For those who have been around League of Legends long enough, they will know of the dominance that Korean teams bring to the game of League of Legends. Not only have they made themselves a superior region, they’ve brought the most success to their bettors.
How does this come about? There are plenty of reasons. Some of it has to do with their competitive scene. Some of it has to do with their work ethic, and a large part of it has to do with how the region sees video games as a whole.
Today, we’ll be looking at why Korean teams are a better choice when it comes to betting on teams on the international stage. After this article, you’ll know why Korean teams are a popular pick for experienced League of Legends bettors and what Koreans are better at compared to teams from North America and Europe.
Korea started out as a mediocre region. It wasn’t until South Korea Telecom won the Season 3 World Championship that Korea began to be noticed as a region that would compete at the highest caliber in the esport of League of Legends.
In 2014, they won the World Championship with relative ease as brother and sister teams, Samsung Blue and Samsung White dominated the entire competition. Korea’s third qualifier for the World Championship, Najin White Shield, was a major threat as well, but Chinese team, OMG, took them out during the Knockout Rounds.
In 2015, the Korean region took home a Mid-Season Invitational finals finish and they also accomplished a third World Championship, thanks to the works of South Korea Telecom and their team of talented individuals.
2016 saw similar results. Yet again, South Korea Telecom dominated the scene, winning the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational. Then, they went on to win the 2016 World Championship where the team found themselves facing their Korea counterpart, Samsung Galaxy.
The 2017 year was yet another successful run for the team with South Korea Telecom winning the Mid-Season Invitational again but this time, they lost the World Championship to Samsung Galaxy, coincidentally another Korean team.
Korea’s success has been echoed throughout the years. They’ve been a major contender in every single tournament they play, and most of the time, the eventual winner is a Korean team. With that being said, let’s take a look as to why they’ve become such a major powerhouse since their debut.
Since the beginning, Koreans have always had a strong work ethic in the esport world. Long before League of Legends became their primary focus, Starcraft was the main focus in their video game world. Competitors who played Starcraft could make millions in winnings just from their talent in the game alone.
While League of Legends players in North America and Europe certainly have the talent, the work ethic which is demanded can be questioned when it comes to the number of hours that Koreans are willing to put in so that they can become the best.
During Team Liquid’s time in 2015, the players would average eight hours a day together and the rest would be used for other activities. However, in Korea, some players would practice for up to twelve hours, barely getting any sleep.
This insane work ethic that Korea brings to the table has been unmatched by North America and Europe. Only China has been a substantial threat due to their large population of mechanically-talented players like Uzi and Xiaohu.
Because of this, Korean players get more hours of play in which aids in building their game. Many people wonder why Koreans outmatch every opponent they face and it’s exactly this reason. In fact, it’s so simple that it can be put as: “more hours equals more success.”
Yet another part of Korea’s success comes from their region itself. With Korea being so big on esports, the stars of League of Legends in their region is like being Lebron James or Stephen Curry in America. The region of Korea not only expects results from their players but also goes so far to put large investments into the industry.
Some of Korea’s top companies have become major names in both the LCK and internationally (for instance, South Korea Telecom Company and Afreeca).
Not only this, the audience themselves expect the players to play to their top performance. In Korea solo queue, even the smallest mistake can result in a large backlash from your teammates. This builds a character in Korean players which forces them to become the best they can be.
Meanwhile, in Europe and North America, it’s very common to see a laid-back environment where the purpose of League of Legends is to enjoy the game and have a good time. While this is the main idea of it—and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with enjoying League of Legends—it’s the individuals who put in more effort to improve that will truly succeed at the game.
In Europe and North America, becoming a full-time streamer provides a more rewarding source of income rather than risking it all to become a professional gamer. Because of this, Europe and North America’s playing level is much lower than Korea’s.
Korea’s Success Throughout the Years
Korea has truly become one of the top regions and for good reason too. Very few North American and European teams can boast wins over some of the top Korean teams in the world. In fact, the number is so low that when this happens, the stories become newsworthy.
Korea has remained fairly undefeated to North American and European teams throughout their time at the World Championship. While Najin White Sword did suffer a loss to Cloud9’s stacked roster in the 2014 World Championship, the Korean region still managed to stay relatively dominant, going 6-0 with Samsung White and 5-1 with Samsung Blue for the Groups Stage.
