There are whispers from the east, carried up the winds of esports. They say “Korean super team.” OK so, it obviously not that dramatic, but is something the League of Legends world should be looking out for. KT Rolster, one of South Korea’s premiere League of Legends brandings, has recently come into talks with some of League of Legends biggest talents, many of whom had left Korea to chase the big bucks in the Chinese LPL.
But honestly, how many times have we been here? A big brand name throws wads of cash at the “best” players and expects them to meld and play as a concise unit. Longzhu, OMG, TSM: all teams that attempted to form a roster that would destroy each of their respective regions. But perhaps KT have formed the perfect roster, recruiting former LCK MVP Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, EDG’s Korean imports Heo “PawN” Won-seok and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu, as well as Royal Never Gives Up’s Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong. Tying these players all together is KT’s current jungler and only remaining player Go “Score” Doing-bin. Now, of course, this roster isn’t completed yet, but if current roster movements in other teams are to go by, this team is looking more plausible every day.
Again, despite how good the team looks on paper doesn’t necessarily mean it will look so good on the rift. A few issues KT might run into here are their obvious synergy, jungle focus and team fighting. To flirt with the theory that Smeb, Pawn, Deft and Mata can ruin every lane they face next year is unreasonable, so Score’s pressure and ability to gel with his new teammates, especially solo laners, will be crucial in KT’s success. Smeb is coming from ROX Tigers, a team that was very much a top lane-focused team, which inevitably fed him more resources.
As for Pawn, well, he is a ticking time bomb in the mid lane. Pawn is known for his “do what he wants” kind of playstyle: pushing up mid-lane, drawing out the enemy jungler and going all out, no matter the risk. He carries this playstyle out of lane as well, and loves to split push off in a side lane like a mid-lane Rambo. This playstyle might actually work in parallel with Smebs skills in top lane, creating a potent 1-3-1 combination.
Deft and Mata are the players here who I think will actually work out the most. Most analysts I’ve seen worry about this combination and Deft’s return to Korea as he is notorious for dying in-lane and taking poor exchanges. So the question here is if Korea’s more methodical thinking ADCs like Bang will pose a problem for him. Not if Mata has anything to say about it. Mata is a much more calculated support than Deft’s previous support Meiko, and should reign in and perhaps refine Deft’s aggressive and risky play. Mata is also known well for his shot-calling abilities, so one concise voice amongst these skilful players will go long way.
This supposed team however could run into the same problem many other super teams have in the past, easily winning regular split games with hyper aggression, only to lose when it matters later in the season. Look at North America’s Immortals, who crushed everyone in their regular split ending 2016 with a 33-3 win to loss, only to fall short in playoffs. But I suppose this new KT side may be different. With the LCK, a much more balanced playing field, KT’s super roster would face a trial by fire that no other scene can emulate.
Now, many of the things here are of course just sceptical, as the final line-up is yet to be announced. If this team does come to fruition (Mata looks to be the last to officially sign) Korea may have a team that could stand head and shoulders above the rest in a league that has been idolized as the toughest and most skilful region in the world.
Note: Since this article was created, Mata has officially signed to KT completing the roster
Current KT Rolster line-up:
Top – Song Kyung-ho (Smeb)
Jungle – Go Dong-bin (Score)
Mid – Heo Won-seok (PawN)
AD – Kim Hyuk-kyu (Deft)
Support – Cho Se-hyeong (Mata)