Three-time League of Legends world champions (and last-year’s runners-up), SK Telecom T1, will not appear at this year’s competition. Once considered to be far and away the best team in the world, the Koreans – who won both the 2015 and 2016 tournaments – have not qualified for Worlds 2018.
SKT played Gen.G (formerly known as last year’s winners, Samsung Galaxy) in the LCK 2018 regional qualifier, in which four teams (SKT, Gen.G, Kingzone Dragon X, and Griffin) competing for the third and final spot given to the Korean region for this year’s tournament. The two teams were part of the first playoff match, a hard-fought five-game slog that eventually saw Gen.G come out on top.
SKT started strong in game one, with Faker’s Azir and Bang’s Kai’Sa helping them to victory after 25 minutes of stalemate. Gen.G answered back in emphatic fashion in game 2, with a dominant performance to tie the series. Game three went back to SKT, thanks to two more strong performances from Faker and Bang, this time on Irelia and Ashe.
The final two games, however, went to Gen.G, with ADC Ruler dominating in game four, and top laner CuVee wreaking havoc as gangplank in the final game. Those two victories meant that Gen.G will progress to the playoff final against either Kingzone or Griffin, while SKT will not go to Worlds for the first time since 2014.
SKT have won the Worlds title on three previous occasions. Their first victory came in 2013, but they didn’t make the finals in 2014. The next two years, however, belonged firmly to SKT, and they lifted the trophy in both 2015 and 2016. However, at last year’s tournament, they were beaten in the final by Samsung Galaxy, unable to claim a third successive Summoner’s Cup, a loss that spawned the infamous community meme ‘Faker’s Tears’.
Worlds 2018 is not due to begin until next month, but playoff and qualifying games will be taking place across all major (and minor) regions over the coming weeks. If you plan to keep up with the game’s esports scene, you might also want to take a look at the League of Legends patch 8.19 notes, as the current (and relatively minor) patch is the version of the game that this year’s tournament will be played on.