At the end of Season 5, Korea was at the height of their power. And at the reins was SKT T1.
Faker’s squad had just taken down their Korean brethren, KOO Tigers, in convincing fashion at the Season 5 World Championships. En route to the most dominant Worlds performance in history, SKT T1 would drop only one game throughout the entire tournament, 3-0’ing both Taiwan’s AHQ and Europe’s Origen in the knockout stage, before taking down the KOO Tigers 3-1 in the Grand Finals. Faker’s squad looked nigh invincible – which team would be the first to bring them down?
ESC Ever was a Korean Challenger team founded in 2015 to little fanfare – their first foray into the Challenger circuit resulted in them finishing dead last. A roster overhaul for the summer challenger circuit netted them better results, finishing second overall within the round robin stage and qualifying for the
promotion tournament, but ultimately failing to make it into the LCK after losing to SBENU Sonicboom 3-1.
Flying under the radar, Ever would bring on former KT Rolster academy player
Ares for the upcoming KeSPA Cup. This confirmed their roster as
Crazy in the top lane, the aforementioned Ares in the jungle,
Athena in the mid lane, and the aptly-named
KeY in the bottom lane.
KeSPA Cup was a preseason tournament featuring a medley of the best teams Korea had to offer. The full LCK roster – including powerhouse teams like SKT, KOO and CJ Entus – would be participating, as well as teams who had earned their spot in the tournament through an offline qualifier. Ever was one of these teams – and they aimed to prove that they could hang with the best teams Korea had to offer.
From the start of the tournament, Ever would upset
This set them up against Rebels Anarchy in the next round – another low-tier LCK team, home to future LCS players LirA and Mickey, as well as Griffin coach cvMax. And while Rebels Anarchy took the first game, Ever would quickly respond with the next two, taking the series and booking themselves a date in the semi-finals. The VODs can be found here:
, albeit only in Korean.
A date, of course, with the invincible SKT T1.
SKT T1, by all accounts, were the best team in the tournament. As previously mentioned, they were coming off of a dominant worlds win and were predicted by many to take the entire tournament. While they had struggled against SBENU Sonicboom in the previous round, losing Game 2, they were still insanely favoured to win against the quirky underdogs.
Perhaps it was this lack of respect to the Challenger team that saw SKT play Scout – their trainee midlaner – instead of Faker for the first game. And Ever capitalized on it. With KeY's hyper-aggressive Bard play enabling LokeN and Athena to absolutely pop off in the mid-game, Ever would close out the
in just over 40 minutes, taking SKT T1 to match point.
Of course, beating SKT without Faker comes with an asterisk. Feeling the pressure, SKT would sub in Faker for Game 2 – and it paid off in spades. Faker's Lissandra would start the game off with an early kill off of a bumbled gank from Ares, and snowball his advantage from there. Bengi and MaRin worked together beautifully to give SKT's top lane Rumble complete agency on the map – and by 30 minutes Ever were down two inhibitors with a baron-buffed SKT knocking on their door.
But Ever refused to back down – repelling base push after base push, fighting around the Baron pit and repeatedly getting crucial picks on Faker's Lissandra and MaRin's Rumble despite being down nearly 9,000+ gold. As the game wore on, SKT's massive gold lead began to mean less and less, and teamfights started to become closer and closer.
And then it happened. KeY lands a massive Bard Ultimate on Faker and Bang, followed into an immediate two-man Bard Q. Ares comes in from the back and knocks them up for just long enough for Athena's full-build Gangplank to land a single barrel combo on the two SKT carries.
Ever marches down the mid lane and takes down the nexus. A swift 2-0 to the Challengers.
, Game 2
Keep in mind that at this point, Ever wasn’t even in the LCK – they were a Challenger organization that, in their last professional showing, had lost to one of the LCK’s worst teams, denying them entry into the league. To take down the undisputed greatest LoL team of all time essentially out of nowhere was insanely unexpected, to say the least, and likely qualifies as one of the greatest upsets in League of Legends history.
ESC Ever would go on to win the 2015 KeSPA Cup, 3-0ing CJ Entus in the Grand Finals. The upstart Challenger team – not even in the LCK at the time, mind you – had taken down two of Korea's perennial powerhouses en route to one of the greatest underdog stories in League of Legends history.
Unfortunately, in the coming months, ESC Ever's roster would slowly fall apart.
Midlaner Athena would leave to join China’s
EDward Gaming as a substitute midlaner. The team would replace him with Tempt and continue to play in the Korean Challenger circuit to great success, eventually being promoted to the LCK during the 2016 Summer Season. They would make an appearance at the IEM Katowice World Championships, but would find little success there, losing to RNG and then TSM in a decider match. And despite their newly-found LCK status, they would languish as a bottom-tier team during the 2016 summer season, finishing the split in ninth place and being forced to play relegation matches in order to keep their spot.
In the offseason, LokeN and KeY would part ways with the team, while Ares would move to a coaching position. With that – only Crazy remained of their KeSPA Cup winning 2015 roster. In early 2017, the team would be rebranded to the BBQ Olivers, and the Ever brand would officially be no more.
Let me know if you enjoyed this retrospective article – if you did, I'll try to write more in the future!
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