T1 - Bowed, beaten, but still impressive
Understandably reserved but remarkably well composed, T1 was the first to talk to the media after the series. It started, as it often does, with a question about what went wrong:
“I think it was the little things that were left to be desired, and they ended up deciding the result of the series,” coach Stardust said.
One of the little things that did go T1’s way, though, was Keria’s Zilean pick. When asked about how long he’d been preparing for it, he said, “When I saw the bracket, I was 100% sure we’d be facing DWG KIA, so even before the Hanwha Life Esports series, we were preparing the Zilean pick.”
As for the strengths of Zilean, Keria was careful to say, “I don’t think he’s blind pickable,” but rather that “Zliean is a pick that is used to counter the opponent's comp. It’s especially good when your own comp has short range but hyper-carry champions.”
Keria also weighed in on his improvement from the performance at last year’s Worlds. “Last year, we got stomped in the quarters by Damwon,” he said, referring to his time on DRX, “but this time around, we caught up a lot, so I feel happy about that.”
Faker was next up to answer about his feelings on coming so close but being so far from beating DWG KIA. “I expected this match would not be easy for us, but today our players played even better than I expected, so we were so close to winning the series. It was frustrating on my end that I lost concentration in the middle [of the series], so I’m not satisfied with the result, but I hope and I’m sure that something better will happen in the future.”
Rookie jungler Oner commented on “earning a lot of experience” at Worlds as his biggest takeaway from the tournament before going in-depth on his matchup against DK’s Canyon. “I’ve always thought that Canyon is the best jungler in the world,” he started, “and in the semis, I think he played way better than me - especially in game one. I was so nervous I wasn’t able to perform well, but heading into game number two, I was feeling a lot more comfortable, and I started to come online, so I’m slightly satisfied in that way?” Oner clarified shortly after: “I’m close to being satisfied with my own performance today.”
Given the context of Oner prizing the experience gained at worlds, towards the end of the press conference, the T1 jungler was asked whether his lack of experience prior to Worlds hurt the team against DK. “I do agree that I lack experience in comparison to the DWG KIA players,” Oner admitted, “but at the same time, because I farmed a lot of exp this time around, maybe next time I can get revenge in the rematch.”
It wasn’t just Oner getting asked to evaluate his Worlds debut; Gumayusi was asked a similar question. “I think I was only able to show about 60% of my potential, so I’m very bummed,” he lamented, “but compared to the beginning of Spring Split, I've made a lot of improvements, so I’m really proud.” As for his biggest takeaway from Worlds, Gumayusi said it was “spending quality time with great teammates and playing great quality matches, and getting all the experience on stage together. My goal for next year or in the future is beating Damwon KIA on the big stage once again, and I will also keep working hard to improve myself.”
Faker also got grilled on his longevity as a player and how he’s been able to maintain such impressive form over the years. “I think it’s very important to always think about how to improve and you can play better. Also, being part of T1 with great teammates and coaching staff, alongside support from the team has really helped me always perform well.”
The topic got broached again later in the press conference, with Faker asked to reflect on the changes he’s gone through from being a debut rookie at Worlds in 2013 to being a veteran and leader of rookies in 2021. “Because I’m the oldest player on the team,” Faker began, “I feel this responsibility to always behave well, and I also think I have to play well. Also, now that I’m the oldest player on the team, I feel there’s something of a generation gap between me and the younger players.”
Another veteran player on the roster, Keria, was also asked about his perspective on working with such a young roster and how much they’d learned from Faker and this Worlds run. “Faker, not only the way he plays the game, but also how he acts in real life, is always exemplary, so I try to learn a lot from him. And also throughout this Worlds, we really gave it our all, and we were working so hard, so throughout this process, we’ve learned a lot as a team.” Keria answered.
Inevitably, Faker got asked about how it felt to lose to former long-time coach kk0ma, and whether he had any words to say to him. “I lost to him the entire year, so I really wanted to get my revenge this time around. It’s a bummer that I lost again, so I really hope I can beat him the next time we face off.”
In a bit of a tangent, Stardust and Moment were asked about their opinions on whether western teams were at an unfair disadvantage with the current structure in place around competitive League of Legends - a topic C9’s Mithy brought up after their loss to Gen.G, where he called out the west’s geographical difficulties in scrimming foreign leagues where LCK has LPL and others in scrimmable distance.
Stardust weighed in first, saying, “I know this because I was actually in NA before; apart from the solo queue ping being high, I don’t think it’s appropriate to blame their shortcomings on their environment. If a team like G2, a team that’s been performing well for a long time, starts blaming their environment for their recent shortcomings, it kind of makes sense. If not, I think the right thing to do is to find the flaws within themselves." Moment concurred, saying, “Personally, becoming better as a team has nothing to do with how well other teams play, as long as you start fixing the mistakes in your own gameplay.”
As for how it was preparing such a young squad to take on the international stage? Surprisingly easy, according to Stardust. “A lot of people wrongly assume that younger players will struggle because they lack experience, and that’s a challenge to overcome. I actually think rookies have that youthful fire and zeal; they are always very bold."
He further added, "Sometimes they do even better than veterans, so I’ve never run into any issues regarding rookie players on that front - they are always willing to forge ahead, so thanks to that we were able to have great synergy and teamwork. I used to be a pro player myself, so I know the mindset: every player is always focussed on their current match or tournament, and once that’s done they move onto focussing on the next match.”
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Featured image courtesy of Riot Games and Getty Images.