The League of Legends Japan League (hereinafter referred to as "LJL") is a professional League of Legends (hereinafter referred to as "LoL") league in Japan hosted by Raiatto Games, LLC. Although there are now many e-sports tournaments and leagues, it is no exaggeration to say that the LJL has led the Japanese e-sports scene since its inception in 2016. One of the attractions of LJL was to watch the regular season and playoffs offline, but due to a new coronavirus infection, LJL has been forced to cancel its last spectator offline event in the summer of 2019. Now, LJL is back at Makuhari Messe! This time, we will report on the "LJL 2023 Summer Split Finals" held on Sunday, August 20, 2023, at the Makuhari Messe Event Hall!
DetonatioN FocusMe vs Fukuoka SoftBank HAWKS gaming in the finals!
As a result of the playoff tournament, the final match was between "DetonatioN FocusMe" ("DFM") and "Fukuoka SoftBank HAWKS gaming" ("SHG"). The final match will be played in BO5 format, where the team that wins the first three games wins. The winning team will receive the right to participate in the "World Championship" to be held in Korea and 10 million yen in prize money.
The opening ceremony started with dazzling lights.
The battle for the LJL championship begins!
DFM", a strong team that regularly competes in the World Championships
DFM has been participating in the LJL since its inception and is one of Japan's leading professional teams in both name and reality. They won the LJL 2023 Spring Split in the spring of 2023, a league record for five consecutive LJL championships, and if they win this tournament, they will win an unprecedented sixth consecutive LJL championship.
The nucleus of the team is top laner Yutapon. He is a veteran player who has been a member of DFM since 2013. He holds the record as the second longest-serving professional LoL player on the same team in the world, behind South Korean legend Faker.
jungle player Steal has also been a member of DFM since 2017, and despite being from Korea, he can communicate well in Japanese. The two veteran players will lead the team.
DFM has a good reputation due to its past performance, but in the second half of the season, Yutapon, a former bot laner, suddenly changed his position to top laner. Milan, a sub member of the team, fills the bot laner's hole. With the change in coaches, it will be interesting to see how far the team's level of perfection has improved in a short period of time.
SHG" is in the finals for the first time since joining the LJL.
SHG has been participating in the LJL since the spring of 2020. As their name suggests, their parent team is the professional baseball team Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.
Although they did not perform well when they first joined the LJL, they have steadily improved their abilities by recruiting experienced players and nurturing up-and-coming young players. The game is built around Blank, who has won a world championship, and Vsta, who has experience in the top 8.
They will be taking on the absolute champions, DFM, as challengers in this tournament. In the most recent Playoff Round 3, DFM played a close game that went all the way to the 5th game. It was no surprise that either team would win the match!
The two teams were all smiles as they shook hands before the match. It has been a long time since I have seen such a scene.
Once again, DFM is a great team.
- top: Yutapon
- jungle: Steal
- mid: Aria
- bot: Milan player
- sup: Harp player
This is the lineup.
Yutapon is in his usual posture, so here is another angle.
And SHG is
- top: Kinatu
- jungle: Blank
- mid: DasheR player
- bot: Marble player
- sup: Vsta player
The members of the team are as follows.
The game finally got underway with a full house at Makuhari Messe watching on! Thanks to the "STREAMER SHOWMATCH," the voltage at the venue was maxed out from the beginning!
The games can be seen in the archive!
The first game started at 3:12:09.
The matches were too hot to write about! It's not too late to check the archived video!
What a game DFM vs SHG is going into the 5th game! Speaking of the full set of 2 vs. 2, the music of "Silver Scrapes" aka "Terrere" was played before the game, which is well known. Since we were at an offline venue, we held up the lights on our phones to get the crowd excited!
This was the last game, no matter whether we cried or laughed. Especially in the fifth game, after reviewing the previous games, we want to give our best bang for the buck. The coaches and players look serious.
