At just 17 years old, Lee “Clozer” Ju-hyeon took to LoL Park in the place of the world’s most decorated League player of all time, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. The long-time T1 trainee has instantly made a name for himself though, as he led his team to a 2-0 sweep of KT Rolster.
Clozer is just 17 years and 4 days old. He’s been LCK-eligible for less than a week, but after a year of warming up on T1’s trainee roster, he was finally able to spread his wings in the latest telecom war.
The news of Clozer’s inclusion for Game 1 took many back, given the player he was replacing. He was brought in over Faker, the lifeblood of T1 himself. Only two other players have subbed in for Faker in SKT history — Lee “Easyhoon” Ji-hoon and Choi “Pirean” Jun-sik.
Clozer didn’t just have the pressures of playing on stage for the first time on his shoulders. He had the pressures of coming in for the greatest player of all time. However, he took it all in his stride.
The rookie took no prisoners in his debut. In fact, he got it off to almost a perfect start, getting a triple kill on Zoe in his first fight on LoL Park. He followed it up with a dominating performance throughout the rest of Game 1, taking home POG honours with a 5/0/4 scoreline.
In Game 2 though, fans were given a glimpse of the Clozer Korean solo queue players fear. He was put on his signature Akali pick, and he went to town on Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon. He was backflipping every Shurima shuffle, as he managed to just purely outskill his opponent at every opportunity.
While he was over eager at times, dying recklessly twice, Clozer made sure KT knew he was on the Rift, and made a statement to T1 management to potentially consider him yet again for their match against Sandbox later this week.
He didn’t get POG honours for Game 2 despite his 8/2/0 statline — that went to Park “Teddy” Gin-seong on Aphelios instead — but Clozer did show the potential many have called since before he was picked up as a T1 trainee in 2019.
Clozer had known that he was going to make his LCK debut this week. As a bit of an early birthday present for Monday, T1 management told him he was a shoe-in to start against KT. However, it didn’t really kick in until the morning of the game.
“From last week, I heard I might be playing. It was when we submitted the starting roster for today’s match that I really knew that I was playing today. After hearing that I’ll be playing, I worked even harder to win today,” he said in the post-game press conference.
Speaking in the post-match interview though, Clozer wasn’t expecting his debut to go so well. In fact, he needed some reassuring words from jungler Choi “Ellim” El-lim to calm his nerves before stepping out on stage.
“I was literally shivering before the match,” Clozer told the LCK casters after the win.
“Ellim said that ‘this was a golden opportunity, and this could change your life, so make sure you capitalize on it,’ and that’s what I tried to do. That’s why junglers are so nice.”
Clozer was still feeling the pressure in game. However, he didn’t let it show, going for his signature aggressive players that have made him a menace in solo queue. When the cards fell in his favour, it was no different to playing at home, or at the T1 facility.
“I’m very happy because we got a clean sweep, and I really want to thank my teammates for helping me through my first match,” he added.
“I had a lot of pressure on my back, but I’m content with my debut because I managed to play extraordinarily well. I don’t want to be in the spotlight though.”
Clozer also attracted high praise from AD carry Teddy, who took home his first POG vote for the Summer season against KT Rolster on Friday as well.
“I thought he was going to be nervous, despite the fact he is a stellar player. However, he was able to show off what he was made of, so he did a great job,” he said.
Clozer’s performance against KT might be enough for him to warrant selection against Sandbox later this week. The mid lane prodigy won’t be sitting on his laurels though, and if he does take to LoL Park again on Sunday, he will come out all guns blazing.
“If I was to play against Sandbox, then I will try to pick as many aggressive champions as possible. When I get the chance, I really want to pick Irelia.”
T1 will take on Sandbox on August 2 in what is a must-win match if the former Kings of Korea want to contest for the first seed heading into playoffs.
Translation credit: INVEN Global