There are best and worst experiences for a League of Legends pro gamer. One is to stand on the world championship stage, and the other is having to play a relegation match. The pressure of the latter is punishing and no pro gamer ever wants to be there. Some never come back from it and their careers are swept away. The latter, however, is every pro player's dream.
At the Worlds 2021 grand final, there are two players that have gone through both. Tomorrow, they will play each other in a bot lane duel for the world championship title: DWG KIA's Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun, who played with bbq Olivers and lost relegation in the 2019 LCK Spring Promotion; and EDward Gaming's Park “Viper” Do-hyeon who did the same as part of Griffin just one year later.
The bot lane draft question
Viper and Ghost play an important part in their respective teams ahead of this grand final. Several games in the semifinals were decided in the draft phase and many of the hotly contested picks are in the bot lane: Aphelios, Lucian, Ziggs, and the 10-game-win-streaking Jhin. This could become a key point of contention for the finals tomorrow — what picks will the players get and how will they play their comfort picks.
Like his nickname, Viper has played Lucian like a venomous snake, striking any exposed weak spot of the opponent, however small. In game 1 against Gen.G, Viper took the advantage by scoring a lane kill and then started fights with his active ultimates, making fans wonder why Gen.G didn't ban the champion from him.
On the other hand, Ghost’s ace has been Ziggs. In the semifinals, Aphelios was a hot pick for T1's Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeon, but Ghost's Ziggs was the counter pick that shut it down by keeping Aphelios away from any turret plates and making late-game plays. While not a conventional ADC pick, it's what Ghost and DWG KIA needed to reach the finals.
This makes the bot lane draft betwee DWG KIA and EDward Gaming quite an interesting one. If bans target the strongest bot lane champions, we might see a non-ADC match-up, and both carries are very proficient in that meta. While Viper has transitioned to more traditional ADC picks during his time in the LPL, he's played almost any champion in the bot lane: Taliyah, Yasuo, Vladimir, and even Teemo.
Looking back: What did the semifinals teach us?
Having a finals between the #1 LCK seed and the #1 LPL seed seems like a natural outcome for Worlds 2021, but there's been more hardship than anticipated for both teams, with their semifinals going to full five games. EDG even had a close fight against Royal Never Give Up in the quarters and have struggled with the inconsistent performance of Li "Flandre" Xuan-Jun in top and Lee “Scout” Ye-chan in mid. So far, Viper has been the redeeming champion for EDG, intervening when other lanes faltered to save the day.
DWG KIA survived the five-game series against T1 but in games 2 and 3, Ghost was cut off and momentum swung in T1's favor, who came at match point in game 4. An average player would've perhaps crumbled and led to a semifinal upset, but Ghost persevered. He could barely hold back tears after game 5.
“I thought this Worlds would probably be the last tournament that we will play with these five members,” Ghost said, reveling in the fact that they didn't end it on a loss.
Ghost and Viper have a rich head-to-head history as well, where Viper leads Ghost 13-9. But all the stats will be (temporarily) erased tomorrow. This isn't another LCK or LPL game. Tomorrow, one of them becomes the world champion.