Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong was the star of the show in T1’s LCK Regional Qualifiers win over Afreeca Freecs. The 18-year-old bot lane star had big shoes to fill in Park ‘Teddy’ Jin-seong’s absence, and while he did so exquisitely, his debut wasn’t everything he imagined.
After a disappointing end to LCK 2020 Summer, T1 were out for revenge against Afreeca. They were given the perfect opportunity to knock out the team that stopped them from making it past the first round of the playoffs.
However, instead of relying on the old guard, they put in fresh blood. In arguably their most important match of the year, T1 debuted bot lane prodigy Gumayusi, as well as shifting back in young jungler Choi “Ellim” El-lim over Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan.
The 18-year-old solo queue star hadn’t played a proper game on stage since KeSPA Cup 2018. Back then, he led the KeG Seoul roster to a shock win over Hanwha Life, and even pushed the then-rookie squad of Damwon Gaming to three games.
The stakes were high for his debut, but Gumayusi lived up to the moment. He put on a Caitlyn clinic in the first game, demolishing Afreeca’s bottom lane despite Dread’s best attempts to set T1’s rookie behind on his debut.
On Game 2, he was already feeling confident enough to pull out the Draven. However, losing his 600+ Adoration stacks around a poorly-contested Baron fight condemned T1 to a loss. T1 fought back though, cleaning up their act in Games 3 and 4.
Now on Jhin, Gumayusi managed to once again showcase his excellent mechanics. His top-notch positioning ensured the dive-heavy comps Afreeca drafted were useless as he helped lead T1 to a 3-1 victory thanks to his 8/1/11 and 4/1/6 performances.
The new kid on the block was certainly the star of the show, but his debut wasn’t exactly how he imagined it to be. Without the crowd, without LoL Park as the setting — it felt real, but not at the same time.
“I’ve always dreamed, visualized myself playing in the LCK. I longed to debut one day, and I was really confident in my skills. I just came in and saw this as a great opportunity,” he said in an interview with Korizon.
“I was really nervous at the start, and maybe I have a rich imagination, but it wasn’t all rainbows and flowers like I had imagined. I had imagined myself debuting at a stadium, with the crowd cheering for me. It’s a pity the match was online.”
Despite his nerves, he put up the most consistent performance out of all of T1’s roster. The team looked on a different level, with top-tier cohesion even though he was a new addition in a competitive setting. However, he still has more to show, especially on aggressive picks.
“I played well defensively in games 1, 3, and 4. If I played better aggressively in Game 2, blowing up the opponents [on Draven], fans would’ve liked it but it’s regretful that I wasn’t able to,” he told the LCK desk after the game.
“I was confident in playing Draven. It’s unfortunate that I lost.”
Gumayusi has esports royalty in his blood. His brother, Lee “INnoVation” Shin-hyung, is one of the most storied and celebrated Starcraft II pros in history. However, the 27-year-old didn’t have any words of wisdom for his junior for his debut, at least explicitly.
“He didn’t say anything. I’m not even sure that he watched the game. He probably did but I guess he just has faith in me,” he said.
He might need some advice though leading into his next match. He might only be two games into his League career, but T1’s match against Gen.G for the final spot at Worlds could potentially be the most daunting of Gumayusi’s career.
He mentioned he has a lot of respect for Ruler and Life, Gen.G’s dominant bot lane duo, but will try his best to try and get T1 back to Worlds — if he plays.
“Ruler and Life are players that I’m afraid of. I hope they go easy on me.”
“Worlds is a stage that every single professional player dreams of. Now that I have the chance to go to finals, and potentially Worlds, it feels unreal.”