One of the oldest clichés in sports is “in order to be the best, you have to beat the best,” and T1 left no questions as to which region is unequivocally the best at League of Legends right now.
On the way to the 2023 League world title, T1 took down all four teams from China’s LPL, signaling dominance in an inter-regional rivalry that’s practically as old as pro League itself. No team has ever beaten four teams from a single region during a single Worlds run, but T1 pulled off that accomplishment today with wins over Bilibili Gaming, LNG Esports, JD Gaming, and Weibo Gaming across four different stages of the tournament.
While teams in the past have clean swept certain regions out of the tournament, no team has done it quite like T1. The 2023 champions beat all four teams from China, starting with Bilibili in the Swiss stage, then beating all of the three other Chinese teams to close out their run: LNG in the quarterfinals, JDG in the semis, then finally Weibo in the grand finals. Of course, there is a bit of luck that goes along with this feat, as the bracket draw could’ve just as easily placed T1 (and their eventual opponents) against any other combination of teams from across the globe.
What definitely wasn’t luck-based, though, was that T1’s run was nearly spotless, as they only dropped one game in the knockout round and finished the tournament with an overall game record of 13-2. Beating four teams from the LPL in near-perfect fashion makes 2023 T1’s run stand out as one of the most impressive of all time.
The last team to beat every team from one region during a single League World Championship was FunPlus Phoenix in 2019, who beat all three LEC representatives—Splyce, Fnatic, and G2 Esports—that year en route to a Worlds title. No team has ever beaten four teams from a single region until today, however. Edward Gaming came close in 2021, beating three out of the four Korean teams at Worlds that year but did not play Hanwha Life in the bracket.
Moving into the 2024 offseason, it’s hard not to look at Korea as the most consistent region in the world. The LCK has won three of the first four World Championships up for grabs in the 2020s, and it’s done it with three different teams. Despite the notion that the LPL might have more depth in its lineup of teams each year—especially considering three LPL teams reached the semifinals this year—T1’s utter dominance of their rival region on the international stage is enough to tip the scales in Korea’s favor on its own.