Six teams have put everything on the line on the final day of the Swiss Stage of the League of Legends (LoL) World Championship 2023 for a last chance to secure a slot through the next stage of the competition.
In the end, it was KT Rolster, Weibo Gaming, and BLG that survived after they defeated DK Plus (former DAMWON Gaming), Fnatic, and G2 Esports.
Here's how the final playoff teams of Worlds 2023 earned their spots in the playoffs:
KT Rolster sweep DK 2-0
In the first game, KT Rolster aimed for the late game, picking champions like Ryze in the top lane, Zeri in the bot lane, Azir mid, Viego in the jungle, and Nautilus support. On the other hand, DK opted for early game dominance with Aphelios as their AD Carry, Neeko in mid, Rumble top, Jarvan IV in the jungle, and Rell as support.
Initially, DK seemed to have the upper hand. They secured kills in both the laning phase and team fights, as well as most map objectives. However, KT Rolster focused on taking down turrets instead of chasing kills to maintain a minimal gold lead and enable their champions to scale. The game took a decisive turn during a Baron fight, where Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong's Azir unleashed a game-changing ultimate, allowing KT to decimate DK Plus and shift the momentum in their favour.
Furthermore, in the battle for the Elder Dragon, KT Rolster's Cuzz executed a last-minute Drake steal, leading to the rest of the team converging on DK and securing a decisive clean sweep. After a gruelling 34-minute struggle and a 15-9 kill advantage, KT Rolster obliterated DK Plus' Nexus, clinching victory in the first game.
In the second game, KT maintained a similar draft, with slight changes in the mid and top lanes, introducing Neeko and Gnar. On the other hand, DK experimented with Renekton in the top lane, Ahri in the mid lane, and Alistar as support, while keeping Jarvan IV and Aphelios in the jungle and bot lane.
Both teams remained evenly matched until the 25-minute mark, with DK Plus holding a kill lead, but both squads were fairly equal in map control and objectives. The turning point came during a fierce showdown for the first Baron, with DK gaining the upper hand and securing an ace against KT Rolster. Despite being behind in kills, KT Rolster continued to identify opportunities on the map, keeping the gold difference relatively close.
However, the pivotal moment arrived in a team fight for the Dragon Soul, where Kim "Aiming" Ha-ram’s Zeri went on a rampage, nearly wiping out all of DK's team members. After an intense and bloody 43-minute battle, KT proceeded to march down DK's Nexus, clinching victory in the second game and the series, securing a spot in the playoffs.
Weibo Gaming defeat Fnatic 2-1
In the opening game, Fnatic adopted a long-range composition with Aphelios in the bot lane and the coveted Orianna mid.
They completed their squad with K'sante top, Sejuani in the jungle, and the unconventional choice of Milio as support. Meanwhile, Weibo picked Aatrox top, Poppy jungle, Sylas mid, Zeri bot, and Renata Glasc for support.
Fnatic dominated the map, excelling in team fights, securing picks in side lanes, and taking charge of all map objectives. Weibo Gaming struggled to respond due to a draft disadvantage, allowing Fnatic to seize the opportunity. After 28 minutes, Fnatic razed Weibo's base, securing victory in the first game.
In the second game, Fnatic crafted a formidable mid-jungle combo with Lee Sin and Syndra. They rounded out their roster with K'sante top, Kalista in the bot lane, and Rell as support. Meanwhile, Weibo favoured Gnar in the top lane, stacked crowd control with Maokai in the jungle, and enlisted Taliyah for mid while retaining Renata Glasc as support. They also secured Aphelios for themselves in the bot lane.
Both teams remained evenly matched, trading blows and contesting map objectives. Weibo kept pace with Fnatic in gold, despite a deficit in kills. But at the 21-minute mark, Weibo initiated a fight at the Baron pit, turning the tides in their favour and securing a clean sweep.
From that point on, Weibo continued to expand their gold lead against Fnatic, emerging victorious in all team fights and breezing through Fnatic's turrets across multiple lanes.
