The Recall: Worlds 2023 Grand Finals Edition
The League of Legends Worlds 2023 has now concluded. T1 and Weibo Gaming faced off in the Grand Finals last night (19th Nov). T1 emerged victorious, granting both the organization and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok a historic 4th Worlds title and trophy.
While the victory was swift and decisive for T1, the road was anything but. Here is everything we learned during the Grand Finals of Worlds 2023.
Key Statistics for T1 that Led to their Victory
- Highest Gold Percent rating (1.16) by a country-mile. Translates to the average amount of the game’s total gold held (relative to 50%). The second highest was KT Rolster with 0.59.
- 3rd Highest Average Gold Difference @15 mins (921). Only Dplus KIA and KT Rolster ranked higher than them in this statistic with 1096 and 1057 respectively.
- Tied for Highest First Blood Rate (67%). Tied with BLG for this stat. Translates to the percent of games where said team earns First Blood participation (Kill/Assist).
- 3rd in Total Kills (210). Ranked behind Weibo (248) and BLG (231). Bloodiest LCK team by far. Next highest is KT Rolster with 146.
T1’s aggressive early game can be seen in these dominant statistics. Not only do they hold the majority of the game’s gold for the most part, their proactivity in the early game also translates into a high First Blood rate for them. Early leads > Widening gold lead > Skewed Team Fight Favor > More Successful Picks and Kills.
Neutral/Team Objective Dominance
- 1st in First Dragon Rate (73%). Was the team in 73% of their games to take the first dragon. Fnatic was 2nd at 67%.
- 1st in Dragon Control Rate (76%). Reflects percent of all Dragons killed (in their games) that were killed by the team. Dplus sit 2nd at 70% and marked drop off from there.
- 3rd in Rift Herald Control Rate (59%). Placed behind Cloud9 (67%) and Dplus KIA (63%). Translates to the degree of control T1 maintained over the Rift Herald when it spawns in the pit.
- 1st in First Baron Rate (67%). Was the team in 67% of their games to take the first Baron. Dplus was 2nd at 63%.
- 2nd in First Tower Rate (73%). Just behind KT Rolster (75%). Reflects proactivity on the map + translation of Rift Herald into successful early crashes.
- 1st in Average Wards placed/m (3.89). BLG came in 2nd with 3.82.
- 7th in Average Wards cleared/m (1.63). Gen.G came in 1st with 1.74.
One of the key recipes for T1’s success is their frequent control over neutral objectives. A defining characteristic for T1, especially during the later stages of this Worlds was to aggressively take space in the first few minutes, claim the first dragon on spawn and play for Dragon Soul.
Despite giving Zeus the counter-pick, the Rift Herald is a secondary objective for T1, compared to the dragon. However, the bot duo of T1 is strong enough to almost consistently get the push in time. As can be seen from the stats, T1 is ranked first in First Dragon Rate as well as Dragon Control Rate. However, as the game progresses, T1 then begins playing for Baron as the larger win condition, with the threat of pre-stacked dragons from the early game as the secondary. They are also ranked 1st in First Baron Rate.
Among the top teams, they also rank the third highest for Rift Herald Control Rate, which they frequently translate into their high First Tower Rate. These are among T1’s defining recipes that guarantee either their massive gold leads, or their ability to remain within the game despite being behind on kills.
The Six Main Win Conditions
Heading into the Grand Finals, T1 had one lingering thought in their minds. The 2022 Worlds Grand Finals in which they had narrowly lost to DRX. The opportunity to stand on the Grand Finals of League’s biggest stage is not one that comes to every player and team, much less twice in a row. In order to overcome the tragedy of last year, each of the players had much to overcome. Moreover, brand new Head Coach Im “Tom” Jae-hyeon had a crucial part to play.
Tom, The Mastermind
Since joining T1 in July, the roster has seen a marked improvement in terms of their drafting. The strengths of the team since Spring has been their unconventional drafting and uncharacteristic LCK aggression.
The former allowed for flex angles with champions that other rosters were not able to mimic. With the latter, T1 leveraged their team’s extreme mechanical edge with aggressive early game plays that led to advantages and the signature Korean late-game team-fighting and scaling.
- 36 unique champions played at Worlds 2023 by T1.
