The 2021 LCK Summer Grand Finals was a stage of records. The winners, DWG KIA, achieved a three-peat. Their head coach, Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun, got the first-ever 10th LCK championship and his 15th title overall. And mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su took home the finals MVP by stealing the show.
Among all those stars and record-breakers, there was one player even thirstier to win the championship. Kim “Khan” Dong-ha got on stage for what could’ve very well been his last game in the LCK.
In the past, Khan was a player who would only trust his own prowess. He often said that he had put his life into gaming and that he would be retiring if he felt that his style of play would start getting in the way of his teammates. There was no other way for Khan and it felt that “persuading others” was not something Khan would ever do. He was a “my way” player.
But the 2021 Khan was something different. He still had the individual prowess, but he had also become a player that could influence those around him. Khan was in (potentially) his last year as a pro player, he was craving a farewell trophy, and this time, he needed the help of teammates. And people followed him.
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Yang “Daeny” Dae-in, who joined DWG KIA as a strategy analyst mid-season said, “Even though he’s had an extensive career, Khan is still a very competitive person. When I gave feedback, he’d always write everything down on a small notepad. I respected him for that.”
The model behavior of Khan showed in the finals as well. In the interviews he gave during the regular season, he often said he wanted to play tank champions “and be carried by my teammates.” But when the top lane meta changed towards aggressive champions, Khan still stepped up to match the high expectations upon him. In game 1 of the finals — often said to be the most important game of a best-of series — Khan played Camille as the core of DWG KIA”s strategy to a 11/0/7 KDA and a performance way above what’s expected of his role.
The performance was infectious and as it spread to Khan’s teammates, DWG KIA went on to win the finals 3-1. When ShowMaker was voted finals MVP, he said in a post-game interview that he was “actually hoping that Khan would receive it.”
Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun said, “This is the last chance to compete in an overseas event with Khan. I felt very sorry for him because we didn’t win MSI, so I will do my best to win Worlds to enjoy it together.”
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Khan is arguably the best top laner in the LCK. He has the second most championships in the league, just behind Faker, and the most championships among all top laners in history. The competition with the rest of the field isn’t even close.
Now, the last obstacle Khan needs to tackle is the World Championship. After winning the LCK finals, Khan said, “I almost shed tears, but it’s too early for that. I will finish that last step before crying.”
As Khan is not eligible to postpone his military service any longer, it’s most likely that he won’t be playing next year. But maybe, just maybe, we see Khan’s tears at Worlds.