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The Mind of an Elite League of Legends Player: Inside T1 Keria

Eric Elliot

Home » Featured » The Mind of an Elite League of Legends Player: Inside T1 Keria

T1’s support player Ryu “Keria” Min-seok has emerged as one of the world’s best League of Legends players. In this exclusive interview, Keria opens up about overcoming mental hurdles, finding guidance from veterans, and his pledge to fans as T1 seeks to finally conquer their “second-place curse.”

Behind the Scenes of T1’s Rollercoaster 2023 Season

2023 posed many challenges for T1. Iconic mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s wrist injury on July 5th catalyzed a concerning 1-7 run. Their only glimmer of hope was a pivotal 2-0 win against Nongshim Redforce, propelling them up the standings towards playoffs.

Since Faker’s return, T1 soared back to top form and qualified as LCK’s second seed for Worlds. But behind the scenes, Keria faced his own personal struggles throughout the year.

Overcoming Mental Hurdles on the International Stage

Keria admits he has a hard time letting go, referring to T1’s heartbreaking 2-3 loss against DRX in the 2022 Worlds finals. Sudden flashbacks would wake him at night, often causing heartaches.

Grasping the intensity of his feelings, he could not find an external outlet for relief and faced these challenges alone. “I don’t really show that I am going through hard times to my teammates, so I don’t think anyone noticed,” said Keria.

Leaning on a Veteran’s Guidance

Although Keria rarely revealed his inner turmoil, he was open with Dplus KIA’s bot laner Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu. They formed a connection when 17-year-old Keria entered the scene with DRX.

“I know we are in different teams, but I often talk about my struggles with Deft,” said Keria. Confiding in only a select few, he began taking gradual steps on his journey to recovery.

Striving for Continuous Improvement Through Reflection

Keria took a moment for introspection regarding T1’s performances the past two years. In the biggest moments, they couldn’t get the results they wanted.

“Personally, I believe that if each player doesn’t perform up to standard, things start to fall apart, especially on big stages,” he said.

Since their current roster formed, they won LCK Spring 2022 but experienced a “second place curse,” losing to Gen.G three times for the last one and a half years. Fine-tuning strategy and execution can help them finally overcome this, Keria feels.

Mastering the Draft Phase in the Knockout Stage

At Worlds 2023, T1 swept BLG with a Senna/Tahm Kench bot lane. “It’s a composition we prepared before,” said Keria. “They are good counters in this meta.”

He expects more targeted drafts in the knockout stage, but the meta’s core likely stays unchanged. Keria’s insights will be invaluable for strategizing picks/bans moving forward.

Balancing Team Camaraderie and Personal Privacy

Keria compartments his vulnerabilities from teammates to avoid distraction. He exemplifies the dichotomy between being a team player but also needing personal space.

“As long as we finalize our compositions and tier list, we are ready,” said Keria, who won’t let his internal struggles deter their Worlds mission.

Savoring the Little Moments Along the Journey

During tough stretches this season, T1 practiced mindfulness – enjoying the game itself when wins were scarce. This positivity fueled their comeback.

“Our primary goal during that time was just to make playoffs,” Keria shared. They reminded each other to keep emotionally and mentally stable.

Giving Back to the Fans Who Lift Their Spirits

In a heartfelt nod to supportive fans, Keria revealed a pledge: “If we win Worlds in Korea, I will bow down deeply [to my knees] for the fans.”

Their cheering motivates players through ups and downs. After weathering this journey together, Keria wants to show gratitude.

The Keys to Keria’s Success

Despite obstacles faced over the past year, Keria’s mental resilience shines through. His willingness to be vulnerable with mentors like Deft demonstrates the continual growth that makes him an elite support.

As T1 looks to finally vanquish their “second-place curse,” Keria’s leadership and strategic insights will be integral on their Worlds quest.