SKT rises above KOO Tigers 3-1 to become the 2015 World Champion

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For the second time in three years, SKTelecom T1 has achieved the pinnacle of competitive League of Legends, taking home the Summoner's Cup as the 2015 World Champions.

For the second time in three years, SKTelecom T1 has achieved the pinnacle of competitive League of Legends, taking home the Summoner's Cup as the 2015 World Champions. SKT went 15-1 throughout Worlds, and the team's decisive victory over fellow Korean powerhouse, the KOO Tigers, came after four games in the Finals' Best of 5 series. 

Following SKT's victory, their top laner Gyeong-hwan "MaRin" Jang was named the Worlds 2015 MVP. While he showed versatility throughout the tournament, he went back to playing his favored Rumble in three out of four games in the Finals. Going 19/14/28, he was able to burn his opponents down in style, and was instrumental in dealing with KOO's excellent split pushing before switching to Gnar in Game 4. 

Worlds MVP MaRin told us that everything went as they planned in their prep for the Finals and there were no real surprises from the KOO Tigers. "We've faced KOO many times in the past and obviously have a good track record with them. We noticed that KOO didn't really change that much over the past year, and we thought that it would be the same this time around, and it was. We just did what do normally in picks and bans and strategically. It was consistent with what we did before with KOO and it worked this time around."

Prior to the Finals, many were focused on the matchup in the top lane -- Kyung-ho "Smeb" Song vs. MaRin. And while the matchup ended up being extremely important, it was more of MaRin vs. KOO than vs. Smeb, thanks to SKT's priority on the top lane.

"Strategically, we moved top to last pick. That's how our team comp worked later on in Worlds," MaRin explained. "We were trying to find a top champion that's really good for team fights, and Rumble was the one. It was a team comp and team fight decision. For example, in Game 1, if I didn't pick Rumble, I think that the match would have been lost because Rumble obviously did a lot of things in Game 1. And pretty much made all of the difference in the team fights."

And while SKT felt they had KOO's number inside and out, their Korean rival did manage to take one game off them -- their only loss of the tournament. What happened? Mostly, it came down to a few key mistakes that led to an out-of-control Lee Sin played by KOO's jungler Ho-jin "Hojin" Lee, according to MaRin.

"[Hojin] was able to get the jungler core items earlier and that made [the game] no contest for Bengi," MaRin says. "Even if that were to happen, if we were able to win the laning phase, it would have been okay. But we didn't dominate, and all that added together."

An early ace for KOO took the game off the rails early on and SKT never recovered. "The snowball started to roll when the three guys first died, when Kassadin was going crazy. Additionally, Bang and I also got caught. And that's when it started."

But SKT recovered in Game 4 with superior macro play, proving that they are the best team in the world. "Any team is a good team. All teams are great and the greatness is defined by the mistakes that they make or the mistakes that they don't make," MaRin says. "If there's a team that makes the least amount of mistakes, that team can beat SKT. It's not really about SKT being this invincible team. It's really about making the least amount of mistakes, and I think that we're always successful at that."

MaRin further went on to compliment his teammates. "I could talk about who played well or made mistakes, but that's not important. Because I know that during this five weeks at Worlds, I know how hard these guys worked. How many hours they spent playing. So I don't want to think about the detailed performances. I just want to compliment all of them. And I think all of them are amazing players because of all the hard work and dedication they put in to make this come true."

With the hard-earned win, Sang-hyeok "Faker” Lee and Seong-ung "bengi" Bae secure their place in history as the only two-time World Championship winners. "Back when I won my first Summoner's Cup, I wasn't as happy as right now. But past is past and present is present, so I feel much happier right now," said Faker. SKT's star mid laner went on to say that he felt much more comfortable on the Worlds stage, and was glad to have been able to perform for his fans.

As for bengi, he's just grateful he signed on to play for SKT in the 2015 season. "Last year we had a very abysmal year, it was a very hard time. I even thought of retiring. But my coach talked me into it. He told me to play one more season, let's play together one more time. So I want to thank kkOma my coach for prepping me once more and helping me to come back to my own pace."

kkOma weighed in as well, saying that the main reason they're standing on the stage right now as 2015 World Champions is the effort they put in. "We had endless feedback sessions, and players practiced so hard," he said. "The players came up to this position as champions once again not through luck, but their own practice and effort. Overall I think it's all because of the players and how much they dedicate themselves to this game and to this sport."

And as for one-time World Champion, one-time World Champion MVP MaRin? He was finally ready to admit that he is in fact the best top laner. "I'm really thankful that I got the MVP even though I made some mistakes. It's an honor," MaRin said. "I want to come back next year and be a flawless MVP. In Korea there's a nickname that we give to the best lane in the World. Best top laner, best mid laner, etc. Since I won Worlds this year, this year, I think I am the best top laner in the World."

Barely taking time to enjoy the win, MaRin says he looks forward to doing it all again next year. "A lot of stuff happened to SKT this year. A lot of stuff happened to me this year. But winning Worlds was one of the best moments for sure, and I want to relive that moment next year as well, and aim for that. We'll try really hard to achieve that again. And also, I'm really thankful to the fans in Europe for showing SKT all this love and attention. I was really surprised and amazed by it. And I want to return that love by trying even harder as the best top laner in the World."

"Thank you to all of the fans, all of my fans, in the world," MaRin says. "For loving me and for cheering me on. I love you all!"

Congratulations to MaRin and SKTelecom T1 for making history yet again!

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