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T1 sweeps Hanwha Life, advances to Worlds 2021 semifinals

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In the all-LCK Worlds 2021 quarterfinals series, T1 showed no mercy against their Korean brethren. While we predicted T1 to beat out Hanwha Life Esports (HLE) handily, the three-time League of Legends World champions showed just how dominant they are. They destroyed HLE 3-0 in the first knockout match of the tournament to book their ticket to the semifinal rounds. Here’s a breakdown of how the sweep unfolded.

Worlds Quarterfinals: T1 3-0 HLE

Willer’s lackluster Xin Zhao performance

Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong put on a spectacular opener on Aphelios, contributing to nine of T1’s 11 kills. He combined well with Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s Orianna during explosive teamfights. Meanwhile, Moon “Oner” Hyeon-joon picked his battles well. He drew first blood on Talon, ganking top lane nearly eight minutes into the game.

This helped put Kim “Canna” Chang-dong’s lane into a stable position, while setting Park “Morgan” Gi-tae marginally behind. For such a strong champion that is expected to make big, decisive plays whether individually or in teamfights, Morgan’s Irelia couldn’t do much later on. That was perhaps the epitome of the HLE experience: their picks and bans on paper looked decent, but the players simply couldn’t execute against the well-oiled machine that was T1.

Oner’s counterpart in HLE, Kim “Willer” Jeong-hyeon had the opposite performance, going 0-5. He only contributed seven percent of Hanwha’s total damage, which is frankly very low for a champion like Xin Zhao. By the end of the game, the jungle matchup had close to a 4k gold difference, while the total gold difference stood at just under 10,000. Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon, for his part, did what he could with the burst from Zoe, but couldn’t turn the tide in HLE’s favor.

T1 was all business in the first game—and in all the games, really. They got progressively better as the series went on, while their opponents faded over time. Hanwha didn’t come close at all, and the series only slipped farther from their grasp after that.

Canna pierces needles through HLE’s hopes

T1 had an even stronger second game, closing it out in under 30 minutes. Morgan’s Renekton paled in comparison to Canna, who absolutely destroyed HLE on Gwen. T1’s top laner ended with a monstrous 6/1/4 showing. Willer again picked Xin Zhao, hoping to do a 360-turn on his game one showing. Alas, he couldn’t make much happen on the map yet again.

Chovy and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu together accounted for over 70 percent of HLE’s damage on LeBlanc and Varus. Even then, they couldn’t find any chinks in the armor. Their performance was decent at best, but they never looked to challenge the opposing LCK squad.

Effectively, Canna got ahead early, attacking a much too squishy Varus in a mid lane fight. Gwen was given way too much room to emerge from the side brush and walk right into four members of HLE. By activating armor from Hallowed Mist, he deleted close to half of Deft’s health bar with the first cast of Needlework, piercing Hanwha players to death in just a few seconds.

T1 grouped up well, with all players doing their part as evidenced by everyone’s high assist numbers. They dictated the pace of the game, snatching up all three dragons and showing impeccable macro to then grab the baron and push onwards to HLE’s base. Once T1 had the game in their grasp, they never let go until the nexus finally exploded.

T1 leaves no room for doubt

The final game of the series was just as lopsided as the first two. In fact, T1 showed up with even more dominance, claiming 16 kills and allowing just one death. Willer finally switched his champion pick, opting for Olaf this time. But it did not do him any favors, as HLE’s jungler went kill-less yet again at 0-4.

On the other side, Oner went back to his Talon pick, putting up yet another monstrous performance. He finished the game at 4/0/10 and had over 4k gold more than his counterpart. But the star of the show was Gumayusi, who went 7/0/5 on Aphelios and built up a 7k gold lead. With 333 CS, T1’s AD Carry was just a couple shy of pulling a flame horizon over Deft. Deft and Chovy ran it back with the Varus and LeBlanc picks, but they went quiet again this match.

Perhaps the epitome of HLE’s uninspiring showing was captured in one mid-game moment. Oner chased after Chovy, swirling his blades until the LeBlanc’s health bar was blinking red. But some quick maneuvers, and with help from a blast cone between Blue Buff and wolves, Hanwha’s mid laner slipped away from Talon’s grasp.

The LeBlanc sneaked up towards baron then turned back into his own jungle, hoping to be safe. But while Canna’s Gnar chased him downwards, it was a Thresh hook over the Blue Buff wall from Ryu “Keria” Min-seok that had slain Chovy. Throughout the whole series, HLE simply looked incoherent, leaving their stronger players alone to get smashed in such fashion.

Just like the first two games, T1 ended with a baron push right to the heart of Hanwha’s base, securing yet another Worlds semifinals berth. The former World Champions will now await the winner between Damwon Gaming and MAD Lions. If it unfolds in similar fashion to this series, matching our predictions for a Damwon sweep, then fans will be treated to another all-Korean clash in the next knockout round.

That LCK-EU quarterfinal series takes place on Sunday, October 24. Before then, the next matchup is slated for tomorrow between LPL teams RNG and EDG on the other side of the Worlds bracket.