DFM’s goal at Worlds 2023 was to try to get at least one win according to mid-laner Aria. Unfortunately, BDS dealt an early killing blow.

DFM were the LJL 2023 Summer Champions, but their run at Worlds 2023 came to an end before it truly began. Mid-laner Lee "Aria" Ga-eul and his team suffered a 2-0 defeat to BDS in Round 1 of the Play-In Stage, ending their participation at the event. DFM were the only representatives at Worlds 2023 from the Japan region.

Despite being knocked out, Aria of DFM was kind enough to share some thoughts on the team's run at Worlds 2023.

Facing Europe early on and BDS as an opponent

You and the rest of DFM came into Game 1 looking incredibly strong but BDS got ahead of you, were you nervous at all during this series?

Aria: When we entered the game, we weren't really nervous. We started off well by getting the first blood, but the top lane's momentum was slower than we thought, and the game was becoming more difficult and that started us on the backfoot. If we had been able to get to the mid-game it could have become winnable.

DFM's mid, jungle and top lane at Worlds 2023 - image via Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games
DFM's mid, jungle and top lane at Worlds 2023 - image via Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

For Game 2 we saw Nuc bring in Cassiopeia, a pick that many hadn't expected so early on if at Worlds at all, were you expecting this so soon if at all?

Aria: I knew that Nuc would play well no matter the champion and I did know that he could play Cassiopeia well - it was always an option for him. I don't think Triss is a good pick right now, but I wanted to make the atmosphere a little bit more relaxed. I wanted to play as strong as possible, so I changed my pick a lot and decided to face whatever Nuc would play.

DFM's Worlds 2023 roster, it has been a long journey but they made it - image via Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games
DFM's Worlds 2023 roster, it has been a long journey but they made it - image via Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

This series was actually your first time facing BDS at an early stage . What were you expecting them to be like ahead of your series and how were you looking to prepare for this?

DFM Aria: As BDS has such unique champion pools in top lane, we focused on banning top lane specifically, and intended to focus on the laning phase to be able to compete in team fights but the balance wasn't there as the laning phase didn't go as planned, and it fell apart from there. So for the second map, we tried to change tactics and do whatever we wanted to do, hence the change in picks.

Managing expectations after a rocky return to the LJL after MSI

The DFM roster has seen some major changes over Summer 2023 with your ADC having to play top while you were missing a top laner, and then role-swapped back, this is a lot of changes to undergo in such a short time so how have you and the team adjusted to such major changes in such a short time?

DFM Aria: It was a team-made decision that we all had to adjust to even if it was difficult and it was necessary. We tried our best to get used to all of it even though it was a lot. apaMEN (the top laner who stepped in after a 2-year hiatus), came in really early, but there was a problem internally in the LJL with the rules for play.

This meant he couldn't actually play in the Summer Split, and as such he had very little time practicing for Worlds and synergizing with the rest of us. I feel bad for him because he had such a short time practicing and he must have had a difficult time adjusting to everything that was going on. It was obviously a lot in a very short time, and it was very tiring.

This is your second Worlds, what did you hope to show the world about your own skill this time that you didn’t last time around?

DFM Aria: I'm a very realistic person, so I know how much skill our team has. Based on the scrim results, I'd been hopeful, all I was wondering was how are we going to do so the goal was to at least get a win this Worlds. (Editor note: Unfortunately DFM were winless at Worlds 2023)

How have you found playing on Korean soil and at LoL Park considering your earlier stint in the LCK and Korea being home for you?

DFM Aria: I didn't feel like it was new as it's a LAN event either. But as the event has been held in Korea it has been a long time since I came back to LoL Park, and it became special for that reason. I really wanted to do well for these reasons. Worlds in Korea felt new and playing in LoL Park was new-ish, returning to LoL Park meant a lot, but it was slightly less because it's a LAN tournament.

DFM Aria on playing in other regions

You’ve played for teams based in both Korea (LCK) and Japan (LJL) – what has made you stay with Japan / LJL teams over anyone else?

DFM Aria: I finished the season in KT and got some votes but I'd been in DFM for a year before and I felt like I wanted to be stronger. While I did receive a couple of offers; DfM seemed like they wanted me more. Plus, I already had spent a year with them before and was confident in their support and them as an organization supporting players. That's why I returned to DfM. 

Happy Aria backstage at Worlds 2023 - image via Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games
Happy Aria backstage at Worlds 2023 - image via Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

Is there anything you would like to say to the fans who have supported you and DFM during this difficult year?

DFM Aria: First of all, I'm sorry that we weren't able to show our absolute best this Worlds. Nevertheless, you have always supported me, and so I'm really thankful. I'm so thankful that I can't say thank you enough. I'm always grateful for all of you and I hope we can show you better in the future!

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