Kim "kkOma" Jeong-gyun and Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok won eight LCK championships together. But nothing lasts forever. Their partnership ended in 2019, and since then, they have each taken one LCK championship. Now, as fate wills it, the two will meet in the 2021 LCK Summer Split finals to decide whether Faker or kkOma will be the first to the unprecedented 10th title.
kkOma and Faker: the cornerstones of T1
History started in 2013. kkOma led SKT T1 K to become world champions in the club's first year, with a line-up of fresh new faces. Amongst those was Faker, a white-hot start who had already shocked the world with his outstanding mechanics that got him the solo kill on Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong, a top mid laner at the time, and the now-iconic Zed mirror outplay against Ryu "Ryu" Sang-wook.
But coming into 2014, Faker's year was far removed from his stunning rookie season. SKT T1 K winning the 13-14 LCK Winter Split brought high hopes to the fans, but sudden member switches and underwhelming performance led to a disappointing result, and SKT couldn't even make it to Worlds. Samsung Galaxy White, known as the natural SKT T1 K predator, dominated 2014.
After the two rosters of SKT T1 united into a single team in 2015, the club's results returned and the golden age of SKT began. They won both LCK splits, dominated the World Championship to win their second trophy, and came one game short from winning MSI to complete the so-far unachieved "golden road". SKT T1's stats were absurd. The team boasted an 85% win rate in Summer and dropped just one game on their way to Worlds gold. Even now, six years later, 2015 SKT T1 is considered the best team in League of Legends history.
The SKT T1 dynasty continued largely unchallenged, albeit with a few hiccups in a rather disappointing 2018. "SKT has never had a downfall, even if we've been a little bit sluggish," kkOma was quoted saying. While not always at their 100%, in the end, it was somehow always SKT standing. By the end of the 2019 Summer Split, kkOma and Faker had each put eight LCK titles in their cabinets, while also winning Worlds 2016, MSI 2015, and MSI 2016.
SKT T1 never stopped fascinating fans worldwide, and unequivocally became the greatest of all time.
DK kkOma vs. T1 Faker
SKT T1 went through a cataclysmic change ahead of the 2020 season. The coaching staff, including seven-year veteran and leader kkOma, left the team. Even SKT T1's name changed, rebranded to T1 after a merger with American media giant Comcast.
In the absence of kkOma, T1's 2020 roster was an unstable one. The team won 2020 LCK Spring — Faker's ninth LCK trophy — but it was all downhill from there. T1's Summer campaign ended with a 5th place and their third failure to qualify for Worlds. As 2021 rolled around, T1 tried to mend the holes in the ship by bringing in Yang "Daeny" Dae-in, hot off his Worlds-winning run with DAMWON Gaming — but his experimental and controversial 10-man roster with constant line-up rotations meant another failure for T1: a 4th place in 2021 LCK Spring.
Over in China, kkOma's 2020 season was not the best either. He had signed a head coach deal with Vici Gaming but his stint — while a massive upgrade to VG's league-worst previous form — bore no fruit: 9th place in Spring, 11th place in Summer. So, after the LPL season ended, kkOma bought a ticket and flew back home to the LCK and into the role of DWG KIA's head coach — the current reigning world champions.
Despite overwhelming pressure and scrutiny from the fans, kkOma once again proved his fundamental role in making SKT T1 the GOAT in League of Legends. DWG KIA won 2021 LCK Spring with flying colors, losing just two matches in the entire season, and kkOma tied Faker for nine LCK titles.
Who will be the first to "V10"?
After a year and a half, kkOma and Faker face each other at the 2021 LCK Summer finals.
Faker and T1 went through a tumultuous coaching staff change, releasing Daeny and Zefa mid-split but recovering just in time to secure a couple of short win-streaks and secure playoffs spot. There, T1's infamous best-of-5 buff kicked in just in time to dominate the first two rounds (3-0 vs. SANDBOX, 3-1 vs. Gen.G) and punch a ticket to the finals.
In contrast, kkOma and DWG KIA's Summer was not off to a great start. Their bot lane duo was sluggish with Jang "Ghost" Yong-jun still in a slump, and even star jungler Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu's failed to adapt to the meta. In a time of crisis, kkOma made a genius gambit to turn it all around: Heo "ShowMaker" Su moved and Canyon shifted to mid. Like T1, DK recovered just in time to reclaim their 1st place in the regular season, and crush NS RedForce 3-0 in the playoffs to make the finals.
DWG KIA's search for a three-peat
In the entire LCK history, there's just one team who's achieved a three-peat. SK Telecom T1 recorded has recorded two: 2015 Spring through 2016 Spring; and 2018 Summer through 2019 Summer. On Saturday, DWG KIA will try to become the second team to win three in a row.
Beyond the club level, the LCK Finals have three-peat stakes For Heo “ShowMaker” Su too. Just like T1, there's no other mid laner but Faker to have won three LCK splits in a row. In fact, there's no other mid laner but Faker to have won three LCK splits in total. It's an exclusive club of one, and ShowMaker needs a win on Saturday to double the membership.
One more for the road: The Khan sidequest
If DWG KIA wins the championship, Khan will have won the last four seasons that he has played in the LCK. So far, the veteran top laner has won five championships with three different LCK teams, and is second in trophies only to Faker's nine.
Khan has openly said that this will be his last season, so although it’ll be impossible for him to overcome Faker, he can at least boost this number up and boast that he has won all LCK finals he's played in. Six for six might not be as impressive as Faker's nine out of 11, but Khan will leave an LCK legacy for the ages nonetheless.
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There is just one LCK series left to be played: a series between kkOma and Faker, who've been through an arduous journey for nine years. They were once allies who went through good and bad, but none will easily surrender the trophy on Saturday. Only one person will take the honors of a 10th LCK championship.