The Knockout Stage of the League of Legends (LoL) World Championship 2023 continues to deliver adrenaline and excitement in a nailbiting quarterfinal series between LoL Pro League (LPL) Champions JD Gaming and LoL Championship Korea (LCK) team KT Rolster.
Despite KT Rolster's efforts, JD Gaming prevailed against them 3-1.
JDG came into the tournament as the top contender to raise the Summoner’s Cup, setting their sights on the golden road after an impressive 2023 season, where they secured both LPL Spring and Summer championship titles and the Mid-Season Invitational title.
The LPL juggernauts swiftly made a statement at Worlds, easily qualifying for the Knockout stage after breezing through the first three rounds of the Swiss Stage after defeating BDS, and Bilibili Gaming, and defeating LNG Esports 2-1 in the third round to complete the Swiss Stage with a 3-0 record.
Meanwhile, KT Rolster went through the whole length of the Swiss Stage, first getting defeated by BLG in the first round, and then bouncing back to win against DK Plus and Weibo Gaming in the second and third round, only to face defeat once more in the fourth round in the hands of LNG 1-2. Finally, KT secured their spot at the Knockout stage after sweeping DK Plus once again in the last round of the Swiss Stage.
Here's how JDG defeated KT Rolster:
In the first game, KT Rolster went for Jax top, Sejuani jungle, Akali mid, and then Aphelios for the bot lane with an unconventional Lulu for support.
Meanwhile, JDG responded with Renekton top, Rell jungle, Orianna mid, and Zeri and Rakan in the bot lane.
KT caught JDG off guard throughout the game, finding picks as early as the laning phase, and shutting down JDG’s Seo "Kanavi" Jin-hyeok in the jungle. Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong was also effective in assassinating members of JDG in skirmishes and team fights, while Cuzz aided in turning team fights in their favour.
After a swift 29-minute encounter, KT Rolster marched down JD Gaming’s base to destroy the Nexus and win the first game with a 15-4 kill lead.
In the second game, JDG invested in more dive and crowd control, going for Neeko mid, Aatrox top, and Vi in the Jungle. They then rounded up the team composition with Jinx and Rakan in the bot lane.
Meanwhile, KT went for Renekton top, Viego in the jungle, Orianna mid, and then kept Aphelios in the bot lane, with Renata Glasc as support.
JDG were more cautious around KT in the laning phase, and were more aggressive in trying to find picks throughout the game.
Although KT tried to fight back, they struggled with a slower Orianna mid and less engage in their team composition. And in just 25 minutes, JDG sealed the game, destroying KT Rolster’s base with an 18-4 kill lead to win the second game.
In the third game, KT Rolster went back to prioritising Jax in the top lane, and taking Rell in the jungle. They then rounded out the team composition with Azir mid, Xayah in the bot lane, and Nautilus, a signature pick for Lehends as support.
Meanwhile, JDG went for short range in the bot lane with Sivir in the bot lane, paired with Rakan as support, Orianna mid, and rounding out the team comp with Aatrox top and Wukong in the jungle.
Both teams were on even footing in the laning phase, but it was a team fight at the river near the Dragon pit that gave JDG the advantage over KT Rolster, allowing them to take down BDD and Son "Lehends" Si-woo and win the map objective.
However, KT Rolster continued to fight back, punishing JDG for overextending in team fights or finding clever picks. However, in another team fight at the river, Ruler’s Sivir shredded the members of KT Rolster after a fatal mistake on the South Korean team’s end, allowing JDG to widen their gap against their opponents.
JDG once again found an opportunity in a team fight in the mid lane, finishing KT Rolster with an ace. And after a 27-minute encounter, JDG destroyed KT Rolster’s Nexus with a 13-6 kill lead.
JDG shook things up and decided to have a bit of fun with their draft in the fourth game, going for Gragas in the top lane and Lee Sin in the jungle. They then added some meta staples like Orianna mid, Kai’sa in the bot lane, along with Rakan as support.
Meanwhile, KT Rolster stuck to what they thought worked, going back to Xayah in the bot lane, supported by Lulu, Jax top, Vi in the jungle, and pulling out Syndra for BDD in the mid lane.
JDG started aggressively, taking two kills from KT Rolster early in the laning phase, with KT answering their aggression with 1 kill as well.
Both teams were neck and neck until the mid-game, with players from both sides trying to find picks and wins across the map. KT Rolster persistently annoyed JDG in side lane skirmishes, finding individual picks in the jungle, with their damage snowballing as they entered into the late game.
But, as KT tried to take the Baron, Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk and Zhuo "knight" Ding, take down three members of KT Rolster, allowing JDG to take the Baron for themselves and swing the momentum to their favour.
As JDG marched toward the base of the South Korean team, KT Rolster distracted JD Gaming by going for their top lane turrets.
KT Rolster continued to fight their way to extend the series, but, it was Ruler and Lou "MISSING" Yun-Fengthat shut down the hopes of KT Rolster at the very last minute, allowing their team to finally destroy the Nexus after a 33-minute nailbiter that ended with kills equal on both sides at 14-14, and the cannon minion taking the last Nexus shot.
MISSING notably took the player of the game honours, with his Rakan being effective in many team fights.
During the post-match interview, Ruler was asked how he felt having to defeat his former Gen.G teammate Lehends in the quarterfinals.
“This never feels okay. It’s always really rough for me. I was playing against an LCK team and my former teammate. It was heartbreaking to me, so it was really difficult.”
During the match, Ruler consistently flashed the Gen.G emote in-game, showing love for his former LCK team and teammates.
Meanwhile, KT Rolster bow out of the competition in 5th-8th place and take home US $100,125 in consolation.
Their mid laner, BDD, said in the post-match interview that “All LPL teams now are very strong. The other region is not afraid to try something new, so they’re always able to surprise us in tournaments. I think this is why they do well.”
JDG will be facing the winners of the quarterfinal match between T1 and LNG Esports on 12 November.
JDG’s support, Missing, said in his post-match interview that if they were given the chance to face T1 in the semifinals next week, “This time around, we’d definitely prepare really well, and hopefully, we can take revenge (for last year’s semifinals loss at Worlds).”
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.