T1’s support player Ryu “Keria” Min-seok has done it again. He made it to the Worlds knockout stages in 2023.

So far, he has graced all but one international stage since his LCK debut in 2020, only missing the Mid-Season Invitational in 2021.

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In fact, T1 has qualified for almost all Worlds and MSI events since their meteoric rise in 2015. They were only absent in four tournaments — MSI and Worlds 2018, Worlds 2020, and MSI 2021,

At this year’s Worlds 2023, Riot rolled out a fresh Swiss format. In a crucial match-up, both T1 and BLG entered with 2-1 records. To everyone’s surprise, T1 swept them to secure their quarterfinals spot on the backs of a Senna and Tahm Kench bot lane.

Keria uses the most underrated support at Worlds 2023 to nullify Bilibili Gaming

“It’s a composition that we have prepared before,” Keria told ONE Esports. “They are good counters in this meta.” He believes that we might see more counter picks during the knockout stages, but also pointed out that the core of the meta will probably remain unchanged.

League of Legends T1 Keria 2023 Worlds Swiss match against BLG post match interview
Credit: ONE Esports

Keria tells us more in this exclusive interview about T1’s challenging year, his personal struggles, and special gesture he has planned for fans if he wins Worlds 2023.

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2023 posed a series of challenges for T1. They once again fell to Gen.G at the LCK Spring 2023 finals before their season took a turn for the worse with the announcement of T1’s midlaner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s wrist injury on July 5th.

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The iconic player’s absence cast a shadow over the team, leading to a concerning 1-7 record during this period.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 16: T1 at the League of Legends World Championship 2023 Swiss Features Day on October 16, 2023 in Seoul, South Korea.
Credit: Lee Aiksoon/Riot Games

Their only glimmer of hope during this challenging phase was their victory against Nongshim Redforce, where they clinched a 2-0 win. This triumph became a pivotal moment, putting them up in the standings, setting them on a more stable course towards playoffs.

Since then, the team’s collective spirit rose, even amid continuous losses without Faker. “Our primary goal during that time was just to make it to the playoffs,” Keria shared. They reminded each other to simply enjoy the games while keeping emotionally and mentally stable.

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This renewed positivity became the driving force behind their resurgence. With Faker’s return, they soared back to top form and qualified as LCK’s second seed for Worlds.

For Keria, however, had his own personal struggles for the year

League of Legends T1 Keria 2022 Worlds finals Keria crying
Credit: Riot Games

“I am a person that has a hard time letting go,” he admitted, referring to his heartbreaking 2-3 loss against DRX during the Worlds 2022 finals.

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Sudden flashbacks from the match would wake him at night, often causing heartaches. Grasping the intensity of his feelings, he could not find an external outlet for relief and faced these challenges alone. “I don’t really show that I am going through hard times to my teammates, so I don’t think anyone noticed,” said Keria.

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Credit: Riot Games, ONE Esports
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Although he refrained from expressing his challenges externally and rarely revealed his inner turmoil, there was one individual he was open to: Dplus KIA’s bot laner Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu.

They formed a connection when Keria entered the scene with DRX as a young, up-and-coming 17-year-old support player. For him, Deft wasn’t just a teammate from whom he could learn from — he saw him as a life teacher, he said in an interview with Inven Global.

“I know we are in different teams, but I often talk about my struggles with Deft,” said Keria. Confiding in only a select few, he began taking gradual steps on his journey to recovery.

History repeats, but they’re seeking to rewrite

League of Legends T1 2023 Worlds Swiss promo group photo
Credit: Riot Games

He took a moment for introspection regarding their performances over the past two years. In the moments when games mattered most their team couldn’t get the results they wanted. “Personally, I believe that if each player doesn’t perform up to standard, things start to fall apart, especially on big stages,” he said.

Since the formation of their current roster, they were able to clinch the LCK Spring 2022 championship, but have since experienced a “second place curse,” losing to Gen.G three times in a row for the last one and a half years.

At MSI 2022, they also lost 2-3 to Royal Never Give Up, and again to DRX 2-3 at the Worlds 2022 finals.

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“As long as we finalize our compositions and tier list, we are ready,” said Keria, who emphasized the significant progress they’ve made in both overall strategy and individual execution. He believes that, with minor improvements, they are primed for the win.

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In a heartfelt nod to the fans who’ve weathered this journey with them, he revealed a personal pledge. “Since Worlds is being played in Korea, if we win, I will bow down deeply [all the way down to my knees] for the fans,” said Keria.

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