There is no team in the history of League of Legends that has been able to consistenly stand toe-to-toe with T1 and its star mid laner, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. In the semifinals of the 2021 World Championship, T1 faced down DAMWON KIA in a rematch of the 2021 LCK summer split finals. At the end of a grueling five-game series, it was DWG KIA that emerged victorious. T1’s exit from Worlds 2021 has the potential to be a historic moment in the games’ history, a true changing of the guard for the game’s greatest team and player.
T1 has seen countless iterations through the many years since its first Worlds win, all of them centered around Faker. This year, five years since T1’s last Worlds victory, Faker holds veteran status among international competitors. Faker has been attending Worlds longer than many competing professional players’ entire careers have lasted. Around him are two talented young rookies, Moon “Oner” Hyeon-joon in the jungle and Lee “Gumuyusi” Min-hyeong as AD carry. Support Ryu “Keria” Min-seok, a DRX talent brought over in 2021, rounds out the roster alongside Kim “Canna” Chang-dong in the top lane.
T1 falls in playoffs at Worlds 2021
T1’s performance in the group stage while facing down the LPL’s EDward Gaming, the LCS’ 100 Thieves, and the LJL’s Detonation FocusMe was nearly immaculate. T1 almost went undefeated, dropping a single game to EDward Gaming. The LPL champion was the only team to test T1 as it headed into the playoffs. A loss to 100 Thieves by EDward Gaming meant T1 advanced with first seed. During that time, T1 was displaying the same cutthroat play style it had been honing all of the LCK summer split.
Gumuyusi served as the team’s hyper carry, gaining a reputation as debatably the best Aphelios player on the planet. Oner had stepped up as well, becoming a key enabler on skirmishing picks such as Viego, Xin Zhao, and Lee Sin. T1 didn’t rely on Faker to team up with the jungler to skirmish around mid like some other teams, instead opting to use Faker and Oner together to unlock Gumuyusi, who played a slew of carry champions.
T1’s style at Worlds quickly became clear: get Gumuyusi Aphelios whenever the opportunity presented itself, while Khan played lane bullies who could secure top lane priority. Oner picked skirmishing junglers to enable fighting around his laners, and Faker and Keria focused on utility over damage for most of the tournament, with Faker’s Lissandra and Twisted Fate picks being his most frequent.
The five-game series against DWG KIA has been touted as perhaps one of the greatest series ever played in League of Legends, and it’s easy to see why. After four back-and-forth games, DWG KIA picked a long-range poke composition and despite an early lead by T1, DWG managed to repeatedly poke them away from objectives until an Elder Dragon fight that went DAMWON’s way.
T1’s Fandex journey hinges on second week
T1’s Fandex journey is another story of a good thing being taken for granted early on into the tournament. T1 started worlds out around the $10 mark before plummeting down to $2 at the end of the first week. This downturn would sharply rebound in week two, continuing to climb all the way to its peak at $18.43. Fans too focused on looking for upsets neglected to grab valuable T1 shares while the tournament was in its early stages. Those who did buy into T1 were greatly rewarded.
With DWG KIA favored to take home the title, the rematch of the LCK’s summer finals was a decisive step towards DWG KIA cementing itself as the new Korean dynasty at Worlds.