Defeating the reigning king was never going to be easy, and Counter Logic Gaming, in its current form, was not the chosen one to halt the SK Telecom T1 dynasty.
Sunday's final resulted with the Korean king charging its way to a fourth straight major title. Counter Logic Gaming's words of defiance toward the undisputed world champion continued until the final Nexus push. CLG deflected back at everything SKT T1 threw at it in the Mid-Season Invitational finals, but it wasn't enough; the heavy sword of the SKT dynasty put to sleep another contender. In the past three international events SKT T1 has attended, it's faced a different region's combatant in the final. At the 2015 Riot World Championships, it was fellow countryman, KOO Tigers, who challenged SKT for the throne. Although the Tigers pierced through SKT’s armor to deliver it the first loss of the tournament, it wasn't nearly enough. Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok locked in his infamous Ryze, silenced the naysayers, and lifted his second Summoner's Cup next to his teammates.
A few months ago in Katowice, Poland, it was Europe's Fnatic with a chance to defy the odds and beat a slumping SKT. Seventh in the Korean league standings, SKT was still the favourites to win the tournament, but was seen as an underdog against the rebranded ROX Tigers. The emergence of Kang "Blank" Sun-gu in the jungle and Bae "Bang" Jun-sik as an elite carry helped SKT take home IEM's World Championship in flawless record. A reconstructed and still growing Fnatic was no match for SKT in the finals and was thrown aside in a three game sweep.
Following a three peat of domestic championships, the regenerated two-time world champions set its sights for Shanghai and the only title missing from Faker and SKT's extensive trophy case: the Mid-Season Invitational championship. Two weeks and another sweep in the finals over a North American LCS team, SKT T1 has solidified itself on another tier where no one can reach them. Even teams in South Korea haven't been able to beat it since Samsung White and Samsung Blue disbanded. The Chinese/Korean hybrid teams created by the other regions haven't stood a chance, other than Edward Gaming back in the 2015 MSI finals.
The final piece of hardware keeping SKT T1 from fully controlling the League of Legends landscape was the Mid-Season Invitational. The one international tournament where Faker did not triumph. Instead, he fell on his signature champion LeBlanc, which had become an extension of himself. A flashy playmaker, LeBlanc was everything that made Faker great: incredible solo kills, unbelievable outplays, and otherworldly reversals.
Edward Gaming killed the mystique of Faker's signature champion. Under the tutelage of one of the all-time greatest coaches in esports history, Ji "Aaron" Xing, the Chinese champions had mapped out the perfect strategy to neutralize SKT’s composition and stop the undefeated streak of Faker's LeBlanc. On that day, SKT T1 tasted defeat on the international stage for the first time, and it was a learning experience that led it to its current dominance.
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