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Worlds 2016: Could SKT be the best eSports organisation ever?

27 Oct | BY Suzy Mostaani | MIN READ TIME |
Worlds 2016: Could SKT be the best eSports organisation ever?

SKT are one the most recognised names within eSports but whether they're the best organisation ever is another question...

As SKT Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy prepare to dish out the pain on one another, it’s worth stepping back and just appreciating the significance of this final.

There’s a very strong chance that SKT will walk away the winners. In this scenario, SKT will have won Worlds three times. That’s an incredible accomplishment, with no precedence in League of Legends history.

If they make it, it’ll be hard to deny they have no equals in League of Legends. In fact, it’s hard to find any equivalent in eSports, full stop.

Rarely would a game have been so dominated by one team – a team that has retained 40% of its roster.

Is SKT, then, the best eSports team in the industry’s history?

Only a handful of similar success stories spring to mind from years gone by.

Let’s start with Flash (another Korean, surprise, surprise).

This Starcraft II player is lauded within the game’s community, and is famous across the wider world of eSports.

Flash spent his career in Starcraft as part of KT Rolster, and retired last year.

He still has the highest career win-loss ratio, at 71.74%, and the highest peak ELO, at 2443, of any Starcraft II player.

He has won six OSL and MSL tournaments, four of which he accrued within 12 months. His achievement in Starcraft is unmatched.

All of this is mighty impressive, and yet Starcraft is a different kettle of fish to League of Legends. There is, however, an interesting connection between the two.

SK Telecom originally sponsored a Starcraft: Brood War team by the name of Orion (formally 4U) founded by Lim ‘BoxeR’ Yo Hwan, nicknamed ‘the Emperor’ for his long dominance on the scene.

He is another contender for ‘greatest eSports player ever’ among the community.

Does this point to SKT being part of some elite establishment in the industry, like a kind of eSports illuminati perhaps? Well, no, obviously not, but certainly it shows that SKT has damn fine pedigree.

Of course, it could be argued that being able to switch out players when they’re not working makes it easier for an organisation to achieve dominance. But we’re talking about SKT as a team here – you can’t ignore the roles of Faker and Bengi.

These SKT stalwarts have been in place for a long time, and arguably it has been their talent and versatility that has kept the team on the road to glory for so long.

Faker, always on people’s tongues as being one of the best players in LoL ‘atm’, has been the anchor of SKT, and one of only two players to have taken the Worlds trophy twice.

The other is Bengi. Say much?

The duo powered their team through every major tournament, ever since their loss at the 2015 MSI.

They rampaged at Worlds 2015 with a 15-1 run, dominated the IEM Katowice after coming sixth place at LCK, took their fifth domestic title, and systematically crushed CLG and the American dream at MSI 2016.

Their dominating past record is breath-taking. 

Of course, eSports has other titanic organisations

Fnatic seems to have its own field of gravity. It’s perhaps eSports’ most iconic brand, and as an organisation, their success infests many different eSports.

In CS:GO, there are two notable Fnatic ‘eras’, which enjoyed immense success and are renowned for being the best line-ups of their time.

The 2010 roster of f0rest, dsn, cArn, gux and GeT_RiGhT took the scene by storm, followed by of olofm, KRiMZ, JW, flusha and pronax in 2014. 

Meanwhile, in LoL Fnatic won the first-ever Worlds back in 2011 when it was a much smaller affair, and still holds the record for the most LoL Championship Series split titles ever won (five out of seven played).

In 2015 they became the first LCS organisation to finish a split undefeated.

Today however, they are but a shadow of what they once were; much duller when contrasted with the current intensity of SKT’s dominance.

It’s also quite difficult to compare the LoL scene with Dota2 and CS:GO, which seem generally more organically competitive.

Take Dota2, for instance. Alliance had a superb run in 2013 winning TI3, and after reforming their winning roster in 2015, they maintained their relevance.

Loda and Akke were the longest-standing partnership in Dota2 history (Akke left Alliance in August this year).

Na’Vi also stands out as having won TI once, and achieved second place twice; though this was largely in the tournament’s early period, when competition was less fierce.

In 2010, EHOME dismantled the Dota scene, taking down some of the best teams around, winning 10 consecutive championships.

But all of these flashes of brilliance were speckles on a rotating canvas

These organisations, while considered influential throughout their lifespan, often swapped and dropped players, and failed to consistently maintain a commanding position.

Rather, their ups and downs fuelled the scene’s diversity, allowing for newcomers to enjoy success.

SKT’s persistent presence, on the other hand, has not only allowed them to shape the competition, it is also plays a big part in the Korean hegemony over LoL.

Even after winning Worlds 2013, SKT’s full potential still hadn’t shown itself. That would become apparent at the beginning of the season in OGN Champions Winter 2013-2014.

No team is likely to reproduce this flawless stint.

Not only did they take first place, they went entirely undefeated, while the rest of Korea crumbled; Samsung Galaxy Ozone (SSW) included.

At this point, Faker was the only player to earn the MVP honour two times.

It’s true that SSW’s roster of Looper, DanDy, Pawn, Imp and Mata was the best example of a super-team, with the individual talent of all five players unmatched.

It can also be argued that this roster was the best LoL has ever seen, but alas, only existed really in 2014. 

Many teams have formed and disbanded over the years, enjoying formidable wins and winning streaks across all eSports and are still remembered for their successful stints.

One honourable mention must go to Team 3D/Final Boss who are regarded as one of the most iconic and successful Halo teams of all time.

Lead by one man, Tom “OGRE2” Ryan, they won most of their tournaments from 2005 to 2007 and 2010.

But the dominant eSports scenes of today dictate that international pressure, versatility against diverse competition, stability and consistency, and an adaptable strategy are all essential factors if you want to be considered the best of the best.

Regardless of what happens in the finals this year, it’s fair to say that SKT can stake their claim to being LoL’s best ‘team’ – and possibly the best eSports team ever.

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Suzy Mostaani

eSports writer who specialises in League of Legends and Hearthstone as well as contributing to gaming website s-engine.net.

Suzy Mostaani

eSports writer who specialises in League of Legends and Hearthstone as well as contributing to gaming website s-engine.net.