In just one day, the first quarterfinal match of the 2020 LoL World Championship takes place. The #1 seeds of the LCK and the LEC — DAMWON Gaming and G2 Esports — face off for a ticket to the finals. But there's much more on the line than just a spot in the grand finals.
The rivalry between DWG and G2 — and G2 and the LCK as a whole — trails back to last year. At Worlds 2019, G2 knocked out DWG in the quarterfinals before eliminating SKT T1 in the semis. This year, G2 defeated Gen.G to move up and face DWG, so not only have they proven themselves to be the Achilles heel of LCK, but they've also solidified their place in LoL Esports as one of the best in the world, as this is their third consecutive semifinals appearance.
On the other side of the ring, DWG stands tall as the last hope for the LCK. Not only do many experts and analysts (including myself) predict DWG to triumph over G2, they also predict that they'll be the ones to bring the Summoner's Cup back to the LCK this year.
DWG's reign of absolute dominance started since the Summer split and it stands almost parallel to T1's dominance in their glory days. And while their journey of etching their history in LoL Esports is just beginning, many fans around the world, especially those cheering for LCK's success, predict that 2020 is DWG's year to take.
SynergyThe Five needs to become The One
So what makes all these semifinalists strong this year? There's a theme that defines all the semifinal teams and that's team synergy. Although it's been a critical aspect for many years, the bar has been raised to the point where the team has to be able to think, decide, move, and fight as a single unit. As two of the only four remaining teams, G2 and DWG have showcased stellar ability to read the map and predict where fights are going to take place.
What separates these two teams from the rest is that they're able to join the fight faster than their opponents. There were many instances where skirmishes were won due to players joining the fight faster by 1-2 seconds. While there are many more factors, such as drafts, how teams' pilot their comps, laning phase, individual mechanical performance, macro, and so on, team synergy is the key factor that defines both DWG and G2.
A prime example of this can be found in the GEN vs G2 series. In the video above, while it looked as if Caps' was getting ganked by Clid's Nidalee, G2 was able to get a read on Nidalee and have the rest of their team join the skirmish through Shen's and Tahm Kench's ults, respectively. Although Rascal's Camille and Life's Leona moved towards the mid lane to join the fight, it was already over.
Not only did G2 win the fight, but they also wasted a lot of Camille's and Life's time, and from that point on, the game just snowballed in G2's favor. G2's goal was to waste as little time as possible in creating a numbers advantage on the map, and in order to stifle the variance that Bdd's Twisted Fate brought in the series, G2 answered with Sylas (mid lane), Shen (top lane), and Tahm Kench (support)
While G2's proven that they can play the numbers game through a global ult team composition, DWG can play the same game through pure macro. There were many instances where BeryL provided support to mid and jungle, to either set up a pick at the top half of the map or to set up for objectives fights around the map. Although the spotlight is usually not on the support player, where he was even left out on a certain power ranking before the start of Worlds, the team seems to be in agreement that he's the key player in their in-game decision making.
The rate at which Nuguri joins fights is astounding. If he was known more for his individual prowess in the past, he's stepped up his game to shift his gameplay to be team-oriented since the Summer split. Not only does he take an active part in keeping the enemy jungler through proper lane manipulation and movement around the map, but he's also always in the right place when fights are breaking out. His engages are very sharp, to the point where it even leaves the observers not being able to catch the fights breaking out. Plus, he's not even dying as much as he did before, so in many aspects, he has evolved even further as a player.
What's even scarier is that DWG controls the tempo of their macro very well. Even in an advantageous state, their usage of fog of war and the information they have allows them to not only avoid coinflip skirmishes but also gain control of the terrain when contesting objectives around the map. In the image above, DRX is grouped up for an ambush to contest for dragon. However, because DWG's smart utilization of the fog of war, it made DRX back off from their position, which led to DWG taking their third drake for free and put them at soul point. It's almost unnerving to see such finesse not only with individual mechanics, but also in wit, and it all stems from how teams move around the map make in-game decisions as a single unit.
On paper, it's really hard to gauge where the teams stand, because the evaluation is all comparative. People expected a closer series between G2 and GEN, because of how shaky they both looked in groups, yet G2 swept the series clean against them. On the flip side, DWG are coming into this series much stronger than G2, as they showed a level of dominance and consistency that's far above that of G2.
Will G2 continue to prove that they're the ‘LCK Killers' and head to their 2nd consecutive Worlds finals? Or will DWG continue to assert the same dominance they've shown this year over G2 and get their revenge from 2019?
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