The third round of the 2023 LCK Spring Split Playoffs is just around the corner, and the excitement and anticipation among fans continue to rise. The new playoffs format brought much more games for the fans to watch with the double-elimination system finally implemented.
After the clashes in Round 2, T1 and Gen.G will face off in the winner's bracket, while KT Rolster and Hanwha Life Esports will battle for redemption in the loser’s bracket. The T1 vs. Gen.G winner will head straight to the finals, and the loser will fight one more time against the winner of KT Rolster vs. Hanwha Life Esports. The last loser’s bracket match will be held on Apr. 8, leading up to the grand finals the next day on Apr. 9.
As many fans are eager for the upcoming two series, here is a glimpse of some key points of the matches.
KT Rolster vs. Hanwha Life Esports
KT Rolster had a roller-coaster season as they started off low and climbed their way up. By the end of the first round, they were only 5-4, and they fell as far as 6th place in week 6. However, they won six consecutive matches afterward to clinch 3rd place for a spot in the playoffs.
Keeping their momentum, KT Rolster smashed through Liiv SANDBOX in the first round of the playoffs. In the second round, KT Rolster failed to defeat T1, but they showed that they had what it takes to compete for the championship by taking them into game 5.
On the other side, Hanwha Life Esports showed their clutch ability in the playoffs against Dplus KIA. Clutch plays came from everywhere as they upset Dplus KIA to advance to the 2nd round. In their match against Gen.G, however, Hanwha Life Esports was back to their form in the regular season.
In the previous round, KT Rolster pushed T1 to the edge of the cliff before the game was turned around, while Hanwha Life Esports suffered a devastating loss against Gen.G, with their prime performance nowhere to be shown. So on paper, many would predict that KT Rolster would win, but Hanwha Life Esports still has some ‘big game DNA’ in their roster with three world champions.
For KT Rolster, their top laner, Kim “Kiin” Gi-in is a constant — very reliable in any situation. In the last game against T1, although they lost, Kiin had a great performance playing Jayce, pushing Choi “Zeus” Woo-je’s Gnar back as he went up 5/0/0 early on. His Jax performance is one of the best — his only loss playing Jax in the spring was in the playoffs against T1.
Kiin is often recognized as a player who can’t be stopped with champion bans, as he has one of the widest champion pools in the league. In the playoffs, he played six champions over nine games, including Urgot, which he picks from time to time in best-of matches.
Facing Kiin, Hanwha Life Esports top laner Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon is one of the players that step up when it is most important. He won the MVP in last year’s world championship finals, and he showed a marvelous performance against Dplus KIA. Even when they struggled the loss against Gen.G, Kingen’s performance was solid like a rock.
One small flaw for Kingen is that he isn’t as prominent when he plays damage champions. This means that if his main tank champion picks are banned, he is less of a threat. To overcome this situation, Kingen would much need the support of his teammates.
On paper, KT Rolster may be the favorite in this match, as they came extremely close to defeating the heavy favorites, T1, in Round 2. Although their winning streak was stopped by T1, they were one play short of moving on to the winner’s bracket, and their eyes are still on the championship trophy and a ticket to MSI 2023.
However, Hanwha Life Esports still has what it takes to make the match interesting, especially when they’re considered the underdogs. Their performance during the regular season and playoffs Round 2 may not have been the best, but you need to remember they were the only team that took down T1 this season.
T1 vs. Gen.G
Not much needs to be explained about T1 this season. They were like last year when they won the spring split season with an undefeated record. It’s just that they have one loss this time. This season, the whole T1 team was voted onto the All-LCK First Team, a feat that has never been accomplished before. All of the players stepped up to show what’s needed to be considered the best team in the world.
Gen.G entered the season with a small question mark on their team, as their bot duo didn’t have much experience. In fact, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok was the only person to pick Gen.G as the favorite. However, Gen.G prevailed throughout the season, clinching 2nd place and a bye to the 2nd round of the playoffs. They defeated Hanwha Life Esports without sweat to advance to the winner’s bracket.
During the regular season, T1 defeated Gen.G in both matches they played, but Gen.G always gave a good fight. Nearly all of the games went past the 35-minute mark, which is much longer than T1’s average game time this season. Whichever the game goes, fans are in for a great series.
The regular season of the 2023 LCK Spring Split can be summed up with one name, Keria. Ryu “Keria” Min-seok had a phenomenal season, as he swept all awards by being named the Player of the Split, MVP, and All-LCK First Team. He was the pioneer of the marksman support meta and played picks that only he could play properly. Whenever the meta shifted, Keria was at the vanguard, experimenting with new champions and having success with them.
Keria is always great with the conventional picks, and he has the ability to turn any off-meta pick into a viable support champion. After all the tears he shed after the Worlds finals last year, he is determined to take everything.
Facing the experienced bot duo, Gen.G’s rookie bot duo may struggle a bit, although they managed to pull close to even during the clashes in the regular season. However, it is true that they are slightly behind, and they’ll need the help of their ace, Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon, to step up.
Over his career, Chovy has lost all but one best-of series against Faker, which was their last matchup in the 2022 LCK Summer Finals. Since his debut, Chovy has been considered one of the best mid laners in the world, with flashy plays and great performances. He’s already a veteran in the league with many achievements, but he’ll still need to step above his ultimate obstacle in Faker, especially in this match, where Gen.G is unfavored in most roles.
The whole T1 team has been stronger than ever this season, and they will continue to work to prove themselves. As the All-LCK First Team faces Gen.G, T1 is the obvious favorite. As Faker said, “Overcoming ourselves was the most difficult part” after their win against KT Rolster, and this would most likely be the case against Gen.G as well.
On the other hand, Gen.G also has a strong team, and they had great performances all season long. The rookie bot duo played better than expected, and the top side carried the team out of pinches time after time. Like T1, they have a good combination of young players with potential and veteran players. Among the LCK teams, Gen.G has the best chance of taking T1 down.