In their LCK matchup against KT Rolster this week, T1 turned heads by benching Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and starting the team’s substitute midlaner, Lee “Clozer” Ju-hyeon.
Surprisingly, T1 swept their rivals, with Clozer making significant plays for the team.
In game one, Clozer played a deadly Zoe, striking down opponents with her Portal Jump combos. In T1’s first engage, Clozer entered bot lane to claim a triple-kill on the retreating KT members for the clean-up.
Clozer eventually plunged the dagger into KT Rolster with an incredible solo-kill on Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng’s Orianna, which led to an ace.
With a 5/0/4 KDA, the 17-year-old mid-laner ended his debut game with a well-earned Player of the Game MVP.
As for game two, Clozer pulled out a comfort pick, Akali. Despite not being as dominant compared to his first game on Zoe, he put on a clinical finish to the series.
When KT Rolster was attempting to claim Baron, Park “Teddy” Jin-seong’s Aphelios clutch stole the buff. Though T1 was pinned down by KT’s re-engage, Clozer teleported in, giving a second wind to the fight. He took down two more players for the ace.
Though it may be unusual for some fans to see a benched Faker, having Clozer test out the waters in the regular season could possibly give T1 a much-needed lift when it comes to qualifying for the playoffs.
Clozer brings more determined aggression to the mid-lane, while Faker usually fits the role with methodical playmaking and reliance on the late-game.
With the substitution, Clozer’s role pushes other T1 members like Effort and Cuzz to lead the playmaking. Though Faker has been T1’s backbone for all these years, Clozer’s debut appearance shows that T1’s other members are able to create a refreshed dynamic on the Rift.
“I was quite nervous before today’s match, but then Ellim told me that this was a great opportunity for me and that this could change my life,” said Clozer in the post-game interview. “So I went into the game with the thought of giving it my all.”
Looking at his solo-queue statistics, the youthful player was comfortable in his debut, as his Akali and Zoe both have more than 50% win rates in ranked solo queue.
Although he mentioned wanting to play more high-mechanical champs like Irelia soon, we’re keeping an eye on Sylas, whom he has a 63% win rate on.
Looking at T1’s success with Clozer, we may see this young talent start more often in place of Faker.
You catch T1 in their match against SeolHaeOne Prince on August 6 at 7 p.m. (GMT+8).