- 87% Winrate. 13W-2L.
- 5th in Average Game Time/Duration (29.6). Ranked behind GAM (7 games), BDS (4 games), JDG (13 games), and LNG (11 games). T1 played 15 games.
- 10 of 15 games were played on Red Side. T1 won 8 of them. They were also undefeated on Blue Side.
With a massive pool of champions available to T1 thanks to their flexible laners (Faker aside), T1 managed a commanding presence during the draft phase. Because of off-meta pocket picks from nearly all the laners, opponents frequently had to eat one of their own bans to narrow T1’s breadth.
More often than not as well, T1 favored the Red Side, which not only allowed them the 2nd and 3rd picks, but also afforded them the agency of responding to the opponents first pick. Red Side for T1 also gave them the final counter-pick, which they often used for top and bot lane (whose meta champion pools at this Worlds have been extremely impactful).
Zeus, The Prodigal Phenom
The young mechanical star of T1’s top lane has been dominating his competition. Despite not showcasing as massive of a champion pool as other top laners at this event, Zeus walked away with a near perfect winrate on all of his picks.
- 7 unique champions played by Zeus (Aatrox, Jayce, Yone, Rumble, Gnar, Gragas, and Gwen). 15 games played, 1 each on the last four champions. 2 each played on Jayce and Yone. 7 on Aatrox. Only champion with less than 100% winrate is Aatrox, with 71.4% (won 5 of 7 games).
- Never played Renekton or K’Sante at this event, despite both champions being ‘meta picks’ in the top lane.
- Received the counter-pick 10 times against the opponent top laner. Zeus won 8 of those matches.
Having been with T1 since 2021, Zeus has truly blossomed this Worlds 2023 into a world-class talent that stands at the top. His aggressive playstyle and penchant for carry top laners worked well at this Worlds meta. As noted, he received the counter-pick opportunity 10 times and made great use of it to utilize a wide-range of counters against the meta-top lane picks.
Oner, The Pathing Seer
T1’s jungler was not having a good 2023. Having been on the receiving end of most of the team’s fan’s criticism, on top of being their poorest performer on paper, he was far from most people’s top pick coming into Worlds. Despite all that, his form improved massively to such a degree that by the end, he was rated as the best jungler of Worlds 2023.
- 7 unique champions played by Oner (Jarvan IV, Rell, Lee Sin, Sejuani, Poppy, Maokai, and Nocturne). 15 games played, 1 each on the last four champions. 2 on Lee Sin. 4 on Rell and 5 on Jarvan IV. 100% winrate on 5 champions. 0% on Maokai and 80% on Jarvan.
- Never played Vi despite the champion being a high priority ‘meta pick’ in the jungle.
- 83.4% Kill Participation. Out of 210 kills.
- 66.7% First Blood Participation. And 0% First Blood victim.
At Worlds 2023, Oner truly showcased his magnificence on utility champions such as Rell and Jarvan IV. While he was still incredible on carry junglers such as Lee Sin or Bel’Veth, he showed infinitely greater range and talent for engaging on tankier utility junglers. On those picks, he managed to score incredibly high in both kill participation and first bloods.
Faker, The Playmaker
The greatest to ever do it, Faker, was having difficulties in 2023. After a strong start to the year with the team, Faker found himself having to step down temporarily due to a hand and wrist injury. During that time, T1’s form inexplicably plummeted without the famed mid laner. Thankfully Faker returned just in time to lead T1 through the LCK Playoffs and then Worlds.
- 5 unique champions played by Faker (Orianna, Azir, Sylas, Ahri, and Akali). 15 games played, 1 each on the last two champions. 3 on Sylas. 5 apiece on Azir and Orianna. 100% winrate on last three, 80% winrate on both Azir and Orianna.
- Never played Neeko, Syndra, and Jayce despite those three being high-priority ‘meta picks’ at the start of the tournament especially.
- Despite only being ahead in CS @15 46.7% of the time, Faker still ends up with a 62.8% Kill Participation and 24.4% of the Team’s Damage.
- Sacrificed lane by eating 7 Blind Picks. This was out of 15 games, and in addition to his smaller, more concentrated champion pool, allowed the rest of T1 to go crazy on the draft picks and have more counter-picks.
