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T1, Faker unrivaled at 2023 LoL World Championship

Winning its fourth League of Legends world title, Korean esports giant T1 cements its legacy once again, becoming symbol of Korean esports pride

By Lee Si-jin

Published : Nov. 20, 2023 - 14:53

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Esports giant T1 hoists the Summoner's Cup after a 3-0 victory over Weibo Gaming in the League of Legends World Championship Finals on Sunday at Gocheok Sky Dome in Guro-gu, southern Seoul. (Yonhap) Esports giant T1 hoists the Summoner's Cup after a 3-0 victory over Weibo Gaming in the League of Legends World Championship Finals on Sunday at Gocheok Sky Dome in Guro-gu, southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

Korea's League of Legends team T1 has hoisted the Summoner’s Cup for the first time in seven years, beating the Pro League’s Weibo Gaming of China in the LoL World Championship Finals on Sunday at Gocheok Sky Dome in Guro-gu, southern Seoul.

Sunday night's victory marked T1 and team superstar Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s fourth win in the World Championship following stunning victories in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Faker became the player with the most championship titles in his professional career, an unrivaled record that many industry insiders and experts believe to be unbreakable in the history of LoL.

While most of the LoL-related indicators and records -- such as for the most kills, the first LoL player to record 100 matches in a World Championship and more -- were already set by Faker, the 27-year-old pro-gamer wrote yet more history by becoming the oldest player to win the championship title as of Sunday.

T1's top player Choi "Zeus" Woo-je became the youngest to win the MVP title with the team's long-awaited victory.

Choi Choi "Zeus" Woo-je became the youngest player to win the MVP title in the League of Legends World Championship on Sunday. (Riot Games)
Lee Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok hoists the Summoner's Cup after beating Weibo Gaming in the League of Legends World Championship Finals at Gocheok Sky Dome in Guro-gu, southern Seoul, Sunday. (Yonhap)

T1 dominated the finals with an untroubled 3-0 victory over Weibo Gaming in front of 18,000 Korean and other fans, but their journey to the grandest stage of the LoL World Championship -- considered the UEFA Championship, Super Bowl or World Series of esports -- had been a tough one.

Almost 18,000 esports fans cheer on T1 and Weibo Gaming at this year's League of Legend World Championship Finals at Gocheok Sky Dome in southern Seoul. (Yonhap) Almost 18,000 esports fans cheer on T1 and Weibo Gaming at this year's League of Legend World Championship Finals at Gocheok Sky Dome in southern Seoul. (Yonhap)
Fans cheer T1 at League of Legends World Championship Finals on Sunday. (Yonhap) Fans cheer T1 at League of Legends World Championship Finals on Sunday. (Yonhap)

Korean esports giant T1 had been considered a team to win Summoner’s Cup for many years with its star-studded lineup of players -- Zeus, Moon “Oner” Hyun-jun, Faker, Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyung and Ryu “Keria” Min-seok -- and their respective individual prowess.

But, their continued shortcomings on major stages -- including at the 2022 LoL World Championship, the 2023 LCK Spring Finals and the 2023 Mid-Season Invitation (MSI) -- made many esports fans question if T1 would be able to win the gold and revive past glory.

After the teams’ franchise player, Faker, was out for a month with arm and wrist injuries in July, T1 stacked up one win and six losses, dropping down to sixth place in the standings.

Feeling that the team's poor performances were his responsibility, T1 head coach Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong resigned from his position in the same month.

T1 brought itself to 2023 LCK Summer Finals with Faker’s return from injury and his teammates’ miraculous, career-high performances. However, T1 choked in the finals with a 3-0 defeat against another esports franchise, Gen.G.

Though T1 was not fans' favorite to win this year’s championship, the team instantly became the last hope of Korea as all three Korean teams who entered the tournament, dropped out in the semifinals.

With an unexpected, hard-fought 3-1 victory over JDG Intel Esports Club of China, who was the tournament favorite to win the championship title after dominating the Chinese league and this year’s MSI championship, the T1 members were able to set themselves to accomplish what they failed to do in Chase Center, San Francisco in 2022 -- winning the championship title.

Faker’s story to “never give up” has inspired many esports fans, especially those who have been following his career since his first world title in his debut year of 2013.

“Faker has certainly had ups and downs, but he continued to put his utmost efforts into becoming a better League of Legends player. There were many players who enjoyed instant popularity and are now considered poised to become the next stars, but Faker still remains since 2013. He is just an incredible individual,” Kim Hyun-jun, 20, a trading firm worker and a passionate esports fan in Busan, told The Korea Herald on Monday.

Witnessing the incredible performances of T1, along with the love and support of esports fans, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said he wished to develop Seoul’s esports-themed culture and industry.

“After experiencing Saturday night’s Fan Festa, outdoor viewing party and cheering event for the finals, I was able to recognize that Korean esports is entering a new stage. I wish to continue the positive trend and upgrade Seoul’s esports culture and game industry,” said Oh in a Facebook post.

Culture Minister Yu In-chon (left) and Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon visit the League of Legends World Championship Finals on Sunday. (Seoul Metropolitan Government) Culture Minister Yu In-chon (left) and Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon visit the League of Legends World Championship Finals on Sunday. (Seoul Metropolitan Government)

It was the first time the LoL World Championship had returned to South Korea in five years. The country previously hosted the global esports event in 2014 and 2018.

South Korea beckoned esports fans with esports-friendly attractions during the annual LoL World Championship -- which began its 41-day run on Oct. 10 -- including an LoL pop-up store, commemorative medals and the country’s first-ever esports-themed outdoor viewing party at Gwanghwamun Square in Jung-gu, central Seoul.