25 Sep 2020 5:22 PM +00:00

Should SKT give up on Blank?

(Image Credit: Riot Games)

The SK Telecom T1 jungler Kang "Blank" Sun-gu is no stranger to criticism. Between questionable decision-making, blatant mechanical misplays, or non-existent early game pressure, many things contribute to the perception of him being the weakest link of his team. A multitude of jokes highlighting his biggest shortcomings certainly don’t help his case either.

This makes it easy to conclude that Blank was never good, and the only reason he is still on a team is the fact that even the likes of KkOma can fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy. However, Blank hasn’t always been the black sheep of SKT T1’s roster, and there were times when he legitimately acted as the backbone of the South Korean powerhouse. 

Blank joined SKT T1 at the end of 2015 to share playtime with Bae "Bengi" Seong-woong. He was meant to provide a more forceful, carry-oriented presence—a stark contrast to Bengi’s controlled playstyle. Unfortunately, Blank had a hard time proving his worth on stage. He played a total of four games over the first half of the 2016 LCK Spring Split, three of them ending in a loss. And while he was along for the ride when SKT won the IEM Season 10 World Championship, there were many times when he struggled to keep up with his superstar teammates.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. The rest of the Spring Split saw Blank making noticeable improvements, and even though his name was never up there with the best LCK junglers, he still had the playstyle and the champion pool to give SKT the aggressive presence that Bengi couldn’t. During that era, his biggest achievement was challenging—and defeating—ROX Tigers’ Han "Peanut" Wang-ho in the final of the 2016 LCK Spring Split. But an LCK title didn’t put an end to Blank’s hardships.

Barring that final, Blank always seemed to crack under pressure and make critical misplays or a fatal overextensions in high-pressure matches. Stage fright is exceedingly common among performers, but if you’re fighting for a spot on the best team in the world, it can be a death sentence. Fortunately, SKT still had Bengi to fall back on. With that, Blank’s issues weren’t as detrimental, and he had the luxury of sitting out a game or two when the nerves got to him. 

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