Bilibili Gaming finished their run in the 2023 League of Legends World Championship by falling to Weibo Gaming 3-2 in the semifinals, putting an end to an otherwise impressive year for the org.
The team underwent a stretch of consecutive runner-up finishes in their first two competitions of 2023, which included MSI and the LPL Spring Split. Despite those results, when the second half of the year kicked off, BLG continued their momentum as they went on to make a 15-1 regular season record in the Summer Split before ultimately placing third in playoffs. It was yet another miss on obtaining silverware, but for BLG, it was good enough to send them to Worlds for the first time in its history.
And it was in Korea where BLG looked primed to finish their story as they were one of the prime contenders towards reaching the Grand Finals. However, a semifinal tie against the LPL’s fourth-seeded team, WBG, resulted in their elimination.
Nevertheless, having been able to compete as a major contender both domestically and on the international level, BLG can hold their heads high and build on this experience from 2023 for 2024 and beyond.
Following BLG’s semifinal against WBG, BLIX talked to ADC Zhao “Elk” Jia-Hao about how the series transpired from his point-of-view and much more.
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Elk, and commiserations on the loss to WBG. I want to start off by asking what's going through your mind with the result fresh in your mind.
Zhao "Elk" Jia-Hao: It's a pity to lose to WBG but I hope we can all get back for next year.
BLIX: When the series and you guys were returning to the backstage area, was there anything that the coaches or your teammates said about what went down in the series?
Elk: We didn't talk much after Game 5 when we walked down from the stage. We just felt very sad that we lost this series but we have to move on and congratulations to WBG for making their way to the finals. Yeah, we didn't say much but we all felt very sad.
BLIX: Going back to Game 5, which was a back-and-forth affair similar to the rest of the series, it ended in that critical team fight in mid-lane. Can you walk me through what happened from your perspective and the team's comms within that play? How did it transpire?
Elk: I think the most memorable moment of Game 5 was the Baron fight because I died at that fight and I feel it's a pity because I would have survived there. So I think this actually led to the loss in Game 5.
BLIX: There was plenty of talk in the leadup to this series in mostly around two topics: the top lane matchup featuring Bin [Chen Ze-Bin] and TheShy [Kang Seung-lok] and the bot lane. What did you feel was the biggest obstacle that you faced throughout this series?
Elk: Overall, for today's series, both our and WBG's bot lane played really well. Especially for the latter, that duo played well. We both selected multiple champions today in addition to having different compositions. I think the biggest obstacle was that they played better than us and overall, our fight in the bot lane is very fierce and it transpired as such today.
BLIX: Prior to this series, BLG was 3-0 against this iteration of WBG in 2023. What made this series different from past encounters throughout this past year?
Elk: Even though we won against them in the last several games, since we're in a really different meta, we got really different bans and picks so for today, WBG played well, especially in the team fights and the ban-pick phase. They played really well and we made a lot of mistakes today so that's why, I think, they pulled off the win.
BLIX: Despite the disappointing loss, it surely doesn't take away the accomplishments and string of performances you have shown with BLG. What's going to be the biggest takeaway from this entire year? And what is one thing that you feel you need to focus on for next year?
Elk: Especially for myself, I played a lot of games today and for this year so I gained a lot of experience in-game and out of the game especially with my mindset, so I think I will carry this for next year and become a better player.
BLIX: I remember one interview you did in MSI where you felt you were where you were supposed to be. Now that you've been able to taste international success to an extent, what does that say about your current individual level amongst the world's best ADCs?
Elk: I think, within all the ADCs in the world, I think I proved myself to be a good ADC player on the international stage. I'm very happy I showed myself on both the MSI and Worlds stage. I'm really happy I could show my skills and personality to all the fans.