In a surprising twist of events, SK Telecom T1 swapped Blank out in favor of Wolf. This move stunned all, the wider audience and even the casters alike.
Wolf’s role on SKT
Wolf has been on SKT for three years, all of which saw the two-time world champion play an active role on the roster as their primary support. He has been rarely ever subbed out from his support position and is never seen to play other roles competitively. This is due to his god-like map awareness and utility type play style that allows the aggressive ADCs to carry and snowball beyond control.
Reasons why SKT decided to sub Wolf as jungler
- Test his jungle capability
Since it’s only the beginning of the split, they tried to test Wolf’s ability as a jungler in a competitive stage. LCK casters stated they had seen Wolf jungle as an off role on his main and sub accounts on solo queue, so it is entirely possible Wolf is looking to change his role.
Note. Solo queue and competitive play is completely different.
- Give effort a solid run as support
SKT may have allowed Wolf to jungle in an attempt to give Effort a better chance to show his prowess as the team’s support. While Effort had signed with SKT in 2017, he had never played an active role as the team’s support due to Wolf’s dominance. By subbing Wolf as a jungler, it shows SKT’s intention to make a few changes regarding their starting roster (considering many analysts criticized their line-up).
- Pressure Blank to perform
This is somewhat cruel, however, in order for SKT to further boost their performance, they may be using the pressure of being subbed out in order for Blank to perform better. Logically, if a player gets threatened of being benched, they’ll work harder. Since SKT failed to take worlds last year, instead, underperforming by placing second as the tournament favorites, they are under pressure to perform.
Introducing Wolf as an alternative jungle sub will mean SKT has three junglers on the team, creating a huge deal of competition.
How will SKT do in 2018?
Once again, many have predicted SKT will fall, however, they have rarely ever dropped the ball, only failing to make one world championship since their founding, 3 of which they won. That said, SKT’s roster looks much weaker compared to previous years.
Their current starting roster members, while strong, are beneath the big names of Huni and Peanut who were dropped at the end of 2017.
SKT will likely remain in the upper echelons of the LCK, however, it is unlikely they’ll be able to cruise through as they did in 2017.
It will be much harder for them to take the Spring and Summer splits considering their roster grade went down, while their primary competitors Kingzone and Samsung only gets better.
Could Wolf stay as a jungler?
It is unlikely, however, if Effort continues to perform strongly, it is possible SKT may trial Wolf as a jungler more often. In game 3, Wolf displayed some straight forward mistakes such as the overestimation of his damage, clearly due to his lack of mastery with Sejuani.
Wolf has the capability as a jungler from his experience as a support player. Being a support not only sets him with superior map awareness, but also the ability to communicate clearly with his team. These two traits are essential for all top tier junglers. Unfortunately, his dominant utility playstyle will limit his champions in the jungle, opening possibilities for the enemy team to gain a superior team composition.