After a 30-minute face-off and an 18-8 kill lead, Weibo made a remarkable comeback, securing the second game.
In the crucial third match, Weibo Gaming surprised everyone with an unorthodox composition, featuring Caitlyn in the bot lane and Lux as support.
They completed their squad with K'sante in the top lane, Maokai in the jungle, and Azir in the mid lane. Meanwhile, Fnatic aimed to counter with Olaf top, Sejuani in the jungle, Sylas mid, Aphelios in the bot lane, and Alistar as their support.
Things initially looked promising for Weibo Gaming in the early game, gaining an edge in the bot lane and punishing Fnatic in a mid-lane showdown. However, Fnatic fought back, securing some crucial kills off Weibo in the river.
Nonetheless, Weibo didn't provide much room for Fnatic to stage a full-scale comeback. At the critical 23-minute mark, they secured three kills off Fnatic in a clash at the Dragon pit, allowing them to claim the Dragon and rush to the Baron.
Weibo swiftly dismantled Fnatic's base, boasting a 17-6 kill lead, and secured victory in the third game and the series, thereby earning a spot in the playoffs.
BLG defeat G2 2-1
In the series opener, G2 prioritised an unconventional Kog’maw for Hans sama in the bot lane, and paired it with Braum. Then they rounded up the draft with Poppy top, Maokai jungle, and Jayce mid.
Meanwhile, BLG opted for Chen "Bin" Ze-Bin’s signature Jax, Xayah, and Milio in the bot lane, with Sejuani in the jungle and Taliyah in the mid lane.
BLG bullied G2 from the laning phase, pressuring the European juggernauts from all sides. BLG continued to dominate, taking most of the map objectives and allowing no breathing room for G2.
And after a 34-minute encounter and a 16-3 kill lead, BLG destroyed G2’s base to win the first game.
In the second game, BLG went for Zeri and Rakan in the bot lane and then picked Jayce in the mid lane for themselves, rounding up the team composition with Renekton top and Maokai Jungle.
Meanwhile, G2 prioritised Neeko mid for Rasmus "Caps" Borregaard Winther, and Nocturne in the jungle, and Kai’sa and Lissandra in the bot lane. G2’s Nocturne pick allowed the European team to set up for ganks and win team fights in the early game.
BLG tried to trade objectives across the map, keeping the gold and kill gap to a minimum. But Nocturne’s Paranoia has proven to be a thorn in BLG’s side, maiming the LPL second seed’s vision and allowing G2 to take the upper hand for the most part.
BLG were able to find an opportunity to turn the tides in their favour in the late game. However, G2 found clever angles to catch the Chinese team off guard, allowing Steven "Hans Sama" Liv to clean up the BLG in the side lanes.
And after a 43-minute bloodbath and a 21-20 kill lead, G2 destroyed BLG’s Nexus to win the second game.
In the third game, BLG went for Ashe-Braum in the bot lane, then took Orianna mid, JarvanIV in the jungle, and Renekton top. Meanwhile, G2 responded with Gnar in the top lane, Maokai in the jungle, Azir mid, and Kai’sa and Bard in the bot lane.
Both teams were hungry for blood in the early game, trading kills in the first five minutes of the game. However, it was Bin who was the difference-maker for BLG, carrying his team through most of the team fights and widening their gap against G2.
BLG continued to snowball, picking off G2 in the jungle multiple times and taking map objectives for themselves.
And after a 29-minute encounter and a 16-5 kill lead, BLG took down G2’s Nexus to win the series and qualify for the Playoffs.
Meanwhile, DK Plus, Fnatic, and G2 end their Worlds journey in 9th-11thplace and take home $72,312.50.
KT Rolster, Weibo Gaming, and BLG will join T1, NRG, Gen.G, LNG Esports, and JD Gaming at the Playoffs. Here are the Quarterfinals matchups:
The Quarterfinals will kick off in Busan on Thursday (2 November) with a best-of-five match between North American first seed NRG and LPL fourth seed Weibo Gaming.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.