T1 are your Worlds 2023 champions!
It is the organization’s fourth world championship and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s as well. Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong and Faker were previously tied at three each when they won Worlds 2013, 2015, and 2016 together. Now, Faker is the only player in the world to win four titles, a record that for now, no one seems close to surpassing.
T1 entered the final as the last-standing LCK team. They bested the other LPL representatives in the playoffs qualifier and Knockout stage — Bilibili Gaming, LNG Esports and JD Gaming — to reach this point.
On top of that, the organization holds a significant record: they have never lost a best-of-five Worlds series to an LPL team. After today, that fact remains true.
Defeating Weibo Gaming 3-0 in front of a full-house home crowd at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, the same roster that lost to DRX 3-2 at the Worlds 2022 finally redeemed themselves
How T1 swept Weibo Gaming to become the Worlds 2023 champions
After an incredible opening ceremony, the two teams jumped into champion select.
The crowd cheered when T1 locked in Yone for Choi “Zeus” Woo-je, an off-meta pick that helped them overcome JD Gaming in game four of the semifinals, setting up the same matchup against Aatrox.
Of course, this is Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok’s Aatrox we’re talking about, a crucial champion that he used during his Worlds 2018 championship run.
T1 proceeded to last pick Lee Sin on red side for Mun “Oner” Hyeon-jun, completing their strong mid-game team composition.
In contrast, WBG opted for a scaling bot lane in Senna and Tahm Kench while the rest of the lanes tide them over early.
The early game saw both teams trading kills, with WBG playing for top side while T1 focused on bot side, taking dragon control. Two big team fights determined the outcome of this game.
The first happened at the 18-minute mark when Oner opened with a flashy flash-kick combo which didn’t result in a kill, but did determine the rest of the exchange.
Three minutes later, T1 hammered the nail into the coffin. WBG initiated with Maokai’s ultimate Nature’s Grasp, catching out two — but Ryu “Keria” Min-seok’s Hostile Takeover completely changed the outcome of the fight.
Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong’s Kalista barely survived as Zeus’ Yone tore up WBG’s formation, grabbing a double kill into an ace, which opened up Baron. Steadily in control, T1 secured the second Baron at 28 minutes to take the lead in the series.
Bringing out even more surprising picks in game two, T1, again on red side, made a statement by picking Draven, Nocturne, and a last-pick Gwen as an alternate response to Aatrox.
The difference in this draft was that WBG first-picked Kalista, a priority pick that emerged during the Worlds 2023 playoffs. Paired with Senna, they opted for a double AD carry bot lane.
Despite the varied champions, the game plan for both teams remains the same — T1 needed to put pressure from early to mid-game, relying on Nocturne’s level six spike and high single-target combo damage, while WBG opted to scale.
Due to the nature of the bot lane matchup, T1 did not have dragon control this time around and gave up the first two, but they made multiple statements during big 5v5s.
At the third dragon spawn, Paranoia made all the difference. Using the darkness, T1 ripped through WBG, isolating targets one by one, taking down four.
With that, they finally got their first dragon of the game, accumulating a sizeable kill and gold lead. The tipping point happened in mid lane a few minutes later when cooldowns were burnt. WBG was on the hunt, determined to find their first resounding fight, but T1 totally foiled their plans.
Gumayusi’s fancy feet dodged all of Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao’s spells, and it was Oner’s Nocturne again who turned around the fight, diving straight into the backline with Paranoia. Talk about embodying Heartsteel’s theme song.
By the late game, T1 was too far ahead with 10 kills to just one. In the last fight, Zeus’ Gwen led the charge, snipping past WBG to victory.
He dealt a sizeable 24.2% of total damage for his team, just as much as Gumayusi’s Draven.
With backs against the wall, WBG took a page from T1’s book. They first-picked Azir on blue side, then locked in Bard for themselves, a Keria special.
Instead of Aatrox, it was also the first time we see TheShy on another champion in this series: Kennen, who has greater potential to impact team fights with Slicing Maelstrom.
T1 on the other hand, paired Xayah and Rakan at bot, and opted for Akali as a counter-pick to mid lane.
With this refreshed draft, WBG did fare better in the early game, standing equal in kills and gold. Wei “Weiwei” Bo-Han looked more comfortable as well on Bel’Veth.
However, the pack of cards came crumbling down, and fast. At the first 5v5 clash, Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song’s mistimed Bard ultimate opened up a huge opportunity that T1 capitalized on.
Faker was simply on fire on Akali, casting spells at the perfect time, and positioning immaculately within her shroud to pick up a massive triple kill.
WBG never recovered from this fight. In complete control, any time they were in the vicinity of a T1 member, they perished as the snowball became unstoppable.
Amassing 19 kills to five, T1 closed out the fastest game of the series in 25 minutes to finally, after another year of trying, lift the Summoner’s Cup.
Additionally, Zeus was hailed as the Worlds 2023 finals MVP.
It’s been seven years since Faker won his last championship, and 10 years since his first. He has made a total of eight Worlds appearances.
At Worlds 2017, SKT was swept by Samsung Galaxy to finish second.
At Worlds 2019, T1 lost to G2 Esports 3-1 in the semifinals to finish in 3rd-4th place. At Worlds 2021, they lost to Dplus KIA 3-2 in the semifinals, again finishing joint-third.
In 2022, they took a step closer to the Summoner’s Cup, but ultimately suffered a heartbreaking loss to DRX, losing 3-2 in the finals.
With this Worlds 2023 championship win, they’ve redeemed themselves for last year’s loss and continue to expand on T1’s already glittering legacy in League of Legends esports history.
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