TWO MAJOR rivals from South Korea went head-to-head in the semifinals of Worlds 2021, with T1 hoping to revive their glory days with their rookie-led roster while their foes, DAMWON Gaming, are aiming to secure back-to-back Worlds titles, which T1 last accomplished back in 2015-2016.
But ultimately, it was DAMWON Gaming who marched forward to the Grand Finals of the biggest League of Legends esports spectacle.
For DAMWON Gaming, it's ShowMaker's time to shine
Prior to the match, the midlane showdown between the rising sensation, Heo "ShowMaker" Su and the game's living legend and the so-called GOAT, Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, caught the attention of the community.
The hype got even wilder when Su said that he didn't want to be the next Faker, but rather, "the next ShowMaker."
And both were able to bask in the spotlight in the gruelling 5-game series.
ShowMaker proved in Game 1 that he was destined to be a legend in the making with his LeBlanc performance, which was highlighted in the 18th minute where he zoned out Kim "Canna" Chang-dong.
However, Faker gave his rival a lesson in Game 2 as he made crucial plays in shutting down his foe, to which ShowMaker responded with a dominant 11/0/3 KDA performance in Game 4.
T1's rookies look promising
Though T1's title hopes in 2021 are long gone, their debutantes managed to rock their foes specifically in Games 2 and 3.
Moon "Oner" Hyeon-joon made a crucial play in the 36th minute of Game 2, where he snatched the Baron in the middle of an intense teamfight, propelling his team to victory.
To top his performance, Ryu "Keria" Min-seok delivered a masterful display of his Zilean in Game 3 who completely bamboozled his foes with his clutch sustains.
But the ultimate dagger came in the 27th minute, when he provided the initiation play, which allowed his teammates to engage.
The decisive game
With both teams desperate to make history, a nailbiter was necessary to prove if DAMWON's date with destiny could topple the old guard of the League of Legends scene.
DAMWON managed to secure the early objectives by eliminating the dragons away from T1, but the latter managed to balance the scales courtesy of Canna's surprise entrance in the 22nd minute.
T1 tried their best to keep their momentum by securing the Baron in the 30th minute, but the long distance pokes from Jang "Ghost" Yong-jun's Ziggs overwhelmed T1.
Then came the clash in the 35th minute, where DAMWON secured another dragon and eliminated every member from T1, leading to their final push to the Grand Finals.
A key factor to DAMWON's turnaround
At one point, DAMWON were down 2-1 in the series, but they managed to bounce back with a dominant 18-1 performance in Game 4 and a systematic Game 5 win.
During the post-match interview, ShowMaker revealed how they managed to bounce back.
"So during our losses we where able to go through our mistakes and also our issues with the draft and after the adjustments we were able to turn the series around," said the LoL star.
During Game 5, T1 banned his signature LeBlanc, forcing him to use Zoe. This was the first time he used the hero in Worlds, Showmaker revealed.
"So I cannot tell you all the details but we were having jokes during that pick and also this was my first Zoe game at Worlds, so I was excited and I just want to play well with the champion."
Ending the interview, Su expressed his excitement in reaching the finals: "I'm very confident and I think it will all come down with how we take care of ourselves before the matchday."
And it will be interesting to see his confidence where he could face Chinese powerhouse, Edward Gaming, or another Korean contender in Gen.G.