In an unexpected turn of events, T1’s young League of Legends squad managed to defeat the newly acquired veteran leadership of Hanwha Life Esports. Led by Lee “Clozer” Ju-hyeon, filling in for the legendary Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. T1’s aggressive macro play was too much for Hanwha to handle.
Coming off its biggest offseason yet as an organization, the fans’ expectations for Hanwha Life are through the roof. Bringing in Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu, Hanwha and its newly acquired stars struggled to put up respectable performances in their first series of the 2021 League of Legends season.
Meanwhile, T1, after failing to qualify for Worlds for the second time in three years, opted to start five youngsters to open up its season.
The Future of T1
It certainly is strange to watch a T1 League of Legends game without seeing Faker dominate in the mid lane, but with the organization trying out its young guns, the roster managed to find success. With Clozer at just 17 years old, Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong and Ryu “Keria” Min-seok at 18, and the rest of the team being just 20 years old, this roster represents the direction in which T1 is taking toward the future.
Fans were able to catch glimpses of this in 2020, when the organization started Clozer over Faker in some of its matches. The young mid laner showed sparks of brilliance, making crazy mechanical outplays, while also displaying his immaturity. Clozer’s overaggressive nature and his inability to show reserve held him back last year, and those same negatives appeared in this series as well. However, those qualities can be coached out, and the future remains incredibly bright for T1’s talented rising star.
After an incredibly dominant Game One, where Hanwha failed to secure even one kill, T1 got cocky and ended up dropping the second map of the series. Overaggressiveness and not respecting the immense talent of Hanwha contributed to its Game Two loss. While Hanwha’s veteranship led the team to adapt after its disastrous Game One, T1’s immaturity was showcased in Game Two.
The T1 squad bounced back for the third match, though, securing early picks and capitalizing off the mistakes of its opponents, and eventually exploding in teamfights later on to win the series.
T1’s Coordination and Macro Play
T1’s most impressive feat this series was its ability to play as a coordinated squad. It’s incredibly common for young players to be on different pages than each other, but T1’s rotations and macro play were nothing short of beautiful.
Well-executed tower dives, coordinated teamfights and general outplaying of the Hanwha members, both on a macro and micro level, led to their impressive series victory.
Ellim and T1 out-rotated Hanwha, especially in Game One, where Park “Arthur” Mi-reu failed to match Ellim, even in the slightest. T1 was able to take objectives all over the map, while Hanwha sat back without any answers.
Hanwha’s Veterans Struggling to Lead Youngsters
This was a rough series for Hanwha. Even with Deft and Chovy performing well individually, they just couldn’t lead their young teammates to victory. Not having answers seemed to be a theme for Hanwha this series. Whether it was not having answers to T1’s rotations or not having answers to its engagements, Hanwha just didn’t look well versed as a unit.
It was an especially rough series for support Oh “Vsta” Hyo-seong, who essentially acted as a training dummy for T1, as it practiced killing him for the bigger and stronger enemies of Hanwha.
Vsta and his team were just uncoordinated, engaging alone, not showing any reserve and not knowing when to go in and when not to plague the 20-year-old support. His mistakes were integral in T1 winning.
Deft and Chovy were able to find success as individuals, especially in Game Two. Hanwha looked decent in its second game, keeping control of the map throughout the match. However, its lead seemed very fragile with T1 even dipping ahead in gold.
They struggled to turn their advantages into tangible results, seemingly ignoring turrets and lane priority, and focusing solely on the dragons. Hanwha’s lanes fell behind, but T1 was unable to stall out the dragon soul, and Hanwha ended up taking a somewhat dominant victory in Game Two.
At the end of the day, it is still January and the season is only at its beginning. Hanwha has plenty of time to iron out these issues and get plenty of practice. Meanwhile, without its veterans, T1 showed incredible promise as a young squad.