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Please God Not SKT Again, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Root for TSM

Just because you respect the king doesn't mean you don’t want to see them fall on their ass every once in a while.

Riot Games

Worlds 2013 was my very first time watching the tournament. I had just started playing League in April of that year and was very excited to see the best teams compete. While I came into the tournament with hope for North America, my limited knowledge of OGN (the name for the LCK at the time) told me that there was no way that Korea would lose the Summoner’s Cup.

Well, the finals came around, and my roommate and I decided to go watch the match against SKT and Royal Club with our University’s League club. Everyone met a few hours before to play a few games of League and eat. When we began talking about the upcoming match, it became clear that literally everyone in the room except for us thought Royal Club would crush SKT. That didn’t happen. SKT 3-0’d the Chinese team in some of the most dominant League of Legends play that I had ever seen at the time. Everyone in the room was shocked as SKT hoisted the trophy, and we walked back to our dorm feeling smug. I regret that.

Since the 2013 World Tournament, SKT has won so many things. Too many things in my opinion. If you think I am joking, they have won:

  • Season 3 World Championship
  • All-Stars 2014
  • 2015 LCK Spring Playoffs
  • 2015 LCK Summer Playoffs (as well as having the most dominant record during the split)
  • 2015 World Championship (Season 5)
  • 2016 LCK Spring Playoffs
  • 2016 Mid-Season Invitational

And those are only the Riot events that they have won. If you take out the season placements, they have still placed 1st in four major Riot Tournaments in three years. They have won numerous other League tournaments such as IEM and have placed secnd at a couple other major tournaments. SKT have been a terror on the League scene, and I mean that in a positive way, really I do. But it is getting a little old.

Look, I love watching Faker play. Sometimes I pull up the Faker and Ryu duel just to shake my head in awe of how good that kid is at League of Legends. He is undeniably the best player in the world (can we stop talking about Smeb please?). When Faker locks in Zed or LeBlanc, I cheer with everyone else. I think that SKT’s style may be a little boring to watch, but I don’t hate them as a team. Not by a longshot. That being said, if I have to watch them hoist a trophy over their heads one more time, I am going to lose my mind.

Obviously I am being a little hyperbolic here, but I do think that seeing the same team win over and over again does have a negative impact on the scene overall, or at least, my enjoyment of it. Other than Fnatic winning Season 1 (which was very small) and the Taipei Assassins winning Season 2, a Korean team has won every other World Championship.

We have seen yearly improvement from the other regions, and the competition has gotten better. I am fairly certain that any Season 6 World contender (well, unless they are from the EU LCS) could beat Season 3 SKT. Korea has been the king since I started watching League of Legends almost four years ago, and I would love to see another region come up and take the crown this year.

My disappointment isn't in Korea, believe you me. The World Champions of Season 4, Samsung Galaxy White, was one of my favorite teams ever. Samsung was absolutely incredible, they came through, playing the most dominant League of Legends games that we have ever seen (to this day in my opinion), won, before disbanding and leaving for other teams.

As sad as it made me to see that team break up, I am glad in a way that I didn’t have to see them turn into the “we win every tournament” team that SKT has become. It sounds like I am faulting SKT for this, and I am not. That would be silly. They should try their hardest to win, and they do. What I want from Worlds 2016 is to see SKT’s best efforts not yield them the trophy. I want to see another team, maybe even another region, claim the title for the next year.

I believe this will bolster the competition worldwide and wipe away some of the staleness from the tournaments. I am ready for a tournament where I don’t just have make a educated guess about which Korean team will take home the trophy. Korea is an incredible region with some awesome teams (go go Jin-Air Green Wings!), and they have deserved every win they have received. But don’t you want to see what it looks like when Korea has something to prove? When they are chasing after something instead of just trying to maintain their spot at number one? I know I do.

This year, things are looking better than ever in terms of diverse competition, even though SKT once again looks excellent. A North American team won second place at MSI, and almost no team went winless in the first week of Group Stages. Moreover, TSM is looking like one of the most unstoppable team at Worlds, with the first real shot that a Western team has had in years. For the first time since I started watching League of Legends, I feel like I don’t know who is going to win this tournament.

Week 1 Group Standings: Worlds 2016

I respect the hell out of SKT, both the organization and the players. They are hard workers who have deserved every win that they have received. But just because you respect the king doesn't mean you don’t want to see them fall on their ass every once in a while.

Plus, we already have all the awesome SKT skins that we could possibly want or need.

Season 3 SKT World Champion Skins
Season 5 SKT World Champion Skins

And that’s how you end up with a CLG fan rooting for TSM at Worlds.