T1 took down JD Gaming 3-1 in the semifinals of the 2023 League of Legends World Championship to return to the Grand Finals for the second consecutive year. Of course, this result will hand the team yet another chance to win their fourth Worlds title after last winning it in 2016.
Undoubtedly, there was plenty of anticipation for this encounter, in particular given the high stakes that surrounded it, which concerned both teams. For JDG, defeating T1 meant taking another step towards completing the ever-elusive “Golden Road,” which no one has done before throughout the game’s history; and as for T1, defeating JDG would send them to the finals for the sixth time and move them one step closer towards finally restoring their status as the best team in the world.
And as the semifinal encounter transpired, which served as a rematch from MSI 2023 and Worlds 2022, it was T1 that came out on top. Despite losing Game 2, T1 managed to rebound, taking the next two games to close the series and clinch a spot in the Finals to face WBG in a week's time.
One of the biggest contributors towards making the result possible for T1 was support Ryu "Keria" Min-seok, who put up an 8/10/46 total KDA through all four games to return to the Finals and have a shot at redemption after losing to DRX last year.
Following the semifinal affair against JDG, Keria spoke with BLIX about the result as well as T1’s journey to the Finals in Worlds 2023.
Taking down JDG
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Keria, and congratulations on reaching the Grand Finals of Worlds 2023. It's the second consecutive time that you've made it to this point so I just want to start off by asking what's going through your mind right now with this accomplishment now setting in.
Ryu "Keria" Min-seok: I'm really glad that I made it to the finals again and I really want to win this time.
BLIX: JDG is a team that not many would see as an easy opponent, but you guys have made it as such throughout this series. Given that it's a team that you guys previously faced back in MSI, what are some of the biggest takeaways that you made from that series and also in observing them throughout this tournament that you then put into use for this series?
Keria: JDG's strength was actually Kanavi's [Seo Jin-hyeok] small team fights that he leads, which goes to a snowball, so we were trying to ban his main champs and it worked out well. And I think we had a better understanding when it comes to the current meta.
BLIX: So I guess a large portion of it was just neutralizing Kanavi, correct?
Keria: Personally, I think so.
BLIX: And what about bot lane in particular? With Ruler [Park Jae-hyuk] and Missing [Lou Yun-Feng] being one of the best bot lane duos in the world, how did you and Gumayusi look into facing off against that matchup?
Keria: When it comes to professional players, I think what really matters the most for bot laners would be team composition. I think we were able to get the team compositions we preferred and it turned out well.
BLIX: Throughout this entire semifinals, we've seen teams on the blue side win their game up until Game 4 of this series. Do you think there is an advantage in playing on the blue side so far in recent times or not?
Keria: Historically, the blue side would always have a better percentage of winnings and I think that led us to have more advantages when it comes to champ selection. But even though you might end up in red, you can still do a good job because specific teams or players might prefer the red side.
T1’s journey back to the Grand Finals at Worlds
BLIX: T1 has been able to face and take down all of its LPL opponents except for WBG, which of course you guys will look to do in the Grand Finals. How have you seen the difficulty in this road in trying to get to the finals while also facing three of the four LPL teams that you faced so far?
Keria: Each LPL team has its own unique style and characteristics when it comes to gameplay, but especially for WBG, their gameplay is quite similar to T1 so we have to prepare ourselves really well. And even though we prepare, it might turn out really differently on game day so we have to be more flexible.
BLIX: And looking outwards from the series and T1's run, not many people will receive an opportunity to return to finals and be able to get the chance to win the Summoner's Cup, but you have been able to do exactly that. Given the disappointing loss in the Grand Finals last year, how much does it mean to you to return here and get that other shot to win the Summoner's Cup?
Keria: I think I have to win because it's an opportunity that I might miss forever.
BLIX: Since T1 lost Gen.G in the second round of the Swiss Stage, you guys have only dropped one game along the way to the Grand Finals and taken on a quartet of very good teams in Cloud, BLG, LNG and JDG. What made this run possible from your point of view?
Keria: I quite enjoyed the whole run. It was great. We will now just prepare ourselves well for the last week and then in the finals.
BLIX: And one more question before we wrap it up. You've talked about how you have reflected on that final last year against DRX. With that said, how are you going to personally approach this Grand Final against WBG in relation to how you have reflected throughout this entire year?
Keria: I think I learned a lot from last year's loss, so I tried to learn lessons from it. I have been practicing my routine that I learned from last year's Worlds, and it has been working pretty well, so I'll just keep doing that. And for this year's Worlds, I'll try to find something to learn from it, too.