In surprising fashion, SKT T1 has suffered their first loss of the LCK Spring Split. It has come at the hands of SANDBOX Gaming, one of the three rookie teams taking Korea by storm.
오늘 경기는 아쉽게도 1:2로 패했습니다. 일요일에 있을 경기 준비 열심히해서 돌아오겠습니다. 응원해주신 팬 여러분 감사합니다.
— SK telecom T1 (@sktelecom_t1) January 24, 2019
This past offseason, most of South Korea’s established teams would undergo heavy roster shuffles. However, there were a few teams heading into the Spring Split having played with each other for a while. One of those teams is SANDBOX Gaming, formerly known as Team BattleComics. SANDBOX is entering their first season of the LCK, but they are already playing with great confidence and skill. They came into this matchup having taken down Gen.G and Kingzone DragonX last week.
Meanwhile, SKT was also coming into this season with incredible expectations. Forming a new superteam will always bring hype, especially with the caliber of players on this revamped roster. They were also heading into this week with convincing wins against Jin Air Green Wings and Afreeca Freecs. No matter how good the competition is, many fans would have given the perennial World Champions the edge, and for good reason. However, SANDBOX proved today that the new blood of Korea will be setting the pace this year.
In their first game, SANDBOX Gaming drafted possibly out of respect of SKT’s sheer firepower. SKT also drafted a late game scaling composition with incredible global power in Galio, Tahm Kench, Ezreal and Nocturne. It was very difficult for SANDBOX to find a lead, so they were forced into a bad Baron call that would end up costing them the game. Again, it was the Park “Teddy” Jin-seong show in this match, as the talented ADC would net himself eight kills to lead his team to victory. Their jungler, Kim “Clid” Tae-min, was also very active across the map and helped enable his team.
Unfortunately for SKT fans, this would end up being the last win for SKT in the series. SANDBOX would adjust their compositions for games two and three after their game one loss. Their bans would also focus more on SKT’s support, Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong, banning Rakan, Alistar, Braum, and Tahm Kench. Additionally, the rookies would opt for a super aggressive team composition with Akali, Jax, and Draven.
SKT’s picks and bans were also quite unusual, as they would opt into some pretty bad matchups from game one onward. A huge gripe that fans had was that superstars Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Kim “Khan” Dong-ha were stuck on pretty lackluster champions. Khan played Viktor in the top lane twice, and Faker was on Urgot duty for two games as well. It is odd that SKT isn’t placing their big-time players on big-time champions. Khan is a great bruiser top lane player and bringing him back to his roots might have produced better results.
With Faker on Urgot and other similar champions, it does make sense as SKT must be looking for him to facilitate plays with Clid. However, in a meta where taking more risks is rewarded, the old ways of minimizing risks and staying safe just won’t cut it anymore. You have to be willing to take those gambles to win and many of the old LCK teams haven’t caught up to that style of play yet. We saw a good example of this at Worlds, where many other teams were hyper-aggressive and taking chances with big plays. Meanwhile, Korea fell out of the quarterfinals because they lagged behind the new meta.
It is hard to judge these teams over four series. There is plenty of League of Legends to play out still and plenty of changes in the league standings. SKT is still one of the best teams in the league, but they will need to regroup and possibly recalibrate some of their strategies for their next opponents. Meanwhile, SANDBOX Gaming looks ready to push forward and continue their winning ways.
SANDBOX Gaming will be facing off against fellow rookie team, Hanwha Life Esports. That should be an interesting matchup, as both teams have something to prove as relatively new organizations ready to make their mark on the LCK. On the other hand, SKT will have their hands full against DAMWON Gaming, another rookie team trying to prove themselves. DAMWON has already taken down Gen.G and KT Rolster and should be a good challenge for SKT moving forward.
What are your thoughts on SKT’s loss against SANDBOX Gaming? Let us know what you think in the comments below! If you want more LCK coverage, check us out here!
Born and raised in Toronto. Sometimes a writer. Sometimes a creative director. Sometimes bored. Catch me with hundreds of unplayed games in my Steam library.