Two-time World Champion Bang is retiring from the pro LoL scene, so we’re taking a look back at his incredible career. Prepare for nostalgia.
It’s the end of an era for the Korean League of Legends scene, as Bae “Bang” Jun-sik announced his retirement last week. There are only a few players that have lifted the Summoner’s Cup, and far fewer that have done so twice. From starting off as a hopeful rookie full of budding potential to a two-time World Champion, there’s no doubt Bang’s career is among the most illustrious we’ve seen in LoL esports.
If it wasn’t, he wouldn’t boast a 61.4% win rate in over 650 competitive games. Nor would he have a 5.7 career KDA and a 29.7% career damage percentage. These are the sort of things only someone with exceptional talent could pull off over the course of so many games.
Bang’s journey as a professional LoL player brought its fair share of success and hardships both, but in Bang’s own words, it was a fulfilling experience.
“Walking in the one direction of a professional gamer with my experience in League of Legends, I was able to form many valuable relationships, accumulate precious memories and make various achievements in my lifetime.
These experiences are something that I feel blessed and most grateful of.”
Plenty of memories and experiences indeed for one of the greatest ADC players of all time. With that said, it’s time to take walk through Bang’s career and celebrate his many successes.
Bang’s humble beginnings
Before the glory days of SKT T1, Bang began his career with a team named NaJin White Shield. Though the team doesn’t participate in the LCK nowadays, they were around since the beginning of the Korean LoL scene and it was Bang’s first opportunity to shine.
On NaJin, he managed to lead his team to qualify for Champions, which we now know as the LCK, in his debut. Between the qualifiers and the start of the season, Bang and NaJin managed to get a couple of high placements in third-party tournaments, showing decent potential.
However, when Champions 2013 Winter rolled around, the team didn’t have the best of luck. They placed very low in the standings, bottom two out of six teams in their group.
This didn’t deter Bang though, as he soon found his way over to Xenics Blast. Once again, Bang qualified for Champions while playing in other events as well. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any great placements in these either.
But Bang was a shining star on otherwise struggling rosters. Despite that, he consistently qualified for Champions, meaning he was fit to run with the big dogs. And his individual performances showed the spark of brilliance he had.
He simply needed the opportunity to ignite it.
The start of something great
After not finding the success he wanted with Xenics Blast, he made his way to a different team. SKT T1 S. Back in the day, SKT T1 was actually split into two different teams, differentiated with an “S” and a “K” respectively. Originally, he didn’t join the 2013 World Championship-winning squad with Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, though fortunately paired up with another influential player.
That was none other than support Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan. The two did briefly play together for a short stint on NaJin White Shield, but now they were both together for the entire 2014 season. During it, SKT T1 S struggled, and struggled and struggled more to simply be a middle of the pack team.
There were points of brilliance though. Towards the later half of the season, the team managed to take a game off the Faker-led SKT T1 K and try to prove both sides were real competitors. And throughout it all, Bang and fellow bottom laner Wolf were there consistently performing to a high level. As was top laner Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-hwan.
Because the SKT organization was condensing into one team next year, there needed to be a decision on which players to add to the main roster. While the SKT T1 K “Judgement Day” roster boasted a much better track record in 2014, with mutliple tournament wins, it was actually the SKT T1 S bottom lane and top lane that the organization took their chances on moving into 2015.
And it was the best decision they could’ve made. One that would help lead the organization to new, unseen heights and cement their legacy in the world of esports.
Becoming a two-time World Champion
At the start of the season, hopes were high for the new SKT T1 roster. There were some question marks, sure, but with the amount of talent they had on the team, they had expectations to live up to.
And so they did. Immediately, SKT came out of the gates swinging, decimating any opposition in their path. They handily won the Champions Spring Preseason event, the Spring season and Spring playoffs. With Spring Championship title claimed, Bang and co. turned their head to the Mid-Season Invitational.
Here, they had a great run but ultimately fell short in the MSI Finals to Edward Gaming. But that didn’t stop their dominance of Korea, as when they returned in the Summer Split, they came back with a vengeance. This time, they only lost one match in the regular season and went on to win that split too, claiming a ticket to Worlds 2015 in the process.
On the second international stage of the year, SKT was unleashed. They went 6-0 in their group and beat their first two Knockout Stage opponents in 3-0 fashion. Even ROX Tigers couldn’t hold a candle to them in the World Finals, and fell with only taking a single game. As such, this is where Bang lifted his first Summoner’s Cup.
