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Since finishing the 2021 Mid-Seasonal Invitational in 2nd place and going on to finish the Summer split of the LCK that year in 1st place, Dplus Kia has experienced a slight skid in form starting in 2022. On the other hand, T-1 has been highly consistent over the last two to three years.
They finished the LCK Spring Split in 1st place and placed second in the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational, the 2022 LCK Summer Split, the 2022 World Championship, and the 2023 LCK Spring Split. T1 also ended its 2023 Mid-Season Invitational effort in third place, putting them in an overall strong position to capitalize on the momentum they have built up over the last few seasons.
The current season of the LCK is proving to be a one-sided spectacle of dominance. Top-placed teams KT Rolster and Gen. G Esports have seemingly broken away from the rest of the pack with a combined match record of 33-3, a performance so strong that one of the two teams winning the season is a foregone conclusion. With that said, the mid-pack teams that emerged from the group stages are highly competitive.
Dplus KIA has a record of 11-7, T1 has a record of 9-9, and the third-placed Hanwha Life Esports has a record of 12-6. Teams placed 6th to 10th have more losses than wins, indicating that there are clearly defined levels to the competitiveness of the teams in the LCK.
Dplus KIA currently sits in fourth place in overall group stage standings. While it remains to be seen whether their performances foreshadow a major upset, they’re going up against T1, who are former world champions and have been performing at the highest level of competitive League of Legends for the better part of the last decade. We think it will be a close fight, but we have T1 finding a way to emerge on top.
T1’s shaky form could be attributed to the changes to the squad brought on by the arrival and subsequent departure of Poby less than a month later. During the shakeup caused by Poby, T1 also lost their head coach, Bengi, who was replaced by Tom, who was previously serving as a coach.
Previously known as DAMWON Gaming, the team rebranded itself to become Dplus for the 2023 season, eventually adding KIA as a suffix due to its sponsorship deal with the brand. While their last LCK win in 2021 is no mean feat, we don’t think it will be enough to overcome the strategic might of T1, especially with their current run of form.
Dplus KIA will be keen to keep their winning form going. As the fourth-placed team from the group stage going up against the fifth-placed T1, they are likely to be confident and will be out to prove a point against their opponents, against whom they already hold a win. Employing a game plan built around the tactics they used to beat T1 once already, Dplus can win the upset - but will they be able to perform under pressure?
For Dplus KIA to win, their key to success will be to find some momentum early and avalanche their way to victory. In the current season, their win rate when ahead at 15 minutes is an astonishing 95.5% - when Dplus KIA gets going, there’s almost no stopping them.
Despite their tendency to break away to victory, the team has drawn first blood only 47.5% of the time, with 13.1 kills and 10.7 deaths per game. On the economy front, Dplus KIA have acquired 1859 gold Per Minute and established the first tower in 45% of their maps. When playing as the blue side, the team has won 14 maps and lost 9, while in comparison, they have won 10 and lost 7 while playing red. Dplus KIA player Canyon is currently leading the MVP standings with 12 MVPs awarded for a total of 1200 points.
While their 50% win record might not seem to be on par with Dplus KIA’s group stage performances, it would be unwise to write off T1 as a competitive side during the current split of the LCK.
If T1 can disrupt their opponents’ momentum in the early game and build an early lead, it might allow them to take advantage of the lack of momentum on the opposing side. During the current season, they have won 83.3% of their maps when ahead at 15 minutes, which is levels beneath Dplus KIA’s ability to steamroll their way to a win.
In the current split, T1 has an average of 11.6 kills and 11.9 deaths per game, for an average kill/death ratio of 1.6. The team’s economy stats are on par with Dplus IA, with 1860 gold per minute. They have gotten the first tower in 54.8% of all the maps that they have played.
As you can see, there’s very little separating the two teams on paper during the current season - the result of their playoff match will be determined by strategy and the players’ willingness to stick to a game plan.
With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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