When DAMWON Gaming arrived in Shanghai for the 2020 League of Legends World Championship, there have been many questions surrounding the staff, some past what they’d been capable of show on the Rift by means of their gameplay.
Would high laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon recuperate in time from his emergency pneumothorax surgical procedure that had delayed his arrival in China? Was Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu the most effective jungler on the earth? May Heo “ShowMaker” Su carry out simply as effectively at worlds as he did throughout South Korea’s LoL Champions Korea season?
And maybe most significantly: How a lot did DAMWON’s dominant summer season efficiency in LCK matter when the area had been on a downward flip since 2018? How ought to we decide the power of DAMWON in relation to the perceived power of their area?
DAMWON have systematically dismantled perceptions of their staff, and to some extent, the power of South Korea as an entire, as they’ve razed by means of the world championship comparatively unscathed. If they are not a harbinger of South Korea’s return to dominance (one thing that can by no means occur once more on the size with which they had been forward of the remainder of the world from 2013-2017), they’re at the very least a seedling, now maturing into a completely grown tree out of the still-fertile soil of the LCK.
The LCK will not be the most effective area on the earth from high to backside, however they possible have the most effective staff on the earth proper now, and DAMWON will attempt to show that at 6 a.m. ET on Saturday in Pudong Stadium.
The autumn of the LCK from its place because the default greatest League of Legends area on the earth has weighed closely on the minds of South Korean gamers, followers, workers and the overall League of Legends neighborhood. It was even famous within the LCK’s initial call for franchise partners, citing South Korea’s previous dominance, because the league ended their introductory assertion with, “We’ll undertake the long-term partnership mannequin in LCK in 2021. And we’ll convey again the glory.”
The so-called sluggish South Korean model of play, favored by groups like SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy/Gen.G, stopped being en vogue round late 2018, when the elimination of Tracker’s Knife led to a quicker, extra aggressive model enjoying across the lack of imaginative and prescient and knowledge on the Rift.
South Korean groups had been sluggish to regulate and fell behind in tempo, resulting in disastrous leads to worldwide competitors.
“I consider the South Korean groups struggled as a result of because the meta modified, the playstyle additionally wanted to vary,” DAMWON coach Lee “Zefa” Jae-min mentioned. “And the groups lacked on this.”
DAMWON will not be sluggish, nor are they afraid to combat. However, DAMWON gamers and coaches mentioned, it is the staff’s general versatility that makes this roster particular and profitable.
“We do have an aggressive playstyle,” Canyon mentioned. “However we are able to additionally win the sport enjoying extra defensively. We’re a staff that has various win circumstances.”
Zefa described DAMWON’s method merely: “A playstyle that hits the bull’s eyes.” It is a staff that all the time hit its mark, and DAMWON will hope to take action another time to convey South Korea again to the top of League of Legends for the primary time for the reason that all-South Korean remaining of SK Telecom T1 vs. Samsung Galaxy in 2017.
A 12 months after that remaining, no South Korean groups had made it previous the quarterfinals of a world championship held on their residence soil. It was the primary time South Korea was unrepresented in at the very least the semis since 2011, when South Korea did not but have a League of Legends server and will ship no groups to the world championship.
In between the fervent whispers of roster rumors and assurance from LCK followers that the youthful, extra aggressive Griffin would avenge them in 2019, one different staff identify saved developing as a fast finish to the LCK’s presumably short-lived demise: DAMWON Gaming. Extra particularly, jungler Canyon was cited by then-Cloud9 jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and different Western groups at worlds as their most formidable opponent in scrimmages.
Two years later, DAMWON carry the burden of the LCK on their shoulders, not solely as a finalist however as a closely favored one in opposition to the LoL Professional League’s third-seeded Suning. This place doesn’t fear DAMWON within the slightest. On the finals press convention, ShowMaker was requested whether or not the staff’s admitted stage nerves in 2019 would come again to hang-out DAMWON in entrance of their first reside viewers this 12 months within the worlds finals.
ShowMaker’s easy reply was that their nerves had been all previously.
“All 5 gamers on our staff have a big champion pool,” Canyon mentioned. “And any of the 5 gamers can carry the sport. This has been a bonus for us.”
DAMWON’s flexibility and recognized pocket picks have allowed them to successfully draft freely all through 2020 worlds in a metagame that already fits them completely. This forces opponents to both have the power to play the identical picks, or use a ban on them.
“The meta was much like the meta we’ve performed with throughout the summer season cut up,” Canyon mentioned, “so we simply targeted on increasing our champion pool.”
If there’s one identifiable benefit that LPL groups have had in successful the previous two world championships, it is that the meta on the time suited them completely.
Now it is DAMWON’s, and by extension the LCK’s, flip.