The last quarterfinal match of the 2023 League of Legends (LoL) World Championship has just concluded, and it ended with thousands of South Korean fans in high spirits.
Busan was filled with cheers as the crowd placed their hopes on the last LoL Championship Korea (LCK) team standing.
And they were not let down, with T1 winning in dominant fashion, sweeping LPL team LNG Esports 3-0 in the Quarterfinals on 5 November.
Although T1 was considered one of the strongest LoL powerhouses there are, with the most World Championships under their belt, they weren’t exactly the top team coming into this year’s tournament.
However, they continued to grow as they continued to play through the Swiss Stage, first winning against Team Liquid in the first round. They then suffered defeat in the hands of LCK first seed Gen.G.
T1 bounced back and continued to improve their form in the third round, crushing Cloud9 with a deathless win. They then exacted revenge against BLG for their MSI loss, sweeping the LPL team 2-0 to qualify for the Knockout stage with a 3-1 record.
Meanwhile, LNG had a similar journey as T1, defeating Fnatic in the first round of the Swiss Stage, then Cloud9, before losing to the current LPL Summer Champions JD Gaming, and then winning against KT Rolster 2-1, in the fourth round to qualify for the Playoffs with a 3-1 record.
The matchup between T1 G.O.A.T. and mid laner Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok and Lee "Scout" Ye-chan was also much anticipated, with Scout being Faker's understudy in 2015 back in SKT Telecom (T1's former name).
How T1 defeated LNG:
In the first game, LNG prioritised Kai’sa for Chen "GALA" Wei in the bot lane, and Azir for Scout in the mid lane. They then rounded up their team composition with Gwen top, Jarvan IV jungle, and Blitzcrank as support, in preparation for a potential Senna-Tahm Kench bot lane.
However, T1 threw their opponents off quite early in the drafting phase, going for Orianna mid, Aatrox top, Rell jungle, and then Nilah in the bot lane, with a full support Senna instead.
Throughout the game, LNG made questionable decisions that gave room for T1 to punish their mistakes. T1 continued to lay siege across all lanes, taking map objectives and cruising through the jungle with a comfortable gold lead.
As a last resort, the Chinese team attempted to stop T1's Dragon Soul by trying to take it for themselves. However, this was also thwarted, with Oner walking in at the last minute to steal the Dragon from LNG, with the rest of T1 following up to finish everyone off in the Dragon pit.
With the Dragon Soul on their backs, T1 rushed to take the Baron, allowing them to march toward LNG’s base and destroy it after a 26-minute encounter with a 13-2 kill lead.
LNG still opted for the blue side in the second game, going for Maokai in the Jungle, Gwen top, Jayce mid, and finishing off their draft with Aphelios and Rakan in the bot lane.
Meanwhile, T1 once again went for the unconventional, keeping Aatrox and Rell for the top lane and jungle, respectively, then going for Sylas in mid, and then surprising everyone once again with a double marksman bot lane with Varus as ADC and Ashe for support.
LNG tried to be more proactive, being successful in finding kills from T1 in the laning phase. But the South Korean powerhouse continued to catch up and even gain a slight advantage. LNG did all they could to keep up with T1’s gold lead and trading map objectives more evenly.
But T1 continued to maintain composure as they continued to poke LNG across lanes and bait them with mind games for map objectives.
But it was a team fight that erupted in the bot lane jungle that allowed T1 to pop off and clean up LNG to give them no opportunity for a comeback.
And after a 31-minute slugfest, and an 8-3 kill lead, T1 made a beeline for the mid lane to destroy LNG’s turrets to win the second game and take their team to match point.
In the third game, LNG prioritised Orianna mid and Sejuani in the jungle then took Renekton in the top lane. Then they took Aphelios once again in the bot lane, with Milio as support.
Meanwhile, T1 answered with Jayce top, Azir in the mid lane, Poppy in the jungle, and Varus bot lane, Renata Glasc for Support.
LNG tried to find opportunities to get a gold lead, taking on the T1 bot lane in the early game. However, T1 always found ways to counter and take the gold lead back from their Chinese opponents.
T1 continued to take control, with Mun "Oner" Hyeon-jun effectively rotating through the map and Faker executing clutch plays that were in perfect sync with the rest of his team.
Choi "Zeus" Woo-je also popped off, finding individual kills in the latter part of the game. And after a 26-minute encounter and a 13-3 kill lead, T1 destroyed LNG’s Nexus to secure the win and make it to the semifinals.
Oner was notably given the Player of the Game honours, after being a proactive and efficient jungler throughout all games, effectively rotating through the map to track opponents and aid his teammates.
In the post-match interview, Lee "Gumayusi" Min-hyung said that they were able to be flexible with the draft because he and Ryu "Keria" Minseok put a lot of work together. Keria also said that some of the drafts that they pulled off in today's matchup "could only be pulled off by T1."
Faker was also asked about the record they've set, having won all dragons across all games. To which Faker said, "I don't care about the records. I only focus on the preparation that we make for the games."
Gumayusi even got a bit cheeky, and said that they were confident that they were better than the other LPL teams.
Meanwhile, LNG bow out of the competition in 5th to 8th place and take home US $100,125 in consolation.
T1 will be facing JD Gaming in the semifinals on 12 November at 4:00 PM Singapore Time.
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.