Huni to SKT was one of the biggest things to come of last year’s off-season.
Many players had come from Korea to NA but this would be one of the first times a player would stake his name in the NA LCS and be picked up by one of the top Korean squads in the aftermath. After catching the eye of coach Kim “kkOma” Jung-gyun, Huni and SKT would go to be quite successful winning the spring split and MSI.
Summer would however bring some struggles for Huni and SKT alike. These issues would lead to Huni being benched mid-season in favor of Ui “Untara” Jin-Park who provided a more stable top-lane role for the team. There was much contention over who was truly the better fit in the top-lane but overall the band-aid seemed to have a positive effect. The would hold until until the LCK Summer Final – where they would meet Longzhu. In the first two games of this series we would watch as Kim “Khan” Dong-ha would decimate Untara and exploit his many flaws. This would lead to Huni being subbed in mid-series and winning game 3, although eventually being camped in the defining game 4 loss of the series.
— lolesports (@lolesports) August 26, 2017
In this series both players weaknesses were put on full display. With this said, the series spoke much more loudly to SKT’s issues as a unit. SKT throughout the summer season has struggled with giving their top-lane the proper resources to succeed. This is the very reason why Untara was subbed in to begin with. He had a lower ceiling than Huni but didn’t require the same amount of jungle pressure and gold either. He could often provide use as a budget top-lane with minimal resources. The issue with this comes when you face the best competition and quickly realize that if you want to achieve your best level of play, you need your best players out there. The finals should be a wake-up call for SKT and prove to them that they need to address their weaknesses as opposed to masking them. If they can’t get through Longzhu and Khan, they most likely can’t win Worlds.
When analyzing SKT’s choice, it is critical to put it in the context of what they will be facing as well. What happened in the LCK finals was only possible due to the immense skill that Longzhu had in the form of Khan. Realistically there are only a handful of top-laners in the world who could manhandle both Untara and Huni the way Khan did. Smeb is first to mind – one who is not competing at Worlds along with Khan and Cuvee – both of which are in separate groups from SKT.
EDG to many will be SKT’s biggest competition in group A, coming out of china with the LPL’s number one seed. Fortunately for SKT, Mouse is by far the weakest member of EDG under the admission of even Chinese analysts. The chance of him being able to exploit the previously shown weaknesses of either top is very slim. The other team is ahq e-Sports club who does have a more potent threat in the top-lane with Yi “Ziv” Chen, but is considered a much weaker team overall.
Given these factors, the decision to start Huni begins to make a lot of sense as many of the fears SKT had previously have been nullified in the group draw. Kkoma knows for worlds he needs his best players on the rift and getting Huni going early on in a group suited for him is the best way to see his team succeed down the line. Huni is certainly the riskier of the two choices but SKT does not head to worlds with anything but first place in mind, for this they will need Huni, and Huni at his very best.