SHG, the challenger, was in a relaxed atmosphere with smiles on his face. The players are aiming for the championship, overcoming the tension unique to offline venues.
At one point, DFM had an advantage of more than 6,000 gold, but for some reason, SHG was evenly matched in the group battle.
In the end, however, DFM carefully and carefully won the "LJL 2023 Summer Split" championship!
DFM had won the LJL 2022 Summer and LJL 2023 Spring finals with straight victories, and had been so strong that they could be said to be unrivaled in Japan. However, with the drastic roster changes within the team and the overall LJL level rising, they were forced to fight as if to tighten their helmets. However, with drastic roster changes in the team and an increase in the overall level of the LJL, the team was forced to fight like a helmet. Perhaps because of this background, the moment DFM won the championship, I was impressed by the expressions of joy and relief on their faces, the most I have seen in recent years.
While the excitement of the victory had not abated, we immediately conducted an interview with them.
- How do you feel now that you have won?
Milan: I am just so happy. It is frustrating, but I know that I am the most inadequate member of the team. I would like to thank everyone on the team for their support.
Harp: To be honest, I thought I would go all the way to the fifth game from yesterday. My moves in the third and fourth games were not good, but everyone played very well. I think Milan was the best out of all of them.
Aria: To reach the final on this big stage and win 3-2 is probably the best feeling in my life. Thank you for coming to Makuhari Messe in the heat and supporting us.
Steal: Six years ago, we had a sad result on the stage of Makuhari Messe, but all the members worked hard and rewrote it into a good memory. Thank you very much.
Yutapon: Actually, I was so worried about today that I couldn't sleep even at the hotel in Makuhari and spent about 10 hours watching and studying replay videos. I am very happy to have won with a result of 3-2. Thank you for all your support.
- Please tell us about your enthusiasm for the World Championship.
Yutapon: This Worlds will be held in Korea, which is a stage I personally want to go to, and it is geographically close and in a good environment, so I hope to achieve good results and show the world DFM. I look forward to your support.
In Yutapon's left pocket, there is an interview microphone that he failed to retrieve. There was a behind-the-scenes story about how he left the tournament without it.
Once again, the winner was DFM! Congratulations!
The DFM players make their way around the venue to the cheers of the audience. After a turbulent season, DFM will represent Japan in the World Championships starting in October 2023.
The "LJL 2023 Summer Split Finals" came to a close!
Finally, the MCs and casters concluded the "LJL 2023 Summer Split Finals. Each of them had their own feelings about the first offline finals in a long time, and their words conveyed a sense of satisfaction from having seen a good battle.
The event ended at 9:00 p.m. after five games had been played, but there were many fans in the hall enjoying the afterglow until the very end, reminding us once again of the passion of the LJL fans. The offline shouting and cheering that united the venue was a one-of-a-kind experience.
Post-game interviews (SHG)
After the games, each team was interviewed. First up was SHG, who unfortunately lost.
- What did the team lack?
Coach Ares: I think DFM was more focused than us, as was the case in round 3 and today.
- What kind of strategies and measures have you taken to prepare for the finals?
Coach A res: We knew it was going to be a tense match, so we tried to keep the difficulty level as low as possible so that we could play with confidence.
- You have played in both the Japanese and Korean leagues. What is your impression of the LJL these days?
Blank: I think all teams are getting better and more competitive.
- DasheR and Coach Tussle will be playing DFM in 2019.
DasheR: It's been 4 years since we played DFM in the finals, and we played better than before, but we were not as good as we were and we lost.
Coach Tussle: I have won the LJL championship, so of course I wanted everyone to win. But I didn't want to put pressure on the players, and I think they did their best despite their nerves.
- It was your first LJL offline tournament in a long time. How did you feel playing in front of the audience?
Kinatu: It was a lot of fun, and I am really disappointed that we lost.
Blank: I received a lot of cheers and messages from the fans, and that really helped me.
