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Deft and Chovy react to HLE’s quarterfinal loss to T1 at Worlds 2021

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Hanwha Life Esports’ (HLE) League of Legends Worlds 2021 campaign stuttered to a halt after a crushing 0-3 defeat against T1 in the quarterfinal round. In the team’s post-match press conference, stars Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu and Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon reacted to the disappointing result.

After bouncing back after a tough week one outing during the Worlds group stage, HLE ended second only to LPL’s Royal Never Give Up in Group C. Their qualification turned out to be the “most meaningful moment” at the tournament for Deft, according to a translated interview on Inven Global.

The joy of clinching a knockout stage berth, however, soon became tempered by the matchup against fellow Korean squad T1. In the LCK, T1 had been on an upward tear, finishing Summer playoffs as the runners-up to Damwon Gaming. T1 carried this momentum into the World Championship, topping their group with a 5-1 record.

While Hanwha perhaps weren’t predicted to emerge victorious, fans may still rightfully feel dismay over the team’s lackluster quarterfinals performance. HLE showed little grit against T1’s clinical approach to the game.

The veteran bot laner in particular struggled, though he certainly wasn’t solely to blame for the loss. Since making it to the semifinal round way back in 2014, Deft and his teams throughout the years have missed out on the elusive semis spot in his next four Worlds appearances. Coming with a unique set of pressures, executing and finding form during the knockout round proves to be a tall ask, especially on such a large stage.

“The most difficult part was closing the gap between my plays during the practice and my actual plays at the stage,” Deft expressed during the post-match interview.

HLE’s AD Carry also articulated his regrets over a play in game two of the series. Ten minutes into the match, a huge teamfight broke out in the top river near the Rift Herald. Kim “Canna” Chang-dong’s Gwen engaged aggressively and even got stunned by the opposing Renekton. Deft did his best to pour out the damage on Varus. But Gwen escaped with a  tiny sliver of health remaining, and in that fight, T1’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok drew first and second blood on Lissandra.

“Our second game could have been different if I had killed Gwen,” Deft shared. “That keeps coming up in my mind.”

Chovy, meanwhile, can pride himself in being Hanwha’s best performer that series, to no one’s surprise. But the mid laner lacked the strength to 1v9, effectively neutralized by a team of T1’s caliber. The rising star also acknowledged his counterpart, Faker, who is again showing why he continues to be regarded among the legends in the game.

I don’t think Faker made any misplays. He was great in catching chances for great plays,” Chovy said.

I feel like I’ve learned a lot by playing here. I would like to redeem [myself] and come back to this stage,” he added.

HLE Head coach Son “Kezman” Dae-young also commented on their improvement, describing it as “incredible” to have “come from nowhere last year to Worlds.” Now eliminated, the team will have to go back to the drawing board and regroup in the off-season. While Hanwha will head back to Korea, three LCK representatives remain in contention for the World Championship.