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With Worlds 2022 about to begin, the League of Legends Champions Korea circuit (LCK)’s T1 is one of the 24 teams from across the world making their way to the biggest event of the year. Every team entering the League of Legends World Championship has the same goal: to stand at the top uncontested and hoist the Season 12 Summoner’s Cup high.

In 2013, SK Telecom, with their prodigy Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, swept Star Horn Royal Club in Finals to herald the beginning of their dynasty. In 2016, the world watched in awe as Bae “Bengi” Sung-woong, alongside Faker, saved SKT from certain elimination from both the ROX Tigers and Samsung Galaxy to crown the SK Telecom organization with three Worlds titles, a record that is still not broken to this day.

Faker has seen it all. He was the first global superstar produced in League of Legends esports. Throughout his nine-year career, he has been the kingpin of every SK Telecom and T1 roster. In those nine years, Faker’s accomplishments earned him the undoubted title of Greatest of All Time.

The legacy of T1 becomes a heavier mantle to bear with each passing year. Achieving anything but the best is considered a failure for this legendary esports organization. Nonetheless, the 2022 T1 roster continued to impress the world with their individually talented players, a byproduct of their prestigious Academy pipeline. Alongside these young players, Faker is returning to Worlds once more with Bengi as his head coach. The stars seem to align for the T1 legend to try and break the record he set himself by winning another World Championship.

T1 Worlds 2022 Starting Roster

  • Top Lane: Choi “Zeus” Woo-jae | Signed in November 2020, moved up from T1 Rookies.
  • Jungle: Moon “Oner” Hyun-jun | Signed in December 2020, moved up from T1 Rookies.
  • Mid Lane: Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok | Signed in February 2013, has played for T1 his whole career.
  • Bot Lane: Ryu “Keria” Min-seok | Signed in November 2020, formerly a member of DRX.

The Most Traditional Korean Team

T1’s approach towards the mid-game is most representative of the traditional, proactive strategies employed in LCK. LCK always pursued a mid-lane-centric strategy of pushing in the mid-lane first before transitioning the pressure to the side lanes. Consequently, the most popular plan was the 1-4-0/0-4-1 deployment. The four members in the mid-lane will transition to the one side-laner to push out the side lane as much as possible. Afterward, as five, the team will group up in the mid-lane and look for isolated members in the enemy team.

The 1-4-0 system is much easier to execute if the team has ways to force a fight with hard engage abilities. T1’s comfort in this type of strategy is shown through their champion picks. T1 relied on champions such as Nautilus for Keria and Galio for Faker to snowball the game. This reliance also provides additional context to Keria’s subpar performance on Lulu versus Yuumi since Yuumi’s ultimate offers that hard-engage option that Lulu does not possess in her kit.

Despite being rather proficient at the 1-4-0/0-4-1 strategy, T1 was shut down by Gen G’s unyielding defense in the Finals. Hard-engage champions like Nautilus and Galio were getting pushed out of the meta, while Keria seemed very uncomfortable on Amumu. While it must have been a crushing defeat, the series must have given T1 plenty of insights on what they needed to work on for Worlds.

Players to Watch

For many players attending Worlds this year, Worlds is a nerve-wracking tournament where the stakes are at their highest. For Faker, it’s just another rodeo. Faker may not be the lane-dominant demon he was almost a decade ago. However, he still possesses the immense clutch factor in teamfights that can flip the fight in T1’s favor. Having a player with such experience and pedigree is an invaluable asset in a team with very young players.

Another player to watch is T1’s bot laner, Gumayushi. He has been under much pressure to perform in a meta where his best champions were either banned or suboptimal against the most powerful ADCs, Sivir and Zeri. The bot lane meta since the knockout stages changed to make champions like Kai’Sa and Miss Fortune more viable. This meta change also favors Keria’s champ pool as lane-oriented ADCs pair well with hard-engage melee supports such as Nautilus and Pyke.

How T1 can succeed at Worlds 2022

T1 possesses one critical flaw that is regrettably turning into a meme. When the team is uncertain about pushing the game forward, the team will start Baron Nashor and provoke a teamfight that will determine the state of the game. This rash decision-making cost them many games and will continue to cost them dearly against this Worlds.

T1 must understand that the easiest way for a dynasty to fall is from within. Staying resolute and steadfast to the traditional strategies that allowed them to dominate the spring split is the only way that they will be able to obtain the championship against so many formidable contenders.

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