Many LoL fans groaned when the brackets were drawn for the quarterfinals of the 2020 LoL World Championship. There was a clear LPL bracket plus Fnatic on one side and an LCK bracket plus G2 Esports on the other. What made it worse for many LCK fans was that DRX was drawn against DAMWON Gaming, a best-of-5 they already watched not long ago.
It has only been a little over a month since DAMWON Gaming and DRX clashed last in the finals of the 2020 LCK Summer Split. At that time, DAMWON Gaming had a rather easy 3-0 victory over DRX. Would it be а rerun of the LCK finals? Or could DRX upset DAMWON Gaming?
DAMWON Gaming hasn’t lost a single game on blue side since the Mid-Season Cup back in May. Throughout Summer, they destroyed team after team, finishing most of the games within 30 minutes by snowballing through early benefits. At Worlds, DAMWON Gaming has also demonstrated they are capable of several different styles.
The strength of DAMWON Gaming comes from their top side. Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon is one of the best top laners at Worlds this year. He made drastic improvements to his weaknesses and is capable of playing any style, from tanks to aggressive champions. Jungler Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu and mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su are also included among the highest evaluated players.
The current meta prioritizes AP junglers like Nidalee and Lillia. Usually, the AP junglers have to be paired with an AD champion in the solo lanes and one of DAMWON Gaming’s strengths comes from this. The meta champion pool for solo lanes is very limited, like for the jungle, but Nuguri has proven that he can carry the team with off-meta picks like Lulu and Kennen, which has made DAMWON unpredictable and scary in the draft.
Canyon and ShowMaker’s abilities shouldn’t be undervalued as well. Most people would remember Canyon’s insane performance on Nidalee in their first game against JD Gaming and opposing teams never gave Nidalee to Canyon again. Rogue was the only team that gave ShowMaker Twisted Fate, and they paid for it with one of the shortest games in this competition, 23 minutes 46 seconds.
Bot laner Jang “Ghost” Yong-joon is capable of carrying out any role given to him. He is often left alone in the lane while his support Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee, one of the most aggressive supports in the game, roams to help their teammates in other parts of the Rift. Not just that, but Ghost manages to survive most of the threats the opponents give him when he’s left alone.
Overall, DAMWON Gaming is a team that is fluent in the win conditions of the game and how to move and work as a team. They lead all eight teams in average kills (16.8), gold accumulated per minute (1,999), turrets destroyed per game (8.8), and first turret percentage (100%).
Although DRX was swept by DAMWON Gaming in the finals, the team looks different from then. Most of all, it was jungler Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon’s improvement that stood out in the group stage. Just last year, Pyosik was a streamer known for his Kindred play. Now, as DRX’s starting jungler, Pyosik controlled both scuttle crabs against Karsa and averages the most kills among all junglers at Worlds.
The current DRX’s early game relies a lot on Pyosik’s aggressive jungling. The meta jungle champions like Graves, Nidalee, Lillia, and Kindred are a perfect fit for a fearless rookie jungler like Pyosik. Other rookies might be intimidated by the Worlds’ stage, but Pyosik is much bolder.
Top laner Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon has also been having top-notch performances during the group stage. His average KDA (6.1, 1st) and deaths (1.5, 8th) are the best among the top laners in the quarterfinals. Doran has been put on a tank role for most of the games, but proved that he’s also capable of playing aggressive champions. Doran’s Jayce against FlyQuest was especially amazing. Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon may not have shown especially extraordinary performances, but he’s still Chovy, even if he has been put on more of a utility role in the recent games.
One of the biggest reasons that DRX are considered the underdogs is the current form of the bot lane duo. Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu is one of the players with the most experience in this tournament and he’s paired up with rookie support, Ryu “Keria” Min-seok. These two had outstanding performances during the spring split, but that was toned down during the summer. At Worlds, they performed well against comparably weaker teams, but against Top Esports, they weren’t able to prove themselves. To turn the tides, the bot duo needs to turn their game up.
As quarterfinalists at the World Championship, any team is worthy to advance to the semifinals. Statistics and predictions sway much towards DAMWON Gaming, but DRX isn’t a team that would just go down easy. There’s still a high chance that the match becomes a rerun of the LCK finals, but the two teams have changed since then. One thing to keep in mind is that the last team that gave DAMWON Gaming a best-of match loss was DRX.