A coaching legacy is reportedly coming to an end. According to ESPN, long-time SK Telecom T1 coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-hyun will leave his home of seven years and will move to the LPL, joining Vici Gaming. KkOma reportedly turned down a multiyear contract with SKT which was in the seven figures to switch teams.
Short of losing Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, this is arguably the biggest loss SKT could endure this off-season. KkOma’s coaching has been instrumental to org’s success in League of Legends, as he led them to three World Championship titles — the only franchise in LoL history to have won so many — as well as one MSI and six domestic titles. There’s hardly a more decorated coach in the League of Legends esports landscape.
By moving to the LPL to join Vici, kkOma will undertake a massive challenge. VG have been one of the struggling teams in the LPL, finishing bottom of the table in both 2019 splits. Their last playoffs appearance was in 2016 and they’ve never finished higher than top 6. If kkOma wants to have at least comparable successes to his time with SKT, a full rebuild of VG will be needed.
As for SKT, kkOma’s replacement will reportedly be DAMWON Gaming’s Kim “Kim” Jeong-soo. While with much shorter career than kkOma, Kim already has a respectable shelf of accolades, leading Longzhu Gaming to 2017 Summer Split title, helping Invictus Gaming win Worlds 2018, and helping DAMWON Gaming to Worlds playoffs qualification.
Both SKT and DAMWON have a lot to compensate for in 2020. Seen as favorites for the world title, SKT met a semifinal exit, losing a rough 3-1 series to G2 Esports. DAMWON, on the other hand, showed a lot of raw potential but lacked experience to move past the quarterfinals of Worlds 2018.