In the 2015 World Championship, Korea didn’t drop a single game against the North American teams during the Groups Stage and then in 2016, two matches were dropped to North American teams during Korea’s time in the Groups Stage.
Despite this, the ROX Tigers still qualified for the Knockout Rounds and made a semifinal debut before their loss to eventual champion, South Korea Telecom. The last of the Korean teams during the 2016 World Championship, Samsung Galaxy, made it to the World Championship finals and had a dominant run in Groups Stage, with only Team SoloMid pulling a game against them.
The pattern of success is evident here. Rarely do Korean teams ever drop a game against their foreign counterparts. Even the Chinese teams, who have been known for their mechanical prowess, struggle to play against them at a high level. Very few foreign teams have actually presented a threat to Korea.
2017 was possibly one of the most solid years Korea has ever had. Their top team, Longzhu Gaming, went 6-0 in the Groups Stage, challenged by almost no one during their time on the scene. South Korea Telecom only dropped a game to ahq-Esports Club and Samsung Galaxy, despite their struggle against Royal Never Give Up, and were impressive in their victories against the other opposition.
Taking a look back at their success, it’s no wonder why Korea has such a strong dominance in the game of League of Legends. In the Groups Stages alone, they’ve only dropped seventeen games through five years of competitive play. That’s minuscule compared to the amount North America or Europe has dropped.
Their Ability To Finish and Stay In the Game
In Korea, the game is the number one priority no matter how far you fall behind. Korean players have the ability to finish a match but at the same time, they know how to stay in a match. What do I mean by this? Let me explain.
Korea has always been known for short games. As long as the other team can snowball, the opposing team is usually finished within twenty to thirty minutes. Meanwhile, in North America and Europe, games have been known to drag on for almost an hour because the other team has trouble crossing the finish line.
But, when the opposing team gets the lead and the Korean teams are suddenly falling behind, that’s where Korea’s jaw-dropping talent really kicks in.
In the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational Semifinals, South Korea Telecom had their backs against the wall to Fnatic. Fnatic seemed to be pulling all the strings and dictating all the shots. However, when it mattered most…when SKT’s backs were pinned against the wall, they pulled through and took down the European powerhouse when no one thought they were going to prevail.
It happened yet again in the 2017 World Championship. The rookie team, Misfits, had surprised the world by taking the first two games of the series against South Korea Telecom, preparing them for a possible upset against the defending World Champion.
However, Korea’s superpower managed to overcome the odds and took down the rookies without much opposition in game five. Professional League of Legends players have been trained to profit off the smallest mistake a team makes.
You could have the lead one second and the next second, it’s out of your hands because of one small misstep. This is the main thing that makes Korea so dominant in the world of League of Legends. Their discipline enables them to play at the highest caliber.
There’s no doubt that Korean’s have the top say over North America and Europe. The facts don’t lie. Korea has more resources over North America and European professional gamers. While North America focuses on the NBA and NFL, and Europe’s main priority is soccer and rugby, Korea funnels its resources towards their professional esport competitors.
Plus, with a demanding work environment, where even the smallest mistake could result in a backlash from your teammates, Korean’s have become disciplined to watch for even the smallest mistakes while making sure that they play the perfect game.
To say the least, there’s no wonder as to why North American and European teams have such trouble taking down Korean teams. With inadequate resources and a mediocre work environment, it’ll be quite awhile before the North American or European dream comes true and they take home a World Championship.
The Spring Season is in full swing for League of Legends. Teams across the world are competing for a spot at the Mid-Season Invitational at the end of the Split. Moreover, with 2018 bringing a list of new changes, we can expect many new aspects to be added in the coming months.
One thing that will stay the same is Korea’s dominance. No region has dominated like Korea. No region has almost always placed first in the Groups Stage and then gone on to win a World Championship. The last time another region won a World Championship was in Season Two.
That was six years ago. Now, it looks like Korea won’t be stopping anytime soon. They’ve already created for themselves a legacy that will never be forgotten and on top of that, five World Championships to their region.
So, the next time you go looking for a team to bet on for an international tournament like MSI (short for Mid-Season Invitational), IEM, or the World Championship, just remember Korea’s dominance.