SK Telecom T1 put their prowess as a team on display Sunday in a 3-1 series victory over Splyce on Sunday at the League of Legends World Championship in Madrid, Spain.
SK Telecom have now made it to the semifinals in each of the nine international tournaments for which the team has qualified. The team won Sunday's series by maintaining a stranglehold on early-game objectives. Throughout the four-game series, SK Telecom T1 took four First Bloods, four First Towers and three Rift Heralds. The only other team to ever sweep both First Bloods and First Towers from its opponent in a worlds series was H2K in 2016 against Albus NoX Luna.
SK Telecom's mid laner Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok was not the all-star that showed up during the group stage, but he did hit a career milestone in Game 2, becoming the first player to reach 100 international wins. Faker is now 101-37 in international games, with five total titles to his name.
SKT were able to close out Sunday's series with the help of AD carry Park "Teddy" Jin-seong's strong performance and top laner Kim "Khan" Dong-ha's ability to continually win his lane. Teddy put up a 6.8 series KDA (kills/deaths/assists) which included games on Draven, Varus and Kai'Sa. His 6/0/3 performance on Varus in Game 4 was his 10th deathless international game this year, four more than any other ADC. His four such games at this tournament are second to only Griffin's Park "Viper" Do-heyon.
Meanwhile, Khan carried Game 1 of the series with a top lane Lucian, the first time the champion was played top on the international stage. His eight kills matched Fnatic top laner Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau and Invictus Gaming top laner Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok as the most by a top laner in a single game this tournament.
Prior to that game, Lucian had the worst win rate of any champion with at least 10 games this tournament (3-10). Khan followed up the Lucian game with a game on Fiora, a champion on a five-game losing streak at worlds across multiple years. In fact, Fiora's last win at worlds was in the 2015 final when then-ROX Tigers player Song "Smeb" Kyung-ho took it into SK Telecom's Jang "MaRin" Gyeong-hwan. Khan pulled off a 4/2/7 scoreline, helping SKT to an early 2-0 series lead. In Game 4, Khan pulled off yet another successful worlds main stage champion debut, taking Quinn into Renekton and finishing with a 5/2/5 KDA.
SK Telecom T1 will meet G2 Esports in next Sunday's semifinal after G2 Esports emerged victorious over Damwon Gaming. Similarly to SK Telecom, G2 were able to take a stranglehold on the early game taking First Blood in all four of their games and converting that advantage into a series win. The team took advantage of Damwon opting into picking scaling champions like Kayle and punished them.
The games all seemed to be G2-favored by the 12-minute mark. In Game 1, Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon took Kayle top lane and ended up down a kill and 50 creep score at 12 minutes, keeping the scaling champion almost entirely irrelevant throughout the game. Game 2 again saw Martin "Wunder" Nordahl Hansen ahead in the top lane, but the rest of Damwon were able to get ahead into the mid-game. G2 turned to the bottom lane in Game 3 to get ahead, and Damwon's Yasuo/Gragas combination fell behind by three kills and more than 40 creep score by the 12th minute. In Game 4, with an opposing Kayle mid, Rasmus "Caps" Winther was free to roam to the top lane to help Wunder and Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski take down Nuguri, who ended up down four kills and 20 creep score before the 12 minute mark.
Jankos finished the last two games of the series deathless with a combined KDA of 13/0/12. His nine kills in Game 4 matched a tournament-high for a jungler, and his back-to-back deathless games in a worlds series is a jungling feat previously accomplished by only Gao "Ning" Zhen-Ning and Sung "Lilballz" Kuan-Po.
G2 Esports join Invictus Gaming as the only teams to have a repeat semifinals appearance from 2018. G2's win gave Europe its second straight semifinal appearance and sixth overall.