The Telecom Wars. Arguably the single longest-standing rivalry between two consistent esports organizations (dating back to theStarcraft: Brood Wars era of esports in Korea,) the Telecom Wars is the biggest throwdown match in the LCK between dynastic SKT and always a bridesmaid never a bride KT Rolster. The SKT vs KT Rolster matchup is legendary. SKT are the Emperors looking down on an empire in question. KT Roslter, the team built to bring down the Empire, the Usurper, the slated Kingslayers, looking for redemption. How could this not be an amazing showdown?
“AND LOOK AT DEFT. DEFT HAS HAD TEARS AFTER MATCHES BEFORE, YOU CAN POINT THEM OUT, OVER MANY TEAMS. THEY WERE ALL TEARS OF SADNESS AFTER DEFEATS. THESE ARE TEARS OF EXHAUSTION, OF A GOAL REALIZED, ONCE.” – CHRIS “PAPASMITHY” SMITH
The last time these two titans of teams met, was earlier in this split. It was a monumental moment for the KT Rolster organization, as they finally took down the SKT team they had constructed their super team around defeating. Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu cried. The coaches jumped in ecstasy. Hell, the whole team seemed lighter after that win. This meant more to the team than any victory previously did. Now to two once again face off in the waning weeks of the LCK, to see if the last time was a fluke or if KT really have redeemed themselves.
The Telecom Wars stretch back into the history of esports, and even in the early days KT always seemed to be one step behind ‘big brother’ SKT. It was with the dissolution of the ‘old’ KT squad, the one containing such NA LCS favorites like top lane talent Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho and star ADC Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon, to construct what was instantly titled the ‘Super Team’ of the LCK.
The new KT Rolster’s entered the LCK domain, acquiring a huge star-studded roster (while retaining veteran of the team in Go “Score” Dong-bin) with one purpose: defeat longtime rivals in SKT. There have been plenty of teams established with ‘super team’ status to try and dominate a region, but there aren’t any designed specifically to take down a rival organization.
SKT’s dominance of League of Legends needs no introduction. However, specifically, their recent history is of note. While KT has struggled to solidify their team of superstars into a cohesive unit able to take down the Emperors, SKT has been on a steady decline since Spring 2017. While KT’s woes seemed to hit their depths at failing, again, to qualify for Worlds, SKT’s woes have been most apparent since Worlds. A weak, shaky, lost SKT was on display for the World, and then Samsung Galaxy (now KSV) dismantled them in the finals.
SKT has bounced back, possibly thanks to an injection of fresh, young talent into the gaming house motivating some of the older players. Top laner Park “Thal” Kwon-hyuk and Jungler Park “Blossom” Beom-chan have seen playtime on the team, with some stability in Park “Untara” Ui-jin’s play has seen the team stop their losing ways. Now, SKT is on a 4-1 in the past 5 games, looking across the rift from the team that finally defeated them.
Every time SKT look to slip up, the community is reminded that these are not immortal god-emperors, but still, players that can lose (and lose badly.) While Faker remains (insanely) a constant threat for the SKT side, weaknesses abounded during their losing slump. That’s ultimately stopped, and SKT is back to fighting form at least. Still, looking at the standings, that losing streak has hurt SKT’s overall record: 5-6 is not the usual for the organization.
KT Rolster, on the other hand, have a lot to be proud of. Not only did they finally defeat rivals SKT with this roster, they’re also 9-3 in the standings and second place overall. KT as a team has looked better too, making fewer mistakes and not being as heavily reliant on a crushing early game to win games (one good thing about the ‘super-crazy-late’ game meta).
This game, as far as standings go, isn’t necessarily going to make or break it for either team. There’s still four weeks of play for the LCK teams, which means that playoff considerations are still there, but a single loss or win isn’t going to necessarily seal either teams fate. But that’s all matters for mortals because this battle is a battle of titans in the Korean esports scene, a battle much bigger than mere standings.
Anyone who watched the last SKT vs KT Rolster matchup knows how much this meant for the KT Rolster team. Deft crying, the whole coaching stuff jumping, the smiles and sighs of relief on the team and fans alike. It felt like watching a graduation ceremony, it was so emotional. For SKT, on the other hand, it was just another concerning factor to their downward slump since mid last year. It was just another sign of how the mighty had fallen, how their empire was in question.
KT Roslter wants this win to cement themselves as a team to beat, regardless of your name. They need this win to prove themselves as the real deal, something they’ve fallen short of time and time again when it mattered most. This is the first step to righting those wrongs. SKT, on the other hand, is on the up and up, and a bounce-back win against their long-standing rivals will put their fans hearts and minds at ease. But, more importantly, will show that they are back, and can tussle with anyone in the league still. For KT, it’s about cementing themselves as no longer weaker than SKT. For SKT, it’s about reminding the league why they’re alwaysa team to be feared.