One of the key things that forged Faker into such a legendary figure, was his adaptability and ability to reforge his legacy from solely a carry performer into one of the game’s best shot-callers. Despite sacrificing his own solo lane performance in terms of attracting ganks, taking less favorable matchups and blind-picking mid lane picks most of the time, he still not only ended up even most of the time, but managed to benefit his side lanes more often than his opponent mid laners.
Gumayusi, The Rock
Solid as ever over the entire 2023, Gumayusi was perhaps the most consistent member of T1 aside from Faker. Despite the circumstances, he always seems to deliver with strong farm numbers, good damage, and a solidity and reliability of an AD Carry that could play a large number of champions.
- 11 unique champions played by Gumayusi (Varus, Xayah, Kalista, Ashe, Kai’Sa, Senna, Jinx, Nilah, Jhin, Cailtyn, and Draven). Boasts a 100% winrate on 9 of those champions. 0% on Caitlyn and Kai’Sa. Played 1 game each on the last champions. Had two games on Xayah and Kalista respectively and 3 on Varus.
- Ahead in CS @15 66.7% of the time. This reflects a lane dominance alongside his lane partner Keria for most of Worlds.
- 1st in KDA (10.6). The 2nd highest ADC, Peyz, clocked in at 6.8, making Gumayusi’s performance all the more impressive.
- 13th in Kill Share (26.7%). This translates to a player’s percentage of their team’s total kills.
As can be seen from the stats, not only did Gumayusi show incredible champion pool breadth, he also showcased solid performances on his higher play-rate champions, reflecting his versatility. He also has the most number of unique champions played of all T1 members. The other three (not accounting for Faker are all tied at 7).
Moreover, while he flexed all these different champions picks, he also posted first in KDA across the whole tournament in comparison to all other ADCs. An extra bonus statistic, is that while Gumayusi had the best KDA of all the ADCs, he wasn’t even close to the highest in terms of kill share. Some ADCs even had Kill Shares as high as 46.6% (Aiming) and 41.3% (Hans Sama). While this can be seen as Gumayusi being less active compared to other ADCs in participation, it also shows that he did not have to.
Keria, The Trailblazer
Ever the experimentalist, Keria is certainly T1’s secret deadly weapon. Having redefined the meta mid-Worlds, and secured strong Red Side performances for T1 by allowing the team to pick strong counter-picks on the bot-side, his presence exerted tremendous pressure on the draft phase.
- 7 unique champions played by Keria (Renata, Bard, Tahm Kench, Ashe, Alistar, Senna, and Rakan). 100% winrate on 5 of them. 50% on Ashe. 0% on Alistar. 1 game played on each of the last three champions. Ashe and Tahm Kench was played 2 times, Bard 3 times. Renata was his most played with 5 games.
- 8 ADCs picked as Support Champions (in 2023). This includes Xayah, Twitch, Varus, Jhin, Senna, Caitlyn, Kalista, and Ashe.
- 3rd in Kill Participation (75.7%). Mikyx (77.2%) and MISSING (77.2%) ended above Keria.
- 3rd in Average Wards placed/m (2.09). Mikyx again ranked 1st with 2.22 and ON was 2nd with 2.17.
While his champion presence at Worlds 2023 directly may not look extremely out of the ordinary, the body of work that Keria produced over 2023 was what led to the massive favor for T1 heading into the draft phase of late Worlds 2023. Because he, along with Beryl, were pioneers of this style of Support in 2023, T1 was able to disguise Gumayusi’ pick better than any other team.
This is all in addition to Keria’s aggressive warding and kill participation, leading to powerful bot side performances, with or without Oner. His pocket picks or Bard and Renata proved deadly enough that some teams even had to expend bans on Keria.
These six are the primary win conditions for that led to T1’s victory. Of course there was a massive staff and a lot of support behind them, but it was ultimately the peak performance of these six individuals that lead to T1’s 4th Worlds title.
Plenty of factors, both statistically and intangibles led to T1 earning their 4th title as an organization (and Faker) and the 1st Worlds title for four of their players. However, as we sit back and appreciate the grandiosity of T1’s victory and Faker’s legacy, hopefully this piece allows the more skeptical to visualize how it was that T1’s victory came about.
Credit: Liu YiCun/Riot Games