Things didn’t seem to get better. T1’s losing streak lasted five games. This is the tie with the record for the longest losing streak in the history of the organization. There’s even a possibility to break a new record; T1 will be having a match against KT Rolster who has been a historical rival for two decades and KT seems better than T1 so far.
The performances T1 had shown during the last five games are hard to understand. They claimed the LCK champion of the last spring split by defeating Griffin; the No.1 team of this summer split. They also showed a performance during the MSI 2019 that is “difficult to say bad”. However, since the summer split started, T1 has become one of the worst teams in this season with Jin Air Greenwings.
What kind of factors caused T1 to become one of the worst teams in LCK? How did the LCK champion of the spring split turn to the worst team?
Suspicion 1. T1 players’ form(or condition) is literally bad.
It's quite simple to blame the team's bad performance on individual players' performances which is also a powerful excuse. Many Korean League fans have doubts about the T1 players’ individual performances. There are some statistics that show T1 players are not as good as they were during the spring split.
According to the data, Khan’s influence had decreased in the laning phase. He tended to be ahead in CS at 15 min during the spring season. However, he is mostly led by opponents this summer season.
Data shows another reason comes from Clid. Clid is one of the players who has been underperforming noticeably in the summer season. Clid’s first blood participation rate has decreased from around 60% to 25%. This is fatal to SKT. In the spring season, some of Korean league fans named SKT as “Clid one-man-team”, which means SKT’s victories always started with Clid’s ganks. This is quite true. 58% of first blood participation is an unbelievable record.
Then why did Clid’s first blood participation rate decrease? There is a kind of theory that most of LCK junglers underperform in their second regular season. A new jungler can show very different jungle routes and ganks from others during a season. At the same time, their brilliant jungle path will be exposed and studied. It could be one reason that rookie junglers usually underperform in his second regular season.
Since top lane is influenced by the jungle immensely, and since one of T1’s winning scenario starts with Clid’s ganks, Clid’s underperformance could be one of the main issues for the team’s crisis.
Faker is still one of the best players all over the world. But if Faker’s underperforming should be addressed, there is a piece of clear evidence.
Statistics tell that Faker’s damage per minute, and his damage contribution rate have been decreasing since season 6. In season 9, his damage per minute is 369.8 and damage contribution rate is 23.1%. Although 23.1% is comparably similar to other top tier mid laners, this would mean that Faker is not as special as before.
Suspicion 2. T1 players haven’t caught up the current meta flow.
League of Legends meta changes are getting more flexible and the players’ champion pools are getting important. Think about G2 picking Pyke. A team against G2 should consider top, mid, and bot lane Pyke at once. Since a player’s champion pool leads to ban-pick advantage directly, catching up with the meta flow is an important mission to the pro teams.
Khan’s most played champion is Aatrox. He played Aatrox six times during this summer season. However, Aatrox has been nerfed since the 9.9 patch was updated. Even though Aatrox’s damage is still as powerful as before, due to the changes to the condition of reviving (the ultimate skill), Aatrox’s stability at the laning phase has decreased a lot; we have seen Khan’s Aatrox dying to the jungler’s ganks many times this summer season.
It’s also hard to say Khan has adjusted to the summer season patch quite well. Khan hasn’t played Neeko so far, despite Neeko is one of the most important champions in this meta. AP Glacial Neeko is good for a blind pick, but Khan preferred to pick Kennen instead of her. Considering how many lanes can be covered by Neeko and how many more things Neeko can do compared to Kennen, this is a considerable disadvantage of T1 on the picks & bans strategy.
Teddy is not good at playing a non-ad-carry champion such as Sona. He has played non-ad-carry champions six times in both spring and summer seasons, such as Sona (three times), Victor, Vladimir, and Cassiopeia. However, he may have won a game with Vladimir, but Sona, the first tier champion in current meta, gave him nothing but losses.
Clid prefers to play Lee Sin. He has played Lee Sin twenty-four times with over 70% win rate in the spring season. In summer, he only played Lee Sin twice. When LCK teams matched against T1, They banned or picked Lee Sin to not to let Clid play him. He normally picked Elise or Jarvan IV instead of Lee Sin, but statistics tell that they are not crucial enough of a pick for Clid.
All these disadvantages made T1’s picks & bans strategy very solidly. While T1 played 16 games in the summer season, T1 has 1 win on the red side. This is a serious problem for T1. The advantage of the red side is picking counter champions against the blue side’s blind picks. However, it is not easy to counter the blue side’s blind picks because of the current meta flexibility; as a matter of fact, T1 actually was countered by the blue side team.
Suspicion 3. Some noises occurred in T1’s balance between macro and team fight.
While the previous two suspicions are criticism based on statistics, suspicion 3 is about Korean League analysts’ common opinions. Although T1 is stuck in a losing streak, analysts agreed their individual mechanics have no issues. They say the main problem of the team is the balance between their macro and teamfighting ability.
Bitdol, a shoutcaster at the LCK analyst desk, said “T1’s 1-3-1 (clearing top and bot lane), 0-5-0 (gathering objects or engaging teamfights) playing tends to be slow compared to other teams. Not only that they are usually led by the opponent, but they also hesitate to do something when they have a chance to do in advance.”
Pony, former shoutcaster of LCK, also said “T1 has been trying to change their style so far, but they tend to stop doing things after they get a tiny advantage. LCK top-ranked teams play greedy. Although playing greedy is dangerous, all the international top-tier teams are doing that.”
CloudTemplar, a shoutcaster of LCK, said “Since MSI, T1 is trying to get used to the other top-tier team’s speed. They have adopted lots of things from foreign teams. However, they should move faster, tighter, and go into dangerous situations and get used to it.”
Traditionally, SKT and most LCK teams have been good in macro. Macro is about lane management (clearing lane, a.k.a 1-3-1). Through the lane control, SKT maximized their benefits and minimized losses. During the period SKT dominated international stages, many teams learned SKT (or LCK) style lane management.
Due to the changing of the meta, and other international teams got used to lane management, the importance of what they do during when they get together(0-5-0) has relatively increased. Invictus Gaming and G2 Esports are the teams that showed us how pro teams should work together when they get together.
These two videos show the different mindset of two teams: iG and SKT. iG did not hesitate to dive bot lane, even though T1’s jungler was near the bot lane. It could be a critical accident if they failed to dive. But they took that tremendous risk in order to get a win more quickly.
On the other hand, T1 hesitated to dive even when it was a 4v1 dive situation. Although Ryze escaped from Rakan's ultimate with Flash, he would not have been able to escape Jarvan IV's ultimate. Since SKT was worried about SANDBOX Gaming's backup, they did not go one more step to win.
Before the MSI 2019, Bang mentioned T1's performance that the maturity of T1's macro is already 95% to 99% completed according to the LCK spring finals. However, SKT failed to get success with that completeness. After they lost to G2 Esports, they would have thought that they need to change their style. And they might be still stuck in time of transition.