A former world champion looking to regain his glory, and a young star looking to slay his grand-final demons. Will TheShy lift his second world title, or will Zeus finally overcome his problems in the grand-finals?
We are finally here, the 2023 League of Legends World Championship final. The inevitable T1 taking on the unlikely challenger in Weibo Gaming. Both teams had very different paths to get to this moment, but only one team will leave the Gocheok Sky Dome as the world champion. One of the key matchups comes in the top lane, a battle of two titans as Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok takes on Choi “Zeus” Woo-je. Similarly to their teams, both players are on very different journeys. For TheShy, this is a shot at redemption as he looks to finally return to his former glory and reach the pinnacle of League of Legends once again. For Zeus, this is an opportunity to finally slay his demons and not be labeled a “choke-artist” in the grand-finals.
Which top laner will reign supreme when the final nexus explodes? This is part one of a five-article series as ESTNN explores the grand-finals between T1 and Weibo Gaming. Going role-by-role comparing each player, as well in this article looking at both squad's road to the finals.
T1 vs Weibo: The Road To The Finals:
T1 has run the LPL gauntlet, with only Weibo Gaming standing in their way of winning their fourth World Championship – their first since their historic win at Staples Centre in 2016. T1's journey towards the Gocheok Sky Dome started in the Swiss stage. The Korean powerhouse finished the stage with a 3-1 record – their only defeat coming to LCK rivals Gen.G. Coming into what would be their final Swiss stage game against the LPL's BLG, there were doubts about the power level of T1.
The LCK's second seed had a poor showing against Team Liquid, where a more competent squad would have been able to hand them a defeat. This was followed by an expected loss against Gen.G before stomping another North American team in Cloud9. Up until that point, T1 had only defeated teams from NA, while BLG had a much harder route. Nevertheless, T1 got the job done with a calm and composed victory over the LPL's second seed.
The bracket stage was where T1 really earned their money, with two dominant performances over LNG Esports and JDG – the latter was attempting to be the first squad in League of Legends history to achieve the golden road. While some may have predicted T1 to take down LNG, no one expected it to be as convincing as it was. T1 walked away from the series with a 3-0 victory over LNG, a team that was touted as a dark horse to win the tournament and one of the strongest LPL squads. The second series versus JDG was a shock to the system and had many doubters believing their name was on the Summoners Cup. T1 was able to overcome the one strength that JDG had over the rest of the world, their impeccable team fighting skills. The former world champions ensured there was no way for JDG to stay in the game and eventually win a late-game team fight, a play that has been in their wheelhouse the entire year.
The unlikeliest challenger to the crown is Weibo Gaming. No one predicted that the grand final of Worlds 2023 would be T1 vs Weibo. A team that was touted a superteam at the start of the year, was far from that as the World Championship approached. Weibo hasn't had a bad year by any means, but the money spent and the talent acquired on this Weibo roster meant it was destined for more than scraping through to worlds as the LPL's fourth seed.
Like T1, Weibo's route to the bracket stage victories came at the hands of the West. Weibo Gaming took down NRG, MAD Lions and Fnatic. And while you can only face who is put in front of you, these squads are not exactly challengers to the thrown and Weibo dispatched these with ease. This sentiment continued into the bracket stage as Weibo Gaming once again came up against NRG, who had previously stunned the world with a clean 2-0 victory over the LEC's G2 Esports. Sadly, this was the end of the road for North America as Weibo swiftly put NRG to the sword in a clean 3-0 best-of-five.
The next best-of-five, not many saw coming, apart from Marc Robert “Caedrel” Lamont. Weibo made magic in the semi-finals, taking down fellow LPL squad BLG to reach the finals, marking a return to the finals stage for Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok and Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song who are both World Champions from their time and Invictus Gaming and FPX respectfully. This series was all about TheShy, a player once touted as arguably the best player in the world during his early days with IG. TheShy destroyed Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin, arguably the current best top laner in the world. On picks like Graves and Rumble, it was TheShy's world and we were just living in it. The South Korean star even went onto Ornn in the final game, to play around his team and allow Wang “Light” Guang-Yu the opportunity to be the star player when his team needed him most.
Zeus vs TheShy: By The Numbers
Here are the rankings for both top laners in certain stats compared to the other fourteen top laners at Worlds 2023:
- KDA: 4.3 (1st)
- GD10 (Gold Difference at 10): 101 (4th)
- XPD10 (Experience Difference at 10: 113 (4th)
- CSPM ( Creep Score Per Minute): 9.2 (1st)
- DPM (Damage Per Minute): 620 (2nd)
- DMG % (Damage Percentage): 28.4% (2nd)
- KDA: 2.7 (6th)
- GD10 (Gold Difference at 10): 212 (2nd)
- XPD10 (Experience Difference at 10: 219 (2nd)
- CSPM ( Creep Score Per Minute): 8.1 (7th)
- DPM (Damage Per Minute): 637 (1st)
- DMG % (Damage Percentage): 28.1% (3rd)