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Monday, March 27, 2023

Koreans ready for World Cup title?

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It may have been one of the bitterest hours in the long history of the Korean eSports organisation for all T1 fans. After 2017, the record-breaking 2022 world champions lost once again in the World Cup final, but are currently on track to make another assault on the title.

When talking about League of Legends, one inevitably comes across T1 and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok at some point. The Korean eSports organisation is still the only one in the history of the popular MOBA title to have won the World Championship title three times. Behind them are also successes at the Mid-Season Invitational as well as the LCK, the national League of Legends League.

Last year, T1 could have finally immortalised itself as THE powerhouse of the MOBA, but the record-breaking world champion was narrowly defeated by league rival DRX, which in turn was able to enjoy its first World Championship title. As bitter as the defeat was, the team was obviously not impressed by it and started the new season and the new year very successfully, despite an unchanged roster!

Master Splinter and his four Turtles

In eSports it is a rarity for a team or a line-up to remain unchanged beyond a split or a season. As an example, the roster of Fnatic, which competes in the LEC, was fundamentally changed due to the poor results and provided with new players. But there are also counter-examples, such as in the Prime League. Here, the Unicorns of Love SE should be mentioned, who carried out a complete roster change, although they were able to finish the Summer Split as champions beforehand.

Instead of signing new players, T1 decided to stick with the established pros – the Faker personnel is unchangeable anyway. Accordingly, the Koreans started the new season with the same roster that caused a sensation last year and only narrowly failed to reach the Grand Final of the Worlds. A decision that was to pay off.

The current T1 roster consists of the following players:

  • Choi “ZEUS” Woo-je
  • Mun “ONER” Hyeon-jun
  • Lee “FAKER” Sang-hyeok
  • Lee “GUMAYUSI” Min-hyeong
  • Lee “KERIA” Min-hyeong

Currently, T1 are once again in pole position in the domestic league and have only suffered one defeat so far. As a reminder, in Korea the league is played in a best-of-3 format, so matches lost within a series do not count towards the final result unless teams are level on points in the standings. Apart from a slip-up against Hanwha Life Esports, neither Dplus Kia (the former DAMWON KIA, ed.) nor GEN G or kt Rolster Faker and Co. could hold a candle to them.

T1 – Another title candidate?

Accordingly, it is not surprising that voices are now being raised according to which T1 is once again probably the hottest title candidate for the World Championship this year. Not only the statistics in the league speak for this, but also the team structure is completely different than in 2022, where T1 started the season with four rookies besides Faker, who improved from game to game and chased from one success to the next. Although there was a damper in the course of the MSI, T1’s winning streak in the LCK continued – in addition to the Spring Split Championship, the team was also champion of the domestic LCK in the summer.

Now it seems as if the roster is more well-rehearsed than ever, almost blindly. It also helps that Faker, for some time now, has been putting his skills more than ever at the service of the team and thus also manages to put the other players in the limelight. Accordingly, it is quite legitimate to say that T1 could make it to the final of the World again this year – if there is no drop in performance in the course of the summer split. Therefore, a final evaluation of the current performance is not yet possible.

First, however, there are the playoffs of the Spring Split to come, for which T1 has already qualified on the basis of their performance so far. This could be followed by another attempt to win the MSI.


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