Hometown heroes T1 have struggled to string games together in the MSI 2022 Rumble Stage, but wins against PSG Talon and Evil Geniuses on Day 3 have given them confidence. Now, Choi ‘Zeus’ Woo-je is ready for a hyped G2 Esports rematch to get revenge.
T1 have been put on the ropes to start the MSI 2022 Rumble Stage. After dropping key games to rivals G2 Esports and Royal Never Give Up, expectations placed on the Korean side were quickly dashed.
After such a strong run domestically and through the Group Stage, it was the first time since Worlds 2021 that the team had faced any sort of adversity — and it caught them off guard. However, they’re slowly playing themselves back into confidence, Zeus has reassured fans.
“It was hitting us even harder because we didn’t get to experience the bitter losses in both LCK Spring and the Groups Stage,” he told Dexerto. “It hurt me so hard, and I was even a little mad. At the same time, the Rumble Stage is happening so fast and it’s really high tempo so we don’t have much time to stay sad.
“We have to boost ourselves up, regain our confidence, and keep playing. We kind of learned how to move on and forget about the losses, while also learning what we need to take away from them.”
It started with a 2-0 day against PSG Talon and Evil Geniuses. While not their direct competitors for top seeding heading into playoffs, it was a much-needed confidence boost.
Zeus was put onto Gangplank duty for both games today and excelled with a combined 8/0/12 stat line. He was crucial in shutting down their opposition as clutch barrel chains decimated enemy carries in late-game fights.
However, he wasn’t too impressed with his own play on his MSI 2022 priority pick: “I lost so many of the mind games around the barrels, so I need to go into the practice room and work on that,” he admitted.
It’s a slight adjustment from the drafts of LCK Spring 2022. During the Regular Season, Zeus preferred picks like Jayce and Gnar. At MSI 2022 he has played neither as the meta has shifted away to the likes of Gwen (five games played) and Gangplank (three games).
“Gangplank is definitely not one of my comfort picks but after the multiple buffs he received I realized I have to practice with him because he seemed so good,” he explained. “I started working on him and it turned out he was very strong, so that’s why we’re favoring him a lot.
“I’m really sad that my favorite pick Jayce got nerfed so much, but the meta of Gangplank and Gwen is because they’re decent blind pick options. You can pick them whenever, so that’s why players are picking them so often. Jax is also really powerful, but he’s less flexible.”
Playing with, and against, his idols
Zeus’ journey at MSI 2022 is more than just representing the Korean legends. He’s also brushed shoulders with members past. May 22 marked the first time he played against former SKT top laner Jeong ‘Impact’ Eon-young.
It always feels like a passing of the guard when the Worlds 2013 champion plays against a protege filling his shoes. The nerves weren’t really there for Zeus though, despite him reminiscing on watching Impact lift that first of many trophies nearly a decade ago.
“I’ve been watching the LCK since I was a little kid and I was a fan of SKT back then. I watched him win Worlds, but at the time I wasn’t playing top lane so I wasn’t a super big fanboy of him. I idolized Faker a lot when I was little,” he said.
“It is still really cool playing against him after watching him for so long, and it was interesting too — like the old guard versus the next generation. When I saw Impact’s ID in the lobby, it felt pretty special.”
FAKER x IMPACT:
— LoL Esports (@lolesports) May 22, 2022
The novelty of playing with Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok has worn off a bit for Zeus too, but the Unkillable Demon King has been a trusty resource to tap into at his first international event. As the crowd in their thousands roar for T1, it’s been a little daunting for the 18-year-old top laner, even if he can’t see them.
“When I’m sitting on stage, in front of my computer, the monitor actually covers a lot of my sight so I can’t really see the crowd,” he said.
“Faker obviously has an immense amount of experience so he knows how to deal with this kind of situation, so I was able to learn a lot from him as well as our coaches. They’re really good at showing us the right direction.
“However, when we lost to G2 and RNG, I could hear the fans chanting that ‘it was okay,’ so it was heartbreaking and I got mad. I don’t want that to happen again, so hearing them is a bit of motivation at least.”
What this is ultimately setting up — much like what Faker alluded to earlier this week — is a real grudge match against G2 Esports. After the European representatives went 0-2 on Day 3, they’re now in striking range for Korea’s finest.
The first losses in the Rumble Stage opened T1’s eyes to their weaknesses. With preparation kicked up a notch, Zeus wants to bring his A-game and enact revenge.
“As we got to play against the stronger teams we realized what we were lacking,” he said. “We have to improve on that as soon as possible, so we’re working hard to try and fix those issues before playoffs.”
“We are looking forward to getting revenge on G2. I’m really hungry for that rematch because I want to beat them badly.”
Snagging that win will be just the boost T1 need to roll into playoffs with a head of steam and silence those questioning their ability after a rocky Rumble Stage.
“I want to say we are slowly regaining our confidence, so if we can keep the ball rolling we’ll be very well prepared for the playoffs,” Zeus stated. “I think we’re stronger in best of fives too. We are afraid of ourselves more than our opponents at this point.”