After a domineering showing at the Mid-Season Invitational, SKT T1 is struggling to find its footing within its own region. As of June 22nd, SKT T1 is the first place team, but sharing the position with 3 others: the ROX Tigers, Jin Air Green Wings, and KT Rolster. The dominance SKT displayed in the prior weeks has quickly been diminished to a subpar state.
For the first time, this iteration of SKT T1 was unable to secure a kill or tower in a game. The Afreeca Freecs rampaged through the longtime Korean powerhouse in a 13-0 kill score 26 minute victory. In the second game of the best-of-3, Afreeca once again steamrolled through in 35 minutes, making pick after pick to send SKT reeling.
This upset comes shortly after Jin Air pulled off a similar feat just less than a week ago. SKT showed similar struggles in both of these match-ups; their traditionally clean play looks disheveled and in-congruent.
Time to Worry for SKT T1?
Prior to their return, SKT T1 stifled their opponents from start to finish, aside from a few blips. In these recent performances however, they look undisciplined. Their losses come not through mechanical failure, but rather through a series of very ugly mistakes. Blank and Duke were the worst offenders, getting caught repeatedly by poorly setup enemy picks. Faker showed an uncharacteristic lack of poise, flashing in to vie for nonexistent kills and impossible plays.
Fans have cause for concern moving forward. Despite this team’s undoubted talent in each position, their teamwork faltered heavily in the past 2 series. Duke struggled to grasp the meta shifts quickly, especially unable to find solid footing on Irelia.
The team should be most concerned with their first match against Afreeca. At each stage of the game, Afreeca moved with a stride in advance, executing dives before SKT could react and setting up picks that SKT walked blindly into. The former World Champions looked increasingly rattled with each successive mistake.
The saving grace for SKT T1 remains to be their adaptability. From season to season, SKT T1 (and Faker especially) has shown its ability to overcome adversity by introducing innovative, yet disciplined strategy that abuses the strengths and weaknesses inherent to a patch. Look for SKT to retaliate and solve the puzzle of patch 6.12. If they fail, panic alarms should start ringing as the 2016 World Championship peeks beyond the horizon ahead.
SKT’s schedule eases somewhat going forth with matchups against Longzhu Gaming and ESC ever.