The 2020 LCK Summer Finals is just days away, with DRX facing off against DAMWON Gaming. A single best-of-five stands between these two titans and the LCK trophy and the competition looks to be fiercer than ever.
Ahead of the final clash, let’s take a brief walk through the teams’ narratives, strengths & weaknesses, and the key match-up that will likely decide who becomes the next LCK champion.
DRXcvMax's Redemption Arc
When DRX decided to rebuild their roster for the 2020 season, the first person they hired was head coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho. Formerly of Griffin, cvMax turned a 7th-place Challengers Korea team into three-time LCK finalists, qualifying them for Worlds 2019.
But cvMax’s chance to go to Worlds with the team he trained was pulled under his feet when Griffin announced his sudden departure. At first, fans were left confused, but that was merely the start to one of the biggest controversies in LoL Esports. But amidst the clouds of drama, DRX still trusted the visionary coach and he became the foundation piece to their new era.
The first player to join, or rather re-sign, with this new DRX roster was Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu. Despite being a veteran with a career spanning eight years, Deft’s mechanics were still on a level that many players aspire to and when cvMax really only wanted one thing from him: to completely trust him — a request that would resonate on an instinctive level with Deft. Ryu “Keria” Min-seok, the much-hyped rookie support player that was still looking for his LCK debut, was also picked up, and was a major influence that incentivized Deft to stay with DRX.
While cvMax was struggling to find the right players for the jungle and solo lanes, he was gifted a timely miracle — Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon and Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon, player he’d previously coached at Griffin, became free agents. While it was expected that Doran would follow cvMax to DRX, the two having a close working relationship, Chovy’s move was more surprising. One of, if not the best mid of the 2019 season, Chovy had been courted by multiple foreign teams, with a multi-million deal from Evil Geniuses reportedly on the table. What Chovy as adamant on, however, was that he wanted to win Worlds with cvMax and so his off-season transfer was cut out for him.
For the jungle solution, cvMax did what he became famous for: recognize and nurture rookie talent. Before Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon joined DRX, he was just a streamer on AfreecaTV, known for his Kindred and his insane mechanics. While he lacked team game knowledge, cvMax’s mentorship ushered him into main roster promotion and with that, DRX’s 2020 roster was complete.
In the beginning, DRX’s shared goal of winning Worlds seemed a faraway dream, as the cream of the LCK crop stood opposition to this mixed group of veterans and rookies. However, they finished third in the 2020 Spring Split with a 14-4 record and improved to a second place in summer.
DRX earned their ticket to Worlds when T1 fell to Afreeca Freecs in the Summer Playoffs to finish fifth. Eventually, the LCK bubble race chose Gen.G to be DRX’s opponents in the semifinal round and after an excruciatingly long day — delayed by a three-hour-long pause due to technical difficulties — DRX closed the win in a clutch game 5. Next, it was DAMWON Gaming and the LCK Finals.
While they were able to take the miraculous victory over Gen.G, DRX is a team with clear strengths and weaknesses. All five players have incredible mechanics and they are a team that likes to take early advantages by aggressively taking skirmishes and teamfights. They even use the same method to come back from behind.
At the same time, there’s been much criticism of DRX’s drafts and late-game macro. CvMax has historically been very stubborn in his drafting and there seemed to be a clash of opinions between him and his players. In terms of their macro, their trait of crushing their opponents by relying on their individual prowess is a double-edged sword, and even their wins against lower-placing LCK teams had glaring gaps (most notable, against SeolHaeOne Prince).
DAMWON GamingCan they transition their hegemony to capture their first LCK title?
Throughout the Summer split, DAMWONG has shown dominance that paralleled T1 in its glory days. Ending Summer Split with a 16-2 record and +29 points, DWG was far ahead from the rest of the pack and earned a direct seed into the LCK finals — the first in org’s history.
While everyone knew the team was good, few expected this level of dominance. DWG was known to be a top/mid-centric team, with their jungle lagging behind the rest of the LCK and their bot lane considered their weakest link. However, head coach Lee “Zefa” Jae-min has been able to magically improve on these weak areas. All five pieces of “Exodia” have been gathered and now they just look to summon the “Forbidden One” to win their very first finals.
It’s really hard to pinpoint DWG’s weakness in its current form. Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon isn’t getting caught out as much as he used to. Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu is always at the right place at the right time for his team (he even became the first jungler in the LCK to score a pentakill). Heo “ShowMaker” Su can simply blind pick any champion to lane kingdom his opponent and carry his team on his back, and the Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun/Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee bot lane has proven time and again that they can go head to head with the very best. From flawless execution on tower dives to teamfighting, all five players seem to be 100% in sync with each other. They’re a team that’s always striving for perfection.
Key matchup: ShowMaker vs Chovy
Mid laners have always been an important role in the history of League of Legends and it’s no different in the current meta. These two players are praised as the best in the LCK and are often credited for their respective teams’ successes. Both Chovy and ShowMaker have shown that they can solo carry games, and the clash between the best always provides quality in both competition and viewing experience.
Many are predicting that ShowMaker has the edge over Chovy. It may seem obvious due to DWG's dominance in the regular split, but also in the consistency of ShowMaker's performances. In the most recent interview with cvMax, he stated that Chovy is a player that performs incredibly well at his best, but dips very low when he doesn't perform. If Chovy can perform like he did in game 4 against Gen.G, then ShowMaker will definitely have a challenge on his hands.
There’s a lot on the line for both DRX and DWG. DWG looks to capture their first domestic championship and take their own ticket to Worlds, while cvMax looks to lead DRX and finally lift a trophy after three second places in a row, completing his redemption arc.
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports