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T1 will be gunning for gold after getting narrowly edged out in the Summer 2022 final
DWG KIA look forward to their comeback season with a strengthened roster
Hanwha Life Esports have a chance of breaking through and earning their first significant LCK win
Gen. G Gaming are dark horse picks, with high-stakes wins over favorites T1
The LoL Champions Korea - or LCK - Spring 2023 season is set to kick off in the first quarter of 2023. The 17th LCK Season is the first of three that will take place over the calendar year. The LCK Spring Season is a Korean regional League of Legends tournament that grants the winner of ten competing teams the opportunity to compete at the Mid Seasonal Invitationals taking place later in the year.
Our first pick for the first LCK season of 2023 is T1. Owned and operated by T1 Entertainment & Sports, T1 have been a mainstay in the Korean League of Legends circuits since 2012. They have been rubbing shoulders with the highest-rated S-Tier teams for over ten years.
T1 were originally called SK Telecom T1 or SKT, back when they won back-to-back world titles in 2015 and 2016. Today, they're known as just T1 and are currently ranked 1st in the world.
Our second pick for LCK Spring 2023 are DWG KIA. Also known as DAMWON Gaming, DWG KIA is a Korean esports organization that was formed in 2017. It took them two years to make it to the LCK in 2017, where they placed 4th in only their debut season.
DWG KIA are in their best form since winning the 2020 World Championship. In their last outing at the LCK Spring in 2022, they came in third. This time around, the team looks poised to make a strong run for the World Championship in 2023.
In the Spring 2022 edition of the LCK, T1 had a win rate of 84%, with 36 wins and seven losses out of 43 games. At the end of LCK Spring 2022, T1 had cleaned out the competition. They won the group stage 18–0 and went through to the semifinals directly. In their semifinal game against Freecs, T1 registered another 3-0 sweep to enter the finals as favorites to win the season.
This would prove to be true despite the strong fight from Gen. G Esports, who gave T1 their first loss of a round of the entire tournament. However, the effort would prove to be for nothing, as T1 would go on to win the finals of LCK Spring 2022 with a 3-1 Tally.
T1 players also took home six out of eight tournament awards. Keria won the Regular Season MVP. Canyon won the player of the split. One was the MVP of the finals, while Zeus, Canyon, Faker, Gumayusi, and Keria would win the All-LCK First Team award alongside two members of DAMWON Gaming.
Zeus is a player to watch out for in this upcoming season, with a kill percentage of 53.1%. Based on his current form, we expect him to replace Keria as tournament MVP should they emulate the last Spring Season performance.
DWG KIA finished the LCK Spring 2022 in 3rd place. In the subsequent season, they could not improve their performance and ended up in 4th place. However, they were quick to bounce back by winning the LCK Regional Finals 2022 and landing 5th - 8th palace in the 2022 World Championship.
With an 11-7 finish in the group stage, DWG KIA entered the quarter-finals as favorites against Brion Esports and won a 3-0 sweep to advance. In the semifinals, they fought a closely contested game against Gen. G Esports and lost 3-2.
However, their performances in the LCK Regional Finals and 2022 World Championship are their most noteworthy accomplishments of the last year. DWG KIA won the tournament by beating an in-form DRX and secured a spot in the Worlds 2022 Group Stage.
As luck would have it, they would face Gen. G Esports at another crucial moment during the Worlds and lose 3-2 yet again. However, their consistent and nearly tournament-winning form over the last few seasons has us convinced that they will be a close second favorite in LEC Spring 2023.
On November 23, 2022, star player Canna joined the ranks of DWG KIA after an extremely successful run as Toplaer for K1 during the 2021 season. We are excited to see the pairing of the newcomer in Canna with the team veteran in Canyon as they play their first games on the same side after spending a few seasons as close rivals.
If you’ve been following the Korean LoL scene, you might wonder why DRX isn’t on our list of favorites or outside picks. Despite winning the 2022 World Championship, DRX received two losses against our first outside pick, Hanwha Life Esports.
In their last major tournament, LCK Summer 2022, Hanwha Life Esports finished only in 10th place, despite beating surging favorites DRX. They finished 10th in LCK Spring 2022 as well.
2022 was a relatively less intense year for Hanwha Life Esports as they participated only in the two LCK Tournaments. However, in the year prior, the team had a string of strong finishes, like 5th to 8th in the 2021 World Championship, 2nd in the 2021 LCK Regional Finals, and 8th in LCK Summer 2021.
We have Hanwha as an outside pick, thanks to their upset victories against DRX and their history of finishing in the top 10 of LCK tournaments.
The only team to have shaken T1’s dominance in the LCK tournament series is Gen. G Gaming. In fact, the two teams have held up the last six editions of the LCK, going back to the third year of the tournament in 2020. Gen.
G Gaming can be a dark horse pick due to the fact that they are one of the two teams who have made it to the finals of every LCK season since 2020.
In the Summer 2022 season, Gen. G Gaming soundly beat T1 with a 3-0 tally after losing 1-3 to them in the Spring 2022 season. The team has also had a strong showing in the World Championships, finishing 3rd-4th in 2022 and 2021. Y
You might wonder why they are our outside pick and not a favorite going into Spring 2023. November 2022 was a turbulent time for the team. Ruler, Youngjae, and Lehends left the team for greener pastures.
Peyz and Delight soon joined the team as Botlaner and Support, respectively, but how well the new players work with the team remains a mystery. This unknown factor is something to bear in mind before you bet big on T1’s biggest tournament rival in the LCK series.
T1 should be anyone’s favorite in Spring 2023, as they have been a fixed entity in every final since 2020. Since they lost the final of LCK Summer 2022 to Gen G. Gaming, expect some fireworks if the two teams encounter each other during the group stages. It’s also important to remember that they were also narrowly beaten to the 2022 World Championship by DRX.
DWG KIA is going into 2023 as a well-rested team that didn’t see a lot of action in 2022. The string of new additions to their team in the form of Canna, Acorn, Deft, and GorillA are sure to have an impact on their performance in the upcoming tournament.
Their new roster consists of players who have won world championships and hold several LCK titles between themselves, making DWG KIA a safe pick for the tournament.
Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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