In the League of Legends preseason, nobody is immune to roster changes. Even the three time World Champions, SK Telecom T1. Two members of the championship team left the squad. One of them, Lee “Duke” Ho-Seong had a permanent spot on the team over the last season, while the other player to leave the team, Bae “bengi” Seong-ung, the Jungler who’s just as synonymous with SKT as Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is, had to share play time with a younger jungler, Kang “Blank” Sun-gu.
Assuming that bengi is planning to continue his career as a player instead of transitioning into a career as a coach, caster, or streamer, leaving SKT makes sense. As long as this team had Blank, bengi was likely to be used as a situational Jungler for those times when his team needed his experience or the mental reset of bringing in a new player. While the past season gave Blank a great opportunity to get used to playing at the highest level, it wasn’t very good for bengi’s market value. The longer the veteran stayed on SKT, the longer he was thought of as a substitute instead of main roster player on his own right.
The situation with Duke was different. He had a permanent spot on the roster, he wasn’t the noticeable weak point of the roster, unless the team faced the former ROX Tigers with Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho in the Top Lane. In fact, SKT’s “weak point” at any one time would still be the leader of any team in NA or Europe. While the reasons for the decision weren’t stated, the fact of the matter is that Duke is out of SKT. It’s interesting that Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho has just left KT Rollster. SKT Ssumday, anyone?
Finally, The God, The Unkillable Demon King, Faker, re-signed with SK Telecom T1 for a fifth year in a row. It’s been rumored that Chinese teams are offering the best player in the history of League of Legends exorbitant amounts of money to try and get him to play for them. There’ve also been rumors that Faker won’t even talk to those teams unless they offer him something approaching $10M. To be honest, if Faker resisted the temptation to join the Korean exodus to China at the height of the Korean exodus, when he was at the peak of his form, why would he do it now, when most of the expats are coming back with their tails between their legs? Let’s make one thing clear, Faker probably WILL go to China some day, however, it will be when he’s approaching the end of his career, to get the biggest payday before retiring. That time is not now, it seems. With one more Worlds title to his name, it’s hard to argue.
As of now, the only role not filled on SK Telecom is Top Lane. SKT might bring in a fresh player to try and groom him to take over from the veterans in the future, maybe even putting their chances to win the third World Cup in a row in danger. They could also use the influx of great Korean players coming back from China to get someone good and try to win it all this season. Both approaches have their pros and cons. It’s up to SKT’s management to decide. With three Worlds titles already, they probably know what they’re doing.