League of Legends

T1 Partners With K-pop Academy SM Institute In New Venture

South Korean esports organisation T1, primarily known for their highly successful League of Legends team, is partnering with SM Institute to create a brand new academy. The news broke late on December 30th across Twitter thanks to K-Pop fan John Yoo.

SM Institute is a training and academy arm of SM Entertainment, a South Korean entertainment company. One of the country’s largest star makers, SM Entertainment manages numerous top level K-pop stars, including Girls’ Generation, Kangta, S.E.S, BoA, and Red Velvet. 

T1 are multiple time World Champions in League of Legends, having been victorious at Worlds in 2013, 2015, and 2016. The team were also runners up in 2017, and came 3rd-4th in 2019. Their legendary player Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, made headlines this year after becoming a part-owner of the organisation.

The deal marks an exciting new avenue for the esports organisation. K-Pop is on the rise in popularity across the globe. South Korea’s most-famous esports team partnering with the country’s most-famous stars is a winning combination. 

The new academy looks to provide schooling and higher education for esports professionals. The SM Institute currently allows stars to continue their education while pursuing their dreams of K-Pop stardom. This new collaboration between T1 and the SM Institute will instead provide high-quality “K-Education” to esports players who may have forgone schooling to concentrate on their esports career.

T1 has vastly expanded its reach this year, partnering with organisations including Nike to grow their brand (Image via T1/Nike)

T1 has made numerous high profile deals in the past year. They’ve partnered with, Nike, and Hana Bank to expand the reach of the organisation. The company is rapidly growing into South Korea’s most recognisable brand – Outside of K-pop. By partnering with SM Entertainment T1 is making moves to become an even larger presence globally.

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League of Legends

LS Will Be T1’s Next Coach But Korean Fans Aren’t Happy

Fans can be relied upon to criticise the signings of players to their teams, but rarely in esports has the signing of a coach created similar controversy. That was until a leak surfaced detailing the potential that Nick “LS” De Cesare could T1’s next coach.

(Image via  Lee “Effort” Sang-ho)

The leak came from a discord message sent to Lee “Effort” Sang-ho, who was streaming at the time. According to the message, LS, alongside former StarCraft 2 pro and current TFT player Choi “Polt” Seong Hun, will join T1 as coaches for the 2021 season. Almost immediately, speculation about this coaching move circulated around Twitter. Some heralded the potential signings as a great move, and others doubting the veracity and quality of the choices.

T1 suffered a humiliating end to their season after a loss to Gen.G in the finals of the Worlds Regional Qualifiers. The loss was especially crushing with rumours of the legendary mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok reportedly considering retirement. Three days later, their coach Kim Jung-su resigned

LS is an experienced analyst, commentator, and League of Legends personality. His career started when he moved to South Korea to pursue a career as a StarCraft pro player. After living with several Korean organizations, LS became focused on LoL, becoming a coach to many pro players. Since then, he’s served as a coach on multiple teams such as Supa Hot Crew, Roar, Gravity Gaming, and bbq Olivers. 

However, despite his laundry list of qualifications, his controversial style of analysis has often drawn the ire of critics. Most recently, they have focused on his overuse of the “Boris” meme (the name of the shopkeeper on Summoners’ Rift) on his stream, and his often off-topic tangents – both staples of his broadcasting and streaming style rather than his analytical ability.

The most vocal critics of LS’s appointment to T1 are Korean fans who see his appointment as inappropriate. Their criticism varies from concerns about his qualifications, to ad hoc attacks. 

The criticism got so bad that this morning T1 issued an official statement on their social media. In it they addressed the concerns from fans, asking them for patience. “We want to reassure our fans that we are working hard to implement a coaching structure that will position us to win”

It’s likely the statement will do little to comfort T1 fans. Many are worried about a formerly world-class team going yet another year without international success. The former Worlds champions have failed to perform to the level which fans have grown accustomed to. Regardless of who ends up as part of T1’s next coach staff going forwards, they’ll be under a microscope for some time. 

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League of Legends

T1 Head Coach steps down after Worlds 2020 disappointment

Kim “Kim” Jung-su, the Head Coach of SK telecom T1, has resigned from his position as per a post on social media today. The announcement broke early on August 13, heralding the end of his one season coaching the top Korean team.

The departure comes as T1 fell in the LCK gauntlet just four days ago on Wednesday, September 9. After a dramatic three-game series, the normally dominant T1, led by the legendary Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, fell to Gen.G.

As a result, T1 were eliminated from Worlds 2020 contention, despite winning the LCK Spring 2020 split. T1 were far less impressive during the summer LCK season, falling to fifth place overall. 

Coaching Woes for Kim

The fall off in performance was partially blamed on coach Kim. His decision to play up-and-coming mid talent Lee “Clozer” Ju-hyeon over veteran Faker was highly scrutinised. 

Kim is not the first T1 coach to choose not to play Faker, nominally regarded as one of the best players ever. T1’s former head coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun gained notoriety for choosing to start other talents, including Lee “Easyhoon” Ji-hoon, over Faker in what was widely regarded as the latter’s peak. 

The departure marks the start of a shakeup for an organisation on the verge of massive change. T1 will be part of the new franchised LCK, which will see the entire makeup of the storied league change. What’s more, speculation swirls around the future of Faker, who this year signed a historic deal with the organisation. This security and the lack of playtime could inspire one of the greatest players ever to call it a day once and for all. 

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