When the League of Legends World Championship rolls around every year, there are usually three teams that the community at large considers true contenders to lift the Summoner’s Cup. Coming into Worlds 2022, those teams were JD Gaming and Top Esports -- the respective first and second representative seeds from China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) -- and Gen.G, the first seed from League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK).
T1, the LCK second seed, is very much in the conversation of contenders at Worlds 2022, but if you had told someone six months ago that they wouldn’t be considered a favorite, they would have laughed in your face -- and for good reason. In the 2022 LCK spring split, T1 went 18-0, then won the LCK summer playoffs. They didn’t lose their first match until the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational -- a best-of-one against League of Legends European Championship (LEC) representative G2 Esports.
T1 had a strong run at MSI 2022, making it all the way to the final against LPL representative Royal Never Give Up, but lost 3-2. Almost any other team would have been able to take pride in that finish, but for the domestically undefeated T1, it could only be categorized as a disappointment. In the final against RNG, as was the case throughout the tournament, T1 AD carry Lee "Gumayusi" Min-hyeong’s performance fell well below expectations.
In T1’s first game at MSI 2022, the domestically lane-dominant Gumayusi was exposed on the international stage by the bot lane of Vietnam Championship Series representative Saigon Buffalo in the 2v2 matchup. When all was said and done, T1 won the game with Gumayusi racking up 10 kills on Lucian, but he also died six times.
Gumayusi drew some friendly ribbing for his performance from T1 mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok in an interview with Inven Global, but right from his first game on the international stage, Gumayusi was under the microscope. Although Gumayusi was not the sole issue T1 had at MSI that resulted in their loss in the final to RNG, one could argue that a performance from the young AD carry that matched his domestic play could have been more than enough to send T1 over the edge and to another MSI title. Instead, he was unable to match the performance of RNG star AD carry Chen "GALA" Wei.
Photo credit: Parkes Ousley
T1 remained competitive throughout the LCK summer split, but Gumayusi failed to reclaim his dominant form from earlier in the season. His performance took another dip in the LCK summer playoffs. T1 was able to qualify for the final and Worlds 2022 in the process, but found themselves swept in the final as Gumayusi was completely outclassed by Gen.G AD carry Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk.
Leading up to the Worlds 2022 group stage, Gumayusi expressed confidence that his second time on the international stage would be nothing like the first, despite his most recent domestic performances being below expectations.
“Now that I’ve had space from that loss, I think I’ve learned a lot of things from it,” Gumayusi said. “I think I’ve improved myself.”
Gumayusi headed into Worlds with a rejuvenated mindset and a fresh perspective on international competition.
“To be honest, after that series, my confidence went really low,” Gumayusi said of the MSI 2022 final against RNG, “But as we practice more with each other and we build our great vibes back up as a team, we are recovering, so I feel really confident for our upcoming matches.”
At Worlds 2022 thus far, Gumayusi has played much better than he did in the LCK summer playoffs, but we still have yet to see the form he showed domestically this past spring. Gumaysui had the highest KDA of any AD carry in the Worlds 2022 group stage at 18.3 -- the next nearest was RNG’s GALA at 7.1. But when the best support in the world, arguably the best top laner in the world and also Faker and racking up a solid KDA, being the AD carry with those teammates is a touch easier than it might be on other teams.
Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games
This isn’t to say Gumayusi has played poorly, but there are other AD carries at Worlds 2022 simply doing more with less, and two of them are the only AD carries that have gotten the better of Gumayusi when it mattered.
Gumayusi has accounted for 29.1% of T1’s gold share -- second-highest among all AD carries at Worlds 2022 -- but he ranks seventh in team damage percentage and fifth in damage per minute. With 26.6% of RNG’s gold, GALA has dealt the third-highest damage per minute among AD carries at Worlds 2022, and with 24.7% of Gen.G’s gold, Ruler is ranked fifth in team damage percentage but tied for first amongst all AD carries in damage per minute.
For T1 to have a true shot at lifting the Summoner’s Cup at Worlds 2022, Gumayusi needs to be better than good -- he needs to be great. It is imperative for T1 that he, at the very least, can replicate the form he showed during the team’s undefeated domestic run this past spring.
On Friday, Gumayusi will start the knockout stage of Worlds 2022 with a true test: a rematch against GALA as T1 and RNG will clash in a best-of-five for the first time since the MSI final in May. T1 are stacked with talent top to bottom, so they don’t need Gumayusi to be the best player on their team to achieve their ultimate goal. They don’t even need him to be the best AD carry in the world.
But they will need more than what they’re getting from him right now.
All statistics courtesy of Oracle’s Elixir
Lead photo credit: Parkes Ousley
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