The highly anticipated 2022 LoL World Championship is only just a week away. With 24 of the best teams around the world competing on the grandest stage of LoL Esports, only one team will be crowned the world champions this year.
For the second year in a row, the LCK will have four representatives competing at Worlds this year: Gen.G [#1 seed], T1 [#2 seed], DWG KIA [#3 seed] and DRX [#4 seed]. Here’s my breakdown of the four LCK representatives.
DRX - #4 seed
DRX qualified for Worlds this year through the regional qualifiers that took place immediately after the LCK finals this year. In a gauntlet that had KT Rolster, DRX, DWG KIA, and Liiv SANDBOX playing, many predicted that DRX would not make it to Worlds this year due to their lackluster performance in the Summer split.
The Summer split DRX was… A mess, to say the least. Something was just not clicking for this team. While it’s hard to pinpoint what the root of their problems were, it seemed like the communication wasn’t there, there were mechanical misplays in both laning phase and teamfights, and their starting jungler, Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon, looked as if he was simply struggling to keep up with his competition. Also, due to the fact that the Summer split meta was heavily focused around the bot lane, a lot of DRX’s shortcomings were blamed on ‘Deft-BeryL’.
Against all odds however, DRX took both of the series in the regional gauntlet [against KT and LSB] to game 5 and went on a miracle run to qualify for Worlds. By no means DRX’s performance in the gauntlet was a perfect one, but they found solutions through figuring out how their opponents played and found solutions. They’ll be starting in the play-in stage, and will be competing against teams such as LPL’s RNG and LEC’s MAD Lions in group B. Personally, I don’t expect DRX to make it out of group B as 1st seed, but due to the potential they showed in a Bo5, I think they’ll make it to the group stage through the play-in knockout stage.
DWG KIA - #3 seed
DWG KIA is also a team that made it to Worlds this year through the knockout stage, but they have seeded directly into the group stage. They’ve shown that they’re not afraid to utilize both of their top laners, ‘Nuguri’ [starting top laner] and ‘Burdol’ [substitute top laner], depending on the team composition they want to draft. However, their bot lane, ‘deokdam-Kellin’ were criticized throughout the Summer split as the weak link of the team. In a meta where so much depended on the bot lane, this was a critical weakness for DWG KIA.
However, 3/5th of the team are former world champions, as well as their coaching staff; ‘ShowMaker’ and ‘Canyon’, made it to the grand finals at Worlds last year as well. Adjusting to the international stage isn’t unfamiliar territory to them. It’ll be curious to see how they perform in their group, against formidable competition such as JDG [LPL] and G2 Esports [LEC].
T1 - #2 seed
If it was any other team in the world that produced the same results as T1 this year, 99% of them would say that they’ve had a very successful year. An undefeated run in the Spring split to become LCK Spring champions, a second place finish at Mid-Season Invitational 2022 and as well as in the Summer split. However, with the legacy and the absurdly high expectations of this team, nothing short of 1st place isn’t enough for both the team and their fans.
T1 definitely looked exploitable in the Summer split. Especially their bot lane, ‘Gumayusi-Keria’, looked much weaker than they did in the Spring split. By no means does this mean that they’ve fallen off; it’s just that they looked indestructible in the Spring split. However, there are a few external factors that definitely affected their performance in the Summer; they went into the Summer split without a long enough break, as they didn’t have enough time to rest up and adjust to the Summer split meta, and according to multiple interviews with Keria, he was also going through some health issues.
However, the Worlds stage isn’t unfamiliar territory to T1. With three Worlds titles under belt, as well as a top four finish in their most recent run at Worlds in 2021, this team knows how they need to operate to thrive in an international tournament. They’re fully expected to make it out of their group; just how far will this team go after that?
Gen.G - #1 seed
The 2022 Gen.G roster is a dream team. The way that Gen.G dismantled T1 at the LCK Summer finals to capture their first domestic title was jaw-dropping to say the least. They’ve shown that their draft experimentation pays off. Gen.G has shown that they can counter enemy picks by coming up with unique solutions, most notably the support Singed from ‘Lehends’.
Their jungler, ‘Peanut’, was praised for his jungle pathing and his immaculate ability to find ganks. In the LCK Summer finals media day press conference, T1’s jungler ‘Oner’ stated that Peanut basically set new standards for how junglers should play, and that a lot of LCK junglers have studied Peanut in the Summer split.
Individually, there’s no doubt that all five of these players are world-class, but what makes this team ahead of their competition is the way they move as a unit. Gen.G’s comeback victory in game 5 of their Spring playoffs round 2 match against DWG KIA was one that had fans jumping from their seats. Even with a 10K+ deficit in that game, they maintained their composure and found their win condition through process of elimination; while they did lose against T1 in the Spring finals, the loss only made this team stronger for the Summer split and made them untouchable.
Given their competition in the group stages, many expect them to make it out of their group in 1st place. Historically, Gen.G has experienced both success and failure at Worlds, but this year looks to be their best chance at winning the biggest trophy of them all, the Summoner’s Cup. Will 2022 truly be the ‘Year of the Tiger’?
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