If you know anything about math, then you know that when something ramps up exponentially, it eventually starts to get very big, very fast. It might start slow, even too slow sometimes, but each step forward is bigger than the last. This is a nice, simple way to describe the pace at which Damwon Gaming played in their victory over Lowkey Esports.
After losing their first game in an incredible throwback lane swap from LK and struggling to control their second game, they finally handedly won their third and absolutely stomped in the last, being just “two kills off from a perfect game,” as Max "Atlus" Anderson insisted.
Joshua "Jatt" Leesman had this to say in their last match, “This really could be an analogy for the whole series, not wanting to go in this straight, victorious line that was set in front of them.” While obviously not talking about my little mathematic comparison, it points to the confusion the viewers felt watching the later games in the series that DWG struggled at first.
In that first game, DWG came out cocky, playing new picks, boasting little to no range, and with arrogant first items. They were unprepared for the quick jabs of the Vietnamese squad, and absolutely fumbled the counter play of the laneswap that was originally made famous in Korea, Damwon’s home region.
The lane swap found great success in large part due to the comps both teams picked up. LK had the range advantage across the board, Shen and Gragas for turret diving early, Tristana with Demolish, and Ornn to survive weak side and just soak experience. Damwon drafted Vlad, who needs gold and gained relatively little as a weak side laner, and then Garen - Yuumi, which isn’t exactly the best at taking turret plates bot lane.
Lowkey used their early game pressure to get a leg up over and over, taking all fifteen of the turret plates - most on Trist - and securing a good few kills. Despite that lead, however, Damwon almost came back after superior fighting, flanking, and overall teamfight prowess. With three infernal Drakes and a gold lead at forty minutes, they dove the enemy Nexus towers in hopes to take the game. But the hyper fed Tristana said, “No thank you,” gray screening the Damwon aggressors and Teleporting to backdoor and end the game.
It was an incredible victory, but a short lived celebration, as teams need three victories to continue onward. Unfortunately for Lowkey, Damwon was now scaling. In the second game of the series, Lowkey channeled their inner G2 Esports, locking Pyke top. But despite getting the first blood in a counter gank topside, the Pyke ultimately failed, barely able to farm against Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon's Renekton, and not earning any big Ultimate payouts.
With the Damwon comp boasting plenty of Skirmish favoring champions, and Lowkey always willing to skirmish, game two went the way of the Koreans, in a convincing 26 minute victory after a rather slow early game. Once Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu's Taliyah started syncing up with his solo laners’ Renekton and Qiyana, the CC chains proved too valuable, and one by one Lowkey was picked off and out pressured until the lead was insurmountable.
Game three brought more excitement, with another non-standard bot lane coming in from Damwon who locked in Gragas and Yasuo. And while it would normally make sense to camp for that lane, getting the Yasuo ahead as much as possible, Damwon Gaming has Nuguri on it’s team, so Canyon spent the first six full minutes of the game top side, only crossing past mid lane at 6:10 on the clock.
They took the top turret incredibly quickly, secured the Rift Herald as it spawned, broke the mid turret and started rotating all around the map, again using their mobile, CC heavy champs to start - and end - skirmishes and out pace Lowkey.
However, what seemed like a quick and easy victory turned south when a greedy Baron attempt ended in a full Ace from Lowkey after an incredible four man GNAR! from Nguyễn "Hani" Tuấn Phát. Upon respawn, though, Damwon went right back to work, out maneuvering Lowkey, easily securing the next Baron, and closing out the game.
The last game was the quickest of the series, as the exponential quality would suggest, and it was the only game that really delivered on the hype people built up for the Korean third seed. Each solo lane dominated, Canyon showed superior pathing, and the bot lane outplayed a four man dive against them, grabbing more kills and more summoners, and eating turret plates and farm across the map.
Damwon played Game four at a speed Lowkey was completely incapable of keeping up with, and in a mere 22 minutes, it was over. There really isn’t much to be said other than very clean, fast League of Legends from a clearly better team.
Choosing a single player from Damwon as a standout is difficult. Canyon often had superior pathing and showed up when and where he needed to. He and Heo "ShowMaker" Su both had multiple games with a perfect KDA. Sin "Nuclear" Jeong-hyeon and Cho "BeryL" Geon-hee played weak side consistently, and even gained their own advantages anyway.
But in an odd way, the most impressive was Nuguri, who boasted such a cocky, greedy playstyle, but who always made it work. Even in their loss, his greedy gold-generating items caught him up and he ended the game with the most gold on his team. His Vladimir plays were incredible, and a large part of how DWG regained footing (and almost won).
He started Cull three out of four games, built support items top, “stole” his team’s Rift Herald and turret plates, and more and more. Repeatedly, the casters reffered to him as “Ebenezer Scrooge” and “Investment Banker Nuguri” as he just kept going for more and more greedy plays.
But it was all calculated. Even with fewer combat stats, he stood his own and was usually way above his opponent’s CS. He would die at calculated times, knowing that if he greeded for one more wave and an extra turret plate, he could reach his next item point and TP back in and assert more pressure than he would by playing safe.
The casters also constantly noted his 0/2 power spike. Nuguri consistently dies isolated from his team, but it’s always for some advantage that he finds worth it. And in the end, he always comes out on top. Nuguri sure seems to know a lot about math and exponential equations, and he’s always willing to start slow and ramp up when it means he is going to scale and pay it back in the end.
DWG qualify to the Group Stage after knocking out Lowkey in four, and will be drawn into their group at the conclusion of the Play-In Stage after the games conclude Tuesday.