When SK Telecom T1 fell in the first round of the 2018 LCK Regional Finals against Gen.G, Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok didn’t show much emotion. Perhaps the years of being a pro player taught him how to keep his feelings in check. Or maybe he was simply staring at his screen in disbelief, not realizing—refusing to realize—that a single loss just put an end to his World Championship ambitions.
For someone hailed as the best League of Legends player in the world, the thought of watching Worlds from home had to be devastating. Though, a part of him had to have expected this outcome. The 2018 iteration of SKT T1 was lacking in both synergy and firepower, and Faker was the only ray of hope in an otherwise faltering lineup. So, to a certain extent, his losses were justified.
Now, several months later, failure is no longer an option.
This off-season saw SK Telecom T1 going against their usual trend of raising promising rookies. Instead, they've put their stock into battle-hardened veterans like Khan, Clid, Teddy, and Mata. With Faker standing at the helm of this roster, 2019's SK Telecom T1 has become the definition of a super team, a squad of star players built for the sole purpose of dominating every competition it attends. They've also given Faker a golden opportunity to climb back to the top and strengthen his legacy with another World Championship trophy.
But is this chance too late?
For the last two years, Faker’s playstyle was molded by the shortcomings of his teammates. Whether it’s playing a glorified caretaker on Galio or doing his absolute best to hard carry on Ryze and Azir, Faker is used to fluctuating between extremes. He's a player that's used to playing around the only reliable presence on the Rift, himself.
And that could be a problem.