One can earn more glory, the other can secure their legacy.
The grand finals stage for the League of Legends World Championship, also known as Worlds 2023, is all set. Korean League of Legends titans T1 will take on China’s underdogs Weibo Gaming at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea, in what could possibly be the biggest grand finals in Worlds history.
Both had an arduous year filled with highs and lows. Neither were the favorites in their region and had much to prove if they wanted to make it to Worlds.
A Rough Road
For the juggernaut that is T1, that’s a hard pill to swallow but that was their reality. They’ve been shaky for quite some time but their problems were fully exposed when star player Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok had to take time off due to an arm injury. From an optimistic 6-2 record they crashed all the way down to 1-7 until Faker was able to play again. This cast into doubt the capabilities of the team, especially with their performance after only losing one player.
Granted, losing the League of Legends GOAT himself would throw any team into havoc but T1’s collapse was inexcusable considering the talent they had on the rest of the team. Things immediately turned around with Faker’s return but now an important question has to be asked. Will T1’s overreliance on just one player lead to their downfall?
Weibo Gaming’s year hasn’t been much better. They have been struggling with mediocre results even though they have two world champions on their team. A particularly negative spotlight even fell on their Top Laner Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok. The former world champion has looked anything but thanks to his extreme feast-or-famine performances that often decided entire games.
After a disappointing playoff run, they made it into Worlds through the Regional Finals as China’s fourth. In a region that also sent monstrous teams such as JD Gaming and Bilibili Gaming to Worlds, many thought that Weibo would quietly slip out of the tournament as they’ve done for most of the year.
History in the Making
Whatever misgivings people had with T1’s team stability have been thrown out with their current Worlds run. Playing cleaner and more decisive than they have all year, they’ve eviscerated any team that’s stood before them so far. They even convincingly defeated the Chinese superteam JD Gaming to earn their spot at the Worlds 2023 grand finals.
Weibo had a quieter but no less impressive run. They defeated Western powerhouse Fnatic to qualify for the knockout stage and even triumphed over Bilibili Gaming in a five-game upset. They’ve become the dark horse of the tournament and they have all the momentum they need to win it all.
More than that however is the stories that will be made for those who raise the Summoner’s Cup. For Faker and T1, this is another chance for them to win their fourth world championship despite the year’s struggles. It’s a chance they fumbled last year to rivals DRX and one that they’re eager to take once again. For Weibo, they’ll be the fourth Chinese team to become world champions, a great achievement for the young organization. It would also be TheShy and teammate Liu “Crisp” Qingsong’s second world championship, an honor that’s been mostly exclusive to the former members of T1.