The LCK has finally returned with the 2021 Spring Split, but fans were in shock to see a new side to T1 on the Rift.
Instead of the usual line-up of Lee “Faker’ Sang-hyeok, Park “Teddy” Jin-seong, and Kim “Cuzz” Woo-chan, T1 brought out their young stars of Lee “Clozer” Ju-hyeon, Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong, and Choi “Ellim” El-lim along with support newcomer Ryu “Keria” Min-seok.
While T1 is no stranger to substitutions, the team’s first match was against the new roster of Hanwha Life Esports that featured the ex-DRX duo of Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu. The T1 substitutes may be gifted, but Chovy and Deft do have a lot of experience over most of them, including former teammate Keria.
Interestingly enough, T1’s youthful squad was an absolute unit throughout the series. In game one, they stuck to the standard T1 playstyle that prioritized steady scaling and safe kills.
Once they entered the mid-game phase, T1 shifted into a stronger offensive effort, taking down flankers and going straight for a fearless counter-attack. With the Camille and Galio wombo-combo, Kim “Canna” Changdong executed the perfect flank for T1 to advance and take another kill.
Though they lacked the usual early dragon soul, the team excelled in team engagements that left HLE in the dust with a 12-0 kill-count and a perfect game.
Despite losing game two with a slight case of complacency and not respecting the Rell pick, T1 synergized once again in the final game of the series.
Just like Faker, Clozer proved he can be a beast against Chovy. Now using the more kill-confirm mobile champion of Irelia, Clozer instantly flashed into Chovy’s Viktor and assassinated him right under his tower.
As for T1’s other playmakers, Gumayusi and his Samira easily outclassed Deft in the late-game phase. Being surrounded by more agile zoning champions like Renekton, Taliyah, and Irelia, the T1 ADC’s main agenda was to dive into the fight and unleash his Inferno Trigger as the finishing touch to every 5v5.
With HLE getting desperate to trade for a chance to turn things around, Gumayusi eventually got a game-winning penta-kill that would make you forget that he’s just a substitute to Teddy.
Needless to say, T1 has an incredible U21 squad that can be seen as a top-form team in their own right. Clozer and Gumayusi may be the new spearheads of the team, but we cannot leave out Ellim and Canna’s incredible top-side takeovers and Keria’s tried and tested support skills.
While Faker and the T1 seniors are still around to stand tall as the more composed veterans, this opening performance from these young guns shows that a future without Teddy or Faker on the Rift still looks brighter than ever for T1.