At the end of Game 2 of League of Legends World Championship Finals, SKT was behind 0–2, yet I never doubted the team. They’d been in this position at least a dozen times this year, from crazy Nexus defense in the Telecom War against KT Rolster to a nail-biter best of 5s against Misfits and Royal Never Give Up. SKT stood on the verge of elimination so many times this year, but they always came back.
This time, however, SKT couldn’t make it. Samsung was simply better — they deserved the Summoner’s Cup.
I accepted the loss, but what really moved my heart was watching Faker, for the first time ever, collapse into tears. SKT suffered their dark age in 2014, and lost another best of 5 earlier this year against Longzhu, but none of us have seen Faker uncontrollably crying like he did in the finals this weekend. To me, that tear proved that he’s still hungry for more . More importantly, that tear really reminded me why I’m truly an SKT fan: not because they are simply the best team in the history of League of Legends, but because they are the most resilient team I’ve ever witnessed.
I AM A FAN OF THEIR RESILIENCE.
For many, and myself, SKT fandom began with Faker’s debut match against CJ Blaze, where he (ironically) solo killed Ambition, the best midlaner in the LCK at the time. In just a year, SKT dominated the LCK scene, and eventually won the World Championship in 2013.
But at that point, I was just a casual fan, perhaps even a bandwagoner. I just liked SKT because they were the strongest.
After another World Championship win in 2015, SKT faced much stiffer competition from teams like ROX Tigers and KT Rolster, and more importantly, higher expectations from fans. Fans demanded nothing but winning. A single loss would bring an insane amount of community backlash, and often a reevaluation of the roster -- of whether some players really were the “best player in history” in their position.
It was then, when people started turning their backs on SKT, when I was truly made a hardcore fan. Despite the bandwagoners, doubters, and people who just didn’t want SKT to win another trophy because it’s boring, SKT was resilient. Countless times, they were on the brink of an elimination, yet they were able to turn it around with a miraculous teamfight and reward the fans for their faith. Watching SKT is a constant glimmer of hope, even when the team is 10k, even 20k behind — what if? What if SKT pulls an “SKT Teamfight” ? The excitement of knowing anything is possible is the kind of feeling that only SKT is able to create.
Some people might think, “Why do you like a team that wins every time?” but the road to that victory, especially this year, has been extremely difficult. Watching SKT games is often a nail-biter. It is often staying up until 3am, and even 6am if the game goes to best of 5, to go through an emotional rollercoaster.
I WANT TO SEE THE LEGEND CONTINUE.
At the beginning of the year, I honestly wanted SKT to win just one more World Championship title, and I thought I would be okay leaving it as the last legacy. I would have been okay with Faker leaving SKT afterwards, and perhaps saying goodbye to the SKT dynasty.
But seeing Faker in tears at the end of this year’s final makes me want Faker to stay, and make up for the loss. This year in particular has had many ups and downs for the team, but Faker tried his heart out to carry his team. That tear is an epitome of his sheer disappointment, and to certain extent — shame.
That tear is a feeling of shame after you push yourself to your absolute limits in a particular field. It makes me look back on my life, and wonder — “Have I pushed myself to my limits in my career?”
In that regard, Faker’s passion and professionalism has set a role model for me, and I have my utmost respect for him.
I don’t want Faker in tears to be the last thing I see in his SKT uniform. I want to see Faker holding the Summoner’s Cup one more time, perhaps one last time. I’d like to think of this loss, in the grand scheme of things, as SKT in corners once again. And of course, as Faker and SKT have always shown to their fans with their resilience, they will eventually prevail and return the fans’ faith. I will continue to be a proud SKT fan. Because Legends Never Die.
"We might stumble a few times. But we will never fall."
- Kkoma, SKT Head Coach