The 2020 League of Legends World Championship comes to a close this weekend with the first-ever event in the brand new Pudong Football Stadium in Shanghai, China. After six years, the LPL and LCK have finally found themselves back in a Worlds Finals match against each other, and it marks the first best of five series between the two regions of the 2020 World Championship. But while the LPL has been on top for the past two years, with the LEC seemingly close behind them, DAMWON Gaming is providing hope to the LCK for the first time since Samsung's victory in 2017.
And though they were picked as tournament favorites from the start, their opponent, Suning Gaming, snuck through to the Finals by knocking out the two other favorites behind DAMWON, the LPL's first and second seeds, Top Esports and JD Gaming. And though they were never supposed to be the favorites, Suning's rampant growth throughout the tournament, plus their jungle centered style could make them the perfect team to match against the LCK monsters in DWG.
However, no matter how much they've leveled up, Suning's got a lot more to do if they're to take down DAMWON.
DAMWON is on fire after a very clean 3-0 victory over DRX into a 3-1 victory over G2 Esports, breaking the record for the fastest game ever in Worlds history. They pummeled G2 in mere 19 minutes in their fourth and final game, and if they take that momentum into the finals with them, then nothing will stand in between them and that trophy they so desire to return home. And the advantage they have is that each individual member of DAMWON sits at or near the best in the tournament. Then again, Suning is up there too, especially after their victory over TES, but let's take it lane by lane for each team.
Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon has been perhaps the most individually skilled player at the tournament, and he plays everything. And he will find a way to be the most impactful player in the game despite going 0/2/0 in lane thanks to his incredible ability to disrespect his opponent and limit test on the Worlds stage. Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu has had complete control of the jungle in nearly every game they've played, and he's gotten Nidalee permabanned against him due to his proficiency on the champ.
Heo "ShowMaker" Su looks bored, frankly, as nearly nobody can contest him in the mid lane; Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon couldn't, Rasmus "Caps" Winther couldn't, and Xiang "Angel" Tao probably won't either. Jang "Ghost" Yong-jun has been quietly one of the best weakside bot laners of the entire event. And Cho "BeryL" Geon-hee has put on a clinic in the support role, finding the most creative and successful roaming opportunities at Worlds and shutting down well more than just the opposing ADC.
All in all, each of these players individually stands out, and that isn't even the best part about DAMWON. Their bread and butter is mid to late game teamfights and macro decisions, where they always find the best flanks for Nuguri (and Beryl), and where they usually seem to manipulate their positioning and the map state to gain them some sort of additional advantage over their opponent.
Chen "Bin" Ze-Bin was a strong rookie that got obliterated in the LPL Playoffs against Top Esports but who has since completely turned online, reversing the results in his rematch in the semis just a few weeks later and dominating throughout the entire tournament. Lê "SofM" Quang Duy has shown just as much dominance in the jungle as Canyon, with a similar, heavy-farm style that focuses on selfish play and drake and herald stacking, along with a great affinity for vision control. Xiang "Angel" Tao wasn't supposed to be a main strength of the team, but he's stepped up in a huge way this tournament, even outclassing Top's star mid laner, Zhuo "knight" Ding, despite him being named the best mid in the world coming into the event.
Tang "huanfeng" Huan-Feng is another incredible rookie talent that outshone his former teammate (of sorts), Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo, in the semis, and pulled off perhaps the two most iconic and incredible plays this year with the Jhin ult from the opponent's base and the Ezreal ult to stop four different back channels to ensure his safety in his inhibitor push. And Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh who has played above and beyond what was expected, consistently saving his team and finding himself in the right place at the right time. He is a perfect veteran counterpart to the rookie talent huanfeng, and that duo truly shines.
Suning has grown throughout their games, and against TES, they all looked at their best. But though each of these players have so far continued to prove themselves over and over again, they've truly got a tall task before them with the final boss of DAMWON Gaming.
As mentioned previously, DAMWON win the game by getting early advantages in farm and drakes and then later finding pockets of blindness to get key picks and teamfight and skirmish victories that they translate into more pressure and objective stacking till they get out of control. The problem for them is Suning is actually incredibly good at doing the same thing. SofM constantly finds more objectives than his opponents and he out farms them even while taking so much time to kill the drakes and heralds.
That, in combination with his incredible vision control, make him and Suning the best candidates for taking down the LCK giants out of every team that entered the tournament. The problem, however, is SofM is predictable, greedy, and selfish, much like the DAMWON top laner, Nuguri. He often abandons his laners to get his own leads on top of the team objectives, but if DWG plays a bit more team-oriented — and if they are stronger like they're predicted to be — then it could come back to bite Suning.
And that's my prediction. Though SofM has been able to pull off his style successfully so far, Canyon and the sheer laning strength of the DWG members won't let it go unpunished. Even if he is able to find a lead over Canyon, he is unlikely to be able to make up for the teamplay that DWG will exhibit, and the games will be hard to win for Suning.
While each member of Suning has really stepped up this Worlds, DWG is just on another level this year. Bin has proven that he just wants to match carry for carry in the top lane, but Nuguri will gladly pick Ornn, or some off-meta ranged champion like Lulu or Kennen and make it difficult for Suning to play around top side. Then, though Angel has played very well so far, the ShowMaker diff will be monstrous. He should have no problem controlling that lane. And both bottom lanes are about evenly matched, with a slight edge to huanfeng of the ADCs and a slight edge to BeryL for the supports.
Both SofM and Canyon heavily prioritize Graves, and both pulled out a brand new champion in the semis, so their matchup will be very key in determining who can find the series victory. But with everything else included, DAMWON should continue knocking their opponents down with ease to finally return the trophy back to Korea. The only question is how many games will it take? Fans of course will beg for a five-game series, which would follow their trend of 3-0 quarters, 3-1 semis, and a 3-2 finals. But the trend of Worlds over the last few years has been 3-0, 3-0, 3-0. And if DAMWON's performance continues, it'll be just another year to tack on to the 3-0 Finals streak.
All images via: Riot Games
For more LoL Esports news and content, head over to our dedicated League of Legends section!
Find full schedules, brackets, and more for your favorite esports on Juked.gg!