But it wasn’t to be the last. Bang was an instrumental part of the 2015 success and was a name known around the world for his incredible play as well as his ability to stay cool under pressure. In 2016, SKT T1 kept up with their winning ways, winning the Spring Split, then did what they couldn’t do before and won MSI.
After that, there was a bit of a bump in the road as SKT T1 dropped their Summer Semifinals series to KT Rolster. However, they still easily secured their ticket to Worlds 2016.
Once more, Bang and this legendary SKT squad seemed to level up on the international stage and were a menace. This time, they dropped a few more games than before. But it was here in the Semifinals that SKT T1 delivered the spectacle of a series against ROX Tigers, who were the reigning LCK Summer champions, which is still known today as one of the best series of all time.
After this thriller, SKT then cut down Samsung Galaxy too in the World Finals to claim the title of back-to-back World Champions.
Bang and company dethroned
Over the past two years, Bang became considered one of, if not the best ADC players in the world. As did many other SKT T1 players for their respective roles. With two World Championship wins in their belts, it was expected he and the team would continue to win a third,
At first, it seemed that it would happen. They won the 2017 Spring Split as well as that year’s MSI convincingly. Everything was going well, even with their loss in the Summer Split Finals. It was a fluke if anything, it happened to them in 2016 but that didn’t really matter. SKT was unstoppable on the Worlds stage, right?
Correct, almost. In the Group Stage, Bang and SKT were dominant, going 5-1 and clinching first place in their group. But when the Knockout Stage rolled around, SKT had only won their matches in 3-2 fashion, not 3-0 like before.
They won both these series of course, however, it was evident that SKT wasn’t quite at their peak form. Heading into Finals, they still were the heavily expected victor. Faker was leading the charge while Bang and Wolf in the bottom lane were a rock for the team, and with SKT T1’s overall team synergy, most didn’t think Samsung Galaxy had much of a chance.
But then it happened. SSG took one, two, then three games off of SKT T1. Bang and the rest of his team failed to win even a single game in the 2017 World Championship Finals. It was a moment of huge triumph for SSG, and an emotional loss for the two-time World Champions.
The reign of SKT T1 was over. SSG shocked the world by sweeping them in the Worlds Finals, but 2018 was what really put the nails in the coffin.
In the Spring Split, Bang and SKT struggled, only placing fourth overall. Then the team imploded in the Summer Split, tasting defeat again and again before claiming a very mediocre 7th place.
With these performances, SKT didn’t even have the opportunity to go to Worlds 2018. This solidified the end of an era, and indicated changes were coming.
Traveling the world before a quiet end
Perhaps the biggest change to come out of the downfall of SKT T1 was Bang’s departure. Though he was a huge part of the organization’s success, a new frontier awaited him. North America’s LCS.
For 2019, Bang accepted an offer with 100 Thieves to play on their LCS squad. It was a massive pickup for the region and the hype to have the two-time World Champion in the region was real.
Sadly, the rest of the 100T roster wasn’t quite good enough to complement Bang. The team couldn’t properly leverage Bang’s strengths and had a few weak individual players, so they fell low in the standings. It was another rough year for Bang.
Hoping to try his luck out more in NA, Bang then joined Evil Geniuses in 2020. While this roster did look better than his previous one on 100T, Bang still couldn’t make it work or find his peak form. They managed to make playoffs in both splits but this wasn’t enough to satisfy a World Champion’s expectations.
Down and out at this point, the storied veteran took one last chance with Afreeca Freecs back in his homeland of Korea. Once more, Bang and his team floundered towards the bottom of the standings.
It was a sad end to such a historic career. Bang experienced the highs and lows of competition and became an international icon. Now, Bang is retired and plans on doing his mandatory military service next. He leaves his fans around the world with a few special parting words.
“I know that in the future, there will be new things and experiences that are going to be totally different from the world I have been but will take my past experiences and achievements as a cornerstone in moving forward.
Thank you again for everyone’s support in professional gamer ‘Bang’ up until now, and I will be back soon again as a better person and better ‘Bang’ in the future.”
Bang will never be forgotten in the LoL Esports scene and long remembered as one of the greats. We know wherever his journey takes him next, success is bound to follow!