SK Telecom T1 has carried the weight of being the best League of Legends team in the world for some time.
The defending world champions have made it back to the semifinals after Friday’s 3-1 win against RNG in a quarterfinal match in Chicago. SKT will look to become the first team to even reach three finals when it plays next week in New York.
SKT is already the first team to win two world titles and is looking for a third, which would further cement its legacy as the best team of all time in the game’s relatively short history. Although Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok rightfully receives a bulk of the phrase, coach Kim “KkOma” Jeong-Gyun has also been at the forefront of SKT’s budding dynasty. Slingshot’s Vince Nairn had the chance to talk briefly to KkOma (through an interpreter) on Friday to talk about the quarterfinal matchup and the pressure that comes with being SKT.
Vince Nairn: Congratulations on the win. How would you sum up how you think the match went tonight?
Kim “KkOma” Jeong-Gyun: I think the match was a hard one because our opponents did a lot better than we expected.
VN: Was there any particular adjustment that you had to make after the first game?
KJG: After losing game 1, we changed everything we had prepared.
VN: Did RNG winning the first game the way they did catch you by surprise?
KJG: The most unexpected thing was (Jang “Looper” Hyung-Seok) performing very well in the laning phase today.
VN: Overall what changes every time you come back to worlds?
KJG: The thing I feel each time is that the average strength of teams are getting better each time, which makes worlds more difficult. Despite that fact, the expectations for our team to perform at worlds continues to be very high, so it gets very tough when we make it here. Personally I think this feeling gets worse each time we get here, since there is so much pressure for SKT to “protect the throne” in a sense.
VN: How do you handle that pressure of being SKT as the coach, the person in charge?
KJG: There isn’t a way I relieve that pressure personally, since the minimum is to win games, rather than finding relief, and that takes away a lot of the fun. I also feel like the pressure is also making me lose interest, because career wise when we look at our team, we had the most amount of victories this year, but because we didn’t win the summer split, the perception of our team becomes bad. So I think that’s why I’m losing interest. We’re always expected to win.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games