There have been plenty of winners of the League of Legends World Championship over the past 10 years, but there's only one team synonymous with the Summoner's Cup. T1 have won Worlds three times – more than any other team in history – and consistently reinvent themselves to maintain a star-studded lineup in the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK). As the entire T1 org join a multi-year partnership with Red Bull, here's everything you need to know about their illustrious LoL team.
T1's origins stretch all the way back to the early 2000s and the birth of professional StarCraft, but their fame in LoL began back in 2012, when the team was known as SK Telecom T1. The early lineup, which included Jeong 'Impact' Eon-young, Bae 'Bengi' Seong-woong, Lee 'Faker' Sang-hyeok, Chae 'Piglet' Gwang-jin, and Lee 'PoohManDu' Jeong-hyeon, was immediately successful. They qualified for Worlds in 2013 in fine style, marking the start of an absolutely unparalleled run in League of Legends esports.
Make no mistake, T1 have an incredible Worlds record. They've made five appearances at the biggest tournament of them all and have made it to at least the semi-final stage every single time. They've been all the way to the final four times and won three championship titles from those visits, creating a lasting dynasty.
That 2013 debut would be the first of their international victories. They stormed through the tournament, losing just one game in the group stage and quarter-finals, navigating a tricky game in the semi-finals against rivals Naijin Black Sword and then dominating Royal Club in the final 3–0. It began an era of dominance not just for T1, but for South Korea on the international stage.
When T1 made it back to Worlds in 2015, there was no question about who the best team in the world was. They went 6–0 in the group stage and then went 3–0 against ahq eSports Club in the quarterfinals, before beating European stars Origen 3–0 in the semis. They dropped just a single game in the grand final against KOO Tigers and won the series 3–1 in a Worlds performance that has yet to be topped.
The following year they became the first and only team to successfully defend a world title, once again making light work of the group stage on the way to an extremely exciting grand final against Samsung Galaxy, which they won 3–2.
Of course, to make it to Worlds you need to have great performances in your local league and T1 have always been fighting for the top of LCK. They hold the most championships of any team in South Korea, nine, and have been runner-up on five more occasions.
Not long after Worlds in 2013, T1 returned to the LCK to pull off an unprecedented 15–0 record in the 2013 LCK Winter, which hasn't been matched since. They also have the longest winning streak in LCK history, 23 games stretching from the 2015 spring season through to the summer.
Faker is LoL's MVP
You don't win championships without top players and T1 have been lucky enough to have some of the greatest League of Legends players of all time on their team since the very beginning. Without question, at the top of the illustrious list is Faker, who burst onto the scene in 2013 and has been the focal point of the squad ever since. Not many players stick around on one team for such a long time, but his loyalty has been rewarded with trophies and huge support from the fans.
On his day, Faker is unbeatable and the list of solo outplays in the middle lane during his career is almost endless. Perhaps none are more famous than the play that made him known around the world.
Playing against KT Bullets in 2013, Faker was up against Ryu 'Ryu' Sang-wook. The young player faced one of the best teams and best midlaners in the world, but came out on top with an unbelievable display of skill. Both players were on the same champion, Zed, and Ryu looked to have the upper hand, taking Faker down to a third of his health bar before the tables were completely turned.
Faker was widely regarded as a top young prospect in South Korea at the time, but after the clip of his play went viral, everyone in the world suddenly had a glimpse at the man who would take over LoL for the next seven years. Fast forward to 2020 and Faker is now part-owner of the team he took to extreme highs. He's played over 500 games for the team and at 24-years-old he likely still has a lot of time remaining in his playing career.
He's constantly been surrounded by other top players and as we head into 2021, that looks set to continue. For next season, T1 will consist of Kim 'Canna' Chang-dong, Choi 'Zeus' Woo-je, Moon 'Cuzz' Woo-chan, Choi 'Ellim' El-lim, Faker, Park 'Teddy' Jin-seong, Lee 'Effort' Sang-ho, Ryu 'Keria' Min-seok and Lee 'Gumayusi' Min-hyeong.
T1 will be looking to add more trophies to their collection next year and have all the resources at their disposal to do so. They're the most successful team in the history of League of Legends, so don't be surprised if you see Faker and the rest of the team – after a visit to the Red Bull Athlete Performance Center – back at Worlds in 2021 after securing another LCK title.