MSI 2023: SK Telecom T1 v Bilibili Gaming series recap
It was a battle of the LCK and LPL's second seeds in the loser's bracket final today.
It was a clash of styles in the MSI loser's bracket final today, as the aggressive team fighting style of the LPL's second seed, Bilibili Gaming, took on the LCK's masters of macro play, SK Telecom T1.
The game initially looked promising for T1, with skirmishes breaking out all over the map in the early stages, but objectives going their way more often than not. Into the mid game, Elk started to accelerate due to the amount of kills BLG had funnelled into the ADC, and teamfighting into the later stages of the game became a difficult task. Xun had also built a substantial lead over Oner, and was able to use Viego's mobility to find consistent and creative flanks in team fights. Both teams played heavily for Dragons, but the Ocean Soul was claimed by Oner with a well-timed steal. An overzealous push after converting this advantage into a Baron buff was T1's undoing, however, as a shock triple kill for Elk was just enough for BLG to rip into T1's nexus.
An early five man invade set BLG up for success in game two, setting Xun and Elk ahead of their counterparts. Overaggression from BLG was punished by T1, particularly from Xun and Yagao, but stacking Dragons meant that the impact of any mistakes was limited, and even Bin was able to come back into the game and solo kill Zeus after an early lane deficit. Into the late game, BLG felt firmly in control despite an even gold state in the game, and T1's failure to capitalise on BLG splitting between Baron and Dragon Soul bought Xun enough time to deal the death blow to their hopes of winning this game with an ace secured around Baron, the objective itself, and T1's base in tatters at the hands of BLG.
During the laning phase, Yagao and Bin swapped opponents, but T1 still came out better in early trades. An early steal of Dragon by Oner set the tone for T1, who stacked them relentlessly, acing BLG around the dragon pit as they claimed Soul Point. Mountain Soul was secured cleanly for T1, and was converted into a Baron buff. Leveraging pressure was the name of the game, and with BLG's base under threat T1 were able to take the Elder Dragon and Baron buffs at the same time and wear down BLG's base and members for the win to come back into the series.
An aggressive start to the game for both teams eventually saw BLG pull ahead, after a counter gank gave Xun two kills and secured the first Dragon in their favour. Xun was everywhere on the map, and BLG as a whole tunnel-visioned on a one-four style of play, stacking Dragons whilst Bin scaled and split pushed. Things seemed impossible for T1 after the Infernal Soul went in favour of their opposition, but they managed to claw a route back into the game when they secured the Elder Dragon. BLG showcased a rare display of patience, waiting out this window and keeping damage to a minimum. The pressure was back in BLG's favour when they secured the Baron, and a desperate fight around the second Elder Dragon led to T1 being aced and losing the series three to one.
Tomorrow, the rising underdogs Bilibili Gaming will go on to face JD Gaming - the team who stand at the top of their home region, China's LPL. Will their momentum and aggressive teamfighting enable them to complete their Cinderella story and lift the MSI 2023 trophy? We'll be bringing you all the action live from the Copper Box Arena tomorrow.