Ulsan Hyundai’s dominance is unstoppable. After 14 rounds of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023, they have 12 wins, one draw, and one loss (37 points). There is a 13-point gap between them and second-place FC Seoul, Jeju, and Pohang (24 points). The difference between the top two is the same as the difference between the second-place team and the relegation zone, 11th-place Gangwon (11 points). It’s a “best of 12” situation.
If Ulsan maintains its current average points per game (2.64), it could reach the 100-point plateau. They could even break Jeonbuk’s record for the shortest amount of time (32 rounds) to clinch the title in 2018.
While everyone was applauding Ulsan, the championship race was supposed to be heating up, but instead it cooled off in the opening three months. The blame lies not with Ulsan, but with the ‘top two’. The 24 points of the top three teams this season is not much different from the 26.3 points that the second-place teams averaged in the first 14 rounds of the split system. They are performing as well as they would in any other season.
But “average” is not enough. In 2019, Jeonbuk won 30 points in round 14, paralleling the leader Ulsan. In 2020, Jeonbuk finished with 32 points in the 14th round, three points behind Ulsan. Jeonbuk won the upset for the second consecutive season. 안전놀이터
While it’s true that Ulsan 2023 is better than Ulsan 2019 and Ulsan 2020, the second-place teams had a chance to close the gap. Second-place Seoul and third-place Jeju had four losses each after 14 games. Pohang lost only twice but drew six times. Seoul lost to Ulsan both times, and Jeju bowed down in front of Ulsan. Only Pohang earned a point against Ulsan.
In order to close the gap, they can’t just hope that Ulsan slips up. They need to seize the opportunity to close the gap and take the six-point head-to-head with Ulsan. It’s worth remembering that City have led Arsenal for a whopping 248 days this season, only to see the Gunners come from behind in late February with a 12-game winning streak.
This weekend, they’ll try to catch up once again. Seoul, which hasn’t won in two straight games, will host Gangwon in Round 15 on the 28th. Jeju and Pohang will host Suwon (27th) and Jeonbuk (29th) respectively. Ulsan hosts Daejeon Hana on the 28th.