In a Parallel Universe, Episode 2: What if T1 didn’t exist?

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Check Episode 1 of the Parallel Universe series here!

The “What if..?” phenomenon is something that has always stimulated the human brain and made it work its magic. We always wonder about hypothetical scenarios which might have happened but didn’t come to fruition for one reason or another. League of Legends is no exception to this. There’s a ton of scenarios or moves that could have played out and might have had major changes on the scene as we know it today.

For Episode 2 of our “In a Parallel Universe” series, we will be exploring a hypothetical scenario which would impact the global League of Legends scene. What if T1 (formerly SK Telecom T1) didn’t exist in the LoL scene?

How would the LCK landscape change?

To answer this question, there are two likely alternatives. For the first one, if take into account that the biggest roadblock for KT Rolster (aside from themselves) has always been their “Telecom Wars” rival T1, if their rival didn’t exist we might have seen a big change in KT’s fate as an organization. Instead of playing second fiddle to T1, KT might have flourished and could have attracted names that ended up having a ton of success in the T1 organization. So it’s highly possible that if T1 didn’t exist then either KT would be the powerhouse of South Korean LoL or Faker would have joined another team and might have turned them into the powerhouse that T1 ended up becoming.

KT Rolster aside, there are a lot of other former organizations that could have found more success had it not been for T1 being an insurmountable wall standing in their well. These organizations include the CJ org (formerly Azubu), the NaJin org, the ROX Tigers and Griffin. The fact of the matter is that for a lot of these orgs and teams, T1 has always been that one obstacle they couldn’t get past. Or even if they did get past them, it would only be for a short amount of time. If T1 were not there, we could very well see an LCK which is a free for all slugfest where most teams are evenly matched and any one of them could win the title.

How would Worlds history be affected without T1?

A lot of people have assumed that had T1 not existed back in 2013, the recently retired Uzi probably would be a former World champion. And they’re not wrong to think that. Aside from SKT and possibly OMG, Uzi’s Royal Club Huang Zu squad in Season 3 Worlds was the strongest contender. Although OMG was better in some analysts’ eyes, Royal Club was always a bad match for OMG as they couldn’t exploit their style of feeding resources into Uzi and letting him carry the game.

Without T1 we also likely could have seen the ROX Tigers winning Worlds in both 2015 and 2016 as they were the team that eliminated them two years in a row. In-general T1 are the only South Korea team that has consistently eliminated Chinese teams in the past. So if they didn’t exist the Chinese dominance that we see nowadays could have started much earlier. China has always been a region with the highest amount of players and talent, as well as the highest amount of resources. The only thing they couldn’t overcome on a consistent basis was T1.

What is the downside to T1 not existing?

Although it’s true that T1 has been the kryptonite of a lot of teams, they are also the reason why many of them have become powerhouses today. Without T1 constantly raising the bar and bringing up the level of teams around them, the overall level of play that we see around the world in the present day might not be as high.

This applies to both a team level and an individual level. We can’t be 100% sure how Faker’s career would have turned out if T1 didn’t exist so if something radical as Faker not becoming the best player ever would have happened, he wouldn’t have been able to inspire so many players to become just as good as he is. This in turn would have made the overall player level lower. 

Would South Korea have lost its dominance earlier?

The simple answer to this question is yes, yes it would have. The fact of the matter is that while the region was the strongest for a long time, the reason why it was strongest was because T1 was there to win everything and to lift the overall level of the LCK while doing so.

However ever since T1 lost its grip on the international stage, we’ve seen a decline in the overall region’s showings at both Worlds and MSI. South Korea is not the powerhouse that it used to be despite still being a strong region. T1’s performance and the LCK’s performance have for the most part always gone hand in hand and without T1 as the foundation, the region has fallen off from its throne as the most dominant in the world.

Final Verdict

T1 not existing would have probably made it more fun for spectators and might have made the LCK have more variety as a league. However in the grand scheme of things, it might have hurt the overall balance of regional strength and would have made South Korea a weaker region. It’s definitely a fun idea in theory but we should all be thankful for T1’s existence because without them entire organizations and regions might not have had a rival that pushed them to be as good as they became or as good as they are now.

Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed this hypothetical scenario. Please share your thoughts about it and let us know if you agree with what we said, or if you think it would turn out differently than what we imagined!

Photos courtesy of Riot Games