The last Worlds 2023 quarterfinals match between LNG Esports and T1 possessed more stakes than ever.

Three LPL teams, Weibo Gaming, Bilibili Gaming, and JD Gaming, have qualified for the semifinals. In the process, they knocked out NRG, Gen.G, and KT Rolster.

Worlds 2023: Schedule, results, format, teams, where to watch

And so the last-standing LCK team who holds the hopes of the host country is none other than T1, whom the home crowd were screaming for. It was especially hype because mid lane saw former SKT Telecom T1 mid laner Lee “Scout” Ye-chan go up against his idol, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.

To get onto the T1 main roster, Gumayusi almost lane swapped to this role

Riding on creative drafts, they delivered a 3-0 sweep to fans’ delight.

T1 never fails to level up incrementally at Worlds, becomes a monster against LNG Esports

Worlds 2023 quarterfinals LNG Esports vs. T1 game one draft featuring Senna and Nilah bot lane
Screenshot by Amanda Tan/ONE Esports

As Worlds progresses, the champions we see picked start to evolve. As the best of the best clash, new counter-picks, new risks are more likely to be taken as they try to one up each other starting in draft.

T1 surprised in game one by last picking Nilah on red side. Because they already locked in Senna, LNG were prepared to counter a potential Tahm Kench pick with Blitzcrank.

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Why did T1 pick Nilah and Senna bot lane?

However, T1 had the last laugh. Instead of playing into the unfavorable matchup, they shifted Senna to support and selected Nilah for Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong.

This combo is reminiscent of the Nilah and Yuumi bot lane that dominated solo queue before the cat’s rework. Why does it work? Because of Nilah’s healing passive and abilities.

Exclusive: T1 Keria chooses to keep a deeply personal secret from his teammates

She’s short ranged, so no one really plays her in solo queue. Little did you know that her passive, when synergized with a healing support, is pretty stacked:

Joy Unending (passive) — Whenever a nearby allied champion uses an ability to Heal or shield either Nilah or themselves, both they and Nilah receive a bonus amount equal to 7.5% of the healing or 15% of the shielding after a 0.5-second delay

On top of that, Nilah’s Formless Blade (Q) and ultimate Apotheosis (R) also gives her healing. Coupled with Senna, it’s a super sustain lane!

In the laning phase, they out ranged Kai’Sa and Blitzcrank, pushing them into their tower. Later on during team fights, they kept everyone’s HP up as the front line looked for engages.

Overall, LNG did not look like themselves. Mid, jungle, and top made mistakes early, giving over kills. The gradual accumulation of advantages for T1 eventually allowed them to secure Infernal Dragon soul and close it out in 26 minutes.

Double ADC bot lane makes an appearance again in game two, a Keria special

On red side again, T1 weren’t done pulling out all the stops.

There was possibility to flex Rell to support, but ultimately they went with what Keria does best — support Ashe with AD carry Varus, something that he practiced during MSI 2022 and had successfully used during LCK Summer against Kwangdong Freecs.

T1 Keria has been practicing support Ashe and Zoe in solo queue
Worlds 2023 quarterfinals LNG Esports vs. T1 game two draft featuring support Ashe
Screenshot by Amanda Tan/ONE Esports

Game two was very slow paced. For the longest time, LNG had two kills to one in the first 20 minutes. On the flip side, T1 had secured all three dragons, and were therefore equal in gold.

Two fights around dragon determined the winner. The first was at Soul Point when the fourth Cloud drake spawned.

While the double AD carry bot lane hanged back, Choi “Zeus” Woo-je on his full lethality Aatrox found a flank over the wall when Mun “Oner” Hyeon-jun was zoning out four with Magnet Storm, which was more than enough for T1 to triumph.

The second most crucial time LNG had to fight was at Elder Dragon. If they could secure it, they would still have a fighting chance.

With a lot on the line, they were much more cautious this time around. Both teams invested a large amount of time vying for vision in the jungle, wary of flanks. Unfortunately, the pack of cards fell the moment Fu “Hang” Ming-Hang missed Grand Entrance and Scout’s Jayce stepped too far forward.

Caught by Chain of Corruption, Scout could not move, and was instantly burst down. T1 then chased down their prey for the ace and the 2-0 series lead.

On red side for the third time, Keria played Renata Glasc alongside Gumayusi’s Varus. On the opposite side, Chen “GALA” Wei was on a repeat Aphelios supported by Hang’s Milio.

The major change to T1’s composition is Oner’s Poppy, who found an early 1v1 kill onto Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong’s Sejuani at blue buff.

Shaking it off, LNG executed a solid dive 4v2 at bot in the early game. GALA even made an exciting great escape through T1’s top side jungle with just a sliver of health.

The next gank however, did not end well. They didn’t have enough damage to kill the target locked up by Glacial Prison, and traded ultimates.

Disengaging, Hang had already used Milio’s spells and turned towards clearing a Control Ward in the river bush. At the same time, GALA picked a 1v1 fight with Gumayusi, but narrowly lost despite a last second shield from his support.

Again playing for objectives, T1 secured all four dragons in the game and nabbed Hextech Soul. By 22 minutes, they accumulated a 10,000 gold lead with nine kills to three.

There wasn’t a big team fight that determined the outcome. It was a gradual and sure death — every move LNG tried to make was countered and outmaneuvered. Zeus’ poke from his pure lethality Jayce with a 5/0/0 KDA and a 700 gold bounty hurt at every turn.

Wearing LNG down and finding picks, T1 completed the sweep in another short 26 minute game.

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“We don’t have a set meta at the moment and we’re the trailblazers of the meta,” said Gumayusi in the post-game broadcast interview when asked about bot lane’s picks this match.

T1, the last LCK representative, will face JD Gaming in the semifinals, the very opponent who kicked them down to the lower bracket at MSI 2023.

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