Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is in top form, and it feels like no one can stop the Unkillable Demon King from reaching his goal.
T1 has eliminated JD Gaming 3-1, the last-standing LPL team in the tournament, to qualify for the Worlds finals for the fifth time in the organization’s history. The last time they made it was at Worlds 2017, where SK Telecom T1 got swept by Samsung Galaxy at the Bird’s Nest National Stadium in China.
JD Gaming won game one in the best-of-five series, but was completely out-drafted in the following games, as T1 pressured them cross-map on champions like Ryze, Nocturne, and Gangplank.
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Faker won Worlds 2015 with Ryze, and is leading another deep run here at Worlds 2020 on the same champion
Faker first brought out his signature champion in game two against Zeng “Yagao” Qi’s Sylas. Using Realm Warp, he pressured bot lane during the laning phase, but his best highlight came in the 23rd minute when T1 sneaked a Baron that JDG could not contest.
Teleporting from bot lane, Faker then used his ultimate to get himself and his top laner to the pit quickly. Wearing the buff, they broke open the top lane’s inhibitor and the first outer tower in mid.
In full control of the game, T1 sneaked a second Baron at the 29-minute mark which extended their lead further. Even though JDG took a chance by drafting Malphite for Bai “369” Jia-Hao, they could not find the engages they needed because T1 kept splitting them apart across the map.
Faker’s Ryze shone brighter in game three, where he maintained a perfect 5/0/0 KDA with a 700 gold bounty for the first 20 minutes of the game.
The only fed member on his team, game two was still wide open, and JDG were not trailing far behind in gold. However, the LPL first seed made a major macro mistake in the 24th minute, sending three mid and two top, which gave T1 a completely free bot lane inhibitor that went unchallenged.
Right after, separate skirmishes broke out. On the top side of the map, 369’s Renekton was recalling in the tribush — and challenged the mid laner to a 1v1. Forced to fight at melee range, tanking everything, Faker’s split-second side step into Everfrost rooted 369 in his tracks, which was enough time for him to Flash out and finish the crocodile off with a final Q.
Using clever macro and map pressure, T1 not only made JDG run around the map, but they also had superior zone control in team fights with Mun “Oner” Hyeon-jun’s Nocturne, Zeus’ Gangplank, and Ryu “Keria” Min-seok’s Nami. It was extremely hard for JDG’s team composition to check bushes, what more, initiate as a cohesive unit, which resulted in a second consecutive loss.
Faker’s power level increased further in game four, where he took on the title of Emperor. In the mid lane during the mid game, he single-handedly tilted the series in T1’s favor by catching out four members of JD Gaming, throwing them from the backline into the hands of his teammates for the ace. Even though Wang “Hope” Jie’s Jhin saw it coming and flashed, he still got clipped.
Amassing a whopping 30 kills to seven and all four dragons into Ocean Soul, T1 never allowed JDG to get back up again after the loss in game two.
Finally, after 5 years of hard work, Faker and T1 are back in the Worlds finals. At Worlds 2021 last year, they were eliminated in the semifinals by DWG KIA 3-2. Returning with largely the same squad under new leadership, the roster is flourishing under former jungler and 3-time world championship winner, Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong.
“I’m extremely happy right now. I had some good feelings this year, and I’m just one step way from [the championship] so it’s really great. This time around I will hold onto the opportunity for my fans,” said Faker in the post-game broadcast interview.
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