they had some problems with Bengi. KT went 1-1 with SKT in the 2016 regular split. They later met in the semifinals and SKT won 3 – 0. In summer 2016, IgNar was replaced by Hachani which is one of the reasons they did so well in the regular split and the playoffs.

 

They lost 2-0 to SKT in the regular split, but finally reverse swept them in the semifinals of summer 2016, going 3 – 2.

Most important roster swaps for both teams

Piccaboo is replaced by wolf

Picaboo left before the summer of 2015 to join KT Rolster. SKT substituted him with Wolf, who is still their support in 2016. Wolf is a great player who is known for his great synergy with his ADC, Bang. He is the 2015 World champion and has two LCK champion titles. He was a great replacement for Piccaboo, as they didn´t really have any problems with him in the 2 splits he played for them.

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SKT Wolf Courtesy of Riot Games

Piccaboo replacing Hachani

As I already said, Piccaboo left SKT to join KT and replace Hachani. Piccaboo was a great addition as he is a very talanted support player and is one of the biggest reasons why KT got to worlds in 2015. They even got as far as world’s quarterfinals, which was really surprising given they were the third seed from Korea, and it had a lot to do with Piccaboo´s ability to lead his team to victory.

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Piccaboo Courtesy of Riot Games

Ignar replaces Piccaboo

If you thought I was going to only talk about good substitutes, you’re wrong. Piccaboo left KT after worlds, which had many consequences. He just didn´t fit with the team and they lost to SKT in the semifinals. While Piccaboo was a good leader, in my opinion, IgNar just didn´t feel that way.

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Ignar Courtesy of Riot Games

 

Hachani replaces Ignar

Hachani replacing IgNar was another great substitute. Hachani just feels so good in this split, and their victory versus SKT in the semi finals was due in no small amount to his great performance. He even got the MVP for the series. While IgNar lacked the ability to lead, Hachani is another great support that will surely help them get to worlds this split as well.

kt-hachani Hachani Courtesy of Riot Games

Fly replacing Nagne

I think this roster swap was the most important roster swap KT did. Nagne was a solid player, but he struggled at worlds due to the high quality of midlaners from other regions. He was the weak link which may have prevented KT from getting higher at worlds. On the other hand, Fly is a great midlaner with very high mechanical skill which he has proven throughout the season. I do believe KT will make it to worlds with this roster, as they have a lot of talent and they seem to be working together very well.

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KT Fly Courtesy of Riot Games

We could also talk more about SKT´s roster swaps, but most of them didn´t actually have a lot of impact on the team as they were used to switching players even in between series.

 

What will this win/defeat mean for both teams heading to worlds?

If SKT would have won the series, they would qualify for worlds regardless of the result in the finals. On the other hand, KT has to win the finals to auto qualify, or they will have to fight for their spot through the gauntlet. SKT would auto qualify by points in this scenario. If KT wins, KOO Tigers auto qualify and SKT will have to go to the gauntlet, which isn´t really good for them.

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KT Rolster Logo Courtesy of KT Rolster

SKT´s history in the gauntlet

In 2014, SKT had to go to the gauntlet to try and qualify for worlds, due to finishing 4th in the playoffs. They were qualified for the finals of the gauntlet. They would have to only win one series to get to worlds, but they lost to Najin White Shield 3 – 1. It was a big upset, as they were the reigning world champions. If history repeats itself, SKT hopes that KOO wins the split and they qualify for worlds by points.

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SK Telecom T1 Logo Courtesy of SKT T1

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