South Korean powerhouse T1 on Sunday swept aside China’s Weibo Gaming to clinch a record fourth League of Legends (LoL) World Championship, widely considered the Super Bowl of e-sports.
T1 won three straight games in the best-of-five final at the Gocheok Sky Dome stadium in Seoul, roared on by a capacity crowd of 18,000.
Legions of fans descended on Seoul for the final of the world championship, which has rapidly grown since the first edition in 2011 into one of the crown jewels of the billion-dollar global e-sports industry.
Fireworks went off as T1 members lifted the trophy, bouncing in a huddle as the crowd chanted: “T1, T1, T1.”
“More than anything, I am very grateful that I was able to play in front of so many people,” said T1’s Faker, a superstar gamer hailed as the Michael Jordan of e-sports.
Faker, whose real name is Lee Sang-hyeok, has now won a record four world titles and, aged 27, is also the oldest player to clinch the biggest prize in League of Legends.
He has celebrity status in gaming-mad South Korea, and gets a rockstar reception at public appearances.
The victory marked a dominant run at the world championship for T1, who were looking to bounce back after losing in the final in San Francisco last year.
“It feels unreal right now, it feels like a dream,” said T1’s Keria, whose real name is Ryu Min-seok.
The crowd, including many dressed as characters from League of Legends, witnessed a glitzy ceremony before the final that included a performance by K-pop stars NewJeans.
Thousands also gathered at a fan zone set up in central Seoul to watch the match, which was also screened live at more than 40 cinemas across South Korea.
In Beijing, hundreds of fans attended a viewing party at the Communication University of China.
“Watching the competition with so many ... it feels really great,” said student Pang Jian, a Weibo Gaming supporter. “I’ve shouted so much that my voice is gone.”
Viewing parties were also held in Vietnam.
“I am a fan of Faker... He is my idol,” 26-year-old Nguyen Minh Duc said at a sports complex in Hanoi where 2,000 fans watched the final.
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