5 matches that mattered most in T1's undefeated run in the LCK Spring Split
T1 has achieved the unthinkable by staying undefeated throughout the entire LCK Spring Split group stage.
It's official, T1 has entered themselves into the record books once more. The three-time Worlds champions have gone 18-0 in the LCK Spring Split group stage, playing flawlessly for the most part and staying undefeated throughout the entire spring split. Not only did they beat their previous record of 14-0 by doing one better, but T1 has also become the only team in the region to go undefeated for the entire split, not dropping a single series along the way.
And of the 18 games that T1 has played, they have won the series 2-0 11 times, showcasing just how dominant they have become over the past few months. 2021 had been a year of ups and downs for the team but ultimately, it proved to be a great learning curve for the young squad, led by the legendary Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok. The experience the team had last season of finishing fourth and second respectively during the spring and summer splits before a semifinal exit at Worlds 2021 just goes to show how one bounces back from adversity.
T1 has been flying since the start of this season's spring split and are now within a shout of making it to the Mid-Season Invitational 2022, which is also rumoured to be happening in South Korea. Their last appearance at MSI was back in 2019 when they also went out in the semifinals where they lost to the eventual winners, G2 Esports. They are now in the playoffs alongside five other teams with only one making it to the first international event of the year.
The boys in red will await in the semifinals for the victors of the quarterfinal match-up between DWG.KIA and BRION Esports, a team making its debut in the LCK playoffs. In the other half of the bracket, you have Gen.G Esports awaiting in the other semifinal for the victor between DRX and Kwangdong Freecs. Having beaten both teams twice during the group stages at 2-1 and 2-0, T1 will be relishing the chance of making it to the finals of the LCK playoffs and hoping to claim their eighth split title.
It's almost unheard of for a team in the LCK to go undefeated for an entire split, let alone doing so with real conviction. However, T1 has now shown that they are a true force to be reckoned with. They have now staked a real claim on the Summoner's Cup, hoping to make it a fourth and to bring South Korea back onto the world stage. But getting there was no walk in the park as T1 has had to go through some real challenges to get where they are today. These are some of the games that have defined their season thus far:
DRX vs T1 - Week 2
In only the second week of the spring split, T1 was tied for the top spot with Gen.G and inched their way closer after closing out the series 2-0 against DRX and then SANDBOX Gaming after. Their match-up against DRX proved that T1 could be a worthy contender, being their first real test of the season. Both games ended before the half-hour mark with the first game featuring Faker's Tryndamere for the first time after over eight years.
Paired with the likes of Camille, Diana, Samira, and Rakan, T1 snowballed their way through the first game with much ease. In the second match of the series, Faker decided to go with Corki at the mid-lane to go along with the team composition of Fiora, Viego, Aphelios, and Gragas. It proved to be the right play as T1 maintained constant pressure on DRX while still keeping them at bay, controlling the tempo of the game and making it look easy.
DWG.KIA vs T1 - Week 3
DWG.KIA versus T1 has been a highly anticipated series for the last couple of years with the Worlds 2020 winners dominating the three-time champs numerous times last year. However, 2022 has been a different story for both teams. T1 stuck with the same roster and are now reaping the rewards whilst DWG made major changes, which has resulted in them dropping down the LCK rankings. Their first match-up on the third week was the start of T1's reign over the LCK Spring Split once more and they kicked things off against the perfect rival.
The first match of the series was a 55-minute nailbiter that left many on the edge of their seats. It was a highly contested affair as both teams did not back down from a fight if it came their way. However, there could only be one winner and it was DWG who struck first blood after numerous onslaughts onto T1's base before throwing in the towel. Needing a response in game two, T1 did just that by taking total control of the game from the get-go, not giving DWG any room to breathe while completing their objectives with ease. The game ended in just under 30 minutes; a very different performance from T1 this round.
With the series now tied, DWG started on the offensive for the third game, finding key pickoffs from T1 and disrupting their flow of the game. Unfortunately, their hyper-aggression did not pay off as T1 was ready for it and fended them off on multiple occasions. It soon went from bad to worse as T1 grew more into the game and so did their confidence, which gave them the edge to see out the game.
T1 vs DWG.KIA - Week 6
The reverse fixture between T1 and DWG was something both sets of fans were looking forward to. DWG fans were hoping their team could get revenge after that 2-1 loss three weeks earlier. Meanwhile, T1 fans knew a win would secure their team a slot in the playoffs. DWG had been struggling to find a playstyle that suits the team and T1 took full advantage in both games. They were ruthless and clinical from start to finish, ending the game with an incisive backdoor play to claim the first game.
However, the second game was much less one-sided with DWG giving T1 a run for their money once more. T1 took the lead early before DWG caught back during the mid-game with some clean and clever plays. But the game came down to a split-second decision that decided the fate of T1's game. With DWG trying to claim the Baron to get an advantage in the late game, T1 instead rushed DWG's base to take down the Nexus. Before DWG could even react, it was already all over by then.
Kwangdong Freecs vs T1 - Week 8
Having already tied their 2015 record of going 14-0 in the previous week against KT Rolster, T1's match-up against Kwangdong Freecs was always going to be one to watch. The anticipation of a team breaking then SK Telekom T1's record was something no other organisation has been able to accomplish. Of course, leave it to T1 to break the very record they set seven years prior. While the series did go to all three games, T1 did look comfortable in both games that they won to break the record.
The first game was very much one-sided to T1 who managed to not only sneak the Baron from under KD Freecs' noses but was also capable of coming out on top in key team fights that went their way. However, KD Freecs managed to secure game two after some excellent team composition and link-up play. But it was game three that took the spotlight with T1 going all out with some ruthless execution, buying time for Lee "Gumayusi" Min-hyeong to farm to his heart's content before ending the game with total control.
T1 vs DRX - Week 9
After claiming their first meeting 2-0, T1 knew that one more series victory means that they now hold the record for being the only team in history to go the entire LCK split undefeated. Standing in their way was DRX, who were also looking for a positive result to potentially climb further up the ladder. Unfortunately for them, T1 had other plans in mind.
The first match of the series didn't see much action up until the mid-game portion with DRX striking first to gain a slight lead. However, it didn't last long with T1 clawing their way back by counter-pushing. After playing smart and baiting DRX into a few bad fights, the momentum was with T1 and they managed to pick their opponents off in their jungle before marching down the base. The second game was the complete opposite with both teams out for blood from the start but it was T1 who had the upper hand, setting the tempo early on. DRX tried to match T1's aggression but to no avail and had to tap out when they kept getting picked off in bad situations.
With the LCK Spring Split Playoffs happening this Wednesday, March 23 with DWG.KIA going up against Brion Esports. The other quarterfinal match between DRX and Kwangdong Freecs will take place on Thursday, March 24. The winners of the quarterfinal matches will have one day's rest before they go up against the semifinalists, Gen.G Esports and T1.
The semifinal matches will take place this weekend from March 26 to 27 where either DWG or Brion will face up against T1 while DRX or KD Freecs will move on to face Gen.G. The grand finals will take place the following Saturday, April 2 to determine who represents the LCK at MSI 2022.
Many are expecting DWG to take Brion out but as it stands, both teams have are currently one apiece during the group stages. It will be interesting to see who goes up against T1, who have the hot hand right now and are looking to qualify for the finals. As for DRX and KD Freecs, the former holds the advantage having claimed victory against them on two occasions this season. It will be an interesting week ahead full of exciting matches; don't forget to tune in!