With the conclusion of the semifinals last weekend, Worlds is coming to a close, culminating in the first LPL vs LCK finals since 2014 when Samsung White beat Star Horn Royal Club. This year brings the LPL third seed, Suning Gaming, against the LCK first seed, DAMWON Gaming, and it'll be a clash of titans that could finally break the three-year-long 3-0 Finals curse. And the two teams got there by taking down the LEC and LPL first seeds, G2 Esports and Top Esports. Here are the MVPs from each semifinals series.
DAMWON Gaming - Canyon
Each of DAMWON's members are top in their class when you look across the board of players at Worlds. And in their series against G2, they outshone their opponents in every role. And while Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon could've made a name for himself as MVP, his 0/7/1 Fiora loss was a bit too much for him to overcome.
In his place enters Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu who first timed Hecarim on the semifinals stage. Throughout Worlds, Canyon has been dominant in the jungle, despite playing against the LPL Spring MVP, Seo "Kanavi" Jin-hyeok and the many other talented junglers at Worlds. In his semifinals match against G2's Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski, Canyon repeatedly got the upper hand, allowing his team to gain control over the game, and ultimately take the series.
In each of the four games, G2 was forced to ban Canyon's Nidalee, both on red and blue side. In the first game, Canyon threw a curveball at G2, snagging Hecarim for himself for the first time in his pro career. Despite Heo "ShowMaker" Su getting killed by Jankos for first blood, he and Canyon turned around a skirmish in the bot river to net DWG three kills and get Canyon rolling. He used that small advantage along with the Twisted Fate ultimate to out-maneuver the G2 team an secure all of the neutral objectives for himself. By around 21 minutes, he was 3/1/6 and 40 farm up over Jankos' Lillia.
In Game 3, their second win, Canyon got ahead with good objective control. And while Jankos went for ganks, Canyon secured extra farm and levels, which he turned into more farm and objectives. And while the rest of DWG played off Jankos' ganks well, Canyon's drakes and Heralds kept stacking, securing the Mountain Soul around 25 minutes and then the Baron a few minutes after, which they used to secure the game.
In the last game, it was similar - just much, much faster. Canyon skirmished really well around his mid laner, and turned those plays into early drakes, stacking two of them by 11 minutes, the third at 17. But they wouldn't get to secure the soul this time, because Canyon's Rift Herald right after that third drake take won them the game. He and DWG moved mid, taking four turrets and the nexus, using four of those Herald headbutts to win the fastest game in Worlds history against the 2019 Worlds finalists and MSI winners.
The series was dominated from all points of DAMWON's roster, but the objective control and level advantage Canyon found over Jankos really sealed the deal alongside the strong overall laning from the rest of the team. Though he didn't exactly solo carry the series, it's pretty tough to lose with an 11-4 drake count across the four games.
Suning - SofM
Suning jungler Lê "SofM" Quang Duy's phenomenal performance at Worlds 2020 has been one of the strongest international debuts in LoL Esports history. SofM has been tough as nails for Suning all event long and has been the single most influential player at the tournament.
Suning's 3-1 win over Top Esports was highlighted by SofM's performance in the jungle against Hung "Karsa" Hao-Hsuan. SofM played four different junglers in the four games against TES. First, SofM catalyzed a game 1 win for Suning on his famous full-tank Lee Sin.
SofM's performance on Kindred in game 2 was individually solid, but the jungler was unable to provide as much impact for his team as he did in game 1. Instead, the Blind Monk was in Karsa's hands for game 2, and TES tied the series at 1-1. With Karsa on Lee Sin in game 3 once again, SofM did something he had never done on stage: he locked in Shen jungle.
Suning support Hu "SwordArT" Shuo-Chieh confirmed in a post-game interview that SofM had not only never played Shen jungle competitively, but that the team had never even scrimmed with the pick. Despite having no experience on the pick, Shen gave SofM just what he needed to shut down Karsa and enable his teammates to take back the series advantage 2-1.
SofM's Shen was understandably unexpected by TES and clearly threw Karsa off-balance. Long before SofM's Worlds debut, Karsa's Lee Sin had been heralded as one of the finest to grace the Worlds stage. To see Karsa be stymied on arguably his best champion against a first-time Shen by SofM seemed to take the wind out of Top Esports' sails.
SofM had clearly thrown Karsa off-balance, and continued doing so by playing Jarvan IV in game 4. Jarvan IV has been out of the meta for quite some time, but his kit makes him viable in most metas as a tier 3 jungler at least. In addition, SofM's Jarvan has been historically excellent, and if anyone could make a team-focused jungler work in a meta defined by power-farming carry junglers, it was him.
Sure enough, SofM finished his game on Jarvan IV against Karsa's Graves to the tune of a 1/3/16 KDA. Despite having the objectively inferior champion, SofM was immaculate in his gank timings and took full advantage of his full-tank Jarvan build to be the primary aggressor for Suning. Top Esports got very little room to breathe, and eventually, it was suffocated off the map as Suning cracked the nexus and took the series.
SofM certainly didn't win the series by himself — SwordArt has continued to be excellent, and rookie AD carry Tang "huanfeng" Huan-Feng had another strong series in his own impressive international debut — but SofM was immaculate in his role as activator for Suning and through one of the best junglers to ever play the game off-balance at his sixth world championship. And he did it by playing Shen for the first time ever.
DAMWONGaming's roster is stacked with talent, and the South Korean side rightfully comes into the Worlds 2020 finals as the favorite. However, SofM has proved that he can equalize junglers perceived superior to him, and his matchup against Canyon will be the most pivotal of the series.
In a pre-finals press conference, DWG Head Coach Lee "Zefa" Jae-min called SofM Suning's best player, and DAMWON is bound to throw some bans towards his unconventional picks. SofM will have to catch Canyon off-balance the same way he did Karsa, but Suning's entire Worlds 2020 run has been about subverting expectations. The jungle matchup between the two semifinals MVPs will be the most pivotal individual matchup in the finals.
All images via: Riot Games
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