Four series losses in a row and nine straight game losses in a row for Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. It’s hard to imagine, but given their current form, SK Telecom T1 may not qualify to the 2017 League of Legends World Championship.
We’ve seen SK Telecom T1 experience slumps in form before, but nothing of this magnitude. The reigning LCK, Mid-Season Invitational and World Champions are in a state of regional free-fall, seemingly broken from their decisive loss at Rift Rivals.
Including that loss to Team WE at Rift Rivals, Faker is on an unprecedented nine game loss streak after defeat at the hands of Longzhu Gaming.
The God of League of Legends’ previous biggest loss streak (8) occurred back in 2014; he would be ruled out of contention in the World Championship the following day. SKT are staring an omen in the face.
The League of Legends community is not used to seeing SK Telecom T1 struggle, for many fans, the team’s era of dominance is all they have ever known of the professional scene.
Perhaps what is most alarming is that the blame cannot be pinned to one particular individual, the entirety of the roster is underperforming, from top to bottom.
Whilst the relatively recent additions of Han “Peanut” Wang-ho and Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon’s underperformance has been widely documented, the fragility of Faker and SKT’s bot lane has left the squad with very few positives to cling on to as they enter a crucial period in their season.
To witness Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan losing lane so cheaply is a sight that has left both fans and analysts rubbing their eyes.
SK Telecom T1 could fall as low as fifth before the week’s fixtures are concluded, making qualification for the World Championship an uphill struggle for Kim “KkOma” Jung-gyun’s line-up.
The prospect of an SKT-less tournament is certainly intriguing, though fans will be cautious to write off the reigning champions’ chances of retaining their crown.
In the midst of their uncharacteristic slump, LCK rivals are rising to the occasion, both Samsung Galaxy and KT Rolster have cemented their positions at the top of the standings.
Adding to SKT’s run of consecutive losses with their latest defeat, Longzhu Gaming will similar fancy their chances of securing LCK’s final seed for the international tournament.
There is still time for the star-studded SK Telecom T1 roster to turn their fortunes around, but perhaps fans should brace themselves for the prospect of World Championship with the guarantee of a new victor. Whether the Summoners Cup will reside in any nation other that South Korea however, remains very unlikely.