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The Miraculous Last Dance by The Oldest World Champion in LoL History

By Weilin Li
Nov. 10, 2022 updated 11:10

Standing on the stage at the Chase Center in San Francisco, DRX’s ADC Deft could not hold back his tears as he held the League of Legends Summoner's Cup tightly. He had waited ten years for this moment of victory.

This was the seventh time that the South Korean 26-year-old veteran had participated in the World Championship, but before this, his team failed to advance to the semifinals five times.

Deft’s Journey in 2022 was no short of drama. He met one of his old teammates in every single round of the elimination and then met his longtime rival Faker and another former teammate in the finals. When we asked Deft about this at the press conference the day before, Deft said: “I’m here thanks to all my old friends, and I’m determined to take the last one down.”

And he did. On November 6th, the fourth seed DRX of the LCK defeated T1 with a score of 3:2 in the Finals, which also means that Deft defeated his old rival T1 Faker and became the oldest World Champion in the tournament’s history.

DRX Deft burst into tears on the stage of the Worlds 2022 FinalsDRX Deft burst into tears on the stage of the Worlds 2022 Finals

The rivalry between the two actually started ten years ago. Faker and Deft came from the same school, Mapo High School, and attended the same grade. However, Faker quickly gained a good reputation in those early days as he occupied the Top 2 spots of League of Legends in South Korea with his two accounts; by comparison, Deft was not that well-known or fortunate enough.

In Deft's first year as a pro esports player, his team MVP Blue had a mediocre Spring and Summer Split. MVP Blue didn't make it to the Playoffs, leaving very limited room for Deft to show his skills.

While Faker led SKT to become the Worlds Champions three times, Deft was struggling with his early career. Then Deft encountered what seemed like a good opportunity.

After SKT won the world championship in 2013, Samsung Group saw the potential of LOL tournaments and entered the arena. It acquired two MVP teams, MVP Blue and MVP White, and started the dynasty of Samsung.

Both teams had the strength to compete for the championship in the LCK at that time.

“The Samsung Ten” from Samsung White and Samsung Blue“The Samsung Ten” from Samsung White and Samsung Blue

At Worlds 2014, the 10 players from Samsung Blue and Samsung White were known as the Samsung Ten. Dramatically, they met each other early in the Semifinals. Samsung Blue, who had been seeing many victories in the LCK, lost to Samsung White on the world stage.

So, Deft's Samsung Blue was eliminated after the Semifinals that year. Before the failure, people thought it was an opportunity for Deft to take his play to the next level, but it turned out to be the golden period that he missed so much many years later.

Samsung White's ADC Imp embracing Deft while he criesSamsung White's ADC Imp embracing Deft while he cries

After Worlds 2014, the LOL tournament changed its system, and the "Samsung Dynasty" disintegrated because Samsung was not allowed to keep two teams, and Deft also started a new journey like others from the Samsung Ten members. He transferred between the LPL and LCK and played with six teams, including EDG. Over the next few years, whether in a weak or a strong team, he never made it to the Semifinals at LOL Worlds.

However, Deft did not give up. Instead, he became more and more strict with his practice and cultivated a calmer mentality in competitions.

As he entered nearly the final stage of his career, he also began to get rid of his previous timidity, and this year, he once again performed brilliantly.

When asked why, he said: "This is my last year, and I don't have to worry about it anymore, so I can play as what I want."

In this year's Quarterfinals at Worlds, he met his former EDG teammates. During the pre-match ruthless talk, after EDG said, "We have a reason to win", Deft surprisingly said, "Let's dance", showing a relaxed attitude and genuine enjoyment of the game when responding to his opponents’ harsh words.

“Let's Dance.”“Let's Dance.”

At Worlds 2022, DRX became a dark horse, but they were still considered to be mediocre.

In the Semifinals, after defeating Gen.G, most people thought that DRX won by their style of play, which countered Gen.G’s tactics. Before the Finals, to many people, DRX was far below the skill of T1.

However, in the Finals, DRX once again surprised those who underestimated them. While T1 made frequent mistakes, Deft played a crucial role in his team’s victory.

Nearly a day after winning the title, Deft finally shared some feelings on his Instagram, which perfectly summed up his miraculous dance.

"It took me a while to realize that none of this really was a dream. Every day people say I'm not going to win a world title. Because I'm injured and I'm too old... It took me ten years to earn the right to go back and tell them:

You are wrong.

I hope this victory brings hope to people who are going through tougher times than I have ever been. Most importantly, let's not lose hope.”