SKTelecom T1 are playing like trash. It’s a new, scary experience, but we can handle it together.
See, it’s always a weird thing when a GOAT-level player or team starts to struggle. It feels surreal to watch a team like SKTelecom T1 get their throats stepped on by a team like Jin Air Green Wings.
This last month for an SKT T1 fan has been like watching LeBron James in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics in the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals. He scored 11/6/6 in 45 minutes, shooting 4-13 from the field with 6 turnovers in 45 minutes of play.
He looked like someone had slipped drugs into his protein shake – the greatest basketball player of our generation put up one of the most pathetic performances by a superstar in playoffs history.
But of course, he came back and reminded Boston who was boss(ton). That’s just what superstars do. And that’s why you shouldn’t lose your head over SKT’s uncharacteristic loss streak.
Now if it were Counter Logic Gaming? Maybe. Unicorns of Love? Probably. I get it, though. You’re scared. You’re worried for Faker. You don’t like reading the hot takes on reddit and Twitter, because deep down you’re afraid they might be true.
SKT fan, I understand how you feel completely. Here are some things you can do to make some sense of it.
1. Recognise that new metas can introduce speed bumps.
No one is saying that SKT aren’t playing terribly, but history shows that new picks that a team doesn’t prepare for can be their undoing.
Samsung Galaxy brought out Sejuani as the centrepiece of a CC-heavy comp in Game 1 of their match against SKT T1, flanked by strong disablers in Taliyah and Braum.
Augmented by Camille and Varus, Samsung had an R button for just about every situation, which SKT’s mobile comp struggled mightily against.
It’s a fair criticism to say that a coach of kkOma’s calibre shouldn’t allow the same comp to beat his team twice.
But any drafting failures are simply a symptom of a team’s misreading of the current metagame – especially when that team is as elite as SKT.
We’re only a few matches away from the whole world realising that hard engage is the flavour of the month. That will never be comfortable for a team who prefers to play the map.
2. Consider the effects of SKT’s roster turnstile.
When SKT win, it’s easy to buy into the hype and believe that the constant rotation of Huni/Untara and Peanut/Blank is a prodigious move that represents how far ahead SKT are of their competition.
People tend to not talk about the downsides of constantly switching up your roster, because these downsides are only magnified when a team starts to lose.
It’s understandable that SKT might want players with different playstyles to expand their playbook, but history shows that the best players in the world have never really had defined playstyles.
With regard to SKT’s top lane situation, the fact is that neither Huni nor Untara even come close to replicating what Duke, MaRin and Impact provided.
They were elite during their tenure on SKT because of the lack of holes in their play, not because of their excellence in a few areas.
SKT can still succeed with the slightly more one-dimensional Huni and Untara, but when both junglers need to play around differing levels of demand, they will find that their roster rotation is more of a headwind than a tailwind in an unfamiliar meta, and especially in the middle of a slump.
3. Accept that Faker will have bad games.
Overextending for farm, disrespecting tower dives, trying to outplay a summoner spell disadvantage, disregarding the map presence of the enemy jungler – these are hallmarks of Faker’s laning which he’s managed to twist into advantages over the years.
Faker is God, but he’s also human. His identity is so intertwined with SKT’s that they move in step with his cadence – and if they don’t fall, it’s usually because one of his teammates decided they’d siphon some of his power for a game.
It almost sounds like blasphemy to say that Faker has bad games, but the reason we’re so stunned when Faker overextends and dies is because he usually gets away with it.
His aggressive, cocky playstyle has been the cornerstone of his dominance since the very moment he stepped into the OGN studios.
But the fact is that he’s just controlling a bundle of pixels, code and numbers, just like any other mid-laner.
SKT fan, I won’t tell you if you should or shouldn’t worry. That’s up to you, but I’d say you’re not thinking clearly enough if you think the sky is falling. I’d also say that you’re missing out on a lot of what makes esports amazing if you won’t indulge in some concern.
Let’s see how this story ends together, yeah?