SK Telecom T1 AD Carry Bae “Bang” Jun-sik said the beginning of his career was rough, so much so it baffled coach Kim “kkOma” Jung-gyun.
In a lengthy interview with Fomos’ Park Sang-jin, Bang gave a retrospective of his successful career that has included two world championships, two Mid-Season Invitational titles and multiple League Champions Korea titles. Bang began his journey with SKT in October of 2013, joining SKT T1 S along with his career-long support Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan, and according to Bang, it wasn’t really pretty.
“When I first joined SKT, I didn’t know how to really play the game,” he said. “The whole team had high rankings and a lot of solo queue points, but no understanding of team play. We lacked the experience in laning and meta decision making. It was enough to surprise kkOma when he first saw us. He even said he couldn’t understand how we lost the game despite winning top, mid, and bottom. We started to learn what kind of game LoL is as he educated us one step at a time.”
Bang’s first tournament as a member of SKT T1 S was during the Pandora.tv Champions Winter 2013-2014, following SKT’s first world championship. SKT T1 S lost a tiebreaker game against CJ Entus with a chance at the quarterfinals on the line. Throughout Season 4, SKT T1 S was the lesser of the two sister teams and failed to make it out of groups of the spring split. The one time SKT T1 S got the better of K in the summer split, it lost to KT Rolster Arrows, ending its hopes in making it to the League of Legends World Championship.
With the removal of sister teams, Bang became the starting AD Carry for the newly formed SKT T1 and had the season of his life. With incredible performances during the spring and summer split, the 2015 season defined Bang as a player and created the foundation of where he is today. But Bang said he still had one regret, which was losing to EDward Gaming in the finals of that year’s Mid-Season Invitational.
“I was so caught up in wanting to enact my revenge against EDG, that I wasn’t too moved by making it to worlds itself,” he said. “I just moved forward putting my faith in the team and coach. I think it was a period of time that went by thinking what I should work on so that I can improve, rather than thinking what big tournaments I was going to.”
Bang got his chance as EDG was drawn into the same group as SKT, which had its revenge by beating EDG twice. SKT would move onto the quarterfinals and didn’t drop a single game until the grand finals against a rising KOO Tigers, but still took home its second world championship with a 3-1 victory.
The runner-ups from 2015, the KOO Tigers became the ROX Tigers in 2016 and were again a serious contender for the title of best team in the world. The Tigers would triumph in the 2016 LCK summer split, claiming its first LCK title and punching a direct ticket to worlds (before SKT won in the world semifinals on its way to a third championship). Bang said the growth of the Tigers was remarkable both as a team and as individuals.
“The ROX Tigers were a team that got stronger over two years,” he said. “In 2015 they were not a difficult opponent, but by the end of 2016 every member of that team was scary in their own right. I didn’t think that we could win worlds that year. RNG, who we faced during MSI, was incredibly strong, EDG was back on top with a LPL summer split victory, and the Tigers were impressive.”