It's been a monumental Summer Season for the LCK.
The league has, for the first time in a long time, seen competition down to the very wire between evenly ranked top orgs. In the end, though, kt Rolster's resume has earned them the throne.
Now it's time to defend it where it matters.
LCK Summer Playoffs
kt Rolster held on to secure their spot in the Finals of the LCK Summer Playoffs via their record, but to earn the eventual banner, they'll still have to beat a very dangerous team one more time.
kt Rolster will face the winner of the Semifinal match between Afreeca Freecs and Griffin.
kt Rolster have had Griffin's number throughout the summer, making them one of the only teams in the league to have a victory over the rookies, and multiple victories at that. While they haven't so handily taken down Afreeca Freecs, they've still managed to top them across the Summer Season.
Regardless of who comes out, they will be kt Rolster's final test before international competition at Worlds.
If kt Rolster hold on to their throne, their domestic supremacy could be a bigger accomplishment than beating the teams they'll have to face at Worlds 2018. But much like the final hurdle of the Summer Playoffs, the team will still have to show up to reach the stage they should, and things can get wonky when you bring together all the regional metas.
Speaking of that...
Rift Rivals 2018
The LCK is a league often held to the standard of World Championship or bust. It's teams have dominated the League of Legends scene for years, and almost always prove themselves on international stages.
That being said, in the biggest international metric of 2018 so far, the LCK fell to the LPL 3-2 at Rift Rivals 2018 in the Finals. That perhaps means the untouchables aren't quite as invincible as we thought.
Rift Rivals 2018 was a surprise in many ways, but the eventual LPL victory was certainly the biggest. kt Rolster managed to top their LCK co-representatives 2-0 in the tournament, but the LCK fell short in the end to the "inferior" league.
The LPL always end up being the biggest threats to LCK teams, and their Rift Rivals result certainly brings a cloud of doubt to the 2018 World Championship run.
Is kt Rolster up to the challenge?
kt Rolster face several categories of threats on their road to the World Championship.
The first and weakest are challenges from top teams from smaller/weaker leagues like the NA LCS, EU LCS, and LMS. With former international competitors like CLG, TSM, G2, and Team Liquid looking so-so lately, this might be an even easier step for kt Rolster than ever.
The second and much more realistic danger is from their domestic competitors. LCK teams are really good, which is a double-edged sword for its representatives, especially on the international stage. While kt Rolster outdid their competitors this season, they haven't done so in dominant fashion. This team can still conceivably drop games to at least 3 other teams from their own region, and that's a dangerous place to be.
The third and more historic danger is from the LPL. LPL teams are an international metric that LCK teams have to meet when it comes to the World Championship, and it's never an easy fight. With competitors like RNG, kt Rolster will need to be able to outlast these dangerous opponents that were honed in a meta all to their own, and make key adjustments to their own style to match things they may have yet to face on the rift this year, or at least in the months since Rift Rivals.
Like Kha'Zix says, "Evolve and overcome."
Ghosts of the past
kt Rolster look poised to fight their way through the 2018 World Championship, but we've seen this hype before. Don't forget that this organization has one of the worst histories of looking strong and flubbing it all when the pressure on. If their list of competitors aren't the biggest threat to their success, it's themselves.
While most of kt Rolster's biggest blunders have ended with SKT opposite them, that history of fumbling on the goal line is one this organization can't seem to escape. Another great domestic showing is just that for this organization, a great domestic showing. There's no guarantee we continue to see this level of play.
Should kt Rolster fail to translate their domestic success to Worlds 2018, this year will still go down as a failure in their books. They'll need to shake the ghosts of throws past and pull things together if they want to make the history they seem destined for.
We don't think it's in the cards.
Let us know below what you think of kt Rolster and who, if anyone, can stop this dangerous LCK top dog!