On November 18, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s contract with three-time world champions SK Telecom T1 will come to an end, thus starting another period of free agency for the best League of Legends player in the world. After failing to make it to the LoL World Championships Finals for the first time since 2014, there is no telling where the “Unkillable Demon King” will go. In this series, we’ll be looking into possible destinations for Faker once his free agency begins.
In this installment we take a look at another team which can bring Faker closer to another Summoner’s Cup, though the fit might be a bit awkward, KT Rolster.
Some consider the quarterfinal matchup between KT Rolster and 2018 World Champions Invictus Gaming to be the actual grand finals, instead of the latter’s anticlimactic sweep of Fnatic. It’s not that hot of a take, as the series was one of the closest ones in the tournament and if it had gone the other way KT Rolster could very well have raised the Summoner’s Cup instead.
Go “Score” Dong-bin’s leadership, experience and shot-calling from the jungler position were as peerless as ever. Alongside star players Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho and Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong, both of whom Score lured over to the team back in 2017, KT Rolster’s big three already have the veteran core of a championship team. Imagine adding Faker to that roster.
We already got a taste of that too, as Faker and Score teamed up in the 2018 Asian Games. Despite a grand finals loss to China, the pair’s mid-jungle duo synergized well and performed strongly, especially when compared to the other jungle partners Faker had at SKT this year. Imagine if the two had a season’s worth of time to develop enough chemistry to be the one-two punch that can take the Summoner’s Cup.
With that said, you have to admit that it’s really hard to imagine Faker under the KT Rolster banner. For one, Faker has long been the poster boy of SK Telecom 1, KT’s perpetual rival in esports and in the telecom industry. Can he bear the awkwardness of turning coats, especially considering how loyal Score has been to the KT Rolster franchise? More than that, can the two actually mesh well together in a team? They each have their own style and will surely stick to it, and while there may be attempts to meet halfway for the team’s betterment, KT would eventually have to prioritize one over the other.
Who will it be, though? Will KT stick to its franchise player in Score but alienate the one player that can take them over the top? Or will KT have to become Faker’s team at Score’s expense for them to win? The organization will have to pick its poison if they want to make it work.
And quickly too, as their window for contention may close far more quickly than they expect. Mata already left after his contract with the team concluded on November 13. Will KT be able to fill the 2014 Worlds MVP-sized hole he left at the support position even if they sign Faker?
There’s also the question of what to do with Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon, who really stepped up as the team’s mid laner after Heo “PawN” Won-seok was injured back in June. While we may have no idea yet where Ucal’s ceiling lies, he’s still a worthy prospect to develop for the future. Should KT dump him for Faker, the obviously better option for a win-now situation?
It’s easy to mention the potential for a championship in Faker signing with KT, but it’s hard to imagine it actually happening. If it’s hard enough to just merely imagine that scenario, what more of making it come true?