Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu was the keystone to DWG KIA, someone who brought the entire team together and cemented himself as (arguably) the best jungler in the world after the team’s 2020 championship title. DWG KIA made a confident return to the grand finals at Worlds 2021 after a narrow 3-2 victory over T1 and it’d be fair to say that this semifinal was projected to be the “real” finals set. EDward Gaming were the underdogs going into the Finals, and even those who believed in EDG predicted that Lee “Scout” Ye-chan and Park “Viper” Do-hyeon would be the players who stood above the rest.
However, it was Zhao “Jiejie” Li-Jie that would decimate Canyon and stomp the “World’s best” jungler into submission. How did Jiejie overpower Canyon and lead EDward Gaming to victory?
Lead and mislead
Jiejie may not have played many assassins at Worlds, but his playstyle allows him to make any champion an assassin. He waits for the perfect moment to strike and almost always hits his target, whether it’s a champion or an objective. No one’s safe when Jiejie’s lurking in the jungle.
Keep in mind that a 60 FPS stream played at half speed couldn’t pick up the extremely narrow margin within which Jiejie was able to secure Mountain Soul for his team. This Drake secure took away DWG KIA’s slim chances at getting back into the game and tossed them out the window. EDG aren’t afraid to coinflip objectives, especially since Jiejie seems to tip the odds of landing on heads overwhelmingly in EDG’s favor… time and time, and time again.
And we haven’t even talked about teamfights yet.
For someone who so often leaves objectives up to a single Smite, Jiejie’s approach to fighting is a stark contrast. He won’t commit unless it’s a fight he knows EDG can win and he always manages to find the perfect opening.
Jiejie is someone who has his priorities straight. After a strong initiation onto Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun and Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee, Jiejie used Goredrinker and the heal from an early Smite on the Rift Herald to turn the fight in EDG’s favor, choosing the fight over the objective. He knows how to make the right call in difficult situations and he’s an expert at baiting the enemy team exactly where he wants them.
Not only did Jiejie manage to tank two health bars worth of damage before getting revived by the Zilean ult, he also dragged DK into a horrible position in the process. EDG are primed and ready to take a 5v4 here, with Meiko in great position to help the team and stay in the fight despite having low HP.
EDG won this fight hard enough that Viper was able to hold onto Jhin’s fourth shot for a few seconds, allowing him to be almost on-par with the damage that could come from Canyon’s Smite. On top of that, the worst-case scenario here is that EDG lose the Herald off of a winning fight and just keep DK from picking up the eye.
Not only is Jiejie aware of his limits, but he also has a team that plays very well around him. Being the “setup guy” isn’t the flashiest role and it’s likely a large part of why Jiejie was so underrated going into Worlds 2021. But Jiejie isn’t worried about MVP awards and highlight reels.
Going off of Jiejie’s stats from the LPL Summer Split, he’s maintained this playstyle for a while. The Worlds meta may have forced him onto different picks, but he has the same philosophy when it comes to playing the map. He may have had the lowest damage share out of any other jungler in the LPL, but he doesn’t need to be doing a ton of damage to succeed. He just needs to be in fights when it counts.
Jiejie focuses on gaining a gold lead however he can. Kills are a means to that end and Jiejie usually looks beyond the opponent in front of him and toward opportunities on the map.
It’s common to see Jiejie focus on denying the enemy jungler’s farm early on. While he isn’t bringing that damage stat up by doing this, he’s damaging Canyon’s farm and ultimately putting his team ahead in fights. Not only did he get Krugs early on in game 5, he also took most of Canyon’s Raptors and left one alive just to delay his farm even further. One of Jiejie’s greatest strengths is his ability to outpace his opponent and force them to react to him.
It’s hard to form a plan when your opponent is a step ahead of you, and Jiejie was often a mile ahead of Canyon.
Jiejie’s stats at the start of game 5 in the finals support both his playstyle and the high level of coordination he has with the rest of EDG. Not only did he have a staggeringly high 90% kill participation, he also averaged an almost 15 CS lead over Canyon across EDG’s wins and losses. Even when EDG were behind, Jiejie was playing his own game and trying to find a way to get them back into the driver’s seat.
There are other ways to win games than outright teamfighting, and Jiejie embodies that strength within EDG. It’s how EDG won Summer and it’s a large part of how they won against DK.
Mind the gap
With Jiejie’s near-complete control of objectives, massive CS lead, and almost record-breaking kill participation, it’s pretty clear that Canyon got gapped in this matchup perhaps more than any other DK lane. One question rises to the top when trying to break down DWG KIA’s loss:
Did Canyon play poorly, or did Jiejie just play really well?
Going off of game 1’s draft, EDG knew Canyon’s Lee Sin was a threat. DK drafted Leblanc, Ziggs, and Rakan in the first phase, leaving Canyon’s champion pool to be banned out next. In fact, Canyon’s jungle pick was almost never prioritized. In stark contrast, EDG always drafted Jiejie’s Jarvan in the first phase. In other words, EDG came out swinging on Canyon’s champ pool, and prioritized putting Jiejie on a strong jungler.
Going toward game 5, the jungle ban priority only went up for both teams. Whenever either jungler got a pick they were comfortable on, the game was a complete wash. Canyon’s game 2 Qiyana and game 3 Lee Sin were game-deciding picks, and the same went for Jiejie’s game 1 Jarvan and game 4 Viego.
And all that brought us to the game 5 pick/ban, where both teams had to dig deep and play junglers that wouldn’t have been their first choice. When they were pressured into uncommon picks, Jiejie came out on top.
Canyon didn’t play poorly, but it’s fair to say DK underestimated how much they should have been prioritizing his picks.
For instance, this Lee Sin kick in game 3. Canyon consistently found the cracks in EDG’s armor when he was on a champion that could start fights. BeryL’s freedom to play a counterengage support like Braum in this game also helped curb EDG’s ability to engage on the backline.
When Canyon was on a jungler like Talon, he looked incredibly weak in comparison. EDG’s a team that isn’t afraid to sidelane and out-macro their opponent, and DWG KIA slowly bled to death in games where Canyon wasn’t playing a jungler that could throw a wrench in EDG’s airtight macro play. DK is likely the better teamfighting team with Canyon leading the way, but that doesn’t matter if EDG aren’t relying on even 5v5 teamfights to win games.
Though Scout got the MVP award for Worlds 2021, he was surprised that he was the one that got the award. When Scout was asked about what his initial reaction was, he openly stated that he thought Jiejie deserved the award for how well he played the Finals set. Scout may have been an overall MVP for the team, and he was someone that carried EDG through their toughest moments in the grueling 15 games they had to play through all their BO5s. However, Jiejie seemed like the deciding factor in all of EDG’s wins against DWG KIA.
Fans slept on Jiejie going into Worlds, playing on a team many doubted would even make it to the semifinals. Now, he’s managed to gap the (now former) best jungler in the world and bring home the trophy with a sly smile on his face. It’s not like Canyon’s a washed-up player that’s massively overrated. No. Jiejie just outsmarted him and played with a goal in mind.
Even if Canyon’s the better teamfighter, Jiejie’s ability to control objectives and find creative ways to give his team an advantage ultimately gave EDG the edge they needed to win. Jiejie earned more than a trophy in Iceland.
He is the “Canyon Killer” now.
Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.