The LCK is the toughest league the game has to offer, and throughout its history, SK Telecom T1 was always sitting at the very top of it. In 2018 however many teams have surpassed the former top dog.
Now SKT may not qualify for the World Championship they've won more than any organization in history.
SKT finished a less than stellar 2018 Spring Season in 4th. They just barely scraped by to qualify for the Spring Playoffs, where they then fell to longtime rivals kt Rolster, the team SKT have beaten on their path to Worlds so many times in a row. At the time, while it looked bad in comparison to their resume, we all figured things would repair over time with such a talented roster. After all, everyone had to have at least one bad season in their history.
We were wrong.
SKT has since fallen harder from grace than ever in the 2018 Summer Season, where they now sit in the red heading into Week 8 with a measly 8-9 record, earning them 7th place in the league they reigned over for years.
Now looking like the worst SKT in organization history, the 3-time world champion and 2017 Worlds runner-up are now faced with the reality of potentially not qualifying for Worlds at all in 2018.
So what do they have to do to pull it off?
How to qualify for the World Championship
SKT's 4th place finish in the 2018 Spring Season was enough to earn the team 30 qualifying points on their way to Worlds. While it wasn't as many as we'd expect from the org, it was something. Those points now qualify the team for the Korea Regional Finals.
Now after their 9 losses so far this summer, however, that's the team's only hope.
To qualify for the 2018 World Championship SKT now need to pull off the ultimate run by taking down the 2nd through 5th Championship Point teams. That means running down a list of: Griffin, kt Rolster, and Gen.G.
While SKT are a historically strong post-season team, it's a narrow window.
What are the chances?
The SKT entering Korea Regional Finals is one with several glaring weak spots in their core, but some flexible strength in some individual talents.
In top lane SKT have a hugely exploitable Thal holding down the fort with an untested Untara behind him. He's coming off a 0/6/2 thrashing at the hands of Griffin, and overall looks like the weakest top laner heading into the Regional Finals.
In the jungle SKT have recently run Blank to varying degrees of success. At times he is steamrolled, but others he still outshines previous jungler Blossom, who could also reasonably be flexed into the jungle during the tournament. If Blank can keep his hands on Sejuani this team has a much higher chance of survival.
In mid lane SKT have run a split of Faker and Pirean, with both players impressing. While Faker isn't quite showing up like he once did, and a fair amount of this can be put on the squad around him, he still is among the better players in his role. Alongside Faker is a surprisingly excelling Pirean, whom the team has run recently to success. Regardless of who is on the Rift from this middle lane combo, expect them to be a driving engine to SKT victories.
In bottom lane, SKT have a bit of a roller coaster. Throughout the split they've had let down performances from their support players. Originally Wolf and now Effort, both supports have been points of weakness. The good news for SKT is that their other half of the bottom lane, Bang, has kept his composure and, alongside the team's middle lane, shined despite the team's faults.
Around Bang and Faker/Pirean, the team has many exploitable points. Wolf, Blank, and Thal all have been consistently contributing to the losses of SKT, and could very well be the targeted 3 across all of SKT's games.
Where do they go from here?
Whether SKT manage to make the Worlds run or not, it's likely that we'll continue to see changes heading into 2019. The org that once ran the league are now faltering, and that simply can't be for this dynasty. Team Faker will need some new faces on or off the Rift if they expect to level up against what is perhaps the strongest competition its ever had.
We'll soon see if the roster they have can leave 2018 with a consolation prize, and the potential to prove the world wrong on the biggest stage right after.
We just don't see it happening.
What do you think about SKT's chances for Worlds 2018? Let us know in the comments below!