Griffin to be the new SKT

Ayrton Lauw

The Korean League of Legends scene is not shy to teams breaking out onto the scene and dominating the league.

In 2013, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s solo kill on Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong, considered a top mid lane player on CJ Entus Blaze, proved that he and the rest of SK Telecom, were top contenders in the best league in the world.

SKT would apply themselves even further that same year to win the HOT6iX Champions summer playoffs, creating one of League of Legend’s most iconic moments winning the 2013 League of Legends World Championships by only losing three total matches during tournament. SKT’s dominance over the entire League of Legends world would lead them to two more world championships for 2014 and 2015 and second place for 2017.

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SK Telecom T1 #2, later renamed to just SKT T1, featuring their original world championships winning team. Photo credit: OnGameNet

Currently SKT has failed to produce the same amount of success as they did in the past previous years. After a rough 2018 season, the previous Korean powerhouse team has been in a slump since their failure to win last year’s championship, placing fourth in the spring playoffs and seventh for the summer season where they failed to qualify for the summer playoffs.

Although their legacy as a prominent force in League of Legends has been degrading, other teams have not met up with the Cinderella story that belonged to SKT – until Griffin entered the LCK.

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Griffin Esports members. Photo credit: Yong-wood Kim

Griffin is mostly composed of top rookie solo queue players and a veteran coach:

  • Choi “Sword” Sung-won (Top)
  • Lee “Tarzan” Seeung-yong (Jungle)
  • Jeong “Chovy”Ji-hoon (Mid)
  • Shin “Rather” Hyeong-seop (Mid substitute)
  • Park “Viper” Do-hyeon (Bot)
  • Son “Lehends” Si-woo (Support)
  • KKim “cvMax” Dae-ho (Head coach)

In the CK 2018 spring season, Griffin seemed to find success with their roster without their current star mid laner Chovy, instead using Rather as their starting mid laner. Griffin ended up going on a tear through the CK circuit that season going undefeated with a record of 14-0 and qualifying for the LCK circuit winning the promotion tournament against MVP 3-1.

Although Griffin qualified to participate in the LCK summer season, it was hard to believe a team of only top solo queue talent were going to beat out the top teams in the world, as well as the fact that the team was composed of only rookies.

Initially Griffin had not played with their young mid laner Chovy as he was younger than 17 years old during their stint in the challenger league, however after Griffin qualified to play in LCK, Chovy became of age and was able to compete.

Chovy’s addition to the team was paramount to Griffin’s success as they went on a 6-0 run within the first couple of weeks of play sweeping top teams like SKT, Kingzone DragonX, and Jin Air Green Wings before finally losing to KT Rolster in week three.

However, Griffin stayed positive and dominated most teams to finish second in the summer season with a 13-5 record and eventually second in the summer playoffs losing 3-2 to KT Rolster in the finals.

After qualifying to compete in the gauntlet to take Korea’s third seed for the 2018 World Championships due to their second place finish in the playoffs, Griffin lost to last year’s world championship winning team Samsung Galaxy, now called Gen.G Esports.

Had Griffin won the qualifier for the world championships, it would’ve marked one of the most unbelievable stories that League of Legends has ever had, comparable of the story that SKT had before.

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SKT T1 hoisting the 2013 League of Legends World Championship trophy after defeating Chinese finalist Royal Club. Photo credit: Riot Games

Although Griffin may not have one of the most iconic plays ever or a team of famous veterans, their team flipped South Korean teams on its head proving that they are worthy contenders against the best teams in the world.

Now as a slumping SKT figures out what they’re going to do with their current roster, the team’s future lies on whether or not Faker will move to a different country to play on a different circuit.

In the meantime, Griffin currently has the attention of the LCK and aims to carry the same high level of play to be a top team for the 2019 spring season.

In a circuit of gods, Griffin’s rookie team are the godslayers and aims to be the best team in League of Legends.

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