Marble: This was my first time playing offline, and I received a lot of cheers and words from the fans in between games. Unlike the online environment, it was fun and reassuring to have the fans behind me. However, we lost in the fifth game, so I feel sorry for that.
Vsta: I came from a Korean league, and I thought that offline tournaments were more fun than online ones. I am very grateful for the support of my fans.
DasheR: It was my first offline tournament in a long time, and of course I was nervous, but offline tournaments are more exciting and I feel more "professional". I lost today, but it was a great memory for me.
Post-match interview with DFM
Next is an interview with the winning team, DFM. Although not in the picture, Evi, a former DFM member who is now active in Europe, was outside the interview room.
- You played aggressively, but were there any areas in which you were able to grow after today's match?
Milan: I don't think I was aggressive at all, and I still have a long way to go. I received feedback from the coaches and advice from Yutapon, Aria, and others during each game, so I learned something from each game.
- Were you nervous at the games?
Milan: The stage was big and the sound was loud, so I was able to concentrate and was not very nervous.
- Please tell us as much as you can about the challenges you faced and how you overcame them due to the change in the system.
Yutapon: Because of the sudden change, I did not have enough time to prepare. I started with a lot more champions than when I was a top laner in the past, so I didn't know what to expect.
Coach Gismo: Yutapon was originally a top laner, so we pulled from the champion pool at the time. I think the team was able to cover the calling aspect because of his experience, and we were able to support Milan, the current top laner, as well.
- What were your impressions of the offline tournament?
Coach Gismo: My first offline final was in 2019, and of course I was happy, but I didn't really feel it. After everything that has happened in the last few years, I am very happy to have won the second offline tournament as well.
Harp: This was my first offline final, so I came here with very high expectations. Today was even more fun than I expected, and I can't wait to come back next time. Before the fifth game, I looked into the hall and saw all the spectators holding up their phones and I almost cried, partly because I didn't play well in the fourth game. It was a very precious memory.
Yutapon: I don't know how many times I've been to an offline final (laughs), but I feel very differently about offline international games and offline domestic games. I think I am the person who has experienced this feeling the most in the game of LoL, so I did my best this time with the single-minded determination not to experience that feeling again. That's why I'm 100 times happier when I win.
Aria: This is not the first time for me to play in an offline final, but it was the first time for me to play on such a big stage with so many people watching me. I was more excited than nervous. The match was difficult until the end, but I am happy to have won.
Steal: This is not my first time on an offline stage, but it was like déjà vu for me because it was the same stage as when I first came to DFM 6 years ago. It was like a déjà vu. That time, we went into the fifth game and I could feel the support of the fans. This time, I received the same support, and I wanted to win this game.
Milan: Everything I wanted to say was said... (laughs) This was my first offline final, and I had never played on such a big stage, so I was worried about how it would be. But when I entered the venue, I was so happy to hear the audience calling my name. Even when I was walking around looking down wondering what would happen after losing the fourth game, everyone cheered for me, which made me feel like I had to change my mind and do my best. It was a lot of fun.
The tournament closed with DFM's sixth consecutive win!
In the final match between DFM and SHG, which could have gone either way, DFM won 3-2! DFM won the LJL championship for the sixth year in a row! As the casters who have been involved in the LJL for a long time reflected, this season was one of the most fierce battles in recent years. The other teams were also following closely, trying to catch up with and overtake the absolute champion, DFM.
This was the first offline tournament in a long time, so we were able to experience firsthand the excitement of the players and the audience alike. With this, the LJL 2023 Summer Split has come to an end! Next, DFM will challenge the "World Championship" to become the world's number one!
A short time after the event, DFM held a photo session, and it was nice to see the DFM players interacting with some of the fans who stayed at the venue. As they said in the interview, the cheers from the audience certainly helped the players.
DFM players were asked to pose for a photo during the photo session. Milan asked Harp for a heart, but he